My Own Little Soap Opera

How does one explain one’s absence for half a year?

By being honest.

It’s been overwhelming.

<PAUSE> Yes, it’s early in the post for a “PAUSE”, but you need to know this is going to be long one, so take this moment to put on your seatbelt. Maybe a drink. And snacks. <PLAY>

Home reno. Work challenges. Physical challenges. Suffice it to say it all hit the fan at the beginning of August. Yes, I posted a lovely, if not sentimental entry on the 21st, but that, my friends, was Sarah cruising down the River Nile, De-nile if you will.

I do tend to be a “Glass half-full” kinda gal. I’ll power through a lot under the guise of ‘you can chose to be positive as easily as you choose to be negative.’ My theory was tested on August 3.

The Big Guy and I were heading out to pick up his aunt and uncle for ice cream in the Jeep. It was a lovely Friday evening. Our lactose laden dessert enjoyment was interrupted by a phone call from Second Born Son.

“I don’t want to ruin your visit with Aunt & Uncle,” he said, “and I don’t want you to panic (WHAT THA HELL?) but we have a ton of water coming into the basement right now.” he said.

Me – versed in the art of poker face, and trying desperately hard to not ask a million questions, calmly, and with a smile on my face, asked a couple of short, quick questions as I glided out of ear-shot of the family. I asked him to hold the fort and we’d be there ASAP.

“Oh, by the way, there’s no food here and I forgot to pick up something from work, so can you grab me a pizza for dinner,” he asked before resuming the bailing that was going on in our basement.

Yes, son. I can get you pizza. For the record “there’s no food here” means there’s nothing he WANTS to eat. I was not about to quibble. He was literally bailing out the basement.

With the serenity of Princess Grace, I drove the group back to the Aunt & Uncle’s house, then advised we couldn’t come in for the offered cup of coffee, because we had to get SBS’ pizza. As we rolled out of their line of sight, I updated TBG on the antics at the house. I then ordered pizza. It was ready as we rolled into town and we were back in our house within 10 minutes. It’s a 20 minute drive….but I digress.

We walked into the basement which looked like this…

2018-08-03 20.24.04What you see here is the carpet in our finished basement. It is saturated. On the left its the tarp on the massive storage hutch that is 10 feet long. It houses all of our photo albums, toys such as lego and board games. We don’t know it yet, but it’s saturated and will be tossed.

2018-08-03 20.24.13

This is but a sample of the buckets SBS had scattered throughout the room to catch the water that is coming though our finished ceiling. You can see how wet the carpet is – it’s only been 30 minutes.

2018-08-03 20.24.19This is one of two antique lights TBG has over his antique pool table. You can see the pool table in the lower half of the photo. He put the table cover, a quilt and industrial Saran Wrap on it to protect it. I teased him mercilessly about OCD. At this point, not only did I apologize for the razzing I put him through, but I also thanked him for doing so.

2018-08-03 20.24.42

Having run out of buckets, SBS thought quickly and started using coolers. More drips are coming through the ceiling.

2018-08-03 20.31.47

Here you can see the temporary wall that was put up to keep the finished basement from being overly impacted by the construction in the basement. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You can see the water marks coming through the ceiling tiles. Directly above the tiles is a trough that was cut in the floor upstairs. This was to allow trades to access wires, pipes from the kitchen that was being ripped apart, rather than taking down the basement ceiling. Cuz, you know, we didn’t want to take on another project.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dude. You laugh or you cry.

What happened was that around 6 p.m. there was a microburst – strong winds along with  a lot of rain. Because our windows had not arrived yet (due four days later) the opening for the large windows at the south of the house allowed a boat load of water into the house via the main floor. The wind drove the water 20 feet into the house, which is where the trough was cut, which allowed the water to “rain” into the finished basement.

Good times.

2018-08-03 20.22.14Here you can see the trough in the foreground. This is roughly half way into our original dining room. The water goes another 7 feet past this mark.

2018-08-03 20.22.18

This is our three-sided gas fireplace. You can see the water inside the fireplace. For those who don’t know, there is not supposed to be water inside a gas fireplace. See, learned something new today!

Within days the insurance company sent round a restoration crew to assess the damage. Their testing determined that the entire basement was compromised by water and would have to be gutted and rebuilt. All of our belongings that were displaced from the main floor were stored in the basement. Mostly in cardboard boxes.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…you get the idea.

We just got ourselves another major project kids!

The restoration company was then tasked with removing the wood paneling, carpet and insulation. We had already removed the belongings and pulled out anything that had to be junked. They needed to come back a second time because they didn’t think the cork lining in the ceiling need to come down.

BWAHAHAHA.

There is so much more to the dealings we had with this company, but the one take away I will share with you is this…

This is my front foyer. In my front foyer, which is dark forest green, there is now a large white crack. I can span it with my forefinger and my thumb. This is the result of a hammer hitting the backside of the PLASTER wall – the basement as it were. This is damage done by the “wrecking crew” who removed the cork ceiling on the second trip.

NOW we have a front entrance that needs to be fixed. And painted. I need things to stop sliding downhill. TBG, SBS and I are basically living in our laundry room, which doubles as a kitchen, pantry and office. We are starting to strongly dislike each other. It’s nothing personal, it’s what is expected to happen when you cram people into too small a space for too long a time. SBS, never a morning person – yes, he’s my son, resents the tradesmen who are usually up and working in his house before he’s up and conscious in the morning.

Eventually, we start seeing progress.

2018-07-27 09.02.31

2018-08-20 15.24.26

2018-11-11 16.29.422018-11-11 16.31.30

There were other little hiccups, like when the tint we agreed to for the gross orange brick didn’t turn out the way we hoped on the first try…

2018-08-15 19.41.31

See the dark brown brick? Yeah. that’s NOT the color we picked.

We did get it corrected, eventually.

Then we got the appliances delivered. And the range was damaged. It’s now the end of September. We are working with insurance to address the basement, and it becomes clear that if we want to get this basement done the way we would like to be, we need to take out the gaudy fireplace.

2018-09-30 09.10.512018-09-30 09.12.202018-09-30 09.18.252018-09-30 09.19.322018-09-30 09.19.422018-09-30 10.47.112018-09-30 19.54.40

It took an entire day to get it out and cleaned out. An entire day with three guys working on it. First Born Son regretting coming home that weekend, I can tell ya!

Trying to be a cooperative person, I tell the tradesmen that the basement project will not be started right away, but will need to be done before Christmas. This is to give us the finished space we need to access Christmas decorations and to have another area for guests to move into, and use the pool table (which was not – miracle of miracles – damaged) as we are entertaining both families on two different occasions this year.

I clean. And everything gets dirty moments later. I clean again. TBG and I installed the floor that runs from the existing living room all the way into the new kitchen and dining room. Naturally we do this on the hottest weekend of the summer.

My kitchen is put off a week at a time. I finally reach my limit and tell the cabinet maker, that I need SOMETHING to look finished. I need to see SOME progress. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOOR HANDLES CAN WE FINISH SOMETHING???

He takes pity upon me and gets the installation set. It is a revelation. Slowly, things start getting better. We are able to move out of the laundry room. The workers aren’t coming every day any more so SBS is much happier. I have a dishwashers, so I’M much happier. TBG keeps paying bills.

Then, one magical day in November, it was done. The fireplace was activated and the range hood was installed. These were the final aspects of the upstairs project. We won’t take about the basement because even though there’s flooring and painted drywall, there’s so much more to do down there.

But upstairs is a dream….

I’m a little obsessed with the dining room table – a great find by TBG. It’s 14 ft long and 54 inches wide. It’s AMAZING. The light is a collection of bulbs distributed by a ladder that came from TBG’s farm. We learned over the holidays that is is more than 150 years old and was made by the same person who built the family’s barn. Such a treasure!

Now, as I sit in the living room, looking at the dining room, having made two relatively stress-free Christmas meals in the enlarged kitchen, I can say that it was worth it. The ground broke the first week of June and we were able to use all aspects of the kitchen by the end of November. Some things were more challenging than we expected, but we have been positive. You know you are doing well when the contractors tell you you are patient people! lol

It’s a thrill to be in this space. To see a dream realized. To enjoy the home the way you imagined it could be.

Thank you all for your patience. Here’s to 2019 – it will have to work hard to compare to 2018!

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