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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

DIY

Updated: Jul 2, 2020



I’ve been starting my days outside, on the townhouse patio, a concrete slab tucked under the deck. It’s actually lovely. A backyard pond, swath of marsh, scattering of trees, welcoming all assortment of birds, filling the morning with my favorite song. Grammy, too, attracts the birds, with her variety of feeders lining the railing, above. I’ve learned to be careful where I sit down below; remains of seed and other droppings a sure enough warning—Beware.

I benefit from the Green Thumbs on either side of this marsh. Not mine, but Grammy’s and several others. Neat gardens of colorful blooms by day, solar lights twinkling by night. I mentally apologize to neighbors for the assorted junk we’ve added to an otherwise pristine landscape. A pile of rough-sawn oak, future library shelving. Two Adirondack rockers, recently painted black. A desk and a chair. Too much patio furniture; some ours, some theirs. I apologize out loud to Marge, who says like she’s said countless times before. “It’s not forever.” Of course not, but close.

Eleven months and at least two more. We’ll continue tracking our sawdust across an entryway rug, freshly vacuumed. The second garage stall now piled high with deliveries from Wayfair and Amazon, and this week—plumbing from Lowes. We watch daily for the completion of drywall in our own newly constructed and spacious garage, out at the lake. Thinking it won’t be long, and we’ll finally have our own storage in its preferred-by-all final destination.

Small cans of various paint samples lay scattered across the townhouse storage room floor. Boards bearing said paint lean in a row against the family room wall. And Yes Sir, there are MANY shades of white, and yes I do need to see them before committing my final selection to a two-story wall.

We are having fun. And NO, it’s not stressful. My genuine answer, when asked, reminding myself and others of all that’s actually stressful going on in this world. So, no. Here we are, building a beautiful house on a glorious lake, and I am committed to this answer until the final floorboard is nailed into place. This is not stressful.

Well. There might be an occasional exception. Two evenings back. A four-wheeler buried deep in sand on the side of the hill, trailer stacked high with a good ton of stair-treads, plus nine sheets of waterproof drywall for two Schluter showers. And no I’d rather not carry the load the rest of the way around the side of the house to the front porch door, but yes I’ll do if it means you’re not really seriously thinking of pushing from behind while I drive this beast of machine, having never driven it before. And thank God for inspiration and just in time—the beast comes equipped with its very own WINCH—which works splendidly until it snaps from its mooring just as we’ve crested the top of the hill. (My husband mouthed something, not audible, thank goodness, but HE might have been, just for a moment, actually stressed.)

Where’s Brian when you need him? That’s what I was thinking, and may have said it out loud. Brian is my husband’s big brother, and a firstborn, like me. He’s been coming by most Saturdays, lending a hand. Last weekend we stained pine boards for vaulted ceilings, and I can’t really remember the context, but I remember commenting about how I appreciate Brain’s caution. His day job has something to do with physics, and he tends to be mentally calculating (in advance) things like the angle of a hill and the weight of a load.

That said. We are still alive, and we’re in the final stretch. A few more weeks of non-stop DIY. Working side-by-side at computers in an air-conditioned townhouse from early morning ‘til mid-afternoon. Working armpit-to-armpit in 90-degree-plus no-AC-yet new construction until the sun goes down and the mosquitos come out. And YES, we love it. My husband can hardly make it past 3 o’clock doing his office job, eager as he is to get out to the house to see the progress, and add his own. And I’m as giddy as the tail-wagging dog every time we turn the corner and I glimpse our lake. There on the hill is our house we painted barn-red, waiting for another coat of white interior. Waiting for this week’s shower tile, next week’s exterior stone.

Next week my firstborn and his family will spend the week, and when it comes to DIY the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Every other day, it would seem, Grant’s Instagram post is showing off some kind of impressive home-improvement something. And he hasn’t said it out loud in so many words—but I’m pretty sure my husband would trade a month of his wife’s skills for a week with his jack-of-all-trades, strapping 20-something offspring. Sigh. But that’s okay. I’ll gladly take a break from the heavy-lifting and dripping sweat to snuggle those kiddos while their daddy takes a turn.

Last night we were nearing completion on the installation of those Schluter walls when I talked my husband into a dinner break. We set up lawn chairs in the shade of the boathouse, lake breeze coming in just perfect for cooling us down. We kicked off our dusty sneakers, and cracked open our chilled LaCroix and we said again what we’ve been saying since the very beginning. I can’t believe I get to live here—with you.



P.S. This post was originally published with a very comical and rather embarrassing spelling error. Discovered by my husband. In a story poking a bit of fun at him. Apparently the cable-thingy we attached to the tree in order to pull the four-wheeler and its load up the sandy hill is called a WINCH... not WENCH. Subtle difference. Also... this whole episode may have been divine intervention (not the spelling error, but the actual event)...as my husband also pointed out. The winch snapping under other circumstances could have resulted in a nasty injury.

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