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We have hit the wall. We are so tired even when we go to bed we are not sleeping. We are building stuff at the same time we are buying stuff. There is an overwhelming load of cardboard boxes. Paint permeates my clothes and dust my spouse’s. The warehouse is the wear-out house. As I wrote day before yesterday in Pulling a Rabbit Out of the Hat, this exhaustion is different than grief’s but it, too, brings the heavy feeling of needing to do something at the same time you just can’t.

house under construction framing with electrical and internet wires hanging everywhere, cut bits on the floor with sawdust.

Mid-mess wiring the house. A few hours before this was clean and quiet. A few hours later this was clean and quite.

Because of insomnia, yesterday started for me at 4:40 am. My my spouse who had been awake in the middle of the night, slept in until 5:50 am. The morning was spent on trying to figure out how to manage the two warehouses of building materials so that we got things on site when needed but not too soon. I had never realized the crisis of having building materials onsite too soon. The house is so busy right now that people and tools are everywhere. All of the tools are heavy. With one wrong step the best outcome is that my toilet breaks, the worst outcome is that the person who tripped over it breaks.

This leaves us in the position of having to have things on site at exactly the right moment. That causes us to have to dig out of the warehouse the right stuff at the right time. There are three problems with this: 1. We don’t remember what we have or where it is in the piles of building materials in the warehouse; 2. we don’t have it or 3. we have it in the warehouse but cannot ferry it up to the house because of the size of the car or the depth of the snow.

Everyone is very kind about trying to give us the most accurate target delivery times but it is one of those things where everything depends on everything else. The plumbers depend on the framers. The electricians depend on the plumbers, sort of. They can run side by side but they have to drill separate holes. You can’t put plumbing pipes and electrical wires together. So, side by side and independently they work. The next is the insulation. They had to wait until the basic plumbing and wiring was in. The drywallers have to wait on the insulators. The painters have to wait on the drywall before the flooring people can come in. The people doing the shower tile surrounds for the showers arrive with the electricians and the plumbers close on their heals. They are waiting the delivery of light fixtures and toilets.

We are waiting on the house and the people who own this condo where we are staying are waiting on us to vacate so they can vacation which is why they have the condo. They were kind enough to let us return for 6 weeks but their family all have scheduled holidays.

Not just by our need for housing, we are situated squarely in the middle of this cascade by the things we are doing for the house. The plumbers are waiting on some, but not all, of the plumbing fixtures I have. The electricians need specs from me on light fixtures but don’t want them onsite yet. We are in the chain between the drywall and the plumbing. We are the painters. We are in the middle of the plumbing and the electrical because we have the plumbing fixtures and the lighting. The cruise ship basement apartment where we are supposed to move in 21 days is my responsibility. I have to time my work so that I get between the drywallers and the flooring people to paint. Then I have to get between the flooring people and the plumbers to install the kitchen so that they can plumb it. The kitchen is small but I have never done one before so I need time for mistakes.

Amid all of this we have to get the building materials we have in the warehouse onsite. My beloved has taken the brunt of this work. It requires shuffling couches and rugs, mattresses and refrigerators, and washers and dryers from one side of the warehouse to the other in order to access the needed building materials all of which are jammed in the back of the warehouse where the movers stacked them.

Wanting to be organized so we could respond quickly to what the workers needed, we decided to buy 50 gallon totes and sort plumbing and lighting into totes by room. If we have them queued up maybe we won’t be in such a panic.

The morning was spent locating 50 gallon totes. Those are huge. They look like coffins. Lowes had them so I ordered a bakers dozen (13) online. We would drive to the neighboring town to pick them up. I got a call from Lowes customer service saying that they only had 12. That was fine, I would take 12. They were very kind and immediately refunded the 13th tote and we could pick up the 12 at the customer service desk. Lunch. Lowes called again. They had 9 totes with lids and 3 without. They were looking for lids and kindly asked if different colored ones wold work. Certainly not, we could tell them apart. Lowes called again, they had 9 totes with lids and 3 without lids would that be OK. By now this is hysterically funny to me. The Lowes customer service were extremely worried about my totes I was laughing. When we got to Lowes we kept the 9 and they gave us the topless totes for half price.

Into the minivan and off to the warehouse. My spouse took the big one trying to find the lighting in the back. We need to find the actual boxes, not just my inventory. This house is different from the one we bought the lighting for. We needed to know how things needed to be switched around. He had to move the couch and the huge Persian rugs back and forth. Sophie and I took the little (10 x 30) warehouse to sort stoves and sinks, faucets and fixtures, vanities and vases. I got my totes lined up outside the door in semicircle hoping that no one else would want to work in the road. I moved all the newly arrived cheap furniture to the back and the plumbing and appliances to the front.  Sophie was incredibly brave as I wobbled my way back and forth nearly dropping my load.

The big warehouse is still in disarray.We finished with my smaller warehouse long after dark with the lights of the car pointing so we could see.

We are exhausted. The weekends are our time to try to catch up with the building crew. The weeks are our time to respond to their needs. For the past few months we have wondered about having made the right decision to move into a 390 sq ft basement apartment in the middle of an active construction zone without heat in the house.

I have come to the conclusion living in the noisy, cold apartment will be a relief. The ferrying will be easier. It will shave hours off of our days.  It is good that we finally have a house with walls to hit. We are tired but we know that our second wind is close.