Not to spoil the ending, but . . .

It turns out Beautiful Carpenter was good at everything. He’s one of those people you try not to hate because he can play the piano, and do math in his head, and can fix, build, or otherwise create anything he wants with just his brain, his hands, and a few things laying around in the garage. Not only that, he’s still the only guy I’ve ever known that has the patience to wait for French press coffee in the morning and can change an alternator on a work truck in the dark during an icy rain in the Best Buy parking lot without throwing his tools. I don’t get it. When I’m in a frustrating situation like that, I can’t even fake enough patience to impress someone, but that’s just him.

Between his house and mine, we took on dozens of DIY projects and finished nearly all of them. And honestly my house never looked better. He was even more of a perfectionist freak than I was, and one night we went down into my basement and he ripped up that five-way intersection of crooked tile I had thrown the rug over a few years earlier, and put it all back together nicely. Then the next weekend, we finished the tile in the laundry room and the office, mudding and grouting until three am fueled on homemade organic margaritas and a heavy metal playlist.

It looked like this for a long time. Sorry neighbors.

When I picked up the phone to get an estimate on new house siding from a local contractor, Beautiful Carpenter listened in. Then he asked me about my ideas, threw in a couple of his own, and the next thing I knew, we were calling the lumberyard and ordering up some rough sawn cedar for us to do ourselves. Honestly, he did most of the work, but I never minded being his grunt man, sweeping up, doing simpler tasks and painting trim. As long as he was teaching me rather than doing it all himself, I think we were both happy.

That was a long-ass project that spanned from autumn to the next spring, into summer when it grew too hot to work outside. Instead, we passed the time floating on the lake behind my house, running the trails, and drinking beers at sunset waiting for the temps to cool down. In the mornings, we drank coffee at sunrise at the edge of the nearby creek where, besides us, only the fishermen were out.

When autumn finally arrived again, we trimmed out the windows and put a coat of paint on the whole house. After that Beautiful Carpenter landscaped the front and back of the house so I had a little retreat where I could watch sunrises from the patio or sunsets from the front porch. And you know, it looked pretty good.

To tell the truth, it needed another coat of paint, but like I said, my house had never looked better. So maybe next fall I will add the paint and some new front porch posts, but for now I see the progress I have made over the last several years. I still like to get the old pictures out from when I started these projects, just to remind me that I am growing and progressing every day.

And I know that whatever happens next, is just the next thing. Maybe that’s why I bought this shirt a few weeks ago. Because even though sometimes it’s hard to believe, really, everything is going to be okay.

Kitchen Remodel

Definitely the before picture

This is a job that I am hiring out–mostly. The hunt for countertops, cabinets, flooring, wall colors, etc., is unbelievably time consuming and exhausting. I have spent hours upon hours just doing this. Thank god there are people who remodel kitchens for a living because I have to make an actual living by working at my actual job.

I have spent so much time shopping on line and running from warehouse to warehouse that I have been neglecting my yard and flowerbeds, and spending no time outdoors. So much so, that the other day, I took a minute to hang my underwear on the clothesline and do a pass through the vegetable garden for the first time in weeks. From the yard next door, I hear someone yelling, “Hello . . . hello.”

I look up to see a woman smoking a cigarette in a van parked in my neighbor’s driveway. “Hi,” she says. I didn’t think anyone lived there. I’m Linda, I take care of Mr. H.”

Mr H is my ninety-five year old neighbor. I have no idea how long Linda has been caring for him. I walk over and introduce myself and she explains why she’s in her van.

“I’m a smoker, and I don’t like to do it in his house,” she says. “I thought that house was empty” she says, nodding toward my place. “How do you do?”

From her point of view, I see clearly why she thinks no one lives here. Last year I planted a wildflower garden, partly so Mr H would have something pretty to look at when he sits outside with his nurse, partly to attract bees and wildlife, and partly so I can stare at it from my office window when I can’t make myself send another email about deadlines. This year the flowers have bloomed like crazy, but the grasses have grown up, too, and the weeds under the window have become a dominant feature.

So I get it. It looks like nobody lives here. Well, she’s partially right. I have just been existing. Existing on bad food and too much coffee. Existing on constant internet research for luxury vinyl flooring and the differences between granite, quartz, and quartzite. I still don’t really know what the difference between quartz and quartzite is. I do know, that just like every other project I have taken on in this house, there are lots of people who like to tell you what you should do, but not so many that will help you do it–even if you offer them ten thousand dollars cash.

Anyone know what this brand is or how much is costs?

So stay tuned. After I unjumble my mind from the search for a back vented under the shelf range hoods like this one, I can start writing checks and get this job started.

By then the rest of the flowers will be in bloom and I can start to pay attention to the gardens again. I’m ready to take this job and my life by the ballz. Who knows, maybe by summer’s end I will be living again instead of just existing.