I got up early. I made brownies and rice krispie treats for the workers who will be here the next three days. I cleaned up the glass block windows, removed the tape, and did a preliminary sweeping. I removed the wood shims from the two block windows that were set yesterday. I will need to mix up a dab of mortar to finish them. I took the metal shelves out of the basement pantry and moved them to the garage. I swept three or four random spots and wiped down the stairs with a wet rag.
I got Jessie up at 7:00am and the first thing she heard was the sound of Chariots of Fire. Thursday was a bath day.
Before school, we made Jessie’s bed and did dishes, per usual.
While we were in the basement, we missed the trash guys, so I didn’t get rid of the wheel-less trashcan from the shed. Drat. Also, the garbage guys missed out on a plate of brownies and rice krispie treats. Hey garbage fellows, if you read this, drive by to claim your goodies.
The mortar guys were here first thing. We turned on the outside electricity and touched base with them before they got going. The one mortar guy looked at his work from last week and said, “That looks really good.” He’s right. It looks great.
Jessie and I did school, but I admit I was distracted. I was trying to get ready for big days on the house for Friday and Saturday. Friday, the electrician is to come and we’ll hatch our plot to save the house from the insurance company’s threat to shut us down if we don’t get rid of the horrors of tube and knob (that have been fire free for 81 years. Did I mention that I found a one by three sheet of asbestos above the bathroom radiator/fan? The fan was spewing the dust from the asbestos directly above it into the breathing area of the bathroom. Of course, I disposed of the asbestos, but really folks, can we get a sense of proportion? I’ll deal with the wiring in an ethical, legal, healthy sort of way. After all, do I want to be in a house that’s going to burn up my five-year-old?) And Saturday, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew-in-law, and daughter are coming to work on the house. The drywallers have been working faithfully to help set up these next two steps. But, I’ll say a bit more about them in a bit.
So, I was distracted during school. But, we got through it. And, Jessie did a fine job.
I tore apart the shelving in the pantry. I hope to get that painted Saturday so I can get the fourteen boxes in the middle of the basement unpacked. On the shelves, I found mouse feces. Like the nest under the bar, the mouse evidence was not recent. And, with the glass block windows, I am just pretty confident that the issues with intruders have been eliminated. And, if that’s not enough, my ultimate line of defense is Cleo the prowling feline. So, by school’s end, the pantry was ready, the block windows were cleaned on the inside, and the first sweeping of the mortar mess from the windows was completed. It’s a wonder that Jessie puts up with such a poor teacher.
I ran to the store to get lettuce, bananas, and more drywall tape. All of these are, of course, essential parts of a healthy diet.
Jessie’s grandpa stopped by briefly as we were leaving.
A little after 2:00pm, some old friends stopped by to spend some time with Jessie.
I talked with the mortar guys and let them know they’re doing an amazing job. Have you ever hired a contractor that turns out to be a nightmare? I’ve had my share. On the other hand, have you ever had a contractor that almost seems like family? That’s how these two guys are. They let me borrow a tool of theirs for the weekend to work on the glass block windows. They told me they’d leave their scaffold up to the chimney a few extra days if it’d help me look at the flashing on my chimney or get the nails pounded on my popped shingles. The one brother is on his second round of cancer. When I told the other brother that their work was that of a craftsman who cares about his work, he said that his dad taught him that if you do really good work, you wouldn’t have to be embarrassed at a restaurant when you see your customers in public. Let me just say that these two guys are the real deal.
So, I had to leave for a while, so Jessie stayed with the couple that had come to visit. They went for a walk to look at the beautiful houses in the neighborhood, Jessie showed off her amazing backyard, and the wife and Jessie gathered more seeds for she and daddy to plant.
When I got back, we started getting ready for supper. During that time, the drywallers arrived on the scene.
Did I mention that there are some contractors like family? I’m not sure if I’ve told their story (or part of it), but if I have, my editor might catch the duplication and fix it. When we built our last house from scratch, I was general contractor. What a nightmare. I had all the contractors lined up except a drywaller. By that time, we knew the guys in Lowes by their first name. They were used to seeing us three times a day (our kids still whine about those days and about knowing where every bathroom in every Lowes is located). One of the guys asked how things were going, and I said I really needed a drywaller. He said that his parents did that kind of work and I ended up hiring them knowing nothing about them. The last house was gigantic (6 beds, 4-1/2 baths – gigantic). You never saw so much drywall. But, that pair did an amazing job. They not only worked in our house, they worked their way into our hearts. I could tell you a dozen stories, and the drywallers could tell you some of their own about us, but let me just say that we became close friends. After the house was done, we lost touch with each other. Three Christmases ago, the husband showed up with a fruit basket to tell me that he and his wife were in church every Sunday and Wednesday. I’m a former preacher and you have no idea how much it means to me when someone I care about says those words. Especially someone as special as those two. Well, their old phone number didn’t work, so I couldn’t get ahold of them, so we lost track of each other again (the truth be told, the phone number still works, so they informed me, they just lost the phone and can’t answer it). So, when we bought this house, we drove an hour away, found their house, and left them a note. A month and a half later, we are reacquainted, and they’re driving an hour one way, to do drywall work in this house. On the first day of their work, the husband shared some personal stuff with me that I’m not at liberty to share here. But, let’s just say that it brought tears to my eyes and it brought tears to our kids’ eyes when I told them, too. I told him that, knowing his bad news, I am all that much happier to know they are in church. Since then, Jessie has fallen in love with both of them, and they have fallen in love with her. In the latter case, it’s impossible not to fall in love with Jessie. They now refer to her as their ninth grandchild. When they leave, there are hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s.” That’s not usually what happens when a homeowner hires a contractor. Well, last night, the man asked, “Guess what happened Sunday?” I asked, “What happened?” He said, “I got baptized.” Now, there probably a lot of readers who don’t know what that means, but for those of you who do, you know how important that is. And, being the former preacher that I am, I can’t begin to express how profound an impact that had on me. Let’s just say that I’m crying as I type those words. The impact on our kids was just about the same.
The drywaller lady gave Jessie a bag with round, orange cheese puffs with a label that said, “pumpkin poop.” She said that Jessie had probably never heard that word before. Jessie read the words aloud and the lady was right. Jessie said, “pumpkin pop.” Sometimes we Campbells are so utterly predictable.
Since I had been cooking and freezing, spontaneous supper for five was done in a jiffy. And it was really good, too.
The house was full of laughter.
All too soon, everyone melted away, and it was just Jessie and me. We read Anne of Green Gables. We read the Bible. Jessie wanted to play jump on daddy and get daddy out from under the comforter. We knelt to pray and closed our eyes to day 149.
Blessings: There are some days that, even while the day is happening, you know that you will many days in the future look back on that day and say it was special. Day 149 will quite possibly be one of those days. A drywaller who was a stranger who became a friend who became family who became my brother in the Lord. Predictable naïveté. The Father Who deserves all the credit for anything good.