Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | May 2, 2011

A couple of my friends who have read my blog said that I was a “saint” for enduring the difficulties of this remodel.  Of course I sound like a saint in the blog because I am the author.  I am not going to tell you about the morning when the car was stolen and I put my head down on the table and wept like a fool; or the time I stubbed my toe on an anchor bolt in slab, started swearing like a sailor, only to turn around to see Joey watching me with a mixture of horror and humor on his face; or the many arguments Tim and I get into over silly things because we don’t want to fight over the big things.  Yeah, I’m no saint; I am a big faker trying very hard to be patient.    So here is it is: an update of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Some Good

We got our car back.  Apparently someone took our car out of the driveway, drove forty miles to National City, and abandoned it in a neighborhood close to the border.  They didn’t even have the decency to fill up the tank.  The car wasn’t damaged at all except for the ignition switch.  Sadly, Tim’s golf clubs were not in the trunk.

For the three months the car was gone I began to take the train and even though we got the car back, I continue to take the train at least a couple of days a week.  It really is quite pleasant.  Tim takes me to the train station in the morning; it takes about thirty minutes instead of fifteen to get to work.  On the way home I take the train to Oceanside, the bus to Carlsbad, and walk the rest of the way home.  The return trip takes a lot longer than driving, but I enjoy it and get a little exercise.  I play a little game on the train and bus called “Bluetooth or Crazy.”  Most of the time on the train it’s “Bluetooth” on the bus it is almost always “Crazy.”

My friend Leah told me I should keep a notebook of some of the things I hear and see on the train.  Maybe that will be my next blog.  I do see some characters.  There is a girl I see most mornings at the station who dresses all in lavender and sometimes barks like a dog.  When she does barks, she’ll look around as if trying to figure out who just did that.  Once I was sitting in the train and a big man with gold teeth and green and pink curlers in his hair sat next to me.  He was sucking on an unlit cigar and started talking while staring out in front of him.  “It’s Johnny!”  “I told you I would get back at you.” “My pockets are shallow, but I’m not.”  “You like that?”  “That was just right off the top of my head.”  At first I thought Johnny was talking to me, but there was no eye contact.  Then I thought “Bluetooth,” but there was no evidence of an earpiece.  After a couple of stations he got up and moved to and empty row and continued his conversation.

The train is pretty clean and is usually full of working people or students.  The bus is another story.  It is dirty and mostly filled with the homeless, parolees, and the occasional tourist.  Strangely, I never feel out of place or endangered on the bus.  Sometimes I feel a little sad.  Once I was listening to a couple discussing their plans for the evening.  She was about my age, toothless, and clearly worn out.  He was a little younger, looked a little cleaner, and had a full set of teeth.  He was telling her “Honey, I saved up 60 bucks and we can stay in a motel tonight.  It’ll be so nice.  You and me sleeping in a fine bed.”  She nodded.  It made me sad because I couldn’t help but think about the other nights they didn’t have a bed to sleep in, but there was some sweetness in his words to his woman.  He wanted to take care of her and please her the only way he could.

More Good

We have made progress on the house.  Tim and his buddies have dug all of the trenches in the backyard for the outside footings.  We also have a structural steel pole set in the ground inside the house.

It will hold up part of the second floor and will be to the left of the stairs.  Every day there is some progress toward completion.  It just is slow.

We also bought a new range for the kitchen and it is being delivered on Friday.  It is an American Range, built in Southern California.

The American Range company builds mostly for restaurants, but has a residential line that is pretty close to the Wolf ranges in terms of quality, but much cheaper.  We bought it early because the prices were going up and because I think Tim thought I was going to go insane trying to cook on our old broken down range.  It gives me the promise of my new kitchen.  I can hardly wait to fire it up and cook!

The Bad

What has really slowed down this project is the rain.  Yes I am glad that California is no longer in a drought, but did it really have to happen this winter?  When we began the remodel the weather forecasters were predicting a La Nina winter.  Generally, La Nina winters are dry so we thought we were golden.  Ah, but not his time.  We had one of the wettest winters I can remember.  This meant a lot of days when nothing could get done as well as trying to keep the rain from undoing the work already accomplished.

Now that we have moved from winter to summer with only a day or so of spring weather, things should be happening faster.  People keep telling us that it is just as well we weren’t trying to frame the house in the wet weather.  That, they say, would have really been a disaster.

The Ugly

The worst part of living in a construction zone, even worse than the dust and dirt, are the bugs.  I am not really bothered by the big black spiders or the little silverfish, but the earwigs freak me out.   Whenever I see one of those buggers I am transported to when I was about ten years old and I stayed up too late to watch Night Gallery. It was the one where the guy put an earwig in the bed of another guy in an effort to kill him. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4p_gg4KHu4&NR=1)  Of course the perpetrator of the crime got the earwig in his bed instead and it ate through his brain to get to the other ear.  I was so scarred by that episode that for months I screamed whenever I saw an earwig.  I was certain that I was about to meet the same fate as the man in Night Gallery. Finally my dad, probably sick of my hysterics, brought a book home from the library that clearly stated that earwigs do not go into people’s ears and eat their way out through the brain.  That calmed me somewhat, but those earwigs can still give me the heebie jeebies.

We are scheduled to do the second concrete pour sometime this week.  That means we can do the final pour by the end of May.  It is all I want for my birthday!


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  1. Quite the trooper you’ve been, T! I’m writing for clarification…you wrote “Sadly, Tim’s golf clubs were not in the trunk.” Sadly, they weren’t in the trunk when the car was stolen, or sadly, they weren’t in the trunk when the car was returned? Just curious… 🙂

    Comment by shayla — May 2, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    • I wanted to leave another post, but I guess that the only way is to reply to my first post.

      Your train/bus stories are remarkable! As for the earwigs, I’m right there with you! Squishing them might work for you, as long as you’re not worried about any kind of karmic retribution. It seems to me that you have suffered enough.

      Comment by shayla — May 2, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  2. T, I appreciate your sagas and the reflections that go with them! Here is hoping to cool, dry weather making the Reconstruction one that makes the whole project worth it and then some!

    Comment by Bill Jahnel — May 2, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.







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