Friday, October 14, 2011

The Gypsas

Wednesday, 11 October

This building used to be heated by a communal, oil-burning furnace down in the basement. The old system circulated hot water to all the units and Zisis, our building’s Mostly Wise and Usually Fearless Leader, had the thankless task of deciding, each year, when to turn on the furnace, balancing the need for thrift with the need for heat.

Three or four years ago, the government mandated that everyone switch to natural gas, as being cleaner or something. Which meant we not only had to install all new radiators, but also to connect them to our new, individual, gas-fired heating element. So we’ve had all these new, copper pipes showing, in the kitchen, hallway, and bedroom and mostly on the balcony, because we took great trouble to route our new pipes in such a way as to have as few as possible show inside the house.

Plus, we never removed the old pipes, because Zisis told us all to leave them in place in case we ever had to revert to the oil system. (That was in the days when Russia was cutting off natural gas lines to Europe when various disagreements arose.) So in addition to all the new pipes, we’ve been living with all the old pipes, exposed in every room and in completely different places from the new.

Gypsum, here, is what’s used for sheetrock. So the gypsum man came and cut away all the old pipes (with Zisis’ permission, of course) and closed in all the new pipes, and everything looks very tidy. We’d gotten so used to the ugliness of those pipes we’d forgotten how ugly they looked, until they were gone or hidden. The gypsas and his helper did a nice, neat job and are very good people, besides.

Zisis came to inspect, and he was as satisfied as we are.

But now every room has bare sheetrock, taped and smoothed, but unpainted – and some rooms have places where the old pipes used to be but there was no paint behind them, so now what’s left is ugly stripes of bare concrete, which is what walls here are made of. The upshot of it all is, painting this place has become imperative, and quite soon. We are anxious to have the inside done and Zisis is anxious that the outside gypsum (special formula for outdoors) be painted the same creamy gold as the building. (Enforcing the standards is another of his thankless jobs.)
Little by little, this house will become quite nice looking.