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I think this is (at least) the fifth post on this theme that I’ve written on this site. I take the original injunction (Hebrews 13:2) very seriously:
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
As usual, I’m quoting the KJV, mostly in memory of an elderly Canadian fisherman (deep sea, not sport; grueling job, not merry persiflage) who, many years ago, gifted our family with a Bible of the King James Version variety, with the admonition that we should pay attention to it because it included–after all–“the actual words Christ spoke.” That happened somewhere in the early 1970s, and I’ve told a few people that story since. Some have borrowed it for their own use (without attribution of any sort), but that’s OK. Point is that the Word is disseminated, right? It’s the message that’s important, not the messenger.
Boy, howdy. Not the messenger.
Over the years, I’ve entertained many, both four-legged and two-legged. With varying degrees of success. But, here I still am. Widowed sixteen months, living in a house that Mr. She and I built with our own hands but never finished, enjoying a lifestyle that I often refer to as “glamping,” while the world passes me by. One finished (and quite nice) bedroom. Three-quarters of a bathroom. A pretty-well-finished living area and kitchen. One barn and addition. And, otherwise, disaster, punctuated by catastrophe, interspersed with trauma, peppered with anguish, accented with angst. I won’t belabor the point. Many of you will know that of which I speak.
And yet. Life has gone on, and it goes on. Because there is love, and there are people I love in it:
You see, I really believe that. It is, indeed, a wonderful world.
Why, just yesterday, I took this photo of some violas in my garden that have survived the several hard frosts we’ve had recently, and which are still bravely struggling on. Aren’t they pretty:
And then there’s Ollie and Tilly–tiny, vulnerable creatures born this past spring to mothers who couldn’t possibly care for them–strangers, and angels–who’ve survived and thrived to pose, this week, so beautifully for the camera:
And, Chinggis, the stray and starving rooster. Sometimes, the good Lord just wants you to have chickens:
Which brings me to John and Ron:
I’m sixty-seven. I’m not as limber as I used to be, and I can’t work as long, or as hard as I used to. (To be clear, my standards may not be universal and perhaps they don’t apply to others. I can still shift sixty or eighty-pound bags of concrete or livestock feed at will, and this past week I re-attached the backhoe to the tractor, greased all the fittings, and put the whole mess away for the winter. Thank you, dear departed Mr. She for believing in me much as the Proverbs 31 husband believed in his wife. I can do it!)
Here’s the chicken coop I built (to my own design) over the summer:
Still, I really want to get this house finished. And I’ve come to realize that getting there is, at my age, a bridge too far.
So, about a year ago, I thought I’d found the answer.
Dave lived just up the road from me, and had a small remodeling business. I engaged him to do the aforementioned “quite nice” bedroom, and he did a decent, if somewhat slapdash, job. Still, I thought he’d be helpful and useful to finish the place, and, neighbor–I know where you live–right? So we made an arrangement.
Then, Dave secured the contract to re-do the veterinarian’s office a few miles away in Claysville. A big job for Dave, and one I wanted him to successfully conclude because it meant a lot in terms of prestige and money. The veterinarian is a personal friend (I do her computer and IT support–because for 30 years that was my jam), so I said I’d wait the six months for Dave to finish the job, with the understanding that Dave would show up at my place for a substantial engagement thereafter.
Dave concluded his engagement at the veterinarian’s at the end of June 2021 and promptly decamped to Florida. Ghosted me. Gaslighted me. Ignored any and all text messages and phone calls from both me and the veterinarian asking him what the hell was going on. And basically pretended that nothing between us actually pertained.
Been there in another context. Done that in another context. Not doing it again. Fool me once, etc.
Goodbye, cowardly Dave.
Enter John and Ron.
I found them via the Home Depot referral program (so far, I’m two for two on this, and very pleased). Apparently each Home Depot store maintains a list of local contractors with whom you can deal independently, and while HD itself doesn’t guarantee the work, they do keep track of the reviews, and take action if too many of them are negative.
So somewhere in mid July, John and Ron showed up, we had a discussion, they said they were booked solid through the third week of October, and that they’d put me on their schedule starting then. The estimate, on their part, was two full months of work.
So, more waiting.
They started here on October 25. Exactly when they said they would.
I cannot praise them enough. One of them is a visionary genius, when it comes to visualizing the end result of the remodeling work. The other is less experienced in that sense, but is computer and financially-literate. They make a great team.
They’re country people. One enjoys snuff (the tobacco sort, not the film sort), and the other smokes. Neither of them is obnoxious about it, and the smoker goes outside to indulge. They’re very Trumpy, and they’re gun nuts. I don’t care. I’m pretty sure that–should a coyote show up and attack my sheep while they’re here–one of them would take my shotgun, and save me the trouble of shooting the damn thing myself.
They don’t–and this is important to me–play loud music on their boom box from the moment they show up until the moment they leave. In fact, they don’t have a boom box at all. They don’t listen to the radio–Bless! They take very few breaks. And on the breaks that they do take, I hear them talking–and sometimes arguing like an old married couple–about the job they’re working on, that is to say, mine.
They work on a strictly cash basis. Fine by me. They call me “Honey, Sweetie, Dear.” Yes!
They seem to have decided, early on, that I’m a somewhat rara avis, when it comes to their lady clients. And although I’ve already learned much from them when it comes to construction and remodeling techniques, they don’t mind saying that this old lady has taught them a few tricks too. They’re happy to work beside me while they frame and I wire, or while they drywall and I plumb.
It’s a funny old world we live in at the moment. I’ve made no secret, over the years, that I’m glad to live where I do. Not least because the “deplorables” among whom I live are–when it comes right down to it–often far more open-minded about accepting equality among the sexes (of which–let’s be clear–we know there are only two) than are many of the more enlightened. Again, I refer you to Proverbs 31.
Thank you, John and Ron. You can’t believe how grateful I am for your presence in my life. A “gift from God” indeed.
PS: None of this has anything to do with the fact that we discovered, through desultory conversation one day, that one of these guys was–over half a century ago–my neighbor somewhere else, and the little boy who moved my family’s lawn. I mean–FFS–what are the odds, right? Sometimes the good Lord just wants you to entertain angels.
So, in a spirit of gratitude, that’s what I do.
Thank you, God.Published in