Friday, November 11, 2011

Ups and downs of spiffing up the home front

The banging began on Monday and I think / hope that I can just make out a bit of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It all began quietly and quickly enough. A dumpster and modest pile of building supplies were dropped off at the end of my driveway late last week.

Early on Monday, just as the sun was peeking above the horizon, a team of worker bees descended on my mighty castle, the place the lovely Miss Wendy and I have called home for nearly three decades. The plan all along has been to fix a few problems and update everything else – new siding and a few new windows; new granite countertops and appliances in the kitchen; a bit of fresh paint from here to there! Hey, we’re not going anyway. Might as well make what we have as nice and comfortable as possible.

I’m happy to report that the workers are, well, working. They’re energetic, banging away at various tasks from early morning until darkness sweeps across the Land of Cotton. The problems, and there are always problems when ripping apart stuff, have been relatively minor. But the devil’s in the details and I’m the sort of guy who straightens photos on the wall, lines up my shoes and hangs shirts, pants and suits according to color and style.

All of that is to say that I’ve been busy stressing out over siding that isn’t perfectly aligned, bits of trim that doesn't come together nicely, and paint that has sprinkled onto light switches and door hinges. Then there are the dozens of endless decisions – what style to use in placing accent shingles; what color to paint the house and use inside; how best to coordinate new hardware for the cabinets with all the new appliances; where best to cut the granite and place the seam on our new countertop; what sort of lighting fixtures and sizes to purchase for outside? Well, you get the idea.

Meanwhile, dealing with the team of international workers handling all these chores has been challenging. They nod mightily when I make a suggestion, but I’m thinking they don’t have a clue what I’m saying. I certainly don’t understand them. In fact, it took me two days to realize they weren’t speaking Spanish. Turns out the crew doing the bulk of the outside work is from Brazil and speaks Portuguese.

Hunkered down in my little office, I spotted at least a dozen workers from three different companies yesterday. At one point the noise was deafening, a jarring symphony of pounding, banging, hammering, ripping and shouting. But at day’s end, I could start to see all the little pieces falling into place.

In a week or three the work will be complete and Wendy and I will be able to settle back with a sigh – for a moment or so. Then, unfortunately, the real work begins. Somebody has to go through all those boxes we packed up filled with stuff from drawers, cabinets and closets and put everything back. I’m thinking that’s a job that we’ll still be attacking when 2011 has become a fading memory.

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