Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm being pursued by men all over southern New Hampshire. I allowed myself to be immensely flattered until I discovered that they don't want me for either my body or my sparkling wit. They desire me for--how to put this discretely?--my raw sewage.

I received an envelope from the town of Raymond's Building Inspector the other day confirming approval of the septic system for the new house. For those of you who've never set foot outside of a city, a septic system does for a single building what big water treatment plants do for a whole town. If you're outside of the urban area, beyond where the sewer lines end, you have to have one.

Water that's drained or flushed anywhere in the house passes through a tank buried in the ground where--we'll just call them solids--are separated out and settle to be broken up by enzyme action. The water is then routed through a network of perforated pipes buried in an area called the leaching field where there's either very good natural drainage or a lot of sand and gravel have been imported. Water passes out of the pipes into the ground where it percolates through the earth or evaporates into the air, becoming filtered and purified; it returns to the general water supply in the earth actually cleaner than the water treatment plants get it.

Apparently the approved septic design was posted publicly on the town's site, so now that the--um, solids--have hit the fan (so to speak), contractors know who I am, where I am, and how to contact me. I’m getting daily mail and phone calls from well-drillers, excavators, and septic specialists, all clamoring for my attention.

But I can't hire a single one, because I don't have a general contractor yet. I have declined the idea of being my own general contractor for several reasons, the most obvious of which are:
1) that I haven't any established house building skills beyond some of the rough framing carpentry required to assemble a straight, weight-bearing wall;
2) am a resident of Massachusetts some seventy miles away from the building site with a full-time job and a house to sell; and
3) I don't have in my pocket a list of sub-contractors with whom I've worked for years to whom I call and say things like, "the framing will be finished tomorrow. I need you come the day after tomorrow and start the electrical wiring" so that the work proceeds in a swift and orderly manner.
The general contractor has first call on who does what, although they will probably entertain some discussion with the homeowner. I was advised that I cannot begin any phase of actual construction except the road up to the site, until a GC can be found, most importantly one who's not scared away by a project that isn't "a square stick-built house."

Southern New Hampshire has immense standing stock of traditional 18th century housing, most of which is being kept up very well indeed (Fritz’s house dates to 1792), but it's now filling up with vast tracts of frankly cheap-looking, not very attractive cookie-cutter condo colonies. Each and every unit looks like each and every other unit, all are in the exact same bland beige color, and their most prominent architectural feature is usually the barricade of two-car garage doors facing the road that makes the grouping look like some sort of self-storage warehouse.

THAT is what the general contractors gravitate to: simple, not to say simple–minded, repetitious work that a crew can do once and then repeat into infinity. A custom design like mine, not that it requires anything truly exotic in construction technique, scares them off. OK, there IS one aspect of the house that's a bit difficult--the trusses that support the 24' span of the great room will have to be built on site and dropped into position by a crane. But for the rest of it, it's put up the forms, pour the concrete, frame in the walls, put on the roof, etc, etc. The general contractor is going to be the cliff-hanger of this story.

Gaytwogether, a site that features stories and images of men in pairs, lately has been featuring vintage photographs of men in obviously affectionate poses from early in the history of photography. There's a whole book out there somewhere, the title of which is gone from my head, devoted to these images. The great value, in my opinion, is the demonstration that it's always been this way, that men and women have always paired off and made lives and families together. Many of the pictures are affected negatively (no pun intended) by the conditions of early photography--the stiff poses, often assisted by the post and neck clamp device that helped the subject remain totally still for the duration of the relatively long exposure required by early cameras and film. But this one appealed to me as being among the most relaxed and natural--and these boys look like a pretty hot item to me, too. As Fritz so often says in such circumstances, "I'd buy THAT video."

And finally, a good friend of ours sent us a youTube video from the Netherlands where not only does sanity reign in regards to gay rights, the gay family is celebrated openly. I haven't been able to import the youTube screen to Blogger but please cut and paste this URL:

In the search window at the bottom of the page, type in two fathers and you'll get the video at the very top of the next page that comes up.

Dear Will,

I have been reading your blog since I discoevered it a few weeks ago. And I finally got my act together and started one myself. What fascinating material you write -- even the "solids!" (That is called effluent, as I recall) My Mother was a land use lawyer with a specialty in drainage and runoff problems! Anyway, I am the Richard who is Mussleuth on Opera-l. Best on the new house and the big final production. And what I want to know is: does Abs Deco come (you should pardon the expression) in a Butt Deco view? :)
What a welcome reunion! When I finish this comment, I'm going right over to chesk out your blog.

Butt Deco--a brilliant concept, particularly for that particular young man!

Please don't be a stranger.
I'm excited that you're getting closer to building your new place. Isn't it awful that the masses prefer those non-descript dwellings? As hard as I try to convince my clients to let me design a truly custom residence, they pull back. They counter with "we don't want to stand out too much." Ugh. Track home design has become the "norm" it seems.
What an education this I know where my sh__ goes! And, i've always wondered. Cheers
sh#$ - i wrote a nice long post earlier today ... it was eaten in the ether.

oh well. welcome Richard (i said more earlier!) glad to see your new blog!

Will - I thought of you when i was at the Apple Store waiting for my replacement ipod - the nice looking young men (and some not as young but still nice looking) were entertaining to watch as I waited.

(the earlier post was better but i am tired now).
OH... so THAT's what a septic tank is for! Yeah, having grown up in Manhattan and living in Boston, I never fully understood, though I did know it was the rural equivalent of a sewer. Here's a nice wikipedia link that does a nice job describing septic systems.

Maybe when we grab a bite tomorrow, I can teach you the mysteries of embedding a youtube vid (Blogger and wordpress do a weird thing to it if you're in "compose" mode).

Here's the link (not embedded) to the vid you're talking about. That kid is going to be a heart-stealer when he's older.
You are really lucky to have everyone calling you. In Phoenix, you have to call 1,000 people only to have 5 call back and only one actually show up to do the job.
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