Kim and I figured we don’t have enough going on in our lives just now. We are building our cottage – the roof is on and some of the windows installed, but we are frustrated with the kitchen design and researching lighting decisions on the internet and in catalogues. At the same time, we are dealing with Kim’s continuing fatigue and back pain, though Friday’s blood draw showed her “numbers” were slightly improved. And we are preparing for the holidays – the cards Kim makes every year are almost done, and we have decided not to travel to see family for Thanksgiving but will rest instead. To replace the stress of Thanksgiving travel, we decided to replace the floors in our condo – out with the deteriorating cork, in with the engineered white oak. Simple, right?
Corey, our floor guy, suggested that it would be impossible to stay in our home for the week when our floors were being replaced. He figured that if they started on Monday, we might be able to return on Friday night. Corey is the owner of the company, not the installer. We made arrangements to stay in a neighboring rental unit through Thursday, and just in case, we booked a stay at a nearby B&B for Friday night. (We thought we deserved that.) We looked forward to a triumphant Saturday homecoming to our pristine hardwood floors.
We might have anticipated a problem three weeks ago when a guy showed up with flooring material that needed to “season” in our condo. He was working alone, so I helped him haul about a ton of boxes of engineered wood up to our unit, the stack creating a dining-room-table sized block where our real table used to be. The guy probably would have been able to move the stuff by himself. (Several people at the flooring company said, “He was a football player,” as if that explained anything. You know – I should be able to cook an omelette because I was a hockey player.) It took the two of us two hours. He might have been able to do it alone in two and a half. Time, I’ve come to learn, can be very elastic.
We could check on the progress of our floor installation daily from where we were staying. Several days they got a late start because they had to pick up tape, or adhesive, or something from miles away, and several days they seemed to leave early, maybe because adhesive was drying. On Wednesday I talked with Joe, the installer, and was told that they would not be done on Friday and they did not work on weekends. I told him that Kim and I would like to sleep at home on the weekend, and Joe said OK, he would leave the bedroom unfinished until they did it on Monday. I asked if we should book a motel room for Monday night, and he said that would be a good idea.
Friday’s B&B was a great idea – a farm out on Leelanau Peninsula less than an hour north of Traverse City. The owner and hostess, Susan, had worked at Greenfield Village demonstrating historical cooking techniques while dressed in 19th century garb. She did the same for us and for the family of six, all adults, who joined us around the huge iron woodstove where she prepared soup and the rest of our “supper.” Kim was keenly interested in all of the explanations and demonstrations, and in the cooking gear that you can’t get these days. I was keenly interested in the pie we would have for dessert. Kim mentioned that she always wanted to marry a farmer and lead this kind of life. (The closest I come to farming is mowing the lawn, and I don’t do much lawn mowing at the condo.) Breakfast, and its preparation, was even more elaborate, and we watched it with fascination, clutching our authentically made coffee. (By “authentically made” I mean she tossed a couple of eggs, shells and all, into the boiling brew, explaining that the collagen in the egg white helped the grounds settle so you could pour off pure liquid coffee. I will pass the suggestion along to Starbucks.)
Meanwhile, back at the condo . . . we returned Saturday to find not much progress. Yes, we could sleep in our condo, but we could not live there. Furniture was stacked in the kitchen, blocking access to the stove and sink, and all of our counters were loaded with stuff we had put there to clear the floors – stuff we had anticipated putting away on Saturday. Kim’s back prevents her from lifting furniture (I had to insist a couple of times), and I managed to move some heavy boxes of flooring so we could gain access to our couch so Kim could nap (she never did) and I could watch some football on television (turned off when Michigan fumbled on the goal line). We left for the afternoon, dined at a restaurant again, and came home to sleep. Before sleeping, however, we had to clean up some of the chunks of dried adhesive that we had been tracking over the one-third of our flooring that had been installed. Tired but not especially happy, we crawled into the bed that I had dragged over dusty concrete to the center of our bedroom so we could have a place to sleep. Home is where the heart is, true, and a late-night cuddle reinforced that fact. But home is also where you can get to the kitchen sink.
In what might be a half-hearted form of protest, we hung our Christmas wreath on the door leading to the debris of our home. No, we are not living in Houston or Puerto Rico, but in our own modest way, we were feeling a shadow of their pain. We will be having a Thanksgiving turkey, just the two of us, because when I made my regular blood deposit in the Red Cross karma-bank in hopes of a future good-health withdrawal, they gave us a voucher for free turkey. This will work out well if we can get to our oven by Thursday. It’s Wednesday as I am writing this, and they are nowhere near done.
Despite these inconveniences, and that’s what they are, Kim and I are thankful. Thankful to be here.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our beloved friends and family, however you choose to celebrate. I recall a friend who had us over for a Thanksgiving dinner. He had some money bet on football, and in the middle of saying grace he paused to watch a play on the television behind us.
Thanks for hanging in there with us, and keep your priorities clear.