Monday, June 13, 2011

I sided my house—I can do single parenthood
There’s a lot of the details of rebuilding a house that get blurred over with time—like your body’s own personal defense mechanism— it knows that it only hurts to remember some of those long, torturous hours. I woke up this morning remembering that I had sided this house. I write about this, because if you’ve seen the many angled barn of architectural decadence that I live in, you’d understand why I adore salt-box styles. Siding this house, any house really-- just this house in particular, was no easy task. Let me tell you about it.

First off, there was the getting of bids for siding contractors. Oh, this sounds easy? When you have personal insight into the fact that your bank account cannot accommodate $10-$20K more for the house to get a nice ‘skin’, you’ll realize that this part made me cry more than all that follows. Contractor after contractor was sent off to the sight of me folding up their estimates, swiping a few tears and mumbling something like, maybe I can just do it myself.
Somehow that mumble became the second stage. Next I had to find siding to match what was already on large parts of the house. This proved a bit easier, because I found a few receipts from the designer who once lived in the house. He apparently did ALL of his shopping at Menards, so with one stop, I found matching planks of wood. Cue some cringing—20 ft planks of wood are not cheap.

Third, I had to get 300 planks of wood home. Did I mention they came as 20 foot long pieces? 12 inches tall, 1 inch thick, TWENTY FEET LONG! Get out your tape measures, folks. This does not fit in the average SUV. I owned a beat up truck, a true 1960’s monster, but if you’ve still got hold of that tape measure you’ll realize that even in the back of a truck, I would still have 12 feet hanging out the back. And any failing physics student, like I was, knows that if you have more hanging out the back than what’s in the back, then it’s going to tip out.

So fourth, I removed the windshield of the truck and loaded 50 planks at a time THROUGH the entire length of the truck and out over the hood. Then I wedged myself and two kids beneath these planks and together we drove home, savagely breaking probably a LOT of laws. We wore our seatbelts.

Fifth, I should include something in here about how much 300 twenty foot hunks of wood weigh. And then mention something about how unwieldy they are, too.

Sixth, getting them up on vertical surfaces. Low down, those first horizontal stripes weren’t too bad. I’d walk the siding over and level it and hold it with my foot and the help of my two kids and then I’d nail gun it into weather tightness. But as I finished that first row, the kids, only 4 and 6 at the time, couldn’t help me lift higher than 12 inches. I feared I was stuck. But then came up with a pretty ingenius plan. I screwed in a holding screw. I would hold up one end of the wood, set the other end on this screw and Waa—Laa. The screw held one side while I held and nailed.

Seventh, ladder climbing. This memory is pretty blurred, which I’m sure indicates that it was heinous. Before you think I’m too insane or that my house is going to fall apart, this part came at a point when Chuck had some weekends off and together we managed. That’s right. I do have a husband. He’s wonderful and is working as a great doctor, so I didn’t get to see him lots two years ago. But you need to know that he is my best friend and favorite person to work with and he puts up with a lot. I was the one who wanted this house as my little pet project and he let me get it. He’s also always ready to work with me. Sometimes, many times, I’m just too eager and I want to see how much I can do on my own. Nothing makes me feel sexier than when he’d come home with a look of astonishment and say something like, “You put in a water heater?”

Yeah, baby. Some women like shoes…

The house is done. It’s sided and painted and protects us from all sorts of MN storms. And I did it. Do you want to know why I was thinking about siding today? It’s because right now I’m a single parent. Three kids, a blind dog, messy guinea pig, house, and trying to start a writing career.

Before the thought of siding accomplishments got me out of bed, this morning, the worries that I was not going to be able to do all of this on my own held me down. Terrified. Can I keep this up? Can I be a single mother?  Can I do any of this on my own?

I only have to do single-parenthood for two more weeks.  Chuck’s just finishing a six month training in Boston and he returns at the end of the month.
        I wrote this because as hard as siding a whole house was,  it has nothing on motherhood.     

So, Cheers to the parents out there.  four or five cheers to the single moms.  Though I can feel proud of siding my house, I had help when it got too hard to do on my own.  As, tough and brave and ballsy as I like to think I am, I need my husband. I was grateful to wake up today and not feel like I could take on the world single-handedly. I was grateful that I am grateful to be married.

Two more weeks and my love comes home.


Katie and Lane said...

You are so amazing! I tried to do what you do and I can't even get a 1/4th of it done. yes and only two weeks until the beginning of the end. I love you and your stories. Your the best.

Trisha said...

You are so incredible. I'm one of those women who will stick with the shoes. :)

Sara Beth said...

Wow! I feel really lazy, just trying to keep up on the laundry overwhelms me. You are amazing!