Friday, May 16, 2008

Rick Charette hasn't a clue

Maine children's singer/songwriter and professional human muppet Rick Charette is said to have a song called "Mud" and I have heard from various sources that pre-schoolers in particular adore it.

After today, I can bet that Mr. Charette has never leveled a summer cottage or he would never have penned a joyous ode to wet dirt.

There is this summer cottage that is quite nice. It has two bedrooms and a one-room kitchen, dinette, living space. It also has a bathroom and a front porch. And a view of the bay. It is quite delightful.

But it was sagging. The roof line looked like a sway-backed old mule, and the floors inside pitched at odd angles. In fact, the floor squeaked and it looked like the floor was dropping away from the walls. Actually, that is exactly what it was doing. You can see how the trim ends nearly three-quarters of an inch above where the carpet begins.

It seems that the winter's heavy snow melted into the spring's heavy sog, which washed away or otherwise made unstable all of the underpinnings of this little cottage. There is a support beam that runs the length of the cabin, underneath. It is designed to keep the floor joists from sagging, and it is generally a very good idea. Only, it was not attached to anything. It was sitting haphazardly on some blocks under there, but was not touching the rafters above it. And the blocks that had been under it were scattered around, as though they had all shifted and fallen out at once. You can see from the picture that there is daylight visible above the big support beam. This is very bad.

So this local kid Josh I borrowed for a day climbed under there and spent four hours jacking and blocking and jacking and blocking and easing everything back where it is supposed to be. We raised that floor by a full five inches. It was more than a little creepy how far that thing went. By the time we crawled out of there, we looked like we'd been dragged behind a pulp truck through the wilds of Upper Somerset County. For a long while. What a mess we were. Here's a picture of Josh and me once everything was jacked and leveled and we made sure the doors all opened and shut.

And here is a picture of my clothes in a heap on the kitchen floor. I dared not bring them into the carpeted bedroom or the bathroom where I tend to step barefoot. They are being bagged for a segregated washer at the laundry place. Ewie.

I have to say I was impressed with young Josh. At 19, he still lives at home and helps care for an ailing parent. He does not drive, so I picked him up, and he was ready to go when I pulled into the drive. He worked his ass off all day, and never once complained. I had him toting cement blocks back and forth, schlepping lumber and blocking here and there, bottle jacks and tarps and tools every which way. I had him crawl around under the cottage with me, jacking here, leveling there, digging a hole (!) under the cottage so there would be room for the jack, essentially, if there was a nasty job, he got it. And he never, ever complained. Well, he whined a bit after spending three hours on his belly (and man bits) in the damp, cold, very rocky dirt beneath the cottage. Since some of my favorite parts are also located on my front, I sympathized.

When I am tempted to say bad things about "kids these days" I think I will try to remember Josh today. He worked hard, got dirty, and remained cheerful through it all. Jack it up, block it, let it down and do it again. Okay. And that's what we did. I told him at the end of the day that I'd be glad to work with him again, and he even expressed a similar opinion of me. What a good kid. Young man, actually. Whichever. A good person. And I am glad to know him. Not all "kids these days" are slackers and techno-dweebs. Some, at least one here on the island, are real people, unafraid of hard work, and able to remain cheerful even while filling his shorts with rocky mud.

1 comment:

MRMacrum said...

Seems the "Kid's these days" criticism is a time honored and respected form of displeasure that one generation aims at a generation behind them. I heard my father use those words. And guess what, we boomers managed to not screw it up too bad. Well, I guess the boat is still out in the bay on that one. But so far anyway, the World is still spinning.

I deal with youngsters of all types and ages in my bike shop. Remembering my own chip I used to carry so proudly, I look at them as being not much different than I was when I was their age. Most of them will snap out of it. I did. And many many people were sure I wouldn't.

But then there are the special kids. The ones you know out of the gate will become a definite plus for the community they live in. I try to find this type when looking for a kid to bring on at the shop. I just lost one of the best to college last summer. He has moved onto bigger and better things. But for 4 years, he was the adult in the shop. Kept me centered and focused and often carried not only his own weight but mine also. Those types are rare in any generation.

And if I can be so bold and boastful, my daughter is one also. She was more mature and responsible at age 10 than I was at age 24.

Josh sounds like a keeper. Definitely don't throw him back.

Gotta love Maine and it's mish mash of shaky buildings. Jacking up any building was always an interesting experience. As a matter of fact, my own house(the older kitchen end) will need some re-leveling here shortly. Guess I'm going to have to get my antique screw jacks back from Crispy. Damn, I hate crawl spaces. Especially now that I am slightly larger than I used to be.