Nothing to do with Arthur Machen. (Fortunately. There is enough disruption around here already.)
No, this is Panos, the onetime Cairo cabdriver, Mediterranean motormouth, contractor extraordinaire. What happened was, the Engineer, who builds computers — this one I’m working on, for instance — wanted to put together a new one after he moved in. The first step was installing three-prong plugs in his room, heretofore the province of the cats, whose computer use is limited to this kind of thing:
(Don’t laugh. Fergie’s right hind paw typed an entire message in binary code into this post, which I had to delete; it probably had something to do with world domination.) Well lo and behold all the wiring was ungrounded and wildly not to code, installed serially, and on examination there is not a single grounded outlet anywhere on the top two floors of the house. Someone took care of that for the cellar, for some reason.
The Engineer came with a dowry of sorts, and we decided we could stretch to it. Hence yesterday morning the Great God Pan, whose entourage includes an electrician, appeared at the door at 8 a.m. with his merry band, and for the rest of the day my house resounded with a great commotion of hammering, drilling and pneumatic nail guns as they ripped out the basement ceiling to expose the wiring and framed a chase around the heating ducts. This, I am promised, will incorporate recessed lighting after the electrical work is done. By the end of the day the ceiling, a fugly homeowner job painted an unprepossessing shade of babycrap yellow, was in eight sacks at the end of the driveway and good riddance.
Christian, the electrician, who is from some part of the world whose first European language is French and that is all I can tell, appeared about four with a coil of copper wire and a monumental breaker panel that looks as if it belongs on the International Space Station. Finally, I will be able to turn on the radiator in the massage room and charge my electric toothbrush at the same time.
My next door neighbor — the crabby old lady whose entire life seems dedicated to making citizens’ arrests of rogue cars in the local parking zone — was seen shuffling in her quilted housecoat between the crew’s vehicles, which I had provided with temporary passes. I swear I heard her mutter “Curses, foiled again,” as she clumped back indoors.
Christian comes back tomorrow to sink grounding rods and commence running new wire to all the household receptacles, starting at the basement and working up. Meanwhile my finished cellar room looks like this:
The cats, who are used to percolating through there at will (in their two separate cohorts, anyway) are banned until the place is no longer shrink-wrapped, and had to spend yesterday sequestered in remote locations. There is a cat box in my business office. Mystery, who goes down there every morning for some undisclosed purpose, is despondent (fig. 4 above). Fortunately food fixes it.
I kind of feel like an extra protein bar myself. Reports as things develop.