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Reports from the Island Frontier

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Statistics:

Days on Injured Reserve: About Fifty
Carpenter Ants Discovered: One Teeming Horde
Carpenter Ants Murdered with Sociopathic Glee: One Teeming Horde (I hope)
Timeline Changes for Mandatory Roof Work: Next Year to Next Month to Right Now to Yesterday to Many Yesterdays Ago
Moldy Sheetrock Exported: Three Truckloads Full
Rafters Raised: Seventeen
Roofs Successfully Tarped: One Half
Roof Tarpers Injured In the Process: None
Long Weekends Spent in Demi-Drudgerous Labor: Four and Counting Ad Infinitum
No home renovation process is complete without a few surprises.

By surprises, I don’t mean the inevitable discovery of, say, a stash of stamped gold bars behind the mantelpiece or a nondescript wooden table which is in fact an Antique of Great Rarity which avaricious collectors will pay you obscene amounts of money for; but rather the sort of surprise that takes your carefully prepared timeline, shreds it into a million tiny pieces, and then gleefully dances in the resultant confetti.

We have hit the Season of Surprises at the house, which has left this amateur renovator more than a little haggard.

Please permit me to enumerate:

1) I had an extremely unexpected trip to the Injured Reserve, when my body had a violent disagreement with Pfizer Vaccine Shot #1. Considering my medical history, this shouldn’t have come as entire shock; but it sent me into what was my worst flare up in over two years. As it turns out, if I can barely manage to wrench myself into sitting position for a day to write emails, then swinging a hammer was about as feasible as flying to the moon. Thanks to a barrage of supplements recommended to me by my doctor, I got back on my feet and sailed through shot #2 without a problem; but I lost about fifty days in the process, all of which turned the summer from Busy But Quite Doable to Utter Batshit Insanity.

[“But Ben!” a few of you may ask, “Don’t you regret getting that horrible vaccine now?” The answer, of course, is no; for three reasons. First, because while my illness does tend to interact poorly with vaccines, it also makes me a prime candidate for Long COVID, which would have put me on my back likely for a year or more. Secondly, because it’s my duty as a citizen and a decent human being to help our country beat back the virus which has claimed so many lives (including several people I knew.) And third, because when so many other people have decided to treat vaccines as a personal or political choice rather than as their civic duty, not getting vaccinated and trusting your community is just not an option.]

2) On the Fourth of July weekend, I discovered a sizable puddle of water on the first floor of our house; which provided incontrovertible evidence that the roof we needed to get replaced in the next year or so needed to be replaced now, in fact, probably needed to be replaced many yesterdays ago. This necessitated ten or so phone calls to local area roofers, as I went from “I want a standing seam roof at a decent price” to “I will take any mostly non-drunk handyperson who can put up shingles in a straight line.”

While the most-failed part of the roof has now been tarped up, thanks to My Amazing Father, who, now that he is vaccinated, has put on his cape and swooped in to do an incredible amount of work over the last month; the leaky roof means that I cannot finish the room under said leaky roof where one heat pump is supposed to be installed, nor the room under the room of said leaky roof, leading to the equivalent of a seventeen car pileup on the Highway to Ben’s Family Moving Into His House; involving almost an equivalent amount of bad feelings and profanity.

3) One weekend ago, I discovered the corollary to a leaky roof, which is the particular sort of creature which finds damp wood a delicious delectation: namely, a happy tribe of carpenter ants, who were cheerfully excavating quite a happy village when I rudely horned in on their domestic bliss while removing sheet rock. I was perhaps more surprised than they were and ended up flailing at them passionately and ineffectively with my crowbar while turning the air blue, before rushing out on the next boat to buy bait and poison; after which I bombarded them with malicious glee; feeling in the darkest part of my soul a profound satisfaction every time I saw one wither up and die.

They appear to be mostly gone; but then again, so is a good three foot section of the back part of my house, which now needs dried out and rebuilt so that they do not think to take up residence again.

All of this is part of the game. You’re not a home renovator until you’ve been punched in the face multiple times, only sometimes metaphorically. Through the dint of some very long weekends; I’m starting to make up ground, while anxious waiting for a contractor to come do his work, the code inspector to call about wiring, and for Someone/Anyone to give me a decently reasonable bid on the roof.

All of this is to say: if you need me to find me quickly this summer, don’t come to my front porch or search for me at the nearest beach, just come to the house; where I will probably be grumpily swinging a hammer trying to convince myself that, after all, all this extra work is just good cardio.

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