Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keeping up with Robomike

I know that my brother-in-law Mike thinks that I'm crazy. We are exact opposites in many ways. He hates city life, can't understand why we paid so much for such a small house, and is baffled that I would consider a month in China a vacation. But, when I asked him to "help" me replace the subfloor and put up some framing in our old bathroom, he didn't hesitate. I would like to learn how to frame a wall myself, so I wanted to be involved. I have written about Mike before: he's a man of few words but many skills. He arrived at our house on Tuesday morning, just after Dan left for his first day on his new job. I decided to use a few of my vacation days for my reno-vacation, if only to buy the supplies at the store and help carry stuff in and out of the house. I grew up on a farm and I don't have any brothers, so I was raised to pitch in on any job. Nobody in my house was too small, too young or too female to help out.

When Mike arrived, I showed him the scene. He looked around, shook his head and said: "you've got a lot of work to do here". But, he got to work taking measurements and we were off to Downtown Lumber for our first of many trips. As we were struggling to get a 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" plywood up the winding stairs in our narrow house, I'm sure he was shaking his head again, although I couldn't see him through the plywood. I had to take the oil paintings that his 11 year old daughter painted for me off the wall, so that we could swing that sheet, tilt it, and get it up the stairs. Thank god the ceilings are 10' high in here!

We only had two days to replace the floor, frame some walls and install the bathtub, because we both had to go to work on Thursday. He was determined to get it done so that we could have the plumber in again on Saturday allowing us to start bathing at home again. I appreciate his determined work ethic and agreed that I would not talk too much, nor try to hug him. For all of our differences, I think that we got along well. But keeping up with Robomike was tough! He didn't eat all day, he barely drank any water, didn't pause at all, nor did he complain. I did my best to keep up, but after three days of hauling junk out of this bathroom, I was starting to wear out at 3 p.m. But, I keep dragging my butt until 9 p.m., although I did take several breaks.

By the end of the 2nd day, we had two walls and two doorways framed. We are renovating our oversized bathroom back to its original bathroom with small bedroom. When Dan returned from work, he helped Mike carry the new bathtub upstairs, and finally the rooms are taking shape. The drills are moving forward now. But, as Mike said, there's still lots of work to do! (And lots to write about.) Mike ate a tiny bit of food, drank a thimble full of water, filled his truck with the rubble from our front porch and drove off into the night. Who was that masked robot? He looked like Mike, but he didn't seem human.

Once again, thank you Mike. These words seem insufficient, but I am truly grateful for your dedication to your work and your family. And I promise that I will never try to hug you.

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