Our kitchen was finished, and it looked superb. Steve was every bit the master woodworker Jane had said he was.
It was hard to believe that Luong’s deft flicks of the wrist three months earlier in our local Home Depot had wrought such handsome results fifteen hundred miles away.
And yet here it was.
We got the opportunity to thank Steve personally the day we returned to the house. Jane called that morning to ask if she could bring him by to discuss finalizing the upstairs work and to go over our plans for the lower levels.
Steve looked almost exactly the way I had pictured him—tall and thin, with a scraggly ponytail. His gaunt face was enlivened by large, earnest eyes behind which lurked, we were soon to discover, a wry sense of humor.
Better still, he was passionate about his craft. The minute he walked in the door he headed for the kitchen area and began inspecting his work.
When we joined him he explained how he had repaired the damaged cabinet (we wouldn’t have known which one it was if he hadn’t told us) and how he’d found a place to stow the gas cylinder for the stove in a dead space between the stove and dishwasher.
Clearly, he was a gem.
Ten points for Jane.
Over the next few days, we settled easily into our old routine. We’d get up early and work like banshees for four or five hours, at which point we’d look at each other and say, “This is insane. We’re in paradise. Let’s go to the beach.”
So we’d head to the beach, where we’d have a fine old time cavorting in the waves (Michael)…
and reading our paperbacks in the shade of our multi-colored umbrella (yours truly).
It was bliss.
And yet, after a couple of hours of beach time we’d find ourselves almost embarrassingly anxious to get back to our chores.
So we’d go hurry home and put in another two or three hours of work, followed by quick showers, cocktails, dinner, and—finally—blessed sleep.
Next day: same thing.
It was an odd mixture of intense activity and equally intense leisure, with lots of mental cross-pollination: as we spackled, painted and swept our way through another grueling morning of labor we would often find ourselves dreaming about the glorious, sun-drenched beach; but just as often we could be found sitting under our beach umbrella going over yet another list of things that needed to be done at the house.
Normally Michael, the more motivated member of our crew of two, was still working long after I had clocked out for the day, but there was one day when I simply couldn’t put down my paint brush.
Gloss white paint was the culprit.
I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.