Saturday, 11 May 2013

Life's surprises

Sorry...I have not been a very consistent blogger...this longish story will give you some idea of what has been keeping me busy lately.

Did you ever have a moment when you thought, "How the heck did I get myself into this situation?" Well of course you have...that's life. For me, those kind of moments increased dramatically after having kids. I remember one drizzly Saturday morning, standing in a really big drainage pipe. It was about 9 am and there I was, a few streets over from our Brampton house. Our first born son,  probably two years old at the time, was happier than a pig in...At that point in his life he was a construction nut. We had a terrible time trying to keep him out of our tools. Bedtime reading favourites were construction books and the Canadian Tire catalogue. He loved to watch construction crews at work. On this particular Saturday morning, the crews weren't there so we were free to crawl in and out of the huge pipes, laid out along the street. That's when I had that thought..."How did I get myself into this? Is this my new life.....crawling around construction sites?"

Fast forward 30 years. We have lived in our current Ottawa home for 24 years. For years we have  dreamt of adding on a front porch but never got our act together. Last year on my birthday, that same "boy" told us that he was going to make that happen. He would organize the whole job, hire people as needed and do some of the work himself. It was just the push we needed.

We started about 6 weeks ago. Right now I am happy to say that I think the messiest stage is over..I'm talking about digging the 6 foot deep holes for the support posts. A lot of mud and clay ended up all over the lawn,  laneway,  tools, clothes and boots.

It's been a bit of a family effort so far. Certainly our eldest son has done the lion's share of the project....he is the brains behind the operation for sure. We are grateful to him and to his brother  who has also laboured for hours, digging and hammering. My husband and I have done our share as well. My duties have included many "mom" type jobs: making sure there is plenty of food and drink in the fridge, fetching tools, lowering measuring tapes out of upstairs windows to measure heights, and cleaning mud and clay off boots and tools. Sometimes I do real jobs like hammering joist hangers.

 Often I am the errand guy. As a matter of fact I must confess that last weekend I broke my personal  "Do not shop on Sundays" rule. We went to Home Depot at 7 pm. Our Saturday night date found us at Rona. Both places were wonderfully quiet and we were able to buy our lumber quickly. Apparently other people have real options for  Saturday and Sunday evenings.

So...back to my "what the heck ?! " moment. 

One day I was assigned the task of buying a piece of lumber. I think it was a 2 by 12 by 16...meaning it was 16 feet long. (I could get into a ramble about why our country is using half metric and half imperial measures but I will resist.)  I must confess to being a little bit nervous. I had driven the truck before, but not with a long piece of lumber sticking out of it. Anyhow, off I went to Home Depot and selected my wood, then rolled my cart to the cashier. This is no mean feat,  navigating the aisles while not attacking someone with your super long load. After I paid for the board I asked the cashier if she could have someone meet me at my vehicle to help load it. She said I could go ahead and he would meet me there. Then she hesitated..."What kind of vehicle ? How would he find me? Which end of the parking lot was I in?" I answered that I was in the contractors' area and probably the only gray haired woman driving a Ford F150. She agreed.

I have sometimes been accused of having a lead foot but not that day. Fortunately it was the middle of the day so the Queensway (highway 417) was not busy. I drove super carefully, especially when doing lane changes with my extra long load. It was with a sense of relief that I got off the Queensway and drove down our street.
 There's something about having achieved a goal that occasionally results in letting your guard down. I had been so careful all the way home but then I decided  to back the truck into our laneway....a very easy task compared to driving on the Queensway. If I backed in, then it would be easier to take the wood off the truck and add it to the lumber pile that was dominating the garage.

I thought it was all going fine until I heard a very loud bang. Much too late I realized that the garage door was closed. Somehow I had totally misjudged the length of the lumber and backed it straight into the garage door. Immediately I had company. Keith, our across the street neighbour and Mark, a friend  who was working, shovelling gravel for us that day...they both came running to see what the problem was.

Miraculously the door was still on its rollers. It was dented all over, but it still opened. Keith asked if we had a rubber mallet and ran to get his. Mark and I went into the garage and tried to assess the damage. Suddenly Keith was back and lowered the garage door. So there we were, the three of us, in the darkened garage. Keith set to work, banging away on the dents from inside. 

That was my moment....standing there with Keith and Mark.... I don't know either of them all that well and I felt badly for Mark. What do you do in a situation like that? Do you just stand there while this guy makes a hell of a racket, pounding away on a metal garage door, while you stand there with your friend's mom, the idiot who drove lumber into the door? Do you politely excuse yourself and say," I'd rather shovel gravel than spend this special time with you guys?"  Keith was on a mission. He had a door to repair but Mark and I were just standing there, in the dark, with the sound of clanging metal ringing in our ears. Anyhow I guess it was not that long...maybe 5 minutes.

I thanked Keith for his handiwork. Once he was finished you couldn't tell about the accident unless you took a good look.  Besides that, it still opens!

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