Construction Update (February 1998)

(We began an addition to our home so that my mother could come and live with us the fall before this was written. Three years later I’m still missing a piece of trim molding and Mom says she’s not budging.)

I know you’re all interested to know how I’m doing in my new job as construction foreman, and even if you’re not, this is the only therapy I can afford right now. Here’s how my day went today:

Two weeks ago Tony, Ron and Vic (real foreman, carpenter, and lumber person) arrived as soon as I got back from taking Jen to school at about 9:45. I explained how I wanted my design wall in the new sewing studio (old living room) and they began tossing ideas around. Concentrating with both ears, my eyes squinting, and slightly bent at the waist, I could still only understand about 25% of what they were talking about. “Wood Speak” is far too specialized for me. Every two or three minutes I had to ask for a translation. This increased my understanding only about 12%. Clear as mud. Only by my offering descriptions in normal English with question marks on the end, and restricting them to a “yes” or “no” answer, was I able to feel moderately comfortable that they were going to build me the design wall of my dreams instead of an alcove with two banisters and a small turret. Just to give them some of their own medicine, I announced that as soon as we were done I was going to rotary cut some half square triangles. (They were clueless, but unimpressed.)

About six minutes into the meeting the electrician arrived with his helper to begin adding lights to the same room in which we were standing. Deep in conversation about the design wall I didn’t notice them come in until one of them took the hand saw to the ceiling. When I noticed there was no drop cloth underneath, there was no time to panic because the three framers arrived to hang the windows in the new addition and the two plumbers came to start on the ductwork. They were followed shortly by my Mallery Press employees who through some snafu all showed up on the same day. Then my mother came, followed by the siding guy who wanted to give me a quote (Shakespeare, I think) and another plumber. For those of you who are keeping track, that made 14 people. I ran outside just to take a picture of all the vehicles!

It’s now Thursday morning, and as I write this it has now been over a week since anybody came by to do any official work on the house. Unofficially, the well motor went into cardiac arrest last week. Not wanting it to blow up or drown, we cut the juice to it and only flipped the circuit breaker back on for morning showers. (Thank goodness for the porta potty on the front lawn.) It took major long times to get the well fixed because the well people couldn’t get their truck near the well until we moved the dumpster. That required negotiations as tricky and as time consuming as your typical nuclear disarmament treaty. (Having achieved that, the water softener died. Those folks are threatening to come today, sometime between noon and 2. Anybody taking bets?)

The well motor, two lengths of pipe, and the pump have now all been replaced due to holes, old age and planned obsolescence, respectively. They pumped chlorine into the well and with any luck my insides will now match my next load of whites. They claimed the water was now safe to drink, but neither of those guys washed their hands before handling my water pipes and you couldn’t pay me enough money to drink the water until I get it tested. (One guy had a GREEN beard!) We still have a good supply of bottled water in the fridge. In fact, I went out last night and bought another gallon. Came back home and noticed that I had gotten distilled water instead of the drinking stuff. I figure my Rowenta loves the stuff, how bad could it be? (c)1998 by Ami Simms.