Monday, April 19 2010
This morning Ray and Nancy rolled by from wherever they'd been staying and we carpooled down to old Hurley to meet a realtor and an inspector so the house they're maybe buying could be inspected. We started out looking at the outside of the house and the large garage next door. The roofs were new, but there was a little of the usual foundation weathering and settling. Inside, everything was in good shape and, aside from some questionable stylistic choices, move-in ready. The one bathroom with its pink tile and transparent toilet seat wouldn't have been out of place in a whore house. Down in the basement, the boiler looked like it might be on its last legs, but it might well last another twenty years. Pillars supporting the floor overheard all looked to been made from the rough trunks of small Red Cedar trees. Some of them were a little undermined from moisture and rot, and the floor near one was littered with the castings from some sort of burrowing grub. But cedar is a long-lasting rot-resistant wood, and it's unlikely anything will need to be done about the pillars. A mysterious dungeon-like annex to the basement later proved to contain the mechanism for an old well pumping system which had later been abandoned when municipal Hurley water was run up Old Route 209. Two different sewage disposal systems also coexisted in a sort of architectural palimpsest, the pipes to an old cess pit having been filled-in with concrete. Now the sewage goes to a modern septic system (Hurley has yet to run municipal sewage through the area). The building inspector was full of ideas for ways to erase the memories of these old services, but I thought they should be repurposed instead. Why not turn an old cess pit into a fish pond? Why not find some other use for an abandoned subterranean fuel oil tank? As for the wellhead dungeon, imagine the possibilities! Too bad it's not on the south side of the house; it would make for a great bunker-style greenhouse.
Eventually we made it up to the attic, which was all finished off into a long windowless room edged with closet space where the roof came down to the level of the floor. One one end of the attic was the third bedroom. And then it turned out that there was a human being in that bedroom! It was the seller's slackerly 20 year old son living amid piles of dirty beskidmarked laundry, electronic gadgets, and questionable wiring. Evidently he'd thought he could just hole up in that room and wait for us to pass. No such luck. But he turned out to be a friendly enough guy, telling us he'd been living in the house since he was a year old. We asked some other questions and he didn't seem to have any helpful answers, leading me to observe, "If you remember your childhood, you weren't really there."
At some point Ray and I wandered to the back part of the lawn, where it approaches the constant din of Route 209. It was beautiful back there, with a massive patch of flowering daffodils set amid tree-accented lawn. It will be a lot to mow, and already Ray was thinking of what part of the back he would let revert to forest.
Our friend Lynne (of Mark and Lynne) showed up late in our tour, bringing V, her shy little daughter along. After the inspection, the five of us drove into Kingston and had lunch at Dietz's Diner. At some point during the meal, Lynne checked her email and discovered that her daughter V had just been determined to be "gifted." She wasn't as thrilled about this as one might expect; because of the depressing effects of race-linked poverty on test scores, being labeled "gifted" in Brooklyn generally means "white middle class."
This evening we had a seven-person dinner party at our house, with Ray doing the cooking. He built a meal around an unexpectedly delicious fusion pasta whose sauce was a kind of Thai thing containing peanut butter and coconut milk.
I gave Mark (Lynne's husband) the tour of the greenhouse and brownhouse. He especially liked how the greenhouse turned out given my ad hoc method of planning and execution. As for the revelation that I have a urinal in my laboratory, at first Mark took this to be a sign of supreme laziness (which it is), but then I pointed out the non-trivial plumbing necessary to get the urine from my laboratory to a bucket outside the house. I'd front-loaded my laziness, and by now of course the time I've saved from not having to walk to a bathroom has more than canceled the time necessary to install the urinal plumbing system. Plus, I get lots of nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the garden, a commodity that tends to be expensive at garden supply retailers.
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