Unfinished Projects

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Coming Home: Not alone living amid the unfinished projects
by Jessie Veeder
8-7-16
http://www.inforum.com

If I were more of a linguist, I would have the term for it. But you know what I’m talking about. It’s that crack in the Sheetrock in the living room, right in the corner above the TV that really peeved you off when you first noticed it.

Why didn’t we get that fixed months ago?

OK. So I’m a woman who has been living in a house under construction for most of my married life. Because I wed a man who has just the right amount of knowhow and crazy to take on complete house remodeling projects and then, when that didn’t kill us, a near complete build from scratch.

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Right now, as I type, I’m sitting on a deck that, for two and a half years, has been partially completed. It’s really nice and will probably be even nicer when he finally gets around to building us a staircase so we can get down to the lawn without going through the house.

I’m looking forward to that even if it means I’ll feel less like Rapunzel, sort of trapped up here, looking down on my little lawn kingdom complete with an incomplete retaining wall and barbed wire temporarily stretched across where those nice garden gates will hang someday.

Someone needs to get married out here again or something so we can get the rock siding finished, for crying out loud.

Yes, I’ve learned to be patient. Because what choice do I have? I don’t have a clue how to build a staircase and I’m not crazy enough to attempt it under the “if you want something done you gotta do it yourself” motto. Carpentry was never one of those skills I really cared to acquire. I’ve acquired enough skills I didn’t want, thankyouverymuch.

Oh, I know I’m not the only one who suffers this way. I mean, I have a few friends who live behind manicured lawns along city streets who spend their weekends checking off lists at the Home Depot and even they have a missing tile somewhere. Right?

Right???

Anyway, while I’m becoming alarmingly immune to unfinished projects, I was reminded that I’m not alone by none other than my own flesh and blood last weekend when I enjoyed a few family suppers on my parents’ deck, gathering together because my uncle was home from Texas for a few days. My parents have a backyard that has a sweet view up a beautiful, tree-filled coulee. Their deck is right off their dining room and kitchen, making it easy to enjoy meals outdoors on summer nights.

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If it wasn’t for that dang screen door.

Seriously, that screen door. I swear. It’s been years, YEARS, of needing to have the right touch to get it to slide open, of guests struggling with a plate of food in one hand and a desperate look of awkward panic on their faces as they attempt to find that right maneuver before being rescued and let outside by my dad, who eventually always just sort of kicks it off its tracks and says something like, “I swear I just fixed that.” Mom makes this aggressive sigh of resignation before we can all sit down and relax until, heaven forbid, someone forgot there was noodle salad inside.

And I only mention this because it makes me feel better.

About all our unfinished trim. And the crack in the Sheetrock.

And this island of a deck.

If I were a linguist, I’d have a word for it.

If I were a carpenter … well … I’d probably have more unfinished projects.

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Project: schedule

Annddd….now we’re building a garage.

A garage that looks like it might be bigger than this house, and, well, we all know the sorts of debacles that went into this place.

Look familiar? That’s the basement wall building party…in the middle of a 20 degree winter day…

Last winter’s three night backsplash marathon that sent Husband up and down a ladder to the basement to get to his saw, because, well, we didn’t have stairs. (Or a basement floor, but who’s keeping track?)

Last summer’s death defying chandelier project two hours before hosting Husband’s 30th Birthday Party

This summer’s railing, saving me from sleep walking to my death…

The bathroom tiling project that nearly ended a thirteen year relationship…

The loft that went from shop to master bedroom one board at a time…

And let us not forget the birthday deck...

So now we’re onto the garage. Oh, it’s only about a year off schedule,  but right in time to be tackled in the monsoon, 24-hour rain that fell the day before Husband got the hammers out.

And so it’s the story of his life, standing ankle deep in a mud puddle holding a power tool with one hand and holding up a giant wall with the other, looking up at the sky wondering which way the clouds are moving and where the time goes while his wife hollers out the door wondering if there’s time for some lunch.

Why must all of our projects span over the year mark? That’s the next question I wanted to ask after the lunch question, but I thought maybe it wasn’t the best time to bring it up.

I mean, wasn’t it last November that we dug the giant hole for the footings for this thing? Did I or did I not walk across a plank over a moat over the slush and snow and ice to get to my house for a good ten months before the weather dried the ground enough to get some blocks and concrete in that thing?

Didn’t I fall in that hole?

More than once?

Didn’t my neighbor nearly slide her way to a broken hip in her innocent attempt to deliver Christmas wreathes?

Didn’t I make my dear husband promise that this building project was going to be easier than the last house project?

That there on the right is a face of hope and trust…

Didn’t he tell me that a garage could go up in a couple weekends?

Didn’t I make him define the number “couple?”

Didn’t I learn anything about believing him?

Didn’t he tell me to order scoria last week while he was away in Texas so that he wouldn’t have to work in a mud hole if it rained?

Did he know it was going to rain?

Didn’t I make that call? I can’t remember…

Didn’t anyone tell me not to marry an ambitious carpenter no matter how cute that carpenter looks in his Carharts?

I mean, I have sawdust in places I didn’t know existed…

But it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t have listened.

Because I have a weakness for capable men.

And turns out we need a garage. Somehow it’s feeling a bit more urgent today…

Heaven help the carpenter’s wife. May we one day reclaim our kitchen tables from the tools that rest there…