A half-built house and how not to get unstuck

Once upon a time in a land far away and frozen a cozy couple lived in a half-built cabin in the oak trees.

The couple loved the life they spent together surrounded by sawdust, pink sunrises, furry horses, cow plops and misbehaving dogs. On cold winter Saturdays they would spend the mornings drinking coffee and procrastinating the work they needed to get done. They refilled their mugs and fried some bacon while they ignored the unfinished steps, the untrimmed windows and the dangling loose wires. Saturdays were the best for waking up slowly.

Saturdays were the best for long breakfasts and watching the snow fall. If the cozy couple had their way they would spend every Saturday wrapped up in fluffy blankets and drowning things in syrup.

But they knew it couldn’t be. They also knew that as soon as they ran out of coffee, pulled on those coveralls and muck boots, wool caps and shoveling gloves, things had the potential to get slippery.

They did it anyway. Because the only way to get things finished was to start, even if it was nearly noon and they had to hitch up the horse trailer in a blizzard to make the 120 mile trip to the big town for lumber, tiles, decorative rocks, light bulbs, thirty seven socket fittings, plumping stuff, and a toilet.

So together they made a list with little boxes they could check off with the wife’s red pen and got to work.

The first task? Unhooking the pickup from the camper that for some reason was parked in the most inconvenient spot in the world and decidedly not moved in a more convenient season.

So the husband got to work scraping the windshield of his fancy, prized pickup outside while the wife stayed in the cabin for a bit to work on fitting her unruly hair underneath her cap and search for something presentable to wear for the trip to town.

Fifteen minutes into the hair-taming, clothes-searching extravaganza the husband opened the door of the unfinished cabin, letting the snow swoosh in with the wind as he stomped it off of his boots and declared he had a bit of an extravaganza of his own—the pickup was stuck in the frozen icy tundra of a landscape they called a front yard and he needed his wife’s help pull it out.

“It’s just a little stuck,” the husband reassured his kind-of frazzled looking wife. “It shouldn’t take much.”

Always willing to lend a hand or a scrawny arm, the wife quickly finished dressing, pulled another pair of pants over the ones she already had on (because that’s what you do in the frozen icy tundra) and followed her husband out the door and to the scene.

The husband laid out the plan nice and clear, aware that his wife often only hears about a quarter of the words that come out of his mouth.

He explained that she was going to be in charge of the stuck pickup that was attached to the stuck camper while he used an un-stuck pickup to pull the stuck pickup attached to the stuck camper out of its stuck situation.

He even turned the wheel in the direction the stuck pickup attached to the stuck camper needed to go once it was unstuck.

“All you have to do is press on the gas a bit until the tires spin and follow me out,” said the husband. “It shouldn’t take much.”

The wife understood that she needed to pay attention, but she was distracted. She worried about where she might have misplaced her favorite scarf, when she was going to find time to put up the Christmas tree, what type of tile to put in the bathroom and if this hat looked stupid with her wild hair escaping out by her ears.

She looked at her husband’s face as he gave her directions from outside of the stuck pickup attached to the stuck camper. She heard him say, “Press the gas” and admired the stubble on his perfectly square jawline as he reached over her bundled up body to turn the wheel. At times like these the wife thought her husband was the most handsome. She was happy to help. She was perfectly capable of this.

Press the gas.

Turn the wheel.

Follow him out.

She was thinking she would follow him anywhere as he bent over to attach the two vehicles together with a giant rope and walked toward the unstuck pickup and put it in drive.

The tires on the unstuck pickup spun as the rope tightened. The wife recalled her directions, pressed on the gas and turned the wheel, waiting for her brave and handsome husband to pull them out of this slippery situation so she could get out her red pen and check something off of their list already.

She was certain the wheels beneath her were giving it a go. She knew this truck had some oomph, but that pickup attached to the camper didn’t move an inch.

Geesh. It must be more stuck than her husband anticipated.

So the husband tried again, backing up and pulling the rope tight between them, this time kind of slipping sideways a bit as he gave it all he had.

The wife did the same, pressing on the gas pedal a bit more this time, revving the engine like she’s witnessed many a stuck man do in her lifetime. The approach was more vigorous, her confidence a bit shaken, but the outcome was the same.

She was really stuck.

The husband opened the door to his pickup and looked back at his wife, who peered at him from underneath a wool beanie behind the cracked windshield of his very prized and still just kinda stuck pickup, assessing the situation, appearing to have a few scenarios running through his problem-solving mind.

He shrugged his shoulders and got back in, shut the door and tried one last time.

He tugged and jerked on the other end of that giant rope. He kicked up snow and then ice and then earth with his tires. The wife pushed on the gas and pushed on the gas and pushed on the gas, using the only directions she was given and thinking that the next step was to get the damn tractor, wondering how the hell a man can get a pickup attached to a camper so unbelievably stuck out here. Wondering why in the hell they didn’t move this damn thing in the fall before the snow came. Wondering why her husband always procrastinates things like these, annoyed that it was taking so long, worried that they wouldn’t get to the lumber yard before it closed, wondering what the hell happened to her scarf and…

“Hey, heeeyyy! Heeeeyyyyyyy!” she heard her husband hollering from the open door of the unstuck pickup.

“Did you put the pickup in drive?”

The wife looked down, appalled at the accusation, but knowing it to be true as she found the little orange dot on the console pointing at “P.”

“P” for park.

“D” for drive.

The wife didn’t remember hearing that part of the instructions.

“Shit,” whispered the wife as she moved that orange dot to  “D” and pressed on the gas while the slack between the two vehicles tightened and moved them across the yard.

“Shit,” laughed the husband, shaking his head and unhooking the ropes.

“Shit,” said the wife again as she trudged back toward the unfinished cabin to look for her scarf and her red pen, thinking that Saturdays are the best for long breakfasts and watching the snow fall.

Thinking she should still be sleeping.

Thinking that a half-finished house in a land far away and frozen might be good enough for the rest of her life if it meant she might ever hear the end of this.

Knowing that wasn’t likely.

12 thoughts on “A half-built house and how not to get unstuck

  1. Sounds like my house…….WIFE; honey you never listen to me, you only hear what you want to hear! HUSBAND; sure I’ll have another beer!!!

  2. Stuck in frozen manure, we once covered our vehicles and had to take them to the car wash while everyone stared. So long ago.

      • I was still a kid, when Dad managed to wrestle this big bale until it was balancing on the tailgate, and wanted my mom to inch the truck forward a few inches. He gave a nondescript hand signal, and when my mom questioned what he meant he just yelled “Go!” I will forever “treasure” the sight of the bale and the dad somersaulting off the back of the truck, legs straight up in the air, and my mom and I loosing it in the front seat, hoping he was alright. Other than a deeply injured ego, and some frustration at the two of us, he came out just fine…but he hasn’t laughed about it yet–fifteen years later. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Next Year. « Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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