Monday, August 05, 2013
Still beyond me, but not far
The painters are coming this morning, the whole crew in place to do absolutely nothing but tape and paint our new house. I'm thrilled. Things haven't changed much over there in the lat month or so, once the sheet rockers left. We did get the basement floor stained so that the heat that's under the cement will be even sweeter, come November. I'll be down there, after all. Looks great.
We've been thinking about the landscaping lately, but just planning. Otherwise, things have been stagnant for what seems forever. If you saw the place a month ago, three garage doors create the only visible difference. Oh yeah--and weeds. Plenty of them.
The weather's been gorgeous, but I don't work outside here at the new old house as joyfully as I did last summer, when we moved into River Rouge. Back then, there was no new house in the works, not even in our deepest recesses of our imaginations. We were happy for a year-and-half sabbatical from wondering where we were going to live, and very much at home in a sweet rental acreage with a backyard river.
Last year I whacked weeds, trimmed trees, did more than my share of cleaning up because there's always something to do on a eight acres with a half dozen buildings. Besides, we were starting a new life after almost 30 years in the old, old house, a lovely place just two blocks from the college where both of us worked, the home where we'd raised our kids.
Didn't take us long ans we loved the new, old house, loved its landscape, loved its location, loved the river, loved being out of the town where we'd lived for forty years. Still do.
But I'm not out there with the weed-whacker as regularly or as joyfully this summer because how I find myself wanting to spend my afternoons at the new place. I want to put up some stone retaining walls myself, lay down pavers around a little wooden deck just outside the walk-out basement, want to weed the bare sand that came up when a foot or so of topsoil was cleared to put in footings.
It won't be long now because the tomorrow the painters are coming. Three weeks?--who knows?
When the basement got poured, it didn't take long for the house to be framed. In a day almost, that house took shape, the builder himself up top hammering the roof line. In a week, the shingles; in another, the siding. Meanwhile, the windows and doors. Soon enough the garage and driveway cement went in, and ouila! we got where we are. June 1 maybe.
Things slowed down. The plumbers and the electrician, like surgeons, didn't change the look of things all the much but went undercover to install their goods, and that took a while--another month maybe, maybe more.
Then we waited. . .
Until the insulators blew in and blew out in just a couple of days, and sheet rockers, on stilts, slapped up the walls in just a couple more.
And then we waited again.
It all started when we broke ground on April 25. For a while, things were moving down a speedway. I thought we'd be in by July 4. That was silly.
Meanwhile, this new old house isn't getting cranky or feeling betrayed, but after a year we're starting to know the corners where we'd rather not look. Its irritations are getting annoying. This river acreage is still a great place, and we love it. We had no idea where we'd want to be at this time last year. Now we do.
By October of last year (we moved in here in July) we'd already begun to settle on our tomorrows. The river's charms were glorious; the woods, so rare in Sioux County, Iowa, seemed a sweet place to hide; and the open spaces, the broad landscape, offered dawns and sunsets to die for. We wanted to stay in the neighborhood. Our neighbors--good people--were selling lots, in fact. We bought in. We're staying.
All of that seems an age ago, and right now that new house of ours seems as much a museum as a work in progress. But then our inner clocks run woefully slow right now as moving day comes nearer. Seems like forever.
We're creating a place that was not there before. In our imagination we're decorating rooms that exist only in our minds. Once or twice in our many years together, out of sheer necessity we bought a new refrigerator, a washer or a dryer. We've got nothing now--no appliances--so in a month every last appliance in that brand new house will also be brand new. Heated basement floor. . .buffalo rug up on the wall. Can you imagine? I can't.
In 1975 we bought our couch and love seat at a garage sale in Phoenix, Arizona. Mom VG reupholstered it twice, but it's been the only living room furniture we've ever had. It'll be in the basement in six weeks, and whatever graces "the great room," will be showroom-new. I have no idea what it'll look like.
I can't imagine it--can't imagine moving in, can't imagine typing at this very keyboard, as this very desk, but in the basement of a house that's still a skeleton, just a couple of stones' throws down the block. I can't imagine living there, mostly because there's no there there. Honestly, I haven't been able to imagine the place since we stepped off the floor plan on the lot and marked the corners will a bunch of orange flags on hanger wire. It's sort of beyond me.
We've only been at for a couple of months, but sometimes it seems as if it's taken forever. It hasn't really--besides, all it needs now some paint, some household goods, some pipes and wires connected. And flooring. And tile. But it should go now. Honestly, shouldn't be long.
Still, my imagination casts up little more than a few out of focus images. I can stand in our new new house's unfinished rooms, I can look over the plans, I've heard the builder talk about it and my wife show me where things will go, but it's still not a house. There's no there there.
But then, I know this much: It won't take us nearly as long to build the home as it did the house, that I know. That job's been done for years--41 of 'em, in fact.
Still, I'm excited. This morning the paint crew'll be there, full force. Seriously--this morning.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:00 AM