Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Construction Zone

When we bought our house four years ago, we really thought it was “move-in ready.” Until the pipes burst in the bathroom. And we realized our taste in kitchen fixtures did not match the previous owner’s (a BLUE sink? With brass trim. Just … no. And he had used contact paper as the wallpaper. Did you know that contact paper is permenent? Yep.) And I realized I wanted a subtle NEUTRAL living room instead of the dark green cave we created with “Forest Glen” paint. And the deck became a condemned space because it was so rickety (read: poorly built) And I realized I really CAN’T live without air conditioning. And Jim decided we needed to tear down the entire basement ceiling because … he couldn’t recreate the way the previous owner had painted the swirlies. And Mr. Cat McVomitsALot set up camp in the office and ruined the carpet. And we finally scraped enough money to replace the original tile (in our 50 year old home) in the bathroom. Oh the many feet that have touched that dingy black and white floor.

Ah but who doesn’t like a home improvement project? The people on the Home Depot commercials always look so happy to be forking over dollars to do it themselves.

Jim and I? Not exactly Do-It-Yourselfers.

So we’ve hired help along the way for many of the projects. Let me tell you, it is REALLY hard to find a normal, honest contractor in the Cleveland area. We find them through referrals and they’ve all done a great job (read: We have no idea but we did know we couldn’t do it). But they’ve all been just a little … off.

First, the guy we hired to do base molding in all of the rooms downstairs resembled Owen Wilson and had an unhealthy infatuation with one of my cats. Every day he would comment “She’s just such a pretty cat. I love cats.” I was afraid I’d come home one day and find the two of them snuggling up on the couch watching Animal Planet. Or he would be in the kitchen frying her up for dinner.

Then, the guy we hired to finish the basement was like five "Seinfeld" episodes in one pudgy middle-aged man. His hair looked like a five year old had taken a pair of safety scissors to it. He had perpetual dragon's breath.

And he liked to talk. A lot.

About the weather, construction, the economy, Cleveland, the Indians, his childhood, the weather in Florida (don’t ask .. it’s a 40-min. conversation), his divorce, his children’s mother and their relationship, his daughter’s illness, his acid reflux, his credit score, his political views, his view on abortion, his view on Obama, his view on vegetarians … In the five days he spent in our house I learned things about him no one needs to know in a strictly contractor-client relationship.

[Editor's note: It should be noted (because if Jim is reading this he will point it out) that Jim and his dad did the majority of the home renovations – just the two of them. Impressive right? They have their own quirks though. My father-in-law’s meals mainly consist of four things: chicken fingers, rice with butter, Pepsi, and fries. And anything else must be grouped into the Things That Are White category: deli turkey, mashed potatoes, white bread biscuits and gravy … That man's passion for carbs runs deep.]

Now, right this very minute, there is yet another contractor in my house finishing up some base molding upstairs. He is, for all intents and purposes, normal.

Except … he whistles while he works. All. Day. Long. If I hear "Zip-a-dee-do-dah" one more time today it will NOT be a wonderful day for him.

However, he doesn’t like cats though, and he’s not much of a talker. And ... he's almost done.


  1. One way to halt a conversation for good is to ask (with a blank stare), "Have you accepted Jesus in your life?"

  2. I'm sorry....rice with butter? *hurl*