We were warned by the seller when we bought our first house, across the street from this old crack house, “Don’t pay any attention to the lady next door. She’s sloppy and doesn’t always keep her yard mowed or cleaned up. She’s not very friendly”.
I though, oh good, what did we get into now? “How long have you known her and how long has she had lived there?” I asked.
“Sixty plus years!” he responded. He went on to informed me that hers was the second house built on the block and that she had been there ever since.
He answered thirty-two years when asked how long he had lived there. I commented something to the effect that he seemed to be very negative towards his neighbor. He snapped back, “Thirty years of Creeping-Charlie from her yard would drive anyone nuts! You bet I’m bitter!”
When I asked him if he had ever talked to her about it, he told me of a conversation with her thirty years ago. “She told me I’d have to speak with her father about it,” he informed me, “She never did anything about it and I’ve barely talked to her since.”
Seems like a long time to hold a grudge to me, so I just dropped it. I realized that this was an issue bigger than me.
We bought the house anyways and were excited to move in and start our new life on the way to becoming real estate barons.
We were able to gain early access to the house as the previous owners were renting back from us for a few months. The Lady of the house suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and they were building a new barrier-free home for her condition. This house was nearby but wasn’t yet completed. This allowed us to do a lot of yard work and outside repairs to the house and garage before we moved in.
We were there every weekend and other times but we never saw the lady who lived next door. I didn’t notice that her sidewalks went unshoveled for days. There was also a large pile of old trees and what looked like junk in the back yard. The fence had fallen down; the barbecue-pit really was in bad shape. The brush had taken over along with a large patch of real old growth Lilac trees. They had never been pruned by the looks of them.
We finally moved in. We had been working on the house for over six weeks while waiting for our lease in our apartment to expire. We had the luxury of not having to live in the remodeling while it was going on.
We did a lot of cosmetic things to the house. We painted, tore up the carpet and refinished the hardwood floors. I sheet-rocked and taped a room that had old paneling. Many things like this were done to the house.
There were two driveways leading up to the old house. One led to an old garage that was attached to the house, the other to the new garage they had built in the back yard.
I wanted to remove one of the driveways. The previous owners had converted the old garage to a porch but left the blacktop so they could get the wheelchair down the driveway to the street to get access to a lift equipped handicap van.
On my wish list also was to remove the old doors and install a patio door and make this three-season porch a year around four-season sun room. Plans included adding a fireplace and making it a comfortable den.
The skill level to do this was way beyond me. I was only a novice at this house remodeling at this point. Besides, remember I had the bad hand. So I was limited to what I could do.
I mentioned this to a co-worker and asked if he knew of a carpenter I could hire.
He knew of a friend of a friend. He got his number for me and I called him.
He sounded friendly enough on the phone but was acting as if taking on this job would be doing me a favor. He was curious if I paid in cash. He made it clear he only did these sideline jobs if they fit in with his schedule as he was a full time carpenter.
Beggars can’t be choosy.
He arrived and gave the job a once over look. He then said, “I charge by the hour and get paid at the end of the day, ever day.” I will pick up the materials and bill you for what I picked up.”
I admit I’m green but not stupid. I had been around construction enough to know a few things.
I informed him that I would pick up the materials and have it ready for him. I had a truck and the time. “You can then just show up and work,” I explained.
“OK, fine!” he snapped. “My hourly rate is $30.00.”
I thought it was a bit steep, but never-the-less I agreed. “What do you need to get started and when could you?” He said he could start this Saturday. “Oh good, you’re not booked up?” I asked.
I should have known why right then.
My carpentry apprentice training was about to begin.
copy write all rights reserved D.Jerzak 2-10-07