Although goodness knows it’s something a sane person would try to forget, the memory of remodeling our house runs through my mind when I am particularly open to nightmares.
For those of you blessedly unfamiliar with remodeling, let me tell you a little bit about it. First of all, the modern word “remodeling” comes from the ancient Latin “remodyellatus.” “Remod” means “fix again” and the “yell at us” part doesn’t have to be defined to anyone who has watched the cement truck, for which you have been waiting one month, accidentally dump half its load in the neighbor’s hay field. Until you have lived through your house being torn up for months on end, you have no idea just how much yelling is involved.
Well, I am exaggerating a little bit. There probably wasn’t any ancient Latin word for remodeling. If the Italians of the first century had had any experience with remodeling, the eruption of Vesuvius would have been a relief. All the families waiting for the plumber to show up would have been rooting for it. Being buried in hot ash is preferable to being subjected to the vagaries of a wayward sewer pipe.
For reasons that passeth understanding and not having first hand knowledge of sewer pipes, my husband and I decided that 1370 square feet was not enough room for the two of us. We hired a top-notch architect and she lived up to her reputation. We signed on with a contractor of sterling credentials and sat back to watch the magic.
Magic isn’t exactly what happened. What happened was seven months of living with our three dozen new best friends: the carpenters, dry wall hangers, and masons.
Individually, they were great guys. It was an unceasing source of amazement to see that they boards they cut fit, the dry wall they hung stayed put, and the edge of the bricks came out even at the end of a wall. En masse, however, they were almost overwhelming.
Also, it’s possible we offended the gods of remodeling or started the project under an inauspicious sign because things, not to put too fine a point on it, went down the toilet from the get-go. And by that I mean things that weren’t supposed to. At one particularly memorable point, the stuff that was supposed to go down the toilet didn’t.
On a day that will live in remodeling infamy, the shower showed up in the wrong color, the bathroom cabinets showed up the wrong size, and every single kitchen cabinet showed up the wrong style. It was a hat trick of errors guaranteed to make us pull our hair out. We, fortunately, could not see ourselves pulling our hair out because the bathroom medicine chest rattled ominously when it was unloaded from the truck, an omen that was confirmed when the chest was poured out of the box.
Let’s see, what else? The kitchen counter top came on the right day and was the right color but it was a foot short.
All this time, Steve and I and a ninety-pound Doberman took refuge in the only room untouched during the reconstruction. We set up housekeeping in a 12 X 17 foot room with heavy plastic draped over the doorway. Displaced furniture was stacked high against the walls, leaving a miniscule clearing on the floor just big enough for an air mattress. Oh, and did I mention all this took place in the dead of winter with an unfriendly north wind blowing steadily through gaping holes in the structure? Vietnamese boat people wouldn’t have stayed there.
It couldn’t go on forever, of course, and it didn’t. The last nail was hammered, the last wire wired, and the workmen left. We love the house, but it’s funny. We spend most of our time in the same 12 X 17 room, albeit with that ninety-pound dog’s successor, a new ninety-pound dog. And a lot less furniture.