18 November 2007

Quitting Time!

J. quit on the morning of his last scheduled day. I did something to piss him off but when I was thinking about this post earlier, I realized that he probably would not have quit had he thought there were additional days of immediate work ahead on this job. He pulled the center support beam securing things before bracing. Pulling it out at that stage wreaked some havoc with the front wall but I didn't find out about the consequences till later and it was nothing terribly serious. While it was a pain for things to be left unfinished and his quitting cost me some time and aggravation, when I look back through my journal for that time, I read that I was ultimately relieved to see him go. Naturally, a big storm blew in that afternoon and my very helpful next door neighbor, Aubrey, and one of his sons helped me seal up the gaping twin window hole before the rain fell.

At this point, I should say that blogs are designed for fresh content of the moment for good reason. I am finding it difficult to look back and honestly recreate the building process for a number of reasons. One reason is that for this particular building project, there was a lot of personality, emotion, stress and distress involved. Maybe that's true for all building projects. Or for a lot of them. Another reason is that I don't feel now the way I felt then and am not particularly enjoying reviewing certain aspects of the experience. Specifically the recounting of what various workers did wrong. I don't care about making a list of grievances. Although, things will go wrong in the building process and that's part of the story of making any building.

Nor do I care to list my own shortcomings in the process. For example, I discovered that "It's crooked" is my middle name. Or was my middle name. I finally realized that it's a crooked world or, as Alfred once said, it's all relative. One of the things that made me such a pain for the various contractors was that I would make them explain to me the results of various decisions I would have to make. I wasn't paying them to teach me, I was paying them to labor but, I mean, I had to understand whether one thing or another was going to risk a wall falling down, a pipe exploding or an electrical fire.

It was difficult for me to keep my head on straight about myself as various men, on my own property, who I would hand money to, would berate me or do some damage or make me wait for hours or days and then somehow reason that the berating, damage and delay was my fault.

What saved my shredding psyche was my next door neighbor, Aubrey, who was always kind, available and helpful, the truly great contractors including the roofer and especially the sheet rocker (who gets my gold star), some essays in Dominique Browning's Around the House and in the Garden and Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather. I'll go into detail about those and other helpful people and things in future posts but for now, I'll try to wrap this up. Let's see... my point was....

I guess it's that I thought I needed to tell this story but did not realize how complicated for me the telling would be, nor what a time-sink. I don't like pulling punches but I don't like bad-mouthing people either. I learned a lot and I made mistakes (and repeated some). Some of the mistakes I made were in hiring some of the people I did. But we have a happy ending ahead because I'm writing this on my comfy, messy day bed surrounded by my art books, looking out onto the pretty scenery of my yard from my private little room under the loft. And that's another reason I don't like wading through the icky business of the past. I came through that to get here. And I like it here.

Well, I'm into this story now. I may as well proceed.

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