Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The home stretch

It may not look like much, but that trench with the pipe in it is important. A guy was finally able to drive his heavy tractor over that rain-drenched fill yesterday and not sink to his axles as he dug a place for a drain pipe to run from the house to the septic tank. At last, if we bring water into the house, there's a place for it to go when it leaves. The last structural hurdle has been passed. We are celebrating our ability to dispose of our sewage. Who knew????

Detail work on the inside is becoming finer and finer. The wood floors are all in; carpets are now being laid. Trim details are being looked after, as are a couple of small projects that had to wait for this stage in construction. A "preliminary final inspection" will be made this week; after that the electricity will be turned on and the house will be heated. Protective covering from the finished floors will be removed, so we can enjoy that golden bamboo in all its glory. The process begun nearly 18 months ago with the removal of the first strip of paper from a wall in Arlington, this obsession with real estate and houses, builders and yes, sewage pipes, will soon be over. We will occupy our new house within three weeks!

I have no idea what this new life, so long anticipated, will really be like, but I can barely wait to start living it in what I know will be gorgeous surroundings. It's not time to write a valedictory to our current limbo existence, not just yet. Rest assured, though, ideas are percolating. We have been given much. We've experienced abysmal lows that have made subsequent highs seem stratospheric; we have made the happy acquaintance of people in places and walks of life we'd never have imagined, and we have learned.

As long as we are transitioning, that's what I'll continue to report on. Soon, though, it will be time for reflection and just plain enjoyment.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The fish tank

What you see above is a fish tank, but it's not just any fish tank. It's actually an old apothecary jar for which Steve's mother macraméed that hanger more than 30 years ago, back when macramé was all the rage, and which has been hosting a fish ever since. If you look closely, you can see Tiny, our bumblebee cichlid, swimming at the top.

In the house in Arlington, Tiny and his cool house were seldom seen because they hung upstairs in the "private" part of the house--few guests ever went up there. In the new house down here, however, he'll be on regular display, hung dramatically in the great room on a 30-foot chain from the vaulted ceiling. He'll be right next to the fireplace, the first thing you see as you look straight ahead upon entering the front door.

One of the many wonderful people we've met through our home-building adventure here is a guy named Richard, who works as a handyman for Gary, our builder. He came here to the rental last summer to do some work on the floors, and the first thing he noticed was the fish tank. Turns out he loves pet fish, has had a sideline for years building unique wood stands for standard aquariums, and happens to have a larger apothecary jar (the one above is 5 gallons; his is 10) that he's been wondering what to do with. At the time, he said he'd give the jar to us when we got settled into the new place, and there the matter lay.

Now Richard is the one putting the stain on all the oak woodwork in the new place, and we've caught up with him as we're there painting while he does his staining work. Yesterday he mentioned our fish tank again, and was excited when we told him where it would hang in the great room. He told us he'd bring his 10-gallon jar to us whenever we were ready for it--and he also wants to give us some cichlids! (We discovered that Tiny doesn't appreciate company in his 5-gallon quarters: he ate the roommate with whom he came to us within a day of their arrival. Maybe he'll do better in larger accommodations.) These jars are not inexpensive and they are hard to find. This is a true gift, one of the many that have come to us unbidden in this new place.

So now Steve has another project on his list: replace the macramé hanger, which is starting to dry-rot and won't hold a larger jar anyway. I tried macramé--it didn't work for me. Steve enjoys doing it just because he likes it, and it's also a way of honoring his mother. It's wonderful to be able to surround yourself with things that are not only beautiful but have such great backstories. You don't just admire them; you love them.

Update: the neighbor cabinet-maker came in with a price we can live with, especially considering that armoires for today's wide-screen TVs are not yet being manufactured for the mass market. So we'll have a truly unique and distinctive piece of furniture as a focal point in the room instead of an ugly TV screen.