Progress Update

This progress (and I use the word very loosely) update is long overdue because progress itself is long overdue. Unless two steps forward, one step back counts as progress. I guess it kinda does but just doesn’t feel like it some days. 

The decks and fencing take longer than expected because of rain. The pool cannot be completed until the decks and fences are done. The railings take forever because they require assembly. City hall says one thing, the plumbing inspector says another, so a sink is added where there was none. The kitchen cabinets aren’t installed until mid-June. The counter tops, a month later. Once the counter tops go in, the plumber needs to return and install the sinks. Ours moves to Vancouver. Yes, our beloved Vanessa leaves us for a food truck gig in east Van. Her boss, James, is just out of hospital because of a back injury. So we are again without sinks in our bathrooms. And with no sink in the kitchen, we continue to use the kitchen in the suite. Up and down the stairs many times a day. Just a bit of exercise to add to the already heavy physical burden of finishing this project. 

A week after the counters go in James comes to do the plumbing. Gets one sink done and another started when he has to leave for a meeting. Comes back and finds that the remaining bathroom counters are missing the hole for the faucet. James will not drill the holes. It’s Saturday and the counter supplier is closed. So James goes home and we celebrate that at least we now have a bathroom sink. It too is downstairs, so more stair work for us.

The next morning I’m startled by a loud crashing sound. I do a walk around, mostly to ensure Craig hasn’t had an accident, and see that the cabinet with that precious one sink has detached from the wall and is hanging rather precariously by a few barely-in-the-wall screws.

And so it goes. Every day for the last 2 years. Particularly intense since we moved in last Christmas. 

In the midst of living in the hungry maw that this house has become – in time, energy and financial expenditures – we have said good-bye to both our mothers. Craig’s in January, mine in April. Lots of stress around both deaths, but lots to be grateful for, not least of which is that neither was drawn out. We make a trip to Saskatchewan to help sort through my mom’s stuff.

Also in the midst of this chaos we have guests of all nature: dinner, drinks, bridge, overnight, weekend, weeklong, pool-dip, dog pick-up. Bathrooms or not, dust for sure, tradesmen in and out, maybe a swim … our friends and family become part of the renovation story. Or should I say saga?

Craig’s saga continues with cardiologist and imaging appointments. We recently got the good news that his aorta is stable. That it had healed would be better news, but you take what you can get and what we get is that it is not becoming aneurismic (spell check thinks this is not a word, but I know it is). 

Friends too are experiencing disease and disability, further reminding us of our progressive ageing. It’s one place in our lives where there is actually progress. Ageing. No longer down the road, in the future, far away on the path of our lives. Now it is in our faces, both literally and metaphorically. 

We do what we can to stave off the effects of time. But no amount of kale, beet juice, yoga and meditation is going to ameliorate what gravity, too much time in the sun, too many cocktails and late nights, too much stress and too many sleepless nights, and just too much living, have done to our bodies. 

So we accept a certain amount of ravaging. A degree of sagging and wrinkling. Of gas and indigestion. Of medical reports that end with “normal findings for age”.  

More happily, we continue to thank our very lucky stars that we have landed here in Vernon. The havoc we see around the world and in the cities is disturbing and frightening. We wonder is it simply a serendipitous coincidence that we made our move just as the entire world order changed and life on planet earth became a little less pleasant for many, if not most, people? Is it just a fortunate windfall that our lives became a lot more pleasant? 

Not surprisingly, guilt sometimes creeps in at the edges of my idyll, threatening to upend my bliss. Having become increasingly aware that baby boomer existence likely represents some kind of pinnacle in human anthropologic evolution, I feel intense regret that we homo sapiens have not been better stewards of the the culture and the environment. Some days it is hard to watch the news. We wonder WTF is happening out there? And more importantly, where is this all headed? 

Friends in their 20s and 30s say they don’t care if they have careers because there is no future and what is the point of retirement savings when there won’t be any retirement. It’ll all be over, they say, before they retire. So they are just having a good time doing what they want.

Can’t really blame them. It is certainly preferable to working. I should know. Now into my 14th year as a jubilada (the spanish word for retirement sounds much more jubilant than ours), I can say without hesitation that the gift of ageing isn’t wisdom, it’s retirement, and more time to do the fun stuff, and the fun stuff is more fun if wisdom is left entirely out of it. The pictures stand as evidence. 

  1. Derek Swain says:

    Glad to see you are making progress in what has become an epic journey. And how long has it been since you left Vancouver? With an ETA apparently undefinable.
    Craig, pleased to hear that your health is improving. Your skills and patience with difficult parents and personalities must be helpful in your construction trials.
    Bev, always enjoy your writing as you bring an amazing turn of phrase to each of these experiences.
    Best to you both,
    Derek

  2. Charlotte Sutcliffe says:

    Thanks Bev for the update. Talk about the stress that you have gone through. How are you still sane? At least their will soon be an end to the renos! It is almost finished. Your new home looks lovely nice deck and pool.

    Good news that Greg’s aorta is stable. That is a blessing.

    Hope to see you one of these days. Take care my friend.

  3. Larry and Bev Amundsen says:

    Looks like you are living the dream/nightmare! If you are thinking your construction horror stories are going to keep visitors away you are probably wrong. Looking forward to seeing at least one working upstairs sink.

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