Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 5

Collage: construction, farms, buildings
Credits: MS Office ClipArt - j0434591.wmf + j0338018.wmf

Part 5 - Rural Renos
There are beautiful green rolling hills here, dotted with farms, cows and shredded-wheat hay rolls. And as sure as the sale barn is on Tuesday afternoons, farms out here need renos just like everyplace else. Especially old farm houses, where the electric plugs cough out cold air from the outside and are sometimes strong enough to extinguish matches.

Now renovating on a farm has its advantages and its disadvantages. I love to be invited in for dinner, or catch up on the local gossip, or go home with an arm full of fresh produce. But some things taint the experience too, in ways one would not normally have to put up with.

Ring ring! The phone called me and a familiar voice from an old friend asked me out to install a new screen door on her farm house.

My van lumbered up her bumpy driveway, avoiding the usual crowd of assorted creatures, some free range, some just AWOL. There was a playful crowd of barn cats, a handful of dogs playing tag, some chickens, geese and oh my god, what is THAT?

"IT" was a rather huge pig! That's right, I said pig. It was big, blackish hairy, coming up to my hips in height, but it seemed calm enough, so after a quick consult with my friend, I unpacked my tools and got to work. And of course, this was not going to be the quick job I had anticipated. The jamb was out of square, and the old concrete composing the threshold was not long for this earth.

I removed the old concrete and set about realigning the door jamb. I needed to cut some 2x4 stock as a king stud to beef up the jamb. I set up my 12 inch sliding compound miter saw and stand and reached out to grab my tape measure which I had put down on an outside metal patio chair.

Ewwww! There was something greasy and slimy on it, and the smell indicated the unmistakable calling card of goose poo. Yuck! I went into the house to the sink in a rather hurried fashion and ran water until the poo was erased from everything but memory. The bloody stuff stained my hand too! No kidding! I went back outside where the pig had grabbed one of my tools and tried to make off with it, but I was in better shape and snatched it back before it was out of sight. Then an old dog wouldn't move out of the way, like a stone donkey he sat there, right in the way. After grunting and pushing I finally coaxed him out of the way before almost being run over by another dog being chased by the pig. Thank god that job is over!

These past few weeks, I have been working on renovating parts of an old cottage for someone, where Rufus the cat also lives. Now Rufus is a tom, with a rather large head and small feet. I guess nothing grows well in the shade. Anyways, Rufus announced his apparent displeasure with my work, when I discovered he had peed in the plastic tool box that housed my drill. Then he took off for 9 days, and I profusely apologized to the owners, who, although worried, did not blame me. Rufus came back 9 days later, thinner and with numerous scratches but alive just the same.

Another fine afternoon found me grouting a ceramic tile floor in a bathroom. I heard a strange sound coming from my right and I looked up in time to see that the owner's pet parrot had walked into the bathroom, and amused himself by biting chunks out of my defenseless grout sponge.

I love all the little creatures of the world, especially cats, but a renovation site is no place for them to be. A plumber I know agreed to work on a house. The owner called and told him not to let the cat out. He walked up to the front door, opened it and just about got hit by the blur of an opportunistic cat exploding out of the house to freedom. And you know what? He didn't get paid for the job to this day because of that. Don't ask me what happened to the cat, it's a sore point with the plumber.

I love all the little creatures of the world especially cats, but a renovation site is no place for them to be. Don't make it the renovator's job to put up with their presence. Lock them up somewhere for the day with the necessities. I can't count the number of times a pet dish with water or kibble and bits has tripped me with my hands fully laden with god knows what kind of construction paraphernalia. And reimburse the renovator for tools your pets have destroyed. It is not our fault they fancy nice rubber handles.

By the way, Rufus and I have come to a stalemate about my presence. He hasn't peed anymore so I still pet him, but he is off the pieces of food donation list for now as a protest. I am still there ... his owners being pleased enough to extend my services to other parts of the cottage.

Happy Renovating!

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
2009 © Janice Bell

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
Part 1: All in All
Part 2: Weld on Fire
Part 3: They Were Nailed
Part 4: It Pays to Be Honest
Part 5: Rural Renos
Part 6: Messy Is Costly
Part 7: Door Hell
Part 8: Just Where Do I Stop?
Part 9: Dressing for the Trades

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