Friday, June 5, 2009

Giving Doubt A Fair Hearing

Dear Ella,
If we start today, clean one room at a time, this old house may be ready in time for your visit. Yeah, yeah, don't bother you'll say. You didn't say, but I'm assuming, the girls are coming with you? Bring old clothes and comfortable shoes. We may need help. (I'm kidding). Tell Jenna and Julie that we'll be butchering a hog. They can help scrape and skin the pig. ( Also just kidding). Timing is important here. Wait until you see their faces drop before you tell them it's a ruse on my part.

At dawn I wake the cat. He opens his eyes, stretches, yawns and rolls on his back. We're nearing a full moon. Daytime and night-time activity is peaking. The black clouds in the west this morning disappear and I continue with wide circular arcs of water in the gardens . Early morning and late afternoons the brand new pump in the basement runs continually. When I flip a lever on the pulse sprinklers, they leave a circular pattern of dark brown on the soil. Raised in a square world, the garden plots are rectangular-10X80 feet each. I'm the Japanese gardener in this park. I'm a perfectionist almost reaching obsessive-compulsive. Almost. I leave that moniker to my neighbor, who with a new riding mower has his four acres of lawn manicured and tidy. You could chip and putt in the front yard. I hand water parts the sprinklers can't reach.

I wish it would rain.

I retrieve my phone from Scatterbrain in town who leaves the house almost daily forgetting her coffee, last night's rented movie, her glasses and, yes, my phone. My last stop is at the Amish. Thursday is pie day. Since they're due to leave on the Patriarch's birthday for an outing in a rented RV, I bring smoked polish sausage, sauerkraut and horse radish mustard for their picnic. The Mr. is in his workshop talking to an elderly couple. They brought him an old trastero( kitchen cabinet) that they sandblasted. The birch surface is clean and neat. Titus is showing them samples of birch to match the damaged top of the cabinet. The old lady explains that the cabinet was painted. Chipped and peeling, she wanted it to look new. I grimace at a valuable antique that has been whipped by sand into a plain wood box. Finally, the old man says, "Let's go Gladys. He's got a nice top there. If you gab anymore this will end up costing us a fortune."

"Dawn will hurt me, Titus if you don't finish the cabinets," I say to him. He points to the shell of the island counter he's put together. Then he shows me a pile of lumber that will be the cove moldings. "I've got to get the horses out of the barn,"he says. " Take this to the house and let my wife decide what to do with the sausage." Their outing has been cancelled due to a death . The man who was hired to drive has to attend to a funeral.

Both dogs are asleep on the front porch as I walk in. I wave to a daughter weeding a small garden near the house. One of the daughters is making a pile of pancakes at the wood stove. Another is taking peanut butter cookies off a baking sheet and onto a short segment of Formica counter top salvaged from a kitchen remodel. I hand the Wal-Mart bag of frozen sausage to Titus' wife and explain what he said. "Do you have a pie for me?" I ask. She goes off to another room and fetches the pecan pie. "How much do I owe you?" "The cost of pecans has jumped," she says. I hand a twenty to the daughter standing nearby. The pie costs four dollars less than the bakery outside of town. Titus' wife hands me a warm peanut butter cookie. On the way back home I savor the cookie as I look at fields with new cut hay on the ridge top and a newly graded and graveled road.

Our house is a mess. I spend too many valuable minutes looking for my phone (in Dawn's purse) looking for the receipt from the building supplies company for the counter top recently purchased(also in Dawn's purse). Along with the custom counter top, we special order an end cap kit to finish the edge of one cabinet counter top. When we decide to change the kitchen plan by removing a broom closet, the cabinet built to stand next to the broom closet now has an exposed edge. I skillfully hide the screw holes which previously would have been hidden and mix Dawn's acrylic paint to match the color of the birch finish.

I can't find the end cap kit.

In desperation before making the call to Lacrosse, I remove the counter from the cardboard box. It's in the bottom of the box. I bring the counter in and lean it against one wall. There's a rose pattern piece of fabric hanging from one end in the east window. It reduces the heat and light in the early morning. In the evening it blocks the view out of the east window. I pull one of the push pins letting it hang. Pots and pans fill a temporary console table near the window. Boxes of cereal, crackers, vinegars, oil, and other boxes of kitchen essentials line the shelf of a teak buffet in the living room. I removed the back cushions on the old blue plush couch and replace them with larger back pillows. My hope was that the new cushions would make it easier to get up out of the couch in the evenings. It doesn't. Like the cartoons, Dawn puts her foot on my butt and gives me a shove as I lift myself off the couch. As an explanation, the couch is extremely low to the ground. Without my bad knee, it is still difficult to get up after a day working in the fields.

Rugs hang on the deck railing. Furniture that was once in the living room is now stored in Dawn's studio to make way for additional cabinets I bring from the barn for storage. The buffet in the living room doesn't hold the mountain of kitchen debris, even with some of the new cabinets in place.

It seems like the remodel is taking forever. It started on Thanksgiving Day. Dawn had to work that day, so with nothing to do I start removing molding around cabinets...

Looking forward to your visit. Keep in touch.

1 comment:

Cat said...

Your words paint a really serene life style that leaves me a bit envious of all that open space.