In my last report to you about our remodeling project, I told you the maple tree in the backyard had been felled and made into firewood.
The next few days were interesting as the birds and squirrels flew through the yard and pulled up short, looking for what was no longer there.
Then the contractor came in and dug the footer for the foundation. It didn’t look very big. The squirrels seemed puzzled by the new development. Next the contractor put in the foundation. Then the squirrels were running all over it. A little later we had a whole bunch of squirrels out there. I think they thought we had constructed a play gym just for them, so they invited all their friends.
While we waited patiently for the blocks to dry, the rains came, and came, and came. Finally it was deemed dry enough to proceed, and they began to frame the building.
This meant I had to be up and dressed every morning by 7 or 8. I am one of those people who would like morning better if it started later. My idea of luxury is lounging in my robe while I eat breakfast and read the paper. Well, luxury left when construction began.
The daily crew was composed of three personable young men who were able to joke and laugh with us while they worked. The day they were ready to begin the roof, Bill said, “You know, if you really want a walk-in closet off the bedroom, we’ll never be able to do it any cheaper than now.”
“Really?” He had my full attention. “Call the boss and find out how much,” I suggested as I headed off to a meeting.
When I returned home I again asked, “How much?”
“Affordable,” he replied. He had already been to the city and county offices to upgrade the permits, and the crew had removed the one roof truss they had put in place and were already working on the new second story closet.
The next morning when I went out back to check on their progress, the whole crew stepped over to my side of the building and in unison called down to me, “What changes do you want to make today?”
I was pleased they could tease me about it to my face instead of mutter about it behind my back. The chorus was a daily show until I told them I wanted a glass elevator on the outside of the building to lift me from the yard to the closet.
We have literally conducted an open house from early in the morning until quitting time as various sub-contractors come in and out to size up and bid their various portions of the job.
One day as I was going up the stairs, two men I hadn’t seen before passed me on their way down. I later pointed them out to Bill. He told me they had gone up a ladder on the outside but decided to come down the steps inside.
I reached the point where I believed if I were awakened from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. by a stranger, I would just ask if they wanted directions to the attic or the basement.
One Friday the crew asked if I minded if they left the big dump truck in the backyard. I assured them it would be OK. So every time I washed the dishes that weekend, I looked out the window over the sink into the bed of the big red dump truck loaded with construction trash. The younger grandchildren were more thrilled with the view than I was.
Every time new workers come in, they look at the room being added upstairs and comment on how nice it is. When we tell them it’s a closet, their eyes open wide in surprise. I decided we might as well really surprise them, so now I tell them it will be a nursery.
I’m really grateful to get my dream closet after all these years, but I think I’ll have to give up the idea of getting the automated dry cleaner rack that would allow me to push a button and have the chosen outfit swing around to wherever I’m standing. Oh well, I think I can cope with that.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on July 16, 2003.