Free market enthusiasts like to tout the idea of “creative destruction,” the broad means by which, it is theorized, companies and ideas that are old or weak will fall to the wayside and new and better ideas will take their place.* In practice this idea falls down all the time, but at the moment I’m more interested in its positive phoenix-like connotations: from the ashes will arise something new. Something better.
I got this shot first thing in the morning after overnight thunderstorms. It wasn’t there at the end of the previous day.
I’m happy to say that the work on the house is 98% done. I’ve still got lots of to-ing and fro-ing to do, but for the coming week at least, I can embrace writing again. In fact, I just sent off the latest draft of the manuscript to a couple more readers.
This afternoon it’s back to book #4 (in the series; manuscript #2) to try and re-structure my way into something interesting. This coming week is a bit of a breather, work-wise. I don’t have to drive 7 hours one way anywhere. I don’t have to work a 12 hour day anywhere. That might all change week after next, of course, and I still have to work every day. But at least some of that work gets to be writing.
Which brings me back to that rain web up above. How many things have to go just right for a web to turn out like that? How many things have to go just right for me to right the story that looks like that web?
It’s been a week. We got a buyer for the house, we lost a buyer for the house. We painted, we shingled, we dug.
No, we’re not done, but we are mighty close. Paint notes this week by one of my crew, I’m back on Friday, maybe install some more window wells, maybe just move more stuff out.
This was my view while I painted the north side of the house.
Rooftop canyon. All that green? It went red. You can see, perhaps, that my neighbors’ gutters squish into my house. Yes, we’re that close. It made some of the painting on the north face pretty tricky.
Which didn’t stop Tim.
Next up, me and Farty the Dog take a road trip to the in-laws to unload some of our stuff from Milwaukee and to hang out a bit. But first – a relaxing holiday weekend.
Work. Weather. Weary.
The house is looking smashing. It is on the market. These are good things. My crew of irregulars is beginning to dry up. This is not so good. Alvaro’s off to Houston. Brooklyn is teaching. Josh might be getting a Real Job. There are many things I can tackle solo, but standing up a 40′ extension ladder is not one of them. I can’t take it down by myself, either.
The interior of the house is done, which means that all of the rest of my work is weather-dependent. The 10-day forecast? Rain. Except for thunderstorms.
I’m living up in Milwaukee six days a week right now – I generally pull half days on Saturday so that I can get home, do three loads of laundry, and spend my Sundays paying bills and crunching numbers for how the job is going. Lisa’s working in the ‘burbs 5 days a week with a 70 minute commute, so last week and this I’ve got the dog with me.
All of which is to say – the whole family is pretty freaking tired, even though we’re fairly excited and pleased with how everything is moving.
And! I got back comments from my latest beta reader, so I’m going through edits (sloooowwwly) on A Watchful Eye. I’m hoping that picks me up enough that I can think about going back to writing on the next one again, at some point.
Speed is of the essence, but there are only a few factors over which I have control – namely, what I can have my crew do on any given day. I can’t control their availability. I can make sure that they’re not stepping on one another, job-wise. I can’t control the weather.
Spring in the upper midwest means that the forecast changes on a 6-12 hour timetable. As useless as a 10-day forecast typically is, a 2-day forecast currently suffers that same unpredictability. It rained 2 of my 6 work days last week, and winds gusted up to 45 mph on another day, so I didn’t get up on a ladder. This week’s forecast began with sun on Memorial Day, sun on Wednesday, and thunderstorms every other day. Bit by bit, the forecast has edged away and today is the third straight day of sun. The front of the house is primed and today we start the first coat of actual paint – thus getting rid of my strawberry-shortcake-tinted primer. Phew. It looks tasty, though.
My crew continues their good-natured work (yesterday this involved regular invocations of a “shellac-attack”), and in spite of my high subconscious stress level (as evidenced by the absurdly early hours at which I awake every day), when I’m at the house doing the work, it’s generally a pretty good time.
Plus which, the weather this week is breaking my way.
The master builder (with no apologies to Ibsen).
Week one. I brought up clothing so that I could go running if I felt ambitious. I brought up writing in case I felt ambitious. I neither ran nor wrote.
It’s not so much that the list of things to do on the house is immense – it’s big, sure, but a lot of things are small, such as adding the final 10 3/8″ of trim in the dining room, running the rest of the base shoe, hanging the doors on the built-ins. All of this work requires some degree of preparation, and most of that I did over the autumn and winter. I’m contracting with my former company, so no worries on the getting-stuff-done front. But the weather is killing me. Everything that requires either warm (above 40 degree temps) or dry is being stymied by Wisconsin spring. I’m getting a lot of the indoor work done, though.
I’m also screwing up my shoulder.
I’ve got a great crew of people helping me out, none of whom I ask to climb up to the peak of the gable, although I do require them to help me set up the 40′ extension ladder to get up there.
On new posts: our tenants in Milwaukee have, to their surprise more than anyone’s, gotten a dream job out of state. This is great news for them and as disappointed as we are to be losing great people, we’re hoping to take advantage of their sudden departure and get our house on the market and try to sell it. There should be a direct link you can make between that statement and how much time I’ll have to be updating. We’ll see how it goes. If well, I may be posting about the work itself and trying to make it doubly useful to myself by connecting it to writing.
And speaking of writing…
On writing novels: I have discovered, roughly 100 pages into novel #2, that I have a great story. This is good news. The bad news is that I do not have a novel. The good news is that I have discovered this only 100 pages in and not 200 pages in. The bad news is that I still have to go back to the beginning and start over. Good thing I like it.
With all due respect to Charles M. Schulz.
It’s hard to think about anything other than the funeral. We took a moment of respite to go to Sea Salt for lunch, on the banks of Minnehaha Falls. We had the dog with us, and tired as she was, she was exceptionally well-behaved. This earned us many oohs and aahs from a neighboring table whose occupants we decided in advance of our interaction that we would have liked just fine, thank you, as they plowed through their fish tacos and second round of drinks (him: beer; her: wine) with gusto. “Have a great day!” they cheerfully wished us as we left.
I did not say, “we’re going to a funeral tomorrow,” because that would have been unkind, a slap in the face to their honest good wishes on this sunniest and mildest of late October days. We drove back up Highway 55 listening to Talking Heads, with the dog’s head draped out the rear window.
I helped move furniture this morning with Steph’s dad and Andrew, Anthony’s brother. Lisa came by later with the dog, and we took the kids out for a walk with our dog and theirs. We ran through the park, had our dog jump at sticks, climbed the odd tree. They told us how they stalk their dog. We told them how we stalk ours.
For a little while, it was the most normal of days – except that Lisa and I were hanging out with two kids under 10, which is an aberration. No one got wound up. No one got overstimulated. Except our dog, who got exhausted and could really have stopped jumping at the sticks they held up for her about 15 minutes before we said she should probably be done. Nearly an hour of no grief, no dwelling, just reveling in two dogs rolling around in the sunny grass.
Because it’s really hard to be in a bad mood – any kind of bad mood – with a happy dog in sunny grass.