Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Naps, Pee, and Skill Saws

Not enough sleep since the last pain shot hyped me up and I sailed through last week to crash on the weekend. So of course, I woke at 5:30 today, less than 6 hours after I sank beneath the sleep deep waves, full of blog ideas and bursting to get up and write all this shit down. Only God knows why, and she’s too busy laughing to tell.
We just paid off this fine little condo in one of the pleasantest corners of Woodbridge, right by a fine old windrow of eucalypti—the oldest things around here, animate or no. Yes, we paid this handsome house off. Right as the little bugger started crying out loud for serious maintenance. In the summer, we got the patio in the garden regrouted to make it uniform and safe—a long, messy job.
Then about a month ago, the hubby took my hand and led me outside to my lovely little garden full of roses and plumeria and jade and begonias. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely gesture. I thought he was being romantic when he led me under the patio cover toward a raised bed walled by lava rock and said, “Look at that.”
He pointed down at the tropical plants. I looked down, expecting to see a beautiful lily or fern as his reference, but was instead met with a troublesome sight. Where the closest white patio cover support beam should have been straight and, well, supportive, there were concave waves in the wood grain. Concave, meaning air pockets in wood. Dry rot. (A term I’ve never understood, since it’s from water damage.) And a bad sign in one’s patio supports.
So we called in a family-owned company and handed over much cash to fix the patio cover. A few days’ work, said the father, who was going in for a colonoscopy the day he took our check. Then it started to rain. In October. For a week. Unheard of here. Yet, it did.
So the workmen got a late start. Their first few days, they arrived mid-morning and left mid-afternoon, stopping for lunch and long phone calls. They painted new patio beams over the grass and the sprinklers came on, wetting their work, making them dive for the sprinklers and break a sprinkler head. One day, they took off after an hour and a half on the job to go see their dad in the hospital. He had a rectal bleed, and they couldn’t stay at work knowing he'd been in the hospital for a whole hour, could they? I’m not even sure he was in the hospital. Maybe his son milked this magic word to get them a day off. They never returned to work that day, though all the older man had was hemorrhoids. So on it went, the workers coming well after Good Morning America finished and leaving well before my son got home from school.
Skip to yesterday. I’d been exhausted all weekend, from the weather change or the time change or maybe letdown from the magic anti-inflammatory cocktail injected into my butt days before. A phone call had kept me up late the night before. Then up with the sun, I knew I’d need a nap before teaching in the evening.
But it was a culminative day in many respects. Our bedroom carpet is the only carpet in the house, and as such, seems to be the chosen emergency latrine for the "rental dog"—the one we’d like to send back to her previous owners, if only we knew who they were. She was found shivering by a freeway fence up in L.A. back in 2004, and we’ve been her faithful feeders ever since. She’s winsome and pretty, a blonde poodle with a circus-style jump and a shy, warbly attitude. But she can’t be fully trained. Her childhood must have been too fraught. We can never catch her in the act. She’s a sneak peer. In my bedroom.
Well, the bedroom has smelled of dog pee for several months now, and carpet cleaning for one room is very expensive. So three months ago, the hubby decided to buy his own carpet cleaner. It came a few days later and was unwrapped in the garage. And there it sat. For months. The hubby, in his male style of execution, must have thought that spending the money to order the thing was equivalent to spending the money to have the rug cleaned by professionals. Job discharged.
But the bedroom still smelled like dog pee. Hubby can’t smell anything, and I can’t manage the carpet cleaner with my current back problem. The kids, who have time nightly to socialize all over the web, would never be able to spare themselves from their giant, convenient homework loads and cute girlfriends for such a task, so we had a stale mate. Stale in more ways than one. That bedroom was rank, the acrid pee smell at times rolling over me in powerful waves, almost as strong as our local ocean. And it had gotten much worse of late with the workmen in the back yard, hammering and sawing and tromping around with loads of wood and giant saw horses. Miss Untrained-Never-Will-Be-Trained-So-Glad-You-Got-Me-A-Dog-Door wouldn’t go outside to do her business, and we had been too busy to chase her around the block every 2 hours to make sure she did it outside.
So I blew up last week, citing the pee smell and many other things, and the hubby finally decided to clean the rug yesterday. (Translation: I finally threatened to call a carpet cleaning company.) But he’s a creature of great habit, and rug cleaning for him equates with windows being open for 48 hours afterward so the rug can dry. And it was our first really chilly day. And the workmen were suddenly bursting with screaming industry.
So yesterday afternoon, I found myself desperate for sleep, huddled under the covers in my own bed, with a skill saw and fifteen hammers shearing off my ears from right outside my wide-open windows. My chilly brain would start to float off to lala-land nothingness (I’m really a good sleeper), then get chewwwwed sideways with another roaring burst of cheerful wood chippage. Then a BAM BAM BAM to seal the deal. On and on and on it went for what seemed like eternity, until my head felt like it was under the saw blade itself.
Why do such things sometimes coincide with such seeming pointedness? Why on this one day that I was so tired and so needy did Peter finally capitulate? Why did the workmen suddenly become conscientious and do the bulk of their sawing for the whole job well past their normal quitting time and well into my sacred nap timespace?
Was Mercury retrograde? Was Saturn angry? Was Neptune dyspeptic?
I tried to move to my son’s room, but his grumbling at being displaced and “You’re using my covers?” teen outrage sent my inner victim into rage, and I sulked instead of sleeping.
I am still tired. And cranky. But I do own this house. Outright. That’s MY patio cover they’re fixing, again today, right through naptime.
Well, the carpet doesn’t smell of pee any more. But just wait. It’s only Wednesday, and the workmen are not quite done scaring Her Majesty out of the yard yet.