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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blinded By New Light

SCENE: 5am SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, a quiet suburban household:
[B A N G ! ! ! !]

So the Shuttle landed. Wasn't an earthquake. Well done.

An earthquake right now would not be welcome in this household, where four rooms of furniture and seven years family detritus are boxed and stacked in one as we wait the arrival of the kitchen fitter today and the tile fitter tomorrow. Not that the kitchen is being fitted yet - the mannie is coming to measure is all - but everything there has been ripped-out, gutted, and dumpstered. Gas pipes and electrical fittings are now to be moved in anticipation of new cabinets, new appliances, and a spanking new floor. Not that the kitchen will even be tiled tomorrow - we're tiling in two shifts. Dining room, Living room, bathroom and hallway will all be tiled first. Thursday, we hope. The kitchen and family room will be tiled sometime later, after the cabinets are up.

Meantime we pack ourselves uncomfortably into plastic chairs in the cement-floored family room, nestled amongst boxes and units and splint-legged puppies. Daughter chased him as he ran around the yard two weeks ago; he stopped, she did not. Splint-legged but not house-trained, puppy plop sheets littered here and there. Baloney prize when he hits a designated target zone. He clanks around on his splint like Long John Silver - keep a weather-eye out for a pee-faring pup with three legs, Ahaaar!

Madness and mayhem. It wasn't enough that we tore-up inside, Noooo, but we had to give the gardeners free reign outside too. Our house, our yard, was a jungle of greenery: trees, palms, yuccas growing everywhere front to back; a corner jungle of pomegranites, orange trees, bushes shrubs, more palms, more yuccas; and our own Green Monster hedge along the back. How high are power lines? The hedge was three feet shy of that, but ten feet thick and dead inside, ready to topple itself into the pool. A huge, humungous wall of green with blazing orange flowers that drew ten thousand humming birds late summer; a huge humungous wall of thorns, home to families of fearsome squirrels and musk-rats, super-squirrels who every now and then would flex their guns and send some thick flowered palm-type branch crashing to the ground. A huge humungous wall of green that hid us from our neighbors, and them from us. They visited, you know? Our neighbors over the back. They visited the other night, First Day of the chainsaws, first time we'd met in almost seven years. "Oh we do enjoy the privacy" quoth they, "such a shame to ruin it?" We agreed of course - we love the privacy of the hedge ourselves - but that still didn't mean the gardeners could cut it way up there. The best they could manage, safely at least, was to leave it eight feet tall. Or twenty feet short.. whatevs. Now I suspect our neighbors are pissed: I can see their upper story and their deck from where I'm sat, down here in my jumble-sale computer room. I bet they're mad as hornets now. I'm sorry. Nothing we could do. The pool guy, other hand, was cock-a-hoop on Saturday: he's been after us all year to cut the damned thing down, and though he could not clean the pool this week - it had a hedge in it, after all - still he came just to see. He'll be laughing other side of his face when we call him back though, and it's turned so black-green that he can't see the bottom any more. Better not hear one mumble of complaint, all I'm saying.

It's like a family trait, this doing everything-all-at-once. Followed me from earlier lives. Like the time we moved - my first wife, my first-born, and I - while she was heavily-pregnant with our second, now my eldest. We'd bought a fixer-upper that we'd tried to fix before we moved, but had to fix way more than ever we did bargain for. So when we moved, a full two weeks before the baby was due, we had no floors downstairs and half the walls were being rebuilt. Foundations had just been dug (the house had been built and stood for 150 years on the bare earth) and damp treatments injected; a sorely-disabled infant in one hand, a full-to-bursting wife on the other, and not even a phone line installed. Two days later, not two weeks, I had to run one mile at 6.45am to find a public phone to call an ambulance. Little bugger was born at 8.05 - that .05 being the officially-recorded second stage of labour.

Chaos and clutter, companions of old. How funny then, and not in a nice way, that amongst this endearing messy life I must build me tiny oases of order where everything, precisely placed, must always be just so? A sop to obsessive compulsion, call it, that drives my careless children mental. These summer vacation nights I am unable to sit at my own computers - my sacred space - because the crowd of kids are screaming to play WoW; World of Warcraft that I bought in a fit of goodness-knows-what weakness. They play twelve hours solid - 6pm to 6am - then wake us in the morning as they return, like Wampyres, to their light-shielded coffins. But - the bastards - despite all my shouting and pulling-out of hair - theirs and mine - still each morning my space has been eviscerated and destroyed and upset by those uncaring foot-clumping spawn of Beelzebub.

My yard is my subtle revenge upon them: for in clearing the woods and the trees and the shrubs and the hedges, my yard and my house are flooded with new sunlight, brighter than bright and hotter than... well, in this daily 105 degree bake I'll let you choose your own "whore's armpit" aphorism.

But now - please - I must get back to work. I've three days remaining in my current position, and two weeks hard coding to compress into that time. And the tile mannie is coming tomorrow to lay the floors and... and... and... You don't want to know. Really, you don't! So let me go for now, k?

LATER: Buggery bollox! It's not until Thursday that the floor guy cometh. Bugger. Not tomorrow at all. I don't know what feching day it is any more.


Blogger -jkg said...

your house is in upheaval, sure. but it will all be worth it in the end. new floors from which to spill wine on, a clear blue pool to pick leaves out of, a sturdy foundation unshaken by the inevitable earthquakes to come.

sounds like fun. enjoy the sun.

11:37 AM  
Blogger DarkoV said...

With all this kabobble happening, I'm assuming dining out or phoning in are the methods of grub obtainment in use. How's about apllying that acerbic wit to the gastronomic pleasures available to you.
Besides, it'll keep your mind off of the hovel heaps lying about.
Or, perhaps I have it all wrong. Maybe it's your next door neigbours, so happy to have the bushes/trees cut down so that you can peek in at all of their doings, who have opted to treat you and the family as the royalty you are. Free food from them until the re-construction has finished.

6:42 AM  
Anonymous stephenesque said...

" two weeks hard coding to compress?" You deserve a nice sit down in your yard!

12:25 PM  

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