It’s Been A Long Time Since I Left You

It’s Been A Long Time Since I Left You

It’s a few months since I last wrote a blog post. In that time, middle-eastern countries have overthrown corrupt and cruel dictatorial regimes, there have been worldwide Occupy protests in righteous anger against corruption and greed (big love to them all for taking a stand) and Canadian scientists have potentially found a way to reverse Alzheimers Disease.

Momentous events for sure, but they pale when stacked against the heroic undertaking we have recently completed. We built a house. Not just any house.

The House.

Given its significance to world events, I think it’s only fair to provide everyone with a recap of the last few months.  So here goes, all the important bits of the last quarter condensed into one rather astonishing blog post. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, but most of all, it’ll make you wish you’d been one of the lucky few who were called to serve in The Last Days of the Great Build…

Back in September, when most people were basking drowsily in the warmth of an extended Canadian summer, Emma and I were shifting into Manic Mode. Now, contrary to popular belief, Manic Mode isn’t that extreme. For sure it’s above a simple “Hectic Phase” and way beyond “Pretty Busy”, but if you were to look at the full scale, the Periodic Table of busy states as it were, your average Manic Mode is nowhere near the top.

No, those realms of extended stress and freneticism are especially reserved for people foolish enough to build their own home, corrupt politicians on the campaign trail desperately trying to persuade people to vote for them one more time, it’ll be different, honest, just trust us again, and of course Black Friday shoppers who find themselves alarmingly far back in the queue even though they started camping out in August (just after the fat lass in the sweat pants who came with her own camp chair hoping to bagsie the choicest bargains and get her slack-jawed face on Fox News). 

They include the It’s Thursday Already? daze, the Oh Fuck What Now? stage, and of course let’s not omit the Shit Shit Ohhh Shit panic phase. But they’re all dwarfed by the daddy of high activity states, the Vomit, Die Or Deal state. Which did we do? Well, read on, my friend, to discover.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s roll back to the beginning in September when we were far far from that strangely transcendent state. For us, September still involved a modicum of fun. We geared up for my parents arriving to help on the house, got stuff done and while I wouldn’t say we were in full control, we generally felt that The Great Build wasn’t spiralling toward a certain doom or plunging us into a financial devastation that even the most aggressive of Wall Street bear traders would be envious of and would put the situation in Greece into an almost jovial, nay, whimsical perspective.

I managed to get a cheeky week off work to help on the build and toil alongside my Dad as lacky, cash-machine and general fumbler. We installed the kitchen, built a maple and birch vanity (from scratch), tiled two showers and completed numerous other tasks. Then as September ended, I began Operation Numb Arm.  

It sounded like a simple task: paint the house. Now, I’ve been painting houses since my University days when, let loose with a can of blue paint, a curious desire for clouds on my ceiling and the confidence that no matter how messed up I made it, the house belonged to someone else and no way would I have to re-paint over it, my creative juices began to fully flow. The challenge of painting a new house all white didn’t daunt me at all. With hindsight, that was monumentally naive. A bit like a forty-a-day smoker taking a look at Kilimanjaro, declaring it looked like a nice gentle slope and that the last one up smells of arse.

Needless to say, by the end of October I had the complexion of said smoker and we’d gone way past the It’s Thursday Already? daze phase and were now fully into Oh Fuck What Now? stage. Working all day and then doing a four or five hour shift painting alone in a darkened uninhabited house without handy things like lights, heating and a full set of working power outlets isn’t an experience I recommend. Certainly it gets a bit tiresome after the third or fourth week. But, amazingly, I managed to get not only the undercoat on, but almost everything finished with at least one coat of white paint. By my rough calculations, I did about 20,000+ square feet of painting.

Then, like some miraculous God of Painting, Peter arrived and took over. Not only did he spot me, but he provided much needed relief for Emma who’d been pretty much a single mum for a month and as you may know, our kids aren’t exactly low-maintenance.

Now, in fairness, I did warn Peter to take it easy. Like 80s decathlon Movember-inspiring legend Daly Thompson, he needed to understand painting The House is a marathon not a sprint. Like the Forth Bridge, it isn’t ever likely to be finished. Unfortunately, like a hyperactive teenager opening parcels on Christmas morning, he set off way too fast and by week two had to pull back. But, in fairness that wasn’t all bad because he’d done key bedrooms, we had a house to pack, move and unpack, 400 square feet of cedar siding to stain and a rather damp log jumble to stack into a neat pile. Good man.

Those last days of October, running up to the Move In Date were some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced. Definitely Shit Shit Ohhh Shit status days as we struggled to get electricals finished, plumbing parts sourced and installed, carpets fitted, concrete kitchen counter tops finished and installed (lots of grunting), bathrooms grouted and completed (a particularly delightful 2AM stint that one), inspections and a bazillion other little jobs done all of which would have stopped us dead in our tracks.

Somehow, some way, we made it in. Of course that wasn’t the end of the story. November has brought it’s own joys. We’ve had to endure a month of no phone or internet due to Canada’s backwater status for telecommunications and some utterly appalling customer service from Bell and TekSavvy, the shifting priorities of Dave The Man as he begins to move on to new projects (how could he?) slowing down on the niggly little end jobs, the endless jobs I cheerfully gave myself at the start of the project and am now doggedly working through, not to mention the whole-house painting extravaganza that still awaits thanks to the plasterers coming back and touching everything up.

But, we’re in and loving it. We didn’t vomit or die and I think we dealt with the stresses as best we could. Big love and thanks to family and friends that made it possible at the end. Big up to Dave The Man and Adrian The Secret Reiki Master for running the build, Mel the ex-Bee Keeper Builder Woman, Kyle The Viking and Tom, Just Tom. Honestly, without you all we might just have died. Or at least lost our stomach contents once or twice.

To steal a classic line: it’s been emotional.

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