We're having the interior of the house painted this week. In order to push for both speed and excellence, we told the painter that if we liked his work, we'd want to hire him to refinish the generous deck out back, and possibly also for some miscellaneous touching up and caulking of the wood siding. The motivation seemed to help.
Finding a painter was quite a trick, I have to say. I called several places, and most of them didn't even answer the phone. I left messages that didn't get returned for days and days. When I did get hold of someone, they often said alarming things like, "Hmmm . . . we're booking for late September right now, so how's early October for you?" One painter said he would come over to give us a quote, then never showed up. I called him rather snippily, and he vaguely reported being held up at another job. Perhaps we could reschedule. Grudgingly we did--why hadn't he called us the moment he knew he couldn't make it?--and after he examined the house, he disappeared for over a week. When he finally called with an estimate, we speedily turned him down.
In the end, I got hold of a burly, white-haired man with a thick Ukrainian accent. His name is Sasha. (!) He showed up when he said he would and said he could start fairly quickly. His rates were very reasonable. We hired him.
Sasha, it turns out, emigrated from Ukraine in 1991 at the age of 45. ("What brought you to the United States?" I asked. "Perestroyka," he said dryly.) He and his family spoke no English when they left Ukraine. They got off the plane in Detroit with four suitcases and no idea where to go or what they were going to do. Eventually they found a taxi stand and hailed a taxi. The driver asked them in English where they wanted to go, but Sasha could only shrug helplessly. "No English," he said. The driver asked if they were Russian, and Sasha recognized that word. "Da, Russian!" "I'm Russian, too," the driver said in that language. "You'll come home with me." The driver got Sasha's wife a job as a cleaning lady at a nearby apartment complex, helped Sasha himself find work, and let the family stay with him until they found a place to live. They definitely hailed the right taxi!
"In Ukraine," he added, "you get up at six in morning and go stand in line at store and wait. You MIGHT be able to buy food. Many days there is nothing at all. In United States, I go to store and see shelves filled with all kinds of things--coffee, bread, soap, flour, chocolate, soup, meat, whatever you want, and so much of it! I stood there with my mouth open. I could not believe!" Never take things for granted, peeps!
We're also having the floors re-covered, of course. We're putting wood flooring in the eating areas, the hall, and the office, but new carpet everywhere else. The bathrooms and kitchen are nicely tiled and don't need redoing.
The wood floor materials arrive Wednesday and have to sit in the house for two days to acclimate. The carpet doesn't arrive until the following week. However, Sasha is painting, so the floors can't really go yet in anyway. It's going to be a squeak to have everything ready by the 20th. I'm praying nothing goes astray!