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We went out around noon today to accomplish a ton of house errands before the severe winter storm hit this evening. We are supposed to have snow and below zero temperatures with strong winds tonight, Thursday, through Saturday night. We wanted to make sure we had the things we needed to be settled into this new place if we could not get down to town. When we returned we had a handle on our door.

It has been oddly unsettling to react to having a door on our replacement house-to-be. We have had a door now for several weeks but it still feels off balance. It is not something you could identify without stopping to search through your box of emotions-of-the-moment and even then you might miss it, but it is there. After so long without a house, then having a house-to-be that was open to the world with no doors, having to do something between being outside and being inside was odd. Tonight coming home to a door with a handle on it was in the neighborhood of being overwhelming.

I have been out and back unloading things from a warehouse trip and our latest Lowes jaunt. I took Sophie out to pee pee. It was a beautiful evening so we circumnavigated the house going out the door on the right and then coming in on the other right. Still, even the thought of a door handle requires me to go check to see what it fees like to have one.

When Sophie and I first moved into the apartment in this unfinished house the doors were there but only had the holes for future handles or locks. The main door, which resides squarely between the garage doors and is thus the major thoroughfare for the house, had a wad of house wrap stuffed in the deadbolt hole and a variety of materials in the hole below where a handle would be. The longest-lasting bit in the “handle hole” was some lightly packed insulation. It worked best because you could wriggle a finger in and hook the hole where the mortise would reside in the future. If you were good, you could stick a finger in and whip the door open or closed without rearranging the insulation thereby preventing the entrance of the cold North wind. Several times a day one of us had to go reposition the insulation because a subcontractors who did not work here all the time was not initiated into the mysteries  of how to use leftover R-19 pink stuff for a door handle.

Before we moved in, our contractor and we had brushed by on our endless lists of details the need to have some sort of lock on the door before we moved in but never really got to it. The night I moved in, I thought perhaps I should at least assess the security conditions of this unfinished house. We have one door on the loft level. It is scalable but there is no deck to the door so I ticked that one off the list. I ascended the stairs from the cruise ship basement apartment to the main level where there are multiple doors. I stood in the middle of the house and looked around. The front door had 12 foot tall scaffolding in front of it. Tick. Secure. The sliding glass doors, one of which was open and had a thick green extension cord threaded through, were 12 feet off the ground with no deck. One of them, in fact, even has a lock. Tick. Secure. The utility room door has easy ground level access. It was not even fully closed. I closed it and without thinking slipped a shim in between the frame and the house so that the door would not swing back open. I glanced at the shim and realized that just because I had the door level enough not to swing open that it was closed to the outside world. I looked around for something to hold it shut. I saw a bunch of heavy scaffolding parts. I lugged over about 6 of them and leaned them against the door. I reasoned that if the weight did not make the door seem locked, the sound of all of the falling metal would scare off an intruder.

I returned to the basement and addressed the door with the insulation handle. It has great easy access from the four-by-four, snow covered hockey rink that is our driveway. I looked around the garage for something to secure it with. The cruise ship door does not have a lock, is glass and is only a car length away from this door. I suddenly felt a little vulnerable. In our neck of the woods wild animals do get into people’s houses and it can be a dangerous problem. Animals of the two-footed sometimes go astray but my thoughts were more toward the mountain lion that had gotten trapped in a person’s kitchen only the week before. As I stood there trying not to be a 60-something scarey cat, I spotted the big, heavy yellow Dewalt construction generator. I wheeled it over and it was the perfect door lock.

We have a local security company. I debated calling them and telling them I was moved in and that I had the house secured by scaffolding and Dewalt generator locks. I tried to imagine how to explain that and figured in Montana they would understand what I meant. Since I could not find the security company’s phone number I went to bed.

A couple of days later when my spouse returned from his trip and came to join us at our new home it was midnight and the Dewalt Door Lock was in place. He called me on the phone saying he was here. We had planned for him to call me to pick him up in the Subaru up at the bottom of our long driveway since he was in our 2 wheel drive car but somehow he managed to get it up the hill in the snow. When he called he was actually at the door trying to open it. He did not understand why he could only get his finger hooked into the insulation lock but not get the door open.

I taught him we “DeWalt Locked” the door at night and then set an alarm clock to make sure you got up before the construction crew arrived and secretly put the generator back where it had been.  Since we got power to the house weeks ago the generator has sat in the garage mostly being a table for tools. No one but us knew its true current purpose. Today I confessed to our contractor that I had been using the generator for the door lock. He grinned and said, “I knew that thing was useful for something.”

georgean style brass entry door handle set with small portion of door it is mounted on showingTonight when we returned we had a handle set. It has a lock. I have been out and back to press the thumb lock to come in and to press the lever to go out. I have turned the deadbolt back and forth. I forgot to close the door. I whacked my finger when I unthinkingly stuck it out to use the insulation lock only to find solid brass.

After so many months of uncertainty and coming and going out of so many doors owned by others, it was good today to return home and find a we had a handle with a lock on our door. We have a way to go out to and return from the world that is under our control. We can lock and unlock our own door.