Waits and measures

Maybe waiting is the measure of a man. We have done our share of it.

Today, I daydreamed back to a sweltering Bolivian night eight years ago when we made pizza for Yoli’s family and I got down on one knee to propose. Not many days afterward, I boarded a plane bound for St. Louis.

I knew we would be separated for a while, working in two countries on the paperwork to obtain a fiancee visa. But I didn’t know how long.

How long turned out to be nine months. At the time I called it ‘the interminable wait.’

It seems to me that the waiting was hardest at the beginning (where the elation of getting engaged was followed by the loneliness of returning home alone) and near the end (though we never had a clear idea of when exactly “the end” would come).

My mind wandered, remembering those months of waiting, then returned to the present. I thought of our eighth wedding anniversary, just around the corner: Nov. 22 and 24.

But even sooner, I thought, our family will move back into the little brick house that was shattered by the Good Friday tornado.

Then it struck me: we have gone through another “interminable wait” this year.

In some ways it’s been harder. There was little joy at the outset, except maybe the solace that comes from knowing nobody was hurt and many of our possessions could be saved. There were so many unknowns: how do you pick a guy to cut down your tree? We chose one, and it went badly. How to choose the best mudjacking Denver to fix driveway? Our temporary housing moved us farther away from all our usual places. We couldn’t walk Jadzia to kindergarten as we had planned, nor could we walk to the farmer’s market, or the bank, or the library.

But in some ways it’s been easier. Yes, we were separated from our house — but not from each other. We’ve been in exile, together. The rental house where we’ve lived was actually bigger than our own home, though it lacked some things (dishwasher). Our friends and family rallied around to help us. And our wait has lasted only six months, not nine.

Still, there’s no getting past the waiting. As with our engagment eight years ago, we had a vague notion of how long this reconstruction process would take. But the ending proved to be elusive. We would get close, and things would drag out.

At last, though, the finish line is in sight. Today our little house was full of people: cutting tiles, running pipes, painting walls, tracking in mud.

Tomorrow our long-stored belongings will begin to arrive at the house. Before the end of the week, we hope to be sleeping in our own beds again.

I would like to think that this “interminable wait” helped us, strengthened us inside.

Time will tell.

Life in Woodson Terrace

This is day five of the Renaud Empire in exile. Or maybe we could call it Operation Expand Our Borders. Or maybe we could just say day five of “vacation” in the “Renaud Empire Southeast.”

However you look at it, things are going fairly well.

The girls like the rental home. It’s bigger than our own place, with lots of room to play. I have seen them use a hall closet as if it were a little playhouse. Yesterday Jadzia and Ludi were out in the fenced backyard playing by themselves. Jadzia found an empty birds nest on the ground under some shrubs, which she thought was really cool.

We have visited the nearby park twice. It’s just a quick walk, and the girls really love it.

At this point, our main inconveniences have been:

  • Getting Channel 9 (KETC) on the TV. We don’t watch a lot of live TV, but when we do it is usually PBS. But KETC just wouldn’t come in. Yesterday I had a breakthrough and I hope we have figured it out. (it involved rearranging all the living room furniture).
  • No Internet for a week. AT&T can’t get us going any faster than that. My old dialup took less than an hour to start, and Charter can get you going the same day. But AT&T still has by far the best price for broadband, so I guess I’ll wait.
  • no dishwasher.
  • missing kitchen tools. We’ve bought a few and pretty much have most of the essentials now.

As far as the Renaud Empire headquarters home goes, we are in waiting mode. We have been meeting with the contractor and an architect, and hope to have plans ready soon. Ferguson has to review them before they will let us even begin demolition. It could be 2-3 weeks away, which is frustrating. But we’ve got to keep our eyes on the end result, which will be a greatly improved house. That keeps us motivated.

Still uncertain after the storm

I pulled up to our house this morning and found my insurance adjuster around the back. He was climbing what remained of our tree, snapping photos of the broken kitchen. Our tree guys had cleared away much of the oak yesterday and liberated our home of its trunk.

We pored over every detail. “How many windows did your sunroom have? Your house had hardwood floors throughout, right? How old is your roof?” He used debris and other evidence to figure out the dimensions of the sunroom, the number of windows, etc. I was surprised to learn our house had a shell of 4 inch cinder blocks, with plaster applied directly to the blocks. The brick was a veneer around the outside of that.

My contractor arrived and we went through the house. The adjuster took careful note of cracks in the walls. He found new cracks in the living/dining room, and certainly the massive cracks on the south wall of the girls’ room were substantially worse.

We opened the basement window and clambered down. (The adjuster complimented me on being limber. First time for everything) Same story down below: some suspicious new cracks. At a minimum the entire south wall and cinderblock foundation must be replaced.

But there’s the catch: At a minimum. There is a possibility they may decide to total the house, and we would build the entire thing anew.

The adjuster will give his assessment to State Farm and we will have to wait to find out what they decide. It could be a number of days before we know. If they total it, then we’ll need to move out all the furniture, etc. But if not, we can leave most of it in the front of the house.

One part of me is excited by the prospect of a new house. But it’s too early and honestly I don’t know what to think. I know there is a long road ahead. We will be displaced at least three months, but probably more like six. Will it affect our vacation plans? Will it be a giant headache?

There’s so much uncertainty. We are thinking and praying. And waiting.