Today started with sleeping late, working some and then taking a nap for lunch. I was so sleepy I could hardly drag myself back upstairs but I needed to finish putting stain on the floor I finally finished sanding. With the 2 year anniversary of the Charlotte/Mink Creek wildfire that burned our home to the ground just 5 days away we are single-mindedly focused on fully moving in to our replacement house before that date: June 28, 4:24 pm.
It struck me as I was staggering upstairs from our tiny basement apartment to the main house why I felt so bleary. It was not because I was consumed by fire recovery or because I was overworked, that I knew. I was bleary because I had my snoot in the oil based finish for hours and it had taken its toll on me. I was using an all purpose disposable respirator but it was not enough.
When I bought the oil-based stain for our floor the gentleman who helped us in the store said, “This is not low VOC. You will want to open a window or two….” I put aside my all purpose respirator and used an organic one.
Looking like a Darth Vader in clam digger pants and a road-worker yellow tee shirt I carried on. I could never have guessed the mask would make that much difference since I was working in a large, well ventilated space. I was glad to not fall asleep at the drop of a hat.
In these final count-down days, we are working furiously on all fronts at once. The floors and cleaning are the focus in these final hours. The house is sectioned off and blocked with paper walls to keep the staining, sanding, sealing and cleaning activities separate.
Sophie is used to following us around the house freely. With us popping in and out of the paper walls telling her to stay she had idea where to go. I have a wire cart that has been pressed into service for nearly every job in this house. When I start a new project, I organize my tools on to the cart so I have everything at hand and can move from place to place doing the job. When I finish a phase of work I switch my tools to another set. Sophie knows that she cannot pass by my wire trolly cum dog gate. Yesterday and today it was parked at the entrance to the kitchen and she was “locked out” of her regular routine.
After trying to get through the paper walls by staring them down, she finally came and stuck her head between the shelves of my wire trolly, looked at me where I was kneeling on the floor and wagged her tail. I know she thought if she was cute enough I would open the trolly-gate and she could tromp by to outside to “her” deck. I greeted her with a big smile each time she stuck her head through the shelves but I never opened the gate.
With nearly every door blocked by a trolly or paper she had no where to go. When I cut off access to the great room and deck for three days I too felt a pang. Feeling sorry for all of us I made a make-shift barbeque and eating are on our tiny side deck. It has no stairs yet but when it does, it will mostly serves as access to the back yard. I made a dog-gate with my workmate and put her water bowl out. Up the stairs from the basement, jog left two steps, cross the utility room and you are out on the little deck. It worked pretty well until the people who are building the back steps came and had to move the “gate” so she could not go out on that deck either. There was no place in side. There was no place inside. There was no place in the world for Sophie. She just lay down, patheticly, on the floor by the trolly outside of the door where I was working and watched me.
This evening as I was buffing the floors for the movers to access tomorrow she was trailing me. She knew she could only go where I said. She walked dully behind me and buffer I was operating, tail hanging limp, panting and looking pitiful. I could not stand it. I said, “Know what?”. Her head cocked and her ears perked up. In a happy voice I continued, “Tomorrow is going to be confusing too! Oh Boy! The movers are coming!” She cocked her head the other way as if to say, “Gee, that sounds exciting! It is going to be fun!”
Of course, I could not explain to her that it was an important day and that she was not going to like it. No doubt wherever she goes someone will say, “Move, go along now.” The door will stand tantalizingly open all day but every time she starts to investigate someone will say, “No, back. You cannot go outside.” When she moves forward to sniff her stuff that she has not seen since August of 2013 it will smell sort of right but not right since it is familiar but replacement stuff for what burned and it has been sitting in a warehouse for ten months.
How do I tell her that the movers being here, with all the boxes, is not us moving some place else again. How do I explain to her that our burning focus on getting yet another house clean is OK this time, that it is our house? How do I explain to her that she does not have to go back to a hotel again. How do I explain to her that this is our forever home and we are almost there?
She studied me as I continued to buff. She stood there in the middle of the empty, painted and freshly cleaned room watching me walk back and forth at a stately pace buffing the floors “with purpose.” She looked so resigned to whatever fate befell her I could not help wanting to make her feel better. I knew she would not get the details but I wanted to explain anyway. I could not say, “On Saturday, the 2 year anniversary of our losing our house to wildfire. We will move upstairs in this our new replacement house with our new replacement clothes and new replacement bed and new replacement sheets and dishes and furniture. She does not understand five days from now but she does understand “tomorrow.” Five days or one, “Tomorrow” means, “Not now, but it will happen.”
I said, “Tomorrow,” Her slack body posture straightened and she looked at me with an iron-intense stare. “Tomorrow we will have our stuff here and we will unpack and we will move upstairs. Tomorrow all the other people will be gone and it will be just Mommie, Daddy and Sophie. Tomorrow we will be home.”