grumpy about the construction project (futile gestures)

The project has slowed down for the past week or two because of delays with getting our utility company to approve and accomplish work it needs to do to upgrade our electrical service to 200 amps. Every day for the past week I’ve heard the sound of what I thought was my teeth grinding. But it turns out it was the sound of a monopolist utility’s bureaucratic machinery doing its thing.

Living in a deconstructed shithole is okay when you see work progressing rapidly, but when things slow down, it gets oppressive. Nick and I headed out on an adventure this morning, after eating breakfast in the basement. As we trudged to the car, he held my hand and looked up at me. “How much more days do we have to live like this, mommy?”

He sounded a little depressed. I answered as honestly as I could. “I don’t know, little buddy. A while. Maybe two more months?”

He shook his head in grim resignation and climbed into the car. “That’s a looooong time…”

It has gotten to be a little tough, I guess. We can’t live in these spaces, i.e., most of the house.

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We do have a living room that’s untouched, but it’s open to the larger construction space, and somehow we don’t end up there. This is a pretty good shot of the living space we’re spending most of our indoor time in lately.

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That far wall is full of all the kids’ art supplies. Pile of toys and junk to the left. The little table is usually their art table, but these days it’s where they eat. Yup, that’s a drying rack with our towels on it, next to the sofa.

If you sit on that sofa, you’re staring right at our makeshift kitchen, which still looks like this.

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It’s all a wreck. We’re doing our best to keep it as homey and livable as possible. Anthony even put art on the wall over the sofa.

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We clean best we can every day, but it’s hard to keep up.

The past week there was a fair bit of work in the kitchen and entry area, which is right over the basement bathroom where we do all water-based activities (shower, toilet, sink, laundry). With everything but the original plank subfloor gone, bits of debris fall through the cracks constantly. If we’re lucky, we’re in the bathroom when it happens and that stuff gets right down to our scalps and stays there all day.

Some crazy person installed off-white wall-to-wall plush carpet in the basement before we bought the house. When tradesmen come into the basement, their dirty shoes grind highly visible filth into it. When we cook and eat and drink tea or coffee, every little dripping leaves a filthy stain. After hearing Nick’s indirect complaint this morning, I realized the carpet has become totally disgusting in the last month.

But still we hold on to vestiges of our formerly tidy life. We still wash the dog’s feet when she comes back in from a walk. I don’t know why I bother. Anthony dusts and mops the wood floors diligently each evening to get rid of the day’s work debris. We still avoid shoes in the bedroom. We even shower regularly. They’re all futile gestures, token remembrances of a cleaner, first-world life, one we hope someday will return to us.

The only really visible bit of work done this week, from our living-here perspective, was fresh demolition in the powder room and kitchen entry. Talon and Dan did it earlier this week. It’s really strenuous and difficult work, pulling up what looks like 5 or 6 archived layers of flooring, and it’s noisy and messy. I didn’t think it was that much of a change — just a new small area of the house reduced to bare subfloor planks. But I guess the kids don’t see it that way. Jesse walked in the kitchen door in the afternoon after the work was done. I was still out by the car when I heard her start screaming.

Come to think of it, the guys started demolition work early that same morning. Even as we made breakfast and got our day started in the basement, the ripping, pounding, and reciprocating-sawing were going strong. Bits of wood and plaster showered us gently when we used the bathroom. Jesse walked into the bathroom and came out screaming. “AAAAAAH. I CANNOT GO IN THERE!”

Anthony and I chided her. “It’s just construction dust. You can deal with that.”

“NO I CAN’T, THERE IS GLASS ON THE FLOOR!!”

Huh. Anthony investigated. Sure enough, there was glass everywhere. The glass cover on the cheap light fixture over the toilet had fallen off from the shaking of the demolition. It shattered as it landed, leaving shards of glass on the floor and filling the toilet bowl itself with glass.

Anthony had used the toilet just a few minutes before Jesse walked into the bathroom, and then Nick too. We were fortunate no one was on the can when the cover fell. Unfortunately, Nick doesn’t like to flush this basement toilet, so it was full of his urine. I love Anthony for many reasons, and now I can add a new one: he did the dirty work of reaching into the peepee-filled toilet to pull out the glass shards. It was nasty work, but somebody (other than me) had to do it.

This evening, after a week of suffering and getting by, the filthy carpet finally overwhelmed us. I pulled out the Bissell and shampooed. It’s a hopeless act, really, but it’s Friday night and at least we can enjoy the clean floor for a couple days before the gang-o-workers returns on Monday to trash the joint again.

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