Close Quarters

I am so grateful for the barn. I cannot think of a better way to start this story of our confinement to close quarters whilst the house is torn down and resurrected around us.

I am so damn grateful for that barn.

In the beginning, when we were living in the whole of the house, I chafed about the barn, the barn that wasn’t, the shed with a dirt floor and see-through walls and leaking roof. So our home renovation started with the barn. We took this:

What We Started With

And we made it into this:

What It Became
What It Became

It’s the first thing I see in the morning and my last view before bed. I love that barn. I love that it provides safe and proper shelter for the whole tribe of horses and donkeys. I love that the tractor is parked inside and that Gordy’s tools all have orderly places to be. I love the air-conditioned tack room and the fridge to keep medical supplies. I love that there are stall doors to the inside and out and how we have learned when to open those up for freedom and when to tuck everyone securely in. We didn’t have a barn in California and we managed — not without challenges — but we managed. I just didn’t realize how much it meant to have a genuine, honest-to-goodness barn until this one was born to us.

I share all this because it is the highest functioning part of our lives right now. The only other things I can add to our list of functioning are a bed, a bathroom and two working computers. Sometimes.

We are living in two back rooms of the house and by “we” I mean the two of us and six dogs with a collective canine weight just shy of four hundred pounds. We are handling it amazingly well, but not without an acknowledged bit of lunacy. The dogs mostly think it is a great adventure, an invitation for intimacy. I thought, in such a small space, that their need to be close would be satisfied simply by looking across the room. It is not. They gravitate to where the activity is. If I am at the computer — which is on one end of the bedroom — they are under the desk and draped behind the chair and wedged in the doorway. At night we go to the other side of the room; two on the bed with us, one at the foot and one against each side of the bed, leaving the floor by the desks vacant. Only Gracie is sane about this and chooses the closet. Which means we have to leave that door open at all times. Night trips to the bathroom are fraught with peril, but the landing is soft.

We don’t have a kitchen, just a fridge, a hot plate and microwave, so we eat out – a lot – which is greatly disappointing to the dogs. When we do “fix” dinner at home, it’s a big event for which everyone gathers.

All Wedged in for Dinner
All Wedged in for Dinner

Construction work starts at 7:30. We leave the front door unlocked and, without ceremony, guys wander in and pounding and sawing and crawling through the attic is underway for the day. Sometimes we are needed —  to consider a workaround for a plumbing issue or to walk through the electrical plan. Most days, we don’t matter much to the process so we try to ignore its presence and go about our own business. That is where the lunacy begins: It is difficult to have your own business to get about if you are squished inside a small space with not much in the way of things to do. So I go to the barn. There is always something to do at the barn.

Then there are the days where we have no electricity in our little wing because they are working on wiring and have circuits shut off. Also, no water, like yesterday. So I go to the barn. I have a hot spot so sometimes the computer comes with and I write a little bit, perched on a stool at the counter in the air-conditioned tack room. Multi-purpose; I like that. The “indoor” horses — Filou, Andante, Boo, and Belle, wonder if what I really meant to do was give them some extra lunch.

Um, no Belle, you do not need an extra lunch

At night and on the weekends we leave the door open that separates our little shack from the rest of the house. It’s a mental game, mostly. Lately, I’ve been wondering about the wisdom of it. The dogs are all for it — they like to lay on the cool exposed concrete and look out the front windows to guard the house from the dangers only dogs know about. Gracie likes to go around the corner to reconnect with her favorite sleeping spot in the back of the laundry room. We wander around examining the progress made and imagining what it will all be like in the end. Right now, some parts are easier to imagine than others. Right now, some parts just make me want to cry. Here, for example, is a picture of the “progress” in the bathroom.

The Irony of it all

I find this picture very ironic. I loathe that wallpaper and yet it persists. Not until the sheet rockers come in will we say good-bye to the last of those damn pheasants in the grass. In the meantime, all we’ve added (for the sake of shifting plumbing fixtures), is a pile of dirt. Now, that’s progress.

The whole of the bathroom doesn’t look much better; some framing and more piles of dirt. Don’t believe me? Take a look:

Piles of Dirt
Piles of Dirt

We are down to the studs. And the dirt. Sometimes you have to step backwards in order to move forward. Yesterday, I found Monroe digging in the pile of dirt in this, our alleged bathroom. I was so indignant, I shooed her outside with a giant scolding about proper indoor behavior. Here is my reward.

Dirt is Dirt, Mom

I guess I deserved that.

One final note. In all of this chaos and confinement, dear Miss Molly continues to surprise us with her eagerness to be one of us. She tolerates her thrice weekly medicated baths and twice daily medications like a soldier. We cannot help but fawn all over her and she tolerates that with equal good will.

I Love Her, Just Love Her

I tell her: “Just wait, Miss Molly. Just wait until we have all this room to be in, to really be in.”

She says, “This is a hell of a lot better than a cage and thank you very much, but I don’t mind sharing these close quarters with all of you.”

Thank you, Molly, I needed that.

Writing about what sings to me from a life made full with animals.

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