The Last Piece

jigsaw 1219

When my family used to do jigsaw puzzles during the holidays, I would rarely sit down to help, but I would swipe an unplaced piece off the table so that I could come along and put the final piece of the puzzle in. This worked spectacularly (at least, I thought so, even if I was alone in this), until it backfired.

One time I didn’t take a piece, and when everyone else got done, there was a piece-sized hole in the middle of the puzzle, and I fell victim (I’m sure this is the word I want) to multiple accusations. My protestations of innocence were met with disdain — I have no idea why — but I truly could not produce the piece because I hadn’t taken it. I think eventually it got found, probably on the floor under the table, but I imagine to this day there are people who think I was behind this.

We are at a point in the house-building process where we need the final piece, and no one can find it. And this is my fault.

Perhaps you will recall my bathroom vanity, ordered in late July, was supposed to arrive — for about the 40th time — on Dec. 19. On Dec. 20 I went in to True Value to ask about the status, and what do you suppose the answer was? “Shipping on Jan. 3,” I was told. Shipping. Not arriving.

“I was told it would be here yesterday,” I said. Well, yes, but it isn’t, and now it’s shipping Jan. 3. “This has been a learning process,” I was told. I feel perhaps I ought to be angry about this, or upset, but I just can’t. Not when Mike is sitting there surrounded by vanity pieces that have been ordered but not wanted. Some of them are failed attempts at getting me a vanity; others I’m guessing are leftover from the order for his son’s house. And Some Day there will be yet another piece from my order, the cabinet that is too narrow but which is holding up my bathroom counter until — if — the correct one ever arrives.

So even though my vanity was double what I was told it would cost, I feel sure he has done nothing so far but lose money on his new cabinet line. Then he launched into a lament about property taxes doubling, which I was quite sympathetic to. The structure of Colorado property taxes makes it very easy to be a homeowner and quite burdensome to own commercial property, and the disparity gets worse and worse, but there are far more residential property owners than there are commercial, so no political will to try to fix this — at least until everything you buy costs significantly more and more businesses pop out of existence.

At least, I was sympathetic until he referred to a local resident of British origin as “that Limey,” and then he completely lost me when he was hoping Vail’s purchase of the ski area would cause the value of his commercial property to double (where, exactly, do we think the higher taxes came from in the first place?), at which point I decided it was past time to take my leave and just keep waiting until this side of never for my vanity cabinet to arrive.

Which probably won’t really make the house completely complete. There are already a couple of repairs that need to happen, but no matter how we stress the word “repair” and Dusty assures us we won’t be charged, we still somehow paid for two people’s labor for 8.5 hours when they were here for some fraction of that, and at least half the work was supposed to be uncharged repair work. So we will consider Dusty’s obligation complete, lest it cost another $1,000.

Except for the electricity. The holidays are getting in the way of any action, but everyone responded to my e-mail with suggestions. GCEA is going to install some sort of monitor on our line. The solar people suggested monitoring select circuits to see if problems can be identified. They also told me those huge energy usage spikes are a poor function of the monitoring system. When it goes off-line, it continues to collect information, and then “dumps” it all at once as the report comes back on-line. Although it’s still very interesting that this happens right as our power malfunctions.

Shawn, the original electrician, is on vacation, but when he returns he’s supposed to meet with Dusty and someone from the solar company. I’m still holding my work electrician in the wings. I hope they’re not thinking an acceptable solution would be to not plug anything into the garage. If a 1960s tract house could support the commercial freezer and refrigerator, plus the quartz heater and block heaters on cars, it seems like a custom-built 2019 house ought to be able to manage at least that, right?

In other updates, Dusty wanted me to unplug the quartz heater, which appears to be enough to blow the breaker even when it’s not turned on, just plugged in, and increase the temperature on the little box heater in the ceiling. He thought it could be rotated because it was bolted just in the center but it’s not (probably a $500 repair if he does it; maybe $30 if we find someone else), so when I can get it to blow hot air, it does so down the west side of the garage, which probably makes my car happy but might not help the boiler. But the temperatures have come back up, so not an issue for the moment.

And the “straps” used to move our shed turn out to be a tow rope, in a blue that matches my car. Since I was wondering just the other day what had happened to my tow chain since we moved, this doesn’t seem like a horrible acquisition.

On my own I would never have purchased a $260 tow rope, especially one that looks far more scuffed than it probably should just for moving a shed one time, but since my car is very heavy, due to all the batteries, and I’ve already sunk it into one snowbank this winter, it might come in handy. At least it’s a better “purchase” than “straps,” and it brings the actual cost of moving our shed down (if that’s how you want to look at it) to just about the cost of the shed.

[When Dusty saw where the shed is parked, he asked, “Is that where the HOA wanted it put?” I allowed as how they probably were envisioning it more alongside the house rather than in front of it. “It would have looked a lot better in the trees,” Dusty said.]

So pieces are sort of coming together, a few of them still sitting outside the border waiting to be placed, and one hopelessly lost. The puzzle may never be finished.

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