Photo: The kitchen island with the range hood over it. The carpenters finished up their work on Monday and the kitchen is 99.9% done. There is this one little annoying thing that connects the range hood to a thingy in the basement so that when the fan is on, air comes in from the outside. this is all quite stupid and a bad idea, but it’s “for code” so it has to be done…
I am sitting here this afternoon feeling so satisfied.
Every day this week, I cooked 3 meals a day and did 2 loads of laundry.
Regularly readers know that that is a pretty big deal.
It hit me yesterday as I was watching preliminary Olympic events and folding a basket of clothes. I had taken a deep breath after sending the children off with their father for the bedtime routine, and I got about 5 shirts in when I realized: There were two loads worth of clothes in that basket. And I’d done laundry all week. And my God, my back hurts from lugging that laundry up those stairs!
And then I smiled. Because that was the most normal of normal thoughts I’ve had in weeks.
Not only did I do my normal 2 loads of laundry and 3 meals a day, I expanded my cooking repertoire with two new recipes: The Honey Glazed Fried Chicken that I linked on Wednesday (seriously, tough. Crazy delicious.) and last night, I made golden yellow cupcakes from scratch. No more cake mix for me!!! Yay! I even made blueberry muffins twice this week–one batch for the snow day and one batch for traditional Friday Muffins. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow I’m baking bread.
And I’ve been cleaning. I finally took chemicals to that 1st-floor bathroom that the workmen have been using. I know that I shouldn’t use bleach because I have a septic system… but I wasn’t going to feel like that bathroom was clean until I was dizzy with the smell of Clorox. It felt so good to scrub that thing to oblivion. I still hate it, a lot, but at least if I have use it, I’ll know that it’s clean! I also started my Friday chores–sweeping floors and vacuuming, doing laundry and organizing for the weekend–but I’m quickly learning that I’m going to have to change my routine. There is more space in this house than we’ve ever had and I can’t get all of my chores done in the morning any more. We’re gonna have to split this over days and what not and that’s going to be a pain. I’m very happy to say, at least, that the 1st floor of the house (with the exception of the playroom, which will only ever be cleaned when company is coming over, I suspect) is clean.
Can I also tell you that I completed a suitable draft for Lightspeed yesterday afternoon? 3700 words of clay to mold and shape into something worthy of submission. It took so much to give birth to this story, but I’m so relieved to have found a suitable telling of it. Don’t celebrate yet–there is still editing to do. And a “submit” button to press. But the initial composition is over. Finally.
Now, you’ve probably read all that and thought to yourself “well, this must mean that men are out of the house.” Obviously, I couldn’t be this productive if all of the workmen were still ever-present in my home, right?
Well, there is good news and bad news.
Good news: The carpenters and the plumbers are done with the house. I waved goodbye to my dear and fearless carpenters on Monday. It was difficult to say goodbye–these men were good at their job, they took pride in their work, they loved the boys and were very kind to them, and most of all, I enjoyed listening to their stories and watching them do their thing. Watching them was a fantastic reminder of the pride that good men take in the hard work that they do. They took pictures of my kitchen when they were done and swore they’d be back for a cookoff in the summer (both of them produce some pretty legit meals. We had a few lunch exchanges while they were here.) I gave them both very big hugs and sent them off to their next adventure.
The Bad News: The electricians need to come out, one more time. And I hate the electricians.
You see, the electricians are these dudes who just don’t seem to respect my house or me or my general contractor. From the outset, they created a mess in my front lawn, they created ridiculously large holes to do their work and left the dust and plaster everywhere. They keep the most random hours without any regard to schedule. And finally, one of the men is a complete and total creepy asshole. Seriously: He loves to call me “Senorita” all the time in a mocking or sometimes flirty tone though he’s clearly met my husband, seen his children, and is standing in my house. He’s stared at me for over-long moments and has made creepy comments to me. I really, really freaking can’t stand this guy. And then, to make it worse, I walked into the house after preschool yesterday and here he was, at the top of my stairs, working on an outlet in a baseboard that needed to be added. When I’d left the house, the baseboard was fine and just had tape over it to cover the hole where the outlet was supposed to be. Here is this creepy man, at the top of my stairs, with a handsaw, using his knee to keep the molding of my baseboard in place, sending woodchips flying down my newly swept stairs.
“What are you doing!?!?!” I asked him.
“Let me do my job, lady!” The man implored instead of answering my questions.
“Tell me what you are doing! What do you need a saw for?”
“You want me to do this outlet for you, right?”
“Yes, but you shouldn’t need a saw for that!”
“don’t worry about it!”
Well, here is the result:
I know that the camera on my phone sucks, but what you’re looking at here is the molding on the board not properly in place (see the slant from the left to right? So, I mean, what did dude use the saw for?) and then he split the board itself in multiple places. I don’t even know how that’s possible. And you have to understand that this house is 100 years old, so it’s not easy to just get wood that matches this. Oh, and this is at the very top of my stairs. That means that every single time I walk up my staircase, my eyes immediately hone in on this… because there is nothing else to see!
I am not a violent woman, but when I saw this, I thought I was going to physically assault the man. There was nothing about this that read good work, worthy of any craftsman or any home. This was a shit job done by a man who just couldn’t give a shit about what he does or what he’s paid for. I’ve written it before: I believe that men who work with their hands are dignified and worthy of admiration. But this man? The man who did this? Should I see him again, I might come across his jaw.
I informed my General Contractor that this man was no longer welcome on my property. Thankfully, my contractor seems to get the message.
But the electricians still have to come back, because they have to create a switch in the kitchen to hook up to something in the basement and yada yada yada… And since there are inspections and stuff that still need to happen, I told everyone to stay away this weekend and come back on Monday.
There is also still a dumpster on my property that probably won’t be removed until March or April. The hauling company tried to retrieve it on Tuesday while I was out picking up Ursa Major from preschool. Instead, they got stuck. When I got back from picking up my toddler, I found this mess:
The truck was stuck, they kicked up dirt and mud all over my property and my neighbor’s property, and even went so far as to run over her flowerbed on the way out. The stupid thing about it? They didn’t even leave a note. I just had to put two plus two together to figure out what happened.
Livid is not adequate enough to describe my rage. I think I might have actually been foaming at the mouth.
After apologizing to the sweet Octogenarian who lives next door and said over and over that it wasn’t a big deal, I called the hauling company. “Your drivers came to try to pick up the dumpster on my property, and I guess they got stuck. They made a complete mess, didn’t even get the dumpster, and what’s worse, they destroyed my neighbor’s flowerbed in the process!”
There was a long silence on the phone.
“I… I guess I just don’t know what to say,” replied the man.
And really, what he should have said was “I don’t really care.” I sent him pictures, I told him how unprofessional and unacceptable this all ways. Eventually I got a cold and casual “Well, how much are we talking in property damage, do you think?”
As much as I try to seek a optimistic outlook, a benefit-of-the-doubt, a dignity in every person… sometimes I just can’t help but hold people in cold contempt. There are people in this world who simply do not have any intention to contribute, and meander through their days being more of a problem than a solution. It takes a lot for me to get to a space of pure loathing, but it is possible to get me there. I’m very surprised to say that I found that space twice this week.
Take pride, even if you don’t necessarily have passion. Passion isn’t always necessary for pride, but pride is an essential thing. My Quiet Thoughts this Friday take me back to the moments when I did something just to do it, and didn’t put any pride into it. When I created those crappy products, be they book reports or group projects, things for work or things for my parents, things that I thought were too small for my intellect or too irrelevant for whatever I thought was important in life… I wonder who was depending on me and how much I let them down. Moreover, my quiet thoughts go to the times when I made a a poor impression, or when I lost the respect of another person, because I made a choice not to do my best. There is cost to that, though I may never fully know. I know that there is a cost to the man who was in my home yesterday, and there will be a cost to the man at the hauling company. Finance, though, shouldn’t be the greatest motivator in life…
It’s yet another cold Friday in New England. Tonight, I’ll sit with my husband and watch the Opening Ceremonies from Sochi. I’ll spend my weekend cheering for American athletes and remarking about just how crazy Winter Sports are. I’ll roar with pride when the American hockey team hits the ice, I’ll gasp when American figure skaters miss their jumps, I’ll cover my eyes and peek through my fingers while watching the luge and the skeleton, and I’ll stare with my mouth open as skiers jump through the air. My wish for you is that you do the same–that you’ll cheer on your countrymen and wish them safety and success. That you’ll indulge in a little bit of pride, yelling “SUCK IT, [Rival]!” at the television when your hometown athlete bests their peers. I wish you a moment to forget all of the stupid things we hate about Putin and his policies in the name of being a citizen of the world watching the best of the best at their best. I wish you time to do something you want to do, well, and with pride. I wish you a kiss on the cheek and a sweet embrace. I wish you warmth, inside and out. And joy, always.
See you Monday.