Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Taking Back a Grey Garden

“I am sitting in a fish bowl just now. The house is currently subject to the efforts of many merry workers who are trying to save our poor abode from becoming  something of a “Grey Garden”, overgrown with vegetation, mosses and algae, mold, and weathered wood. At each window they toll, one scraping, one painting, one sawing new trim, but all with faces towards the open interior/non-curtained windows of the house, and me......”
The previous paragraph was written this morning. I could take no more of it and headed to the barn, my sanctuary, to ride a horse for a while. So, now that the merry band of workers has gone and quiet has returned for the day, I will continue my thought train...
We intended to have built a no maintenance house when we started this house back in ’94, and to that end we simply didn’t do any. So now, as having been residents of this place for almost twenty years, it finally came to a head that we finally just had to do some clean up work, and, yes, maintenance. The can of worms had to be opened and “Grey Gardens” had to be dealt with. We had to take back the house, or it was going to be at a tipping point of no return, that only a bull dozer would be able to deal with.
Years ago when we were under construction, we lived for that time period, in a mobile home on the property to keep a close look on construction. That, and we had already sold our other farm and needed a place to camp. We bought a very used mobile home, and put most of our possessions into storage until the house was finished. It was a spartan existence, and one I think back on fondly, except for the mice and sugar ants that shared the rolling wonder. 
From our tiny vantage point across the pond from the house site, we could hear when the saws buzzed, the hammers whacked, and also when they didn’t. With a bit of our continual presence the structure grew and grew. During this time we got to know some of the guys who made the house happen, nice folks, good craftsmen all, but a few of them had slight issues with the legal systems we came to find out.
There was Mike, I think his name was now, a wiry fellow of bright red hair and freckles, who had the ability to raise the highest ridge beams by himself to the top of this now very tall structure, clamoring over narrow rafters, and slipping between them with the agility of a cat. He and Shelby, our master carpenter, together framed this house in less than a week, calling in more and more framing lumber and magically getting it vertical in a blink of an eye. Mike, we learned had been in a bit of trouble with the police and was then on parole from a crime that we did not ask what it had been, as it really did not matter, to us anyway. 
There was also one guy who had skipped out of parol from an out of state crime committed, and was being searched for by many.  After finishing his work on the house, thought, he turned himself back in to the law and probably did quite a bit more time in the big house. There were a couple of days missed by one fellow who happened to seem to have a need to spend the night in jail from time to time. Each of them were polite and did their jobs well, and in their stories, it kind of adds to the fabric of the house, and gives it more character and color.  
The beginning of construction is exciting and the flush of something new being built is exhilarating to me. I grew up on construction sites my father was a contractor for and I loved peeking out of my window to watch the carpenters framing in the early morning light. The smell of new wood, sheetrock mud, paint and the sounds of saws buzzing and hammers nailing are deeply satisfying to me. By contrast, the final days, the last month of building a house, though are tough, tedious, and tense. I well remember wanting it to be all over and soon. The honey moon at that point is definitely over until the hammers are put away and those smiling faces that greeted me at dawn during the duration of the project finally pack their pickups and leave for the last time. It’s so nice when they cease and there is an easy settling in the quiet they leave in their wake. 
It has pretty much been like that until this week, quiet and coasting in the bliss of denial of home maintenance. These guys, too have been nice, proficient at their craft, do their job and leave, but it is distracting to say the least. Soon it will be over for a while and the next time I don’t think I will wait until the house is listing before shoring it back up. Sadly, I have learned there is no such thing as a no maintenance house.
Today is the first day of spring on my calendar, but Mom Earth failed to get the memo and it has been spring here for months. It has been warm and humid with strong winds, which have blown every oak flower laden with pollen into the pool, requiring skimming on a regular basis lest it becomes a swamp. The flowers from azaleas and camellia shrubs have been brief but absolutely spectacular.
 We rode out on our bikes this weekend with friends visiting from Boston and found ourselves on a tiny road canopied by tall pines dripping with wisteria. Cascades of pale purple filled the scene all around us from high in the trees to the rusty wire fence line edging the road, and the scent was mesmerizing. We felt as though we were in a Disney animation scene or something, like Thumper and Bambi might just step out from behind a tree. It was lovely and a nice thing to share with our friends. It felt great to outdoors on a lovely day just before the official beginning to spring, breathing fresh air and rolling along the miles of the greening country side.
As to mentioning the waning luster of a honey moon’s end, Gracie, I have found now that my sweet little puppy is not only, will full, opinionated, but down right bad at times. She will steal, shred, destroy, and chew on anything in her path, especially if it’s clearly not hers. I just caught the fluff muffin trying to roll on a dead mole in the grass and then found her sniffing at a wood plank we had cooked a fish on, shades of her predecessor, Jackapotomus. There is a sad boneyard of cat toys, which I have had to remove from her because she had killed them, dead. She is also eyeballing my Apple power cord, giving serious thought to attack. Not.
She is becoming quite bold here in farm world and continues to expand her realm.  She has now joined the pack of two, Heidi and myself, on our twice a day to the barn to feed. She runs a circle around every step we take and seems to never look to be running out of energy, but eventually does. She has bravely defended house and home from the evil workers as they try to take back the house for us, barking at them and their silly ladders with serious conviction. She makes me laugh. It is a good thing to have a new puppy. 

1 comment:

  1. Naughty, naughty, oh-so-cutie, Gracie! Lucky friends you have there.