"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I am writing this during week three of an outside remodel of our garage and deck. It sounds so simple when written, but the remodel was pretty extensive, and is still ongoing, although winding down. However, I believe there is at least another week to go. Alas.

Dealing with construction workers around the place, I suspect, is like dealing with servants. You know they are there, going about their business, but you have to ignore them. I’ve never had servants, so I can’t say this with any certainty, but the analogy seems fitting. Rather than cooks, housemaids, footmen, and char girls, I have Cement Guy, Back Hoe Guy, Plumber Guy, Electrician Guy, Drywall Guy, and Painter Guy. Directing this team of subcontractors is my Major Domo, or General Contractor. I like him, and my husband and I have known him for about fifteen years. He is also the one building the new deck, with the help of his fifteen-year old nephew, while overseeing the rest of the destruction/construction.

And, as with servants, you lose a lot of privacy, at least during the day. It is disconcerting, to say the least, when typing away at the computer, to suddenly have a strange man right outside the window. And since a lot of these guys go in for colored, mirrored sunglasses, it’s like being peered at by an alien. Also, invariably when I’m in the middle of something, I’ll hear a pounding on the back door, and then a guy sticks his head in and shouts, “Hello. Hello...M’am, are you there?” Even more surreal, is using the restroom, since the window faces the front of the house, right where the new deck cover is going up. Even though the window is opaque, there you are, sitting on the throne, while just outside men are talking about lumber and batteries for screwdrivers.

Then there is the noise. Oh, I can deal with hammers, saws, and heavy equipment. It is the battle of the boom-boxes I object to. In the garage, Drywall Guy likes to listen to hard rock at the decibel of a jet engine, while on the deck, the GC is listening to Christian rock—I suspect that when these two sound waves meet, it creates a black hole in space...somewhere. The Cement Guy loves talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh, who drives me right up the wall. On the rare occasions when the Electrician turns up (he is a bit of a prima-donna, and my least favorite), he changes the dial on the Cement Guy’s boom box (when Cement Guy isn’t there) to a heavy metal rock station, and he and his son loudly sing along...loudly off key. I like the plumber. He wears an Ipod on his belt and uses earphones.

Lastly, there is the dust. Dirt dust, saw dust, drywall dust, plaster dust—it goes everywhere and gets into everything. The floors are gritty with it, and the furniture coated with it, the cars shrouded in it—and I can’t describe how grubby the windows look. And, unless I make sure to close the lid on them, the water in the toilet bowls are rimed with dirt like a back-bay tide line. I have decided to ignore it until the construction is over. Why bother cleaning, when within 24 hours it will all be back?

So, I preserver. I try to ignore the battle of the boom-boxes, the strangers lurking outside the windows, and the new plaster which smells like a cat box. Instead, I walk out on our almost completed new deck and take in the view, I relax in the new hot tub, and revel in having, for the first time in my life, a house with air-conditioning, and heating, instead of only a wood stove. My husband is happy that when all is done, the converted garage will hold three cars instead of two.

Yes, our little place has been brought into the 21st century at long last...but I will be oh so glad when the “servants” leave for good and I have no more dust, no more noise, no more bug-eyed aliens looking at me through the windows, and no one sticking their head in the back door and yelling, “Hello....M’am, are you there?”