Saturday, July 25, 2009

The 86 year old concrete king

You know the shows Flip That House on TLC and Flip This House on A&E? That's us. Except without all the flipping. We actually live in the houses we fix up. But fix them up we do. None more than our current house. Boy was this place a shit hole when we bought it. To describe the state of the house when we first saw it: the tile throughout the house was coming up so much we kept tripping on it, the carpet was so disgusting and stained it looked as if they took soda and cough syrup and god knows what else and just dumped it on the floor and then never cleaned it up. My shoes were literally sticking to the carpet it was that nasty. Not to mention the dog poo on the deck and the smell of piss in the basement so bad I couldn't be down there for more than a few minutes without feeling like I was going to hurl all over the place. I'm sure all our family and friends were wondering what the hell we were thinking; probably that we were crazy for buying this place.

Two months of non stop remodeling of every inch of the house and we finally moved in. It has now been a year since we moved in and still are in the process of "fixing" this place up to our taste. Two projects we knew we wanted to do from the beginning but would take a while, due to money and time constraints, are the front walk and the deck. The concrete of the front walk is cracked and has shifted so bad there are gaps where the steps have separated from the main stoop. There is no railing and the distance from the step to the stoop is significant. Not ideal, especially for kids and our aging family members. The wood on the deck is not pressure treated, the railing is loose, and a "fix" to a section was not done up to code. Ideally we would also like to have the deck screened in to keep out the bugs and sun. After a lot of debating, weighing the pros and cons, we decided that the front walk was the project most needed to be done. Luckily for us, Fred's grandparents are in town. Why is this lucky do you ask. Well for the simple fact that Grandad Briggs is the concrete king. Getting his opinion on this project is like conversing with the Dalai Lama. Extremely valued. Getting his help; hitting the jackpot.

So day one, the Briggs Clan piled into their Toyota Tundra leaving the blissful countryside farm and headed to our little old house in the suburbs. Upon arrival Fred (my husband) and his dad (also named Fred) began to unload the jackhammer a nice contractor let us borrow, while Grandad (also a Fred. It gets confusing I know but stick with me) picked up the sledgehammer and started to whack away at the walk. My husband and father-in-law urged Grandad to stop. We have the jackhammer no need for the sledgehammer. Recluctantly, he gave in.

Now I must mention that Grandad is eighty-six years old and has recently had a knee injury flair up. So the mere fact that he is out there helping with this project is amazing to me. After a few hours of jackhammering and hauling big piles of concrete to the bed of the truck, the men are ready for a break and a trip back to the farm to drop off the load. Half of the walkway is gone. Impressive progress. This is where the knowledge of Grandad being eight-six years old becomes outstanding. Fred (my husband) and his dad were gone for about an hour and a half dropping off the load while Grandad stayed at the house. In that time frame the unimaginable happened.

We are sitting around the table chit-chatting when I hear a loud banging outside and notice that Grandad is no longer around. I head to the door and open it only to see this eighty-six year old grandfather (his age must be repeated for impact) whacking away at what is left of the front walk with the sledge hammer. I am just staring, in utter amazement. It's like a train wreck, I just can't seem to veer my eyes but feel like I should do something to help. Though I know that there is no way in hell that I could pick up that sledge hammer without causing severe damage to myself and I'm only thirty. In the time frame it took to take the load to the farm and come back, Grandad had managed to break up the rest of the walkway with the sledgehammer. BY HIMSELF! Not only that, but he also managed to pile the big chunks of concrete by the driveway for easier loading.

It's okay, you can let your jaw drop now. I did.

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