7/22/2014 2:59:00 PM Publisher's Column
As Shakespeare said,
All's well that ends well!
Watching a construction worker sawing the sidewalk on Dodge Center's Main Street this past week reminded me of one of the more unpleasant home remodeling experiences I've ever had.
Before Emily's accident, we lived in Sleepy Eye in an 80+ year old house. That spring, in 1999, we started adding a 28 x 40 foot addition on the house. It was to be a garage/workshop and a family room. We, mostly Emily and I, were doing the work, except for the concrete work, which we contracted out. We had most of the trusses up and the addition framed out by the time of the accident.
We had done a lot of work on the house, including taking out an interior chimney, which is a job I would never tackle again, and were in the process of turning the third floor into a master bedroom. The second floor had a beautiful enclosed porch along the west side of the house in which I had installed storage cabinets and had an office.
We had remodeled the kitchen and dining room on the first floor and carpeted the living room where Mel's baby grand piano was located. The front door opened into a beautiful entry with a dark wooden stair case, French doors to the living room and a dark wooden door to the kitchen.
We had taken out the interior chimney and converted the heating system so that we could make more efficient use of the basement, where I had my workshop pending completion of the addition. We also used the basement for storage.
The basement walls were poured concrete, not cement block.Because of the lay of the property, the floor of the addition was lower than the bottom of the basement windows on the side toward the addition, and we had about a three foot crawl space under the floor of the addition. I decided that was useable space for storage, if we could access it from the basement, so I asked the concrete contractor if it were possible to make an opening from the basement into the crawl space through the concrete wall.
The contractor said he could do it, so we settled on a price and showed him where to make the opening. We left in the morning, right after the contractor and his assistant arrived. When we came home later in the day, they were gone.
We opened the front door and walked into a world where all the color was gone-as if we had stepped into a black and white movie. Everywhere there was gray, the floors were gray, the walls were gray, the ceilings were gray. Cement dust covered everything in the house! Even inside the cupboards, the plates and dishes were coated in gray. From the ceiling of the third floor bedroom to the darkest corners of the basement...
They had used a concrete saw with no dust control of any kind. How they managed to complete the job and live, I will never know. It must have been awful hard to breathe while they were working. It cost a small fortune, but we got it cleaned up.
I noticed the fellow working on Dodge Center Main Street's sidewalks was using water to suppress the dust. I wonder how he would do it he were working inside?
Ahh, well. Another of life's little lessons!
Thursday evening I took a couple hours off to mow some of our lawn. It's an area of a little over an acre that is separated from the yard area we use most frequently by a row of lilacs. As I was about to enter the area, I noticed through a gap in the lilacs that there were two fawns standing in the grass where I was planning to mow. As soon as I drove around the lilacs and into the area, the fawns took off at a run and disappeared. I made a few passes around the outside of the area and was making pretty good progress, when the two fawns came running at top speed and ran around the perimeter of the area a couple times before once again disappearing. I have never seen an animal run as fast as those two fawns were running. They were really bookin'! They reminded me of videos I've seen of cheetahs running.
I kept mowing and thought that was probably the last I would see of them, but it was only a few minutes and they came ripping into the clearing and did a couple more loops around the area, this time much closer to me. After they disappeared again, I figured they would be coming back, so I tried to call Melanie to have her bring me a camera. Of course, I stopped mowing and shut off the mower, while I was trying to call.
As I was trying to call, the two fawns again came full bore into the area and raced over toward me. They stopped about 12-15 feet away and just looked at me. They looked curious and playful. I didn't try talking to them or anything, just looked back at them. They came a couple steps closer, pranced around and continued to stare. I took a couple pictures with my cell phone and decided I should get back to work. When I started the mower, they took off into the cornfield nearby, and that was the last I saw of them that night.
Some days I feel like I'm the luckiest person alive!