Hot Water – In It, Want It, Need It!

Kage Baker usually declined to deal with delivery people, repairmen, mechanics, ringing telephones … they all unnerved her to excess, and those of us who knew her also knew it was to everyone’s benefit if Kage was not point woman on domestic disasters. She’d try her best, and she was always ready to show willing when the car broke down or the washing machine had a convulsion, but she just wasn’t a tool-user. Or an organizer. Or especially competent with the Yellow Pages. (“Hey, did you know there’s a physicist listed?” “We don’t need a physicist.” “Well, no, but it’s neat …”)

Growing up, there were so many people in the house that such things could be habitually left to The Practical Ones (me and Sister Anne, usually). It’s possible that if Kage had had to face the same spectrum of leaks, explosions, smoking appliances and bleeding siblings that Anne and I did, she too would have become a DIY Disaster Tech. But I doubt it. Kage was the woman to go to if you wanted to ward a room against spirits or even get aphids off the roses: but she was likely to use something outre like Borax for both tasks, and somehow melt the mixing spoon while she was at it.

Today I am faced with one of those common household problems that Kage couldn’t handle, and I wish I didn’t have to, either. The water heater has died, and it has inexplicably escalated to a DefCon 4 status. So far, 4 plumbers have either expressed severe doubts it could be replaced (seriously? It’s a freaking water heater, not an FTL drive) or quoted  the annual GNP of Lichtenstein as a price. Much solemn shaking of heads, and that particular pressed-lips look that means “You won’t understand. It’s a guy/plumber/baseball cap thing. I’m a d**k and you don’t have one.”

If Kage were here, she would be hunched over her desk, the 1812 Overture or Ruddigore on loud, typing furiously and ignoring everything else, and confident that I would somehow produce hot water by bedtime. It means I can’t stay hunched similarly – the corgi is whoofing and the parrot is making velociraptor noises, which means someone is coming up the walk. Hopefully plumber #5, who will give me a new water heater.

Otherwise, I may have to loose the hound. And the dinosaur. And start crying.

Tomorrow: a hot shower, please God

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to Hot Water – In It, Want It, Need It!

  1. Leslie Patterson says:


    I can hear the bird and dog, I can feel your need for a nice hot shower, and I can really see the repairman…..standing there oh so plumber like.

    When the hot water stops flowing we all stand amazed at how adapted we are to it’s presence in our world with a flick of our wrist.



  2. Tom Barclay says:

    And so, what result?
    Inquiring minds . . . besides which, I can’t imagine a situation in which a water heater was once installed, and no such accomplishment is ever possible again.
    Hope you’re not having to trek to the Y.


  3. Kate says:

    Possessing a brand-new Kenmore stove – which I bought in a frenzy of domestic upgrading last month – hot water enough for all washing was achievable. Years of Faire have taught me to cherish a sponge bath, as long as the water is warm and you have real soap (though I have bathed in room-temperature Perrier and dish detergent, at need). Finally found a plumber who actually knows LA Code and can install to satisfy it – the new heater goes in tomorrow! Overflow pipe, earthquake straps and all … it was these little Code details that were stumping the first few plumbers. We also discovered the dish washer contains a flash heater, so at least the dishes were easy to do. But crikeys, you’re so right, Leslie – we are all spoiled by our daily miracles!


  4. Tom Barclay says:

    Excellent news, glad to know it.


  5. Roger says:

    Not sure if that’s the same Leslie, above, (:-) but my Leslie and I hard-plumbed a water heater in our 100+ year old house, including cutting and soldering pipe and didn’t find it especially tough . . . can’t imagine what the issue is . . . maybe you just need to tell ’em to get the plumbum out?


  6. Roger says:

    Oh oops. Looked again. First comment was NOT my Leslie (sorry) .


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