Sunday, November 8, 2009

Like a Surgeon

My father-in-law is here! And this is a good thing. This house, however nicely done up, has some pockets of serious neglect and misuse. For instance, part of having a home is protection from the elements. Thus, a set of french doors and their windowed henchmen, improperly installed, becomes a farce, a joke of a shelter. An entire east wall which laughs: "Helter Shelter! Taheeeheeeheee."

And the house inspector also becomes a farce. I, I had an excuse for not noting the one inch gap, the way the door wouldn't open against a swelling checkered floor, the way the weather stripping hung off like a drunk stripper passed-out halfway through her routine. My excuse was that I was in love and love, if not totally blind, has some seriously limited vision issues - by choice. The doors were so cute, how could they be criminal? I wouldn't believe it even if the inspector had noticed. "Oh no, doors this adoorable don't sin. They can't."

Eventually, with men, I learned to look for faults I could live with before falling head over heals. Because love, once it strikes, makes every issue seem like a brilliant foible of All Great Men. I have yet to learn that with houses, and since I will move from this place only with a shotgun in my cold dead hands, I won't have a chance to.

The inspector also didn't notice other key items. Of course it's hard to notice things that aren't there, like dryer vents. But the water saturated kitchen window sill would have given an unskilled and un-in-love eye some clue about leakages.

Whatever. Here we are now. I still love this old cold house. And although my bedroom door slammed shut during a wind storm, I adore it. I'd live here even if I'd known all it's sins.

And also, we've got Richard, Huck's dad. He's unfortunately currently laid off from foremanning/superintending towers in downtown Seattle. Fortunately, that frees him up to help all of his loved ones with their wood and nails projects. It's like having a brain surgeon volunteering as a school nurse. I read a house inspection from a home he once built and it said something like, "In all my 20 years, I have never seen a house so perfectly built, so square, so solid, with such attention to detail." And this is the man re-installing our doors... and also fixing the rotten floor beneath them. He also babysits and cleans up after himself in the kitchen too! No, you can't have him.

Coyote was his big helper, picking up errant screws and wood scraps. We leaned in close to watch his work. And I said, "Pay close attention, Coyote, this is extremely useful work. It's very important to know how to do this stuff."
One second later, Grandpa Construction-worker, absorbed by his efforts, screamed, "WHAT KIND OF OVARIES DID THE F*** A** WHO INSTALLED THIS PIECE OF S*** HAVE?!!!"
We backed away.
"Okay, don't pay THAT close of attention. I'm sure Grandpa's not really a raving misogynist. He's just used to working with lots of men..."

Many unexpected twists and two days later than scheduled, the door whispers shut. It's perfect. But not perfect enough.

"Listen." He says, "Listen to how it slides shut like that."
"Wow. Perfect." I say.
"Not quite." He holds up his hands, pinches the air, pinky out like a wine or cheese connoiseur, and says, "No, not yet. I want it to glide. Just a little more sanding, I think." And he says it like he's speaking of the finest wine this earth has ever seen.

The room is warm, the fire is crackling. I've been reading in my chaise lounger and falling asleep all morning. This, this is shelter, people. This is a human right.

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