A few days ago I quietly surpassed the number of posts written in a year. The previous maximum post year was 2008, and admittedly I was only posting weekdays then so my theoretical maximum for it was something like 261. I wrote 243. This is post 247 for this year.
Today's happy story started not so happily over a year ago. When we first moved in we had a really sleazy contractor (who knew there were sleazy contractors?). Not the sleazy contractor who recently absconded with all of our money and left us high and dry with several projects underway. No, this was the sleazy kitchen remodeling contractor. I didn't know any carpenters here, Dan had gone back to Atlanta, and I desperately needed someone to build frit storage in my studio so I could begin unpacking. Sleazy Contractor #1 (SC1 from now on) told me he had a carpenter who had just started working for him who wouldn't mind some extra hours, and I could hire him for some weekend work if I wanted to. The deal was, I would pay SC1 and he would pay the carpenter. He charged me $75 an hour, and I know damn good and well (because the carpenter told me so) that he paid the carpenter less than half that. Now you might say that the additional charge was for employment taxes, workman's comp, etc., but in hindsight I'm betting SC1 paid him cash under the table and pocketed the rest. It wasn't my business so I didn't ask, but...
The carpenter did really good work. He is more of a high-quality jack-of-all trades and master-of-some than he is a straight carpenter. I would have loved to hire him weekends to do more work, but SC1 said I had to continue to go through him so he could "manage the carpenter's weekend schedule", and I just wasn't willing to do that. I gave the carpenter my number and said if he was ever not working for SC1 and wanted work, he should give me a call.
Last Wednesday, as I sat in a slough of despair over the state of capital improvement and repairs here, the phone rang and it was the carpenter! He had finally had enough of SC1's uber-sleazy ways and quit. Today he came out and fixed the roof ridgecap from SC2's work (I'm sure I don't need to explain the acronym), and he also worked on our front door--the one SC2 was supposed to replace and never did. SC2 just took the door off and left a construction door in its place. He put the old door on the ground out by the wellhouse where it sat in the rain and weather until today. The carpenter cleaned up the door and filled the place where the lock mechanism went with Bondo so we could redrill it for the new lock. Then he sanded the paint off the front and removed the broken leaded glass insert--managing to preserve all the molding strips that held it in place in the process. I cut a piece of clear textured glass from my studio stash and he put it in the door as an interim measure until I can do the new stained glass door insert, transom and sidelights. Then he tried to rehang the door. Unfortunately it suffered from its time outside in the rain and constant humidity, and it swelled so much it won't fit into the doorjamb. So now it's standing up inside the front hall drying out (and shrinking) so he can rehang it. It might still have to be sanded down a little on the sides, but it's definitely going to shrink so we didn't want to grind it down now and have it be too small in a couple of weeks. I can live a little longer with the construction door. Last thing he did before taking off was to repair the well-house door that blew off and rehang it.
Turns out the carpenter is also a fourth generation painter, and he asked if I would like him to finish painting the house (left undone by SC2's crew--probably because he stopped paying them). He's going to give me an estimate on it tomorrow. He's also going to fix the cabinet doors which are hanging off their hinges from SC1's kitchen install. I am so happy to have found someone to pick up where SC2 left off and to also fix SC1's crap. It is so good to be back working with one individual who actually does the work instead of general contractors who come in, promise the moon, and then disappear--leaving their laborers to do the work (maybe competently, maybe not). Now for a glass of wine and a shower