September 6, 2009

Labor of Love

Leaving on a Jet Plane and When You Get Back, Get Out

It became clear that not only had I reached a glass ceiling at my day job, but that helping out on weekends alone was not going to cut it, so the moment we were able to refinance I joined Matt in making the house a full time thing. We were now commuting in one car together from a family member’s house in the Boston area. Each morning we headed out at about 8:00 and did not arrive back home until well after all of the members of the household had gone to sleep.

It was May so with Jerry stumbling in here and there and our newly acquired pile of materials secured in the front bedroom, we wasted no time doing all of the things that could be done before the inspector came to give the final okay on the permit; the day we would finally be able to put the house on the market.

Matt located a builder’s supply center in Rhode Island that was a fairly lengthy drive but worlds less expensive than Home Depot for windows. He picked up nine standard sized, wood ones there and we custom ordered eleven more in vinyl for some areas that were a little bit quirky in size. While on the spending spree we also sprung for eight new interior doors and the front and back exterior doors.

That is when Matt found Phil.

Phil and Jerry were definitely both sent to the same school for odd ducks, but Phil was just an all around funny guy. He was big and burly and drove this beat up maroon pick up truck with his company name on the side. That was more than poor Jerry had to show for credentials.

We hired Phil and his crew to do some demo work for us that was a little out of our comfort level; we paid them to rip out the shed in the front yard as well as the two and three season porches on the back of the house that were only still together because the termites were holding hands.

In three days all said structures were down, cleaned up and the guys were out of our yard. It was tempting to ask if they also knew how to hang drywall. Or could run wire.

On the back of the house the three season porch was accessed through a slider door in the kitchen. The slider was an older style aluminum type and the only locking mechanism it had was the block of wood that had been cut to fit in the lower channel on the static door side. Needless to say we were anxious to remove the entire jimmy-rigged contraption and replace it with the locking door.

We both agreed that this would be the last thing we did before going away on our vacation because we were looking to firmly secure the premises prior to being gone for a full week.

The day came and while we replaced the door Matt got a call from Jerry that he was having shrapnel removed from his appendix and would not be able to get back for a couple weeks. By this point we both held nothing back with the world’s slowest contractor and Matt simply told him that we were running low on some materials over at our place so since he was likely on his way to another job for a couple weeks, he might want to pick up a check from them to pick up the stuff for our job.

After a very long day, and lots of curse words flying out of both of our mouths at the lack of not only level but plumb in a 150 year old house, we managed to install the door and window on the back of the house. There were some cinder blocks lying around from who knows what and we used them to makeshift a set of stairs out the back door.

We stood in the yard and admired the first truly noticeable exterior change then we headed home to pack for our trip the following morning.

After 9/11, as many may recall, flights were somewhat off for a while and many airlines were offering amazing deals on tickets as well as additional incentives to keep people up in the skies. Just before our wedding I had come across an impossible to pass up price on tickets to Arizona so I jumped on it.

Neither of us ever imagined we would still be working on the house in early June of 2003 but we were so I began looking into the options of what we could do about not going away. Sadly, it would have cost us substantially more to transfer the tickets than the original tickets cost to begin with so we found ourselves heading out for sunny weather.

The trip was just what we both needed and we came back rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the house could throw at us next. Even if it meant we had to corral and hog tie Jerry for him to actually finish before the anniversary of our closing date.

The people who were letting us stay however must have felt that the vacation was a bad idea because the day we returned one of them sat down to talk to us. The conversation went something like this: “He wants you out tomorrow.”

We had no electricity, no walls, no bathroom and a cat.

Matt went to pick up some rope for the necessary kidnapping of Jerry and while I located a local motel that took pets, Matt called our friendly electrician to explain that we would be moving in just five days from that moment so he had better get his act together.

We packed everything we owned that night and made it to Motel 6 in Springfield the following morning by 9:00 AM.


Chris Stone said...

shrapnel removed? lol. Jerry was a prize.

Almost Precious said...

Hey Jenn, do you think all contractors are issued a manual of; "A Million and One to why you can't work on your clients project today...while, in reality, you go work at another location before they report you to the Better Business Bureau and confiscate your license." ?

Just hope your stay at the motel ended up being a short one.

Karen said...

Oh, my.

I had to laugh about the termites holding hands. LOL

audreyscountrycrafts said...

WOW!! Nice friends/relatives. LOL
Can't wait to see what happens next!

Rosebud Collection said...

You know, I am always amazed that people keep their business. What is this guy thinking? It is for sure he is not thinking about his work.
That motel must have looked mighty darn nice.

Rosebud Collection said...

Just a comment on Bernie..You know Jenn..I can't picture you running a picture of this young man, dying on the field, knowing his parents asked to please not show it. One must always put themselves in the other persons shoes to feel the pain. That goes for anything in life. You wouldn't have done it..I just know it.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

You do have a way with words, I can just picture the termites "holding hands"; they must have been so distraught when the porches came down.

Hugs, Mum