Monday, 13 December 2010

The mantra


You know the one, the comforting words that are in almost-continual use in this house: "It will all be worth it when it's finished...."


The attic shower room progresses, after long delays caused by non-delivery of goods due to the snow. It's just at that squalid and depressing stage, where you have to wonder what you've done and why you can't just be happy with things as they were.

The hallway is filled with enormous boxes: shower glass; fixing kits and slider rails; taps, basin, toilet(s; see below), and cats climb, pounce, hide and ambush.

The tiling is almost done. The shower tray is in place, revealing the most uneven floor the plumber has ever had to deal with. There is about an inch and a quarter gap between the nearest corner and the floor.  "We shall have to be creative with this" says Richie, but he looks troubled.


Richie is very stressed; so many delays in deliveries, so many emergency calls, so much work piling up to be done before Christmas. I feed him and Ryan home made chocolate chip cookies (thanks, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, for such an easy recipe) and cluck soothingly, then go off to buy six more tiles for tomorrow. And a basin waste and plug; cancelling orders brings inconveniences like this.

I also throw in some panicky Christmas shopping and a huge, costly grocery shop, the kind you do when you are having visitors and lose all sense of proportion, forgetting that they will never be able to eat all that food. All the while I'm hoping that I won't meet anyone I know, dressed as I am in baggy tracksuit bottoms and with unwashed, plaster-dusty hair.

The basin and toilet arrive while I'm out; they should have been here last week. They are my third choice, the previous two suddenly becoming unavailable or damaged in the warehouse. However, another toilet, surplus to requirements, has been delivered in error along with the shower, and when I ring to ask for it to be taken away, I am advised (by "one of our advisors" on the supplier's sales line) to say nothing about it. Clearly it is too much trouble to organise its collection for return. So friends will have it instead; the least exciting Christmas present ever. I shan't wrap it....

My sister Anne arrives tomorrow, although the big freeze forecast for Thursday makes her return to Glasgow at the end of the week a less certain element of the plan. She emails me to ask if she should bring a smart frock for our lunch on Thursday. When I tell her she should not, she says she doesn't own one anyway. We opt for smart casual - in my case the 'smart' is but a dream, although Anne scrubs up well. I still haven't found my black boots, and the alternatives are awful to contemplate.

The snow is disappearing rapidly now, but lumpy wet ice on the pavements makes walking a high-risk activity. The grassy areas are just muddy and tragic. The house is filthy, with plaster dust, dog hair and mud everywhere. Anne says she doesn't mind, but I will get up early tomorrow and traumatise the cats with the Hoover of Terror and the Mop of Fear before picking her up at the station. Perhaps we will spend the afternoon at the beach; Anne can work up an appetite chucking balls for Flossie, to help out with the food mountain in the fridge.


At least the front door looks festive, so long as you don't peer behind it.

17 comments:

flwrjane said...

Love your door color. love your ribbon color and all around love you.

Happy times with your sister.

xo jane

moreidlethoughts said...

Not wrapping the toilet gift? Shame! You could at least decorate the rim with a holly wreath! ;-)
Happy Christmas!

elizabethm said...

I do hope you enjoy your meeting with your sister. I would have to say as far as your new bathroom goes, compared to the progress we are making here you seem to me to be steaming along!
Good front door btw. Ours is gently rotting away. We call it history.

Karen said...

Love the wreath. I found mine halfway down the street this afternoon. Although very securely fastened to the door, I guess we had wind gusts over 35 mph and so off it sailed.

"Sunshine" said...

So glad things are finally moving along with the remodel. I can't wait till it's finished and will be able to see the pictures. Lucky friend who gets a new toilet. You could send it over here, I need a new one!!! ha, ha...
May your reunion with your sis be inspring and filled with enjoyment....I expect many pictures of both of you in your Birthday fashiopn. O, Happy Day...

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Yes , that run down the supermarket aisles , grabbing everything within reach ....and then dashing back for "seconds" .
Have a wonderful time with your sister , with or without your black boots ( couldn't you nip to the shops for some Uggs ? ).

Val said...

I do sympathise with your building trials, especially just before Christmas. It brings back traumatic memories of the first 4 months of the year when we renovated one bathroom and built on a new one. In one record day I notched up four visits to and from a plumbing and building supplies store right across the peninsula. I still have nightmares from time to time about tiles breaking off walls and glass showers cracking. That said, it will be worth it, even though I got to feel quite hostile towards anyone who said it to me. I admire that you still had the willpower to decorate the front door! Hope you have a lovely time with your sister.

Lucille said...

It's all going to be lovely. But it is hard to keep the faith when you're in the thick of it.

mountainear said...

All will be well....

Hope you and your sister have a good get-together - what you wear won't make an 'appeth of difference.

annie hoff said...

This post brings back so many memories! I remember one week before Christmas when we still had no electricity or water. we had a wash basin surplus to requirements. Nobody wanted it. There was no invoice for it. We were so grateful to our plumber we gave it to him as a 'Thank you' for giving us water moments before the festive season began!

annie hoff said...

Ps....It will get better and it will be worth it in the end!

Susan said...

I love the wreath as well and the long bright ribbons - it is a gorgeous door and I love how shiny & glossy it is.

the beach sounds like a wonderful idea xo les Gang

judy in ky said...

I'm afraid I have lost track of how many rooms you have renovated. Are you sure you don't live in a palace?
Enjoy your visit with your sister... hope the weather cooperates.

Gwen Buchanan said...

You used the same line we have used since we started building things and they took too long.. But it really will be great when its done..

jabblog said...

I sympathise! The older the house the more crooked the floors and walls. Still, at least the cats are being entertained with a grand variety of boxes.

frayedattheedge said...

I can sympathise with the bathroom traumas - in the 90s we had to refit both our bathroom and shower room, as the fittings were such a horrible colour (I called it dog diarrhoea brown - as we had a spaniel with a delicate system, I was well acquainted with that colour!!) I hope Malcolm's suggestion helped. Have a good time with Anne.

Pam said...

Was that 'peering' behind the front door. I missed the r there for a moment - must be all that talk about toilets! I am sure it will all be worth it in the end - it's just gettting there - and that front door looks lovely by the way.

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