Monday, September 28, 2009

Still in limbo, still busy

Here's a picture of what the house looks like today. The most recent additions are the roof shingles and all the doors and windows. Inside, plumbing and duct work are being installed, and the electrical rough-in should be done by Friday.

It used to be that when our September vacation was over, that signaled, essentially, the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one. It was a throwback to the school calendar mind-set, I guess. Maybe next year it will feel that way again, but for now, in this limbo state, I don't feel as though I'm on some sort of threshold, except for the very long one before us as we wait for our new home to be finished. Another analogy: it feels like my old Peace Corps job, at the change of presidential administrations. While we waited for the new political appointees to be installed at the top, all initiatives and pending projects came to a standstill. We couldn't do anything until the new folks, charged by the president with new initiatives based on his platform, had a chance to review what was currently in process. I'm in the land of in-between, treading water with work that needs to be done but doesn't represent anything new, just maintenance. I know how to live here but I don't like it very much.

The routine we established in early July continues. Early every morning we make the 25-mile drive up to the property and take up chores that still need to be done while the house is a-building. The clearing is mostly finished, at least until the winter, when the water recedes dramatically from the beach front and we can actually walk there and do some much-needed clearing. What has been cleared must be maintained, which is done with a combination of mowing, weed-whacking, and herbicides. (There is a very aggressive, thorny vine called greenbrier that can only be controlled with chemicals. If you cut it down, it simply pops back up, in multiples of what you cut down. The irony of naming this noxious weed after the luxurious, palace-sized resort in West Virginia is not lost on me.) Steve continues work on the garden shed, now putting shingles on the roof. A big job ahead, this week and next, will be dealing with firewood: we had a couple of very large trees taken down and cut into logs, which we will now split into pieces for the fireplace. Steve will split with the gas-powered log-splitter loaned to us by the guy who cut down the trees, while I stack. And these are only temporary stacks. They'll be moved when the construction project is finally over and we can grade and landscape the land immediately adjacent to the house. When that's done, we can determine the spot that is most convenient to the fireplace, and move it all there. Oh, there's no dearth of things to keep us busy.

So busy, of course, that I am still unable to transcribe my jottings here with any regularity, much to my continuing regret. I am still not complaining about the work. I just wish there were more hours in the day so that I had the two or three I need to do this well. But I don't, so there we are. I'll try to check in again in less time than it took me to get here today.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Life is a beach

We are back to whatever passes for normal these days after a great beach break with DC friends who were in Waves, one of the tourist villages far down the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. The house was nothing short of palatial, with, in addition to the usual great room and decks, 8 master bedrooms, a media room, a Viking range in the kitchen in addition to wall ovens and two, count 'em two, refrigerators, and a dining room table for twenty. We were 12, but we weren't just rattling around in the extra space. Nature abhors a void, and so does a crowd of gay men. We filled the spaces. It was a great break--a teaser for our own week in South Nags Head beginning the 19th of this month.

The hosts in Waves were Jim and Kemp, friends from DC whom, when we were living there, we'd see a couple of times a year for dinner if we were lucky, because of the distance between our homes. It was great having a chance to spend some extended time with them, and fun and interesting to watch the dynamics of this group of people we became a part of. Just as we have a set of "Nags Head friends" with whom we now get together almost exclusively when we are at the beach (though we met at work or through mutual friends), and with whom we have built up a rich history over the years, they have their set of close friends from college and other earlier days, and their stories and memories are every bit as funny and/or intense as ours are. It speaks well of the group that we never felt like we were horning in on their special times--we were welcome. And we even found time for a card game--that's a picture of me learning (for a second time) h0w to play euchre. I like it!

This was the first time we drove "home" from the Outer Banks and were still in North Carolina at the end of the trip. What used to be a 5 1/2 drive was just 1 1/2 hours. And we aren't really "at home" in this rental house. The whole situation brings home to me state state of limbo in which we find ourselves now and the mysteries still ahead. Steve has yet to have to deal with the fact that he is retired. We went from one way of life in which he worked and I stayed home to this, in which he is still working, but on different things, and I am working again. At some point all this house-related hyperactivity will be done, and a new "normal" will make itself known. I hvae no idea what it will be, but I look forward to that day.l Until it comes, though, we just roll with the very strong flow.