Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting There

The humming birds haven't been around for a few weeks.  They've moved on.  I feel one with them.

In every sense of the phrase, I'm getting there.  The phrase came to mind as I thought of all the household drama that's going to erupt next week when the fixtures arrive for our double bathroom remodel project.  We've been living amid demolition and reconstruction for three weeks, and it's been fun to adapt while skilled workmen go about the business of correcting the flaws in a thirty-year-old house.  We've been reminded on several occasions of the need to expect the unplanned detour.

Two days after our new furnace was installed, the plumbers came in to prepare the main floor for new locations of toilets, sinks, and showers.  They drilled a circular hole in the floor for a toilet and said, "were those PVC pipes down there when we bid the job?"  It seems I had not thought to tell the furnace guys that their choice of a route for the PVC vent pipes should take into consideration the expected new bathroom drains above.  Fortunately, the problem was easily solved with some angle joints, and work flowed ahead with only a hiccup.

A few days ago, Steve Brandt, our general contractor, said, "did you know there's a roof vent up there that runs the length of the house, but that there's a big section of the roof that's not opened up to use that vent?"  I said I thought I'd heard something to that effect from the house inspector.  Could he open it up?  It turns out that he could, and so we're getting the top of the house in correct order and trim before Steve closes up the options with drywall.

If I lived anywhere near Steve, I'd want to be his friend.  He's one of those people with a gift for thinking well, for doing things completely right, and for dealing with people well.

So we're getting there, and the journey is as much of the joy as the arrival.  So much of life strikes me that way.  Last week I gave a daylily talk to a club near Evanston, Indiana, and I began and ended my slide show with a photographic "setting" of some lyrics of Bob Dylan's song, "Mississippi," which is one of my favorites.

Every step of the way
We walk the line.
Your days are numbered,
So are mine.
Time is piling up,
We struggle and we scrape;
We're all boxed in,
Nowhere to escape.

I used mainly some scenic photos I'd taken in Vermont almost thirty years ago and had sold to Vermont Life Magazine over the course of a decade.  I used a backlit shot of laundry flapping in an October morning breeze to go with "we walk the line."  I used a "still life" of an interior of a Victorian historic house -- a small writing table in a bay window looking out to a red maple tree -- for "your days are numbered."  I used an old photo of myself holding a small pumpkin on the ground as if for a place-kicker in football - for "so are mine."  A late afternoon shot of a clock belfry in the distance in a small town illustrated "time is piling up."  A shot of the back of a Ford pickup hauling a load of firewood down the Granville Gulch (taken while driving behind him!) illustrated "we struggle and we scrape."  And a green-gold scene of tall trees on either side of a vacant downward path in the Hyde Park cemetery illustrated "we're all boxed in, nowhere to escape."

My days are numbered, but I don't know the magic number.  Here I am watching earnest young men the age of my children ply their trades to create "the perfect house" for Kathy and me, and I pray I'll be vigorous and able to make this place hum with gardening for another twenty years.

This is our Master Bedroom on a Saturday morning.  Steve and Tim are using it as a "shop" for the work they're doing on the master bath and guest bath.  As soon as they finish, they'll replace that window with a longer one.  Then Rick and a helper from Beseda Flooring will come in and lay down golden oak hardwood flooring.  Then Steve will put in baseboards, and I'll follow up fixing the nail pops and dings in the paint job on the walls.  And then Kathy and I will move in from the guest bedroom to the Master Bedroom.  Steve and Tim, and the plumbers and the electrician, will then remodel the dining area and the stairs to the basement.  We won't be done with this in October, I'll bet. There's landscaping to prepare for, too.

There's the shower in the Master Bathroom.  Carl Andersen brought in the cultured marble shower pan yesterday.  We're getting there, and in other ways we're not.

These fibreglass entry doors do not belong on this style ranch house.  They remind me of typical entry doors of steakhouses in The West forty years ago.  I expect to see a sign that says, "Please check your firearms at the door."  Putting a proper set of doors on this house would set us back about $5,000, so the entrance became "low priority" yesterday when we priced what's needed.  We'll live with these doors and play saloon music on our music system.

I don't drink whiskey from shot glasses, though, and I don't wear cowboy attire with any grace.  I sip single malt Scotch from crystal glasses I bought in Colle val D'Elsa ten years ago, and I sip it rarely, and slowly.

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