By Curtis K. Shelburne
There really is a great deal of satisfaction to be derived from a job well done. My brother and I spent yesterday replacing the windows and door in one wall of my grandparents’ old home in Robert Lee, Texas.
It’s amazing what you discover when you peel back the layers of a house built in the early years of the previous century.
I think Granddaddy contracted most of the work done. Whoever did the building did good work. I’m confident that at one time the walls were square and plumb.
But those days are over.
For years now, the house has been moving and settling like a wooden glacier. If we had mountain to slide off of, it would have crashed down the hill years ago. Granddaddy was not planning to build a mobile home, but this house is on the move. That would be problem enough if its walls, porch, and five small rooms could get their act together and plot a course in the same general direction. But they betray an ornery contrariness by each heading off toward different points of the compass. Attempts to corral them, nail them, strap them, and cinch them back together, hold a serious challenge.
Once you start trying to pull things back together, there’s no place to stop. But where we needed to start was obvious. The two large windows in the kitchen were headed south. Literally. And anyone standing on the threshold of the nearby door discovered movement of a grave nature (meaning in a graveward direction).
So yesterday Jim and I knocked, sawed, and hammered out two windows and a door. “Airy kitchen with an expansive view,” the real estate ad would say.
Much pleasure is derived from a job well done. Even greater pleasure is derived from watching someone else do work you don’t want to do. I told Jim this morning how it grieved me to see him going on with the work while I was writing this column. He responded by plugging in a compressor under my feet and aiming the dust chute of the table saw in my direction. Sounds of the chimes of the church clock in town ringing out “A Mighty Fortress” comingle with the bangs of the nail gun and the compressor kicking in at my feet.
It’s been interesting. We’ve uncovered siding that hasn’t seen the light of day in scores of years. No telling what’s in that old stuff. (Well, there’s some telling, and I’m not telling.) Old vintage nails. Lumber of a quality not seen in years. The work of old builders. The work of old termites. The builders are dead. So are the termites. (I could tell you how, but I’d rather not involve the EPA. None of us were planning to have more children anyway.)
The layers of his children’s souls are always laid bare before the Master Builder, and that’s a good thing. No one builds better than the Carpenter of Galilee.