Tamping Down the Back(sp)lash

backsplash 0220
The Toy Story Alien and Patrick at long last have a backsplash to lean against.

The last piece has finally fallen into place: my bathroom vanity has a backsplash and is, at very long last, complete, the punctuation mark on the conclusion of our build. Ta-da!

I was fully expecting, and semi-prepared, to have to craft this myself, with an extensive assist from my woodshop teacher. But since I’m still working on my bookcase (new targeted completion date: Sunday) and lining up a new project for the class that starts next week, it hasn’t been at the top of my list.

Then yesterday morning I got a call from Dusty, saying he’d been driving around for “a few days” with the backsplash in his truck, and he thought he could install it over his lunch hour.

And then he said something I wasn’t expecting at all: he apologized for shouting at me in our last vanity encounter. Dusty practices, and teaches, mindful techniques, and he told me the incident was a reminder for him to listen better to himself. He did arrive in an irritable mood, as I surmised (well after the fact), and it just got worse until he exploded. He should have listened better to himself, he said.

I did tell him yesterday that he could have said the installation needed to wait and I would have understood. But he just wanted it done — until it literally blew up on both of us. He did say he cherishes our friendship, and me, which I very much appreciated hearing, and he also offered a backwards compliment: we are close enough that I was a “safe” target for him to unload on.

That sounds really wrong, but if we all stop and think about it, who is it every one of us is most likely to lash out at in an inappropriate manner? “You always hurt the ones you love,” goes the adage, and I imagine for most of us, it’s because we figure we will be forgiven more readily by the people who understand us best.

So I do forgive Dusty, and am glad he reached out. Our friendship is salvaged, and has, happily, survived the house-building process.

I’m not sure one of his other friendships might, though: he said the woman hasn’t even decided if she has a budget to build a house, but she wants to know if he’s lined up subcontractors to work on her house this summer, without finalized plans or a budget. After he told her he was two years out.

[The closest comparison we’ve come to this in the screen-printing world are the people, usually hockey players, who call and want to know if the jerseys they haven’t brought in are printed yet. This has happened twice, believe it or not. The first time, decades ago, I paused for a long moment and told the guy he hadn’t brought me any jerseys yet to print on. “Yeah, I know,” he said, rather gloomily. “I’m having trouble getting guys to return them.” To this day, I have no idea why he called.]

And so our house is at last considered complete.

Not really, but these “unfinished” items now move into the same realm as every house, with upkeep and new additions. Like bookcases and shelves. Because we’ll be going into the crawlspace on a regular basis for filters and flow meters, I’d like to build a small set of stairs, and Lynn has an entire multi-media project planned for a sign noting our address at the end of the driveway. (Or is it the start? If it were a river, it would be the mouth, not the source. That end.)

I just yesterday discovered another kink in another hose, this one that drains from the bottom of the heat recovery ventilator. Further inspection showed that we must have twice as much tubing as we appear to need, so in a burst of self-reliance, as soon as I work up to it, I’m going to cut some of the length for more efficient drainage.

And I don’t believe I’ve mentioned my shower in perhaps an entire month, which has probably left all of you bereft. It has worked, without fail — no power outages or steam overheats — since we last talked, and I have been happily steaming away to the strains of classical music from Colorado Public Radio, and the not-nearly-as-melodic thunk of the solenoid.

But I have been unable to even access the company website to ask a series of questions, which still includes what substance they are really recommending in their incomprehensible instructions to keep the steam unit clean. And now I need to know what to do about the plastic gaskets around the speakers and fan in the ceiling of the unit, all of which are starting to crack and crumble, presumably from the heat of the steam.

I may have to fall back on self-reliance for this as well, and find some substance — obviously not plastic — that can better resist high heat and moisture. And I may have to brace myself for a sooner-than-wanted replacement/overhaul, because while Ben the original plumber assured me stainless steel would work great, Avery the replacement plumber tells me steam can corrode stainless steel in five or six years. I don’t believe Avery even knows I have a steam shower, so he was talking as a general point, not specific to my bathroom.

On the plus side, Avery has been generally complimentary of the plumbing work done in our house. Everything is clean and well-done, he said, although he would have opted against the joiners (which is where the stainless steel conversation began) Ben used. Avery also was very impressed with the boiler, but he did ask if we had been told we need to get it cleaned once a year. So I’ve got to get myself on Alpha Mechanical’s schedule for August.

So there are still projects, of course, but the last obligation of the builder has been completed, our friendship salvaged, and for the moment, all is well.

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