One of Those Days

door 1218On the heels of my unhappy HOA meeting experience, I walked into One of Those Days at work. I had a bunch of plans, and many things to prepare for — and it all got tossed on its head. Repeatedly.

Neither Kara nor Ben was at work when I got there. Kara, sadly, had gone home because her grandmother died. It was not an unexpected death, but still these things tend to catch one off-guard. [And I suppose this is as good, or sad, a place as any to update you all that my cousin Scott died the evening after I posted my blog entry about him.]

Ben — who really had One of Those Days — went back home to work on his car, which hadn’t started in the subzero weather.

Then Riley called to say he would be late, because the pipes had frozen under the trailer he rents.

So while everyone and everything else was frozen, our contractor Dusty came by to report that the concrete guys were out at the lot pouring the garage slab and the post supports for the covered porch. I don’t know how concrete works in weather that shuts down cars and pipes, but Dusty seemed confident enough.

I also don’t know why one digs a three-foot-deep hole, then fills it back up just to put a slab on it. I suppose perhaps it’s to make sure everything’s level and perhaps the construction-grade fill provides a better base than the Earth itself — although there’s still earth under the fill. It’s a construction mystery — at least to me.

Then Ben went to lunch. He strongly considered not going home for lunch, but made one of those fateful sort of decisions that make you wonder if the universe isn’t in play in all this. Not only did he go home, he went down into his basement — where he discovered water spewing all over his storage/mechanical room. He thinks, based on the flow rate, that the mishap probably only started 20 minutes before his arrival, and he was giving himself the heebie-jeebies wondering what would have happened had he not gone home until 5.

This is just the sort of story I want to hear as I’m getting ready to embrace in-floor heating: a valve in his system broke, and everything backed up in a pipe until it blew out at a rate of a gallon every couple of minutes.

So he was out all afternoon dealing with that. I gather he found an emergency plumber who by day is an accountant or bookkeeper (? — that’s what Ben said), who is finding his sideline so lucrative that he would give up his day job, except it comes with benefits.

I imagine more people could be finding this niche: construction is once again booming in the valley, making it impossible to find an electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc. for your small or emergency jobs. If I had any skills — well, I still wouldn’t be on call, because I’d be going home for dinner and my pre-bed nap on the couch (a nap that can last up to four hours, mind you, and that has then left me wide awake in the wee hours the last two days).

So in the midst of family loss and plumbing problems, this really shouldn’t rate, but it was just kind of the cherry on an exhausting day. Dusty returned late in the afternoon to meet with me and Lynn to review window plans for the house prior to framing.

For the first time, perhaps ever, Dusty is subcontracting out the framing of one of his builds. I can see the conflict in him: he told me he has been framing houses since he was 16, and this portion of the house is clearly a point of great pride for him. But he has had trouble finding experienced help (see two paragraphs above), and he ultimately decided this would be the best route.

The crew he is hiring is an established crew that has done a lot of the houses that keep sprouting up between the Palisades and Highway 135 (Van Tuyl Village, it’s called), and somehow their technique does not call for the forklift Dusty was planning to rent, so it may save us a few thousand dollars as well (that I’m sure we will manage to spend elsewhere).

But, during our framing conversation, after moving away from windows, it turns out that the interior doors are not the three-foot-wide doors Lynn and I have been planning on for 12 months. With two exceptions, they are all drawn as 30-inch doors (one was planned to be narrower, and one bathroom is set at 36).

Sometimes this feels like the Incredible Shrinking House. What we thought were interior dimensions of rooms have somehow become the exterior measurements, and now the wide doors we asked for, since this is going to be the house we’re in for our senior years, are not there either. This also means the two short hallways we assumed would be three feet wide are going to be narrower as well.

I suppose the simple solution is to not ever need a wheelchair or other conveyance. We’ll work on that. In the meantime, Dusty is going to see if we can narrow the trim and perhaps forego that little bit of wall alongside doors that doesn’t do much but collect cobwebs anyway to get us to 32-inch doors. And then maybe if we take a running start and go straight in, we’ll be able to get a wheelchair through. We may have to give up the deluxe chairs with snack shelves and off-road wheels.

We did also learn yesterday — this is better news — that our windows are being handled by Lars Nelson. Way back when my dad was teaching, one of his favorite students was Connie Nelson, who became mother to Lars. Dusty is pleased to be working with Lars as well, hardly for the same reason, but because we have some trapezoid-shaped windows on the south. Lars told Dusty to just go ahead with the framing, and they’d make the windows to fit the frame, rather than trying to adjust the frame around an oddly-shaped window. That made Dusty heave a large sigh of relief.

Our trusses are scheduled for delivery Jan. 2, with framing to commence shortly thereafter. Lynn, our Paragon of Patience, was disappointed that she would have to wait clear until January, until we did a little math together: that’s in about two and a half weeks.

Oz and I will go out this morning to inspect the double blankies covering our subzero-poured concrete, and I will leave it up to Elsa to set us all on a better, hopefully warmer path today. Feel free to sing along, and when she slams that door, just remember: it’s 32 inches wide.

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