Operation Iraqi Freedom
Friday, July 22 2011
In an effort to escape the heat, Gretchen had spent the night last night in the larger of our two guest rooms down in the basement, and had, perhaps for the first time, realized how cheap and dreary they are. They're not a part of the house we frequent often, so they're mostly given over to the spiders, but even when immaculately clean, they don't look much better than the kind of bedrooms one finds in crappy tract homes in the outer fringe of suburban sprawl. The doors are made of cheap luan, the ceiling fans look like the kind in my mother's double wide trailer, and Gretchen even has problems with the doorknobs (which are cheap brushed-zinc replacements for the hideous gold-colored doorknobs that the house had come with). So out of nowhere, suddenly Gretchen was all excited to undertake a series of major household remodels. She wanted new doors and doorknobs for the basement, and she was getting close to pulling the trigger on replacing the carpet in our upstairs master bedroom and teevee room with hardwood. Evidently she is feeling financially secure enough to pursue such improvements since I began my new career as an iPhone developer.
Today was predicted to get even hotter than yesterday, so it would have to be another swimming day. While we we'd be out, Gretchen wanted to get some replacement doors for the basement, so I suggested the Door Jamb, a place out on 28 W where I've bought at least one door in the past. That would be sort of on the way to another swim at Big Deep, so Big Deep became the first stop on today's outing.
Big Deep was crowded today, despite the fact that it was a workday. Perhaps all these working-age people had called in sick due to the heat. Or maybe they didn't have jobs to begin with. The demographics at Big Deep skewed decidedly towards white trash, perhaps even ignorant white trash. I saw a woman removing a watermelon-sized diaper from her baby after foolishly letting her wade through the creek. Modern diapers are absorbent, but even they cannot absorb the entire flow of the Sawkill, try though they might. I found myself wondering out loud to Gretchen about what sort of person is most likely to show up at Big Deep. We made an oral list: those without air conditioners, swimming pools, money to pay for admission to public pools, or (it being a weekday) jobs.
There being more people than our last visit to Big Deep, there were also more dogs. Though Sally seemed as bored as ever, Eleanor seemed to have a lot of fun playing with a fawn-colored puppy who delighted in digging in the sand. There's a familiar sense of wonder in a puppy dog; it seems very human.
After getting some groceries at Hurley Ridge, we drove out to the Door Jamb, which is large warehouse crammed uncomfortably full of doors on cheap real estate in the hamlet of Shokan. It's air conditioned inside, and is also host to two large dogs (though our dogs remained out in our car, parked in the shade). We ended up buying eight feet of louvered doors for our master bedroom closet as well as three solid 32 inch wooden doors (the kind made of planks, not luan and cardboard). The doors came complete with jams, which will be important for at least one of the doors, whose opening has been skewed by structural movement. Two of the doors weren't ready yet, so I tied everything else onto the roof of the Subaru.
Back at the house, Gretchen launched into several home improvement tasks, the biggest of which involved the removal of a decorative strip of wallpaper from our smaller guest room, "the Gunther Room" (named after Gunther, the name of Gretchen's goose lamp). That strip of wallpaper (a taxonomic floral motif), had been the last vestige of visible wallpaper in the house. Eight and a half years ago, in the face of larger priorities, Gretchen had been willing to tolerate it. But no longer.
By this point, Gretchen had dubbed this particular remodeling jihad "Operation Iraqi Freedom," which is such a random nomenclatural non sequitur that it manages to make even less sense to me than it probably does to you. When asked about the name, Gretchen says simply, "It feels right." She's the household poet, so I'll defer to her on this one.
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