Yesterday, after I was done with my sales calls, I impulsively went by the builder's shop to see if the cabinet maker was cutting wood there. We hadn't seen him for over a week, and I was trying to find out if he was working on our job or if the builder had sent him out on a different job while my house languished. I talked to the builder's wife, who told me that the problem was the cabinet maker -- he vanished. However, she said, Alfonso will be finishing up your house. Yeah, right, I thought. But she got someone on the radio who said that he and Alfonso were on their way to my house at that very moment. So I ran home and Alfonso was indeed there, taking measurements, discussing what we wanted, and checking things out.
He said he would be here this morning. He said he will set his saw up on the front porch instead of in the house. He asked if I want adjustable shelves in the bookcases. (I couldn't get the other guy to do adjustable shelves to save my soul.) I think I'm in love.
All my furniture is in, but I've had to tell the stores that we're not ready. The sofas and dining room chairs were custom made, which is not a short process, and still they beat the builder. The Professor installed the gas cooktop the other day. He is as sick of waiting around as I am. Now if I could get him to install the ovens so I could bake. I would adapt a lot better to this if I could just get started on my Christmas cookies.
The night before Thanksgiving I went to my DIL's and cooked those few things that I could do without the recipe. On Thanksgiving morning I opened up the paper and was stunned to see all the sale ads. My first thought was, What are these doing here in the morning? -- they don't come until late afternoon. That thought was immediately replaced by the realization that the sales ads have always been in the morning paper, but this was the first time in I-don't-know-how-many-years that I was able to actually open the newspaper in the morning.
The day after Thanksgiving we took the Professor's daughter & family out to lunch. Her sons, A & B, are very smart, especially A who seems to have a brain that functions just like the Professor's. He told me he wants to major in physics in college (Prof has a PhD in physics). What part of physics? I asked. Theoretical. What area? The big questions, like how the world began and how it will end. Like Einstein? Yes, exactly like Einstein. So you aren't going to do research on why electrons can't stop on a dime, but have to skid... No, I am not interested in the details at all. Just don't tell your grandfather that! (The Professor devoted a good part of his career to figuring out strange things about electrons.)
I found the conversation rather amusing, but I also remember being 17 and the innocence-arrogance-idealism combination that convinces them they can solve the world's problems without ever having to dirty their hands with those pedestrian details. Once again I find myself thinking that I have finally figured things out -- what I want to do, the kind of person I want to be, what's really important. Now I'm ready to go back to age, oh maybe 11 or 12, and do it all again the right way!
On Monday they bricked around the chimney outside and began laying the hearth inside. That crew actually finished the job Tuesday, came back yesterday and watered the bricks, dismantled the scaffolding, and left. (Either my bricks will grow or it has something to do with the mortar setting properly.)
Also on Monday, the painters were busily painting the outside of the house. I called the builder and asked where my railing was across the front porch, and did he think it should be there before the painters got to the trim? Next thing I knew, the painters were gone (but my railing is there -- and it looks wonderful. It is exactly what I was waiting for. As soon as the trim is painted I'm hanging a white wicker porch swing.) The only people who showed up yesterday were a crew to clean up the yard and driveway -- my driveway is huge without pallets and junk in it! -- and the carpenter. He stayed just long enough to tear the steps off the stairs. Thus the banging door that I can't get to.
Everything now hangs on the carpenter's shoulders. He needs to re-install the steps, build the railing, build a surround for the vent hood in the kitchen, build the mantle and a couple of bookcases around the fireplace, build a hutch and the cabinet for the built-in aquarium, and finish casing the windows. Once he has that done, the painters can do their job, then the appliances can be installed, the floor laid and we will be able to move from the two rooms we've been squeezed into to the finished end of the house. There is not a lot to be done in the other end; it shouldn't take long. When the carpenter is here, he works fast. But then he disappears for days on end. He says, and from what I've seen I believe him, that the builder keeps pulling him off this job and sending him somewhere else.
The builder desperately needs a scheduler. He hired someone, but the guy quit after a month because the builder was still moving crews around irregardless of what the scheduler planned. We are being assured that everything will be done before Christmas. I can't seem to make him understand that "before Christmas" means right after Thanksgiving, not two or three days before Christmas. This is the time of year that I live for and it looks like I won't be able to decorate -- or bake. There are a LOT of people very upset at the prospect of no Christmas cookie platters. People suggest that I use someone else's kitchen, but the problem is that my recipes are in a box somewhere in the storage unit. Visualize the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark where they're wheeling the Ark of the Covenant into a spot among the other boxes. Come to think of it, I may find the Ark among my boxes when I finally get to haul them out.
I've already decided not to replace my office carpet until after Christmas and we're seriously considering telling them not to redo the master bath -- the room that really, really, REALLY needs to be redone. We both seem to be at the end of our rope and just want these guys out of here.
I scored four bar stools for $180 total last weekend -- a BOGO 1/2 off. I assembled one stool just to be sure it was right (looks great! very happy with it!) and stuck the other 3 boxes in the storage unit. I also ordered a Wii on line. When the grandkids get too old and too busy to visit all the time, Gramma needs better toys to entice them. Okay, in fairness, Gramma isn't home all that often, but it's such a good excuse. I don't have the thumb agility that the younger generation has, but I figure even I can play a game on Wii.
The hotel was pretty crappy. One guy showed us -- fortunately not until the last morning, when we had all checked out -- a picture of a bedbug that he took with his cell phone. Of course we ate and drank too much, and of all things, I won something called The President's Award, which comes with a ring, a certificate and some cash. This has long been a big deal to the company that bought us 11 years ago, but no one from my particular part of the company has ever won it before. When they gave it to me I was speechless for probably the first time in my life. There are guys who have been there much longer and sold much more, but apparently I represent the new business model. The big boss said that long before they went to the team concept of sales, I was a team player -- in fact, he said I made one guy, now retired, a very wealthy man. It has to do with specifications and territories and is way too complicated to explain.
It doesn't look like they did anything on the house while I was gone. They did finish the stucco, but the carpenter apparently wasn't here at all. A while back they put a door on the guest bath and I was so thrilled that I had privacy again --- but then they pulled the commode so they could tile the floor, and they never put it back. The Professor says the plumbers are supposed to be here today to reinstall the commode, put in the kitchen faucet and hook up the dishwasher. No one has installed the cooktop or the ovens, or the hearth in front of the fireplace, or the new stairs and bannister, or .... well, I could go on and on.
But the good news is that I don't have to go out of town next week as I had planned. I really need a little time to regroup and to start kicking the builder's butt. I have been way too nice and accepted things, but now it looks like they are going to ruin Christmas for me by not being done in time. You do NOT mess with my Christmas. No more patient nice guy ---Dr. Jekyll is about to become Ms. Hyde. I will make his life hell until he gets the full crew back out here and gets the house done. Christmas is my very favorite time of year and I am not letting them take that away from me.
Strapping on my six-guns .... working up to my full bitchiness potential ... stay tuned for the results....
So I ran to Wal-Mart, which was completely out of Halloween candy (but had a good assortment of Christmas candy), then to Walgreen's where I was able to snag the last couple of bags of chocolate. When I got back, the Professor had not only swept the porch, he had dug out some solar lights and created a path through the lawn to the front door, so there would be no danger of kids tripping over construction debris.
I was charmed by his thoughtfulness so I suggested that I drag Esmeralda, the five foot tall green witch, out of the still-accessible Halloween tote. The Professor loved the idea, and we got a rocking chair out of the garage for Esmeralda to sit in. Rush came outside, took one look, and immediately jumped in Esmeralda's lap. But then some trick or treaters came and Rush tried to follow them down the street, so I had to put him in the house. Chula took over the lap-sitting. She refused to come in last night, and was still in Esmeralda's lap this morning.
We don't have a doorbell hooked up yet, but Prof asked where the creepy music, flashing eyes, "wel-l-l--come" door knocker was and I dug it out of the tote. We only have temporary doors right now, but the Professor attached that door knocker, anyway. Then he ended up sitting in a lawn chair on the porch, occasionally setting off the music and greeting when he thought it would impress / scare one of the trick or treaters.
Isn't it sweet and thoughtful of the Professor to pretend to enjoy Halloween so much, just for my benefit!