Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gulag Era

I mean no disrespect to those who suffered in the Gulags but as the magnitude of the work ahead of us hit us in the face this became a work camp.

You know how everyone in the family suddenly wants to see your new home even if you have sheets for curtains and unpacked boxes for coffee tables? Well this place was even more of a gawker's paradise.

My parents followed us from TX as we moved the second load of furniture and a car on a trailer north. They should have turned around when the trailer tire caught on fire just out of Dayton, OH and they sailed past us as we were on the shoulder hoping the car didn't catch on fire. Hot tip: if a trailer tire is on fire don't waste your valuable thermos of tea trying to put it out. You have to get the fire department.

The look of horror on my parent's faces as they toured the building the first day was almost comical. They tried to say it had potential but balanced that with questions about whether we could get out of the sale. My sister and her partner were much more supportive but pensive. My brother gagged. Dave's family would visit later while we were under construction and were equally dumbfounded.

What really tickled the family was our willingness to recruit them to do grotty work for as long as we could keep them on their feet with their only reward being a trip out to a nice dinner which they got to pay for. We always had a place for them to sleep but they had plenty of work to do.

And, they came back repeatedly to help. For which we are eternally grateful.

Beth on demolition; Jim hanging Sheetrock in the Shells bath; Dad pulling nails as viewed through new studs; Peg on break; Mom rebuilding kitchen soffit; Peg working on Suite bath; Mom learning to hang Sheetrock. Secretary Sophia; Dad and Dave mud wall repair in the Crow's Nest; Dave cuts hole for new closet door; Matt and Sam demolish the porch steps; Beth painting the Suite ceiling; Mom sewing; Seely installing Suite tile.

One classic example of how this became known as the Gulag involved most of the family. One night my parents went to sleep on twin cots in what is now the Whirlpool Suite bedroom. About 11 p.m. the work crew showed up: my sister Beth, her partner Peg, my brother Jim, Dave and I. By morning the dingy whitish walls had four coats of jewel toned red paint. My parents never budged and were somewhat frightened when they woke up and didn't quite know where they were.

And that was only the first all night work session.....