Monday, September 25, 2006

You Oughta Know

If there's anyone out there considering restoring a ruin, allow me to offer you three tips that might -- just might -- save your sanity:

1. Don't visit your ruin when it is raining.

When in the midst of restoring a ruin, always remember that grey and rainy skies can be far more illuminating than sunshine. On these dismal days, every flaw in your house -- the cracked walls, the sunken roof, the dangling wires, the sad, straggly garden -- will seem larger than life, as if someone has placed a giant magnifying glass in front of them. You will see everything, everything, that is wrong and you will be gripped with the terrible knowledge that you could not rid yourself of the house even if you wanted to at this point, because who would want this heap of junk? You will feel trapped and horrified. You will wonder if the villagers who think you crazy are right.

You can skip all this angst-making stuff by not going to your house when it rains. Or, if you're very sensitive, even when it's overcast. However, if a rainy day sojourn is unavoidable, just keep reminding yourself that any rising desire to flee is just the weather talking. The feeling WILL pass. When the sun comes out, you WILL love your house again. Maybe it's only because the sun is blinding you, but who cares?

2. Don't believe your worker when he says he's coming "next week."

While it's true that he very well might come "next week", there's no point in believing him until it actually happens. Trust me: a big dose of cynicism here is a healthy thing. It'll save you from feeling the sharp claws of betrayal when "next week" arrives and he's nowhere in sight. This way, you can just shake your head, laugh, and say, "Oh that crazy worker...I just knew he wouldn't show!"

That said, this doesn't mean that you can't get back at your truant worker by harassing him with a barage of annoying telephone calls and faxes. Dawg, correctly not trusting the "next week" response, has been bedeviling our carpenter in this manner for the past 3 weeks. We knew we were getting to him because by the end of last week, he stopped taking Dawg's calls. And, sure enough, today, he showed up at the house. Turns out, he wasn't able to get in because the mason put a new lock on the front gate and no one had the key, but that's another story.

3. Don't tear down old telephone/electrical wires without protective goggles.

Two weekends ago, while working downstairs with Red, I hear a crash and then a yelp from upstairs. I call out to Dawg, who has been yanking down old telephone cables, to see if he's okay. He answers: "I don't know." This response is mildly worrying -- it wouldn't be difficult to get injured here -- so I dash upstairs. Dawg is standing there on the 1st floor landing, a wire cable dangling from his hand, a smattering of blood on his t-shirt. "Is it bad?" he asks me, hopefully. It isn't. It's just a scratch on his cheek. No worse than a shaving cut, I tell him. Dawg feels somewhat robbed of his moment of high drama until he realizes that it could have been bad. "It could have scratched out my eye!" he declares, "I should have been wearing protective goggles!" I agree, it certainly could have been bad, and he definitely should have been wearing protective goggles. I offer to get the camera to document his narrow escape. Dawg agrees that this is the right move. So, here is Dawg, taking one on the cheek for the house.

Don't let this happen to you.


Amanda Castleman said...

Hey Lola,
You have some laugh-aloud moments here (don't visit your ruin when it's raining, for example). I look forward to more of that humor in writing class.

And thanks for sharing the blog with everyone.

Cheers, Amanda

misschrisc said...

I just found your blog through the stats on! Your house and your project looks so much like ours. I'm really enjoying reading about all your adventures. You're the "other" houseblogger in France :)

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Hi there. Where are you guys? You haven't posted for quite some time. Do post and let us know how the ruin's rehabilitation is coming.

Lola said...

Hi Maryam - sorry! We've been out of the country for the past month. But works are progressing! We're going to the house on Saturday and I'll update after that.

Mischriss - I've checked in on your blog once then we went away. I'll be a regular follower from now on....good luck!