It took Good Wife Norma nine years to open a bottle of wine, but she finally got the job done Wednesday of this week.
The curtain opens on this story nine years hence when we sold our home on Thompson Avenue to an up-and-coming young couple, Tony and Whitney Purvis.
We had already purchased the ranch we live in now on Fairview Drive. We held the deeds to two houses exactly long enough for both roofs to be totaled in the same hailstorm.
As you might imagine that opened a whole separate nest of hornets, but we’ll set that aside for now.
Tony and Whitney, ever the gracious buyers, presented us with a bottle of wine to celebrate our own new home. It was a 2006 Mac’s Creek selection, a lovely red.
The fact we have known Mac and Teresa McFarland personally since the 80s when we raised our kids together in Lexington made the gift all the more special.
The house here on Fairview Drive was a disaster. We (and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘she’) had a mountain of work to do.
That’s why GWN decreed that the wine be set aside and opened only in celebration, “When I have this place the way I want it.”
What paint remained on the siding of this ranch home was peeling in multi-colored layers, the most recent of which was yellow. The windows were shot, the floors covered in used-up carpet and the basement walls bulging precariously inward as though on the verge of collapse.
That wasn’t the half of it, but you get the idea.
I started in to scrape the paint, quickly gave up in futility and obtained a burner. No go there either.
Son Aaron came up with almost enough siding to cover the entire house from a contractor friend in Kearney. The boxes were left over from a public housing project in Lexington. When told who it was for and asked the price the contractor friend said, “Take them away.” A local siding firm installed it professionally and by a small miracle there appeared wonderful steel siding we would not otherwise have been able to afford.
So long paint problem.
Aaron brought a load of windows out from Kearney (he gets a contractor discount there) installed them and – Voila! – all new windows throughout.
It was also Aaron and his construction buddies, with the help of Cousin Larry, who blew our single-car garage out to an attached three-holer. He tore out and removed the existing concrete, then stormed in with his concrete buddies to pour a sprawling new driveway.
You wouldn’t believe what a fella can get done with hundred-dollar bills and a boatload of PBR.
We were getting there, but the wine remained off-limits.
In no particular order the carpet was torn up, revealing nice wooden floors beneath. The upstairs bathroom got new tile on the floor, lighting fixtures and a countertop (customized to accommodate my 6-foot-4 carcass of course).
Ceiling fans popped up in nearly every room, the basement was finished (but not until those sagging, cracked walls were shored up with bolten-in vertical beams and then hidden behind drywall. Carpet, a new ceiling, paint downstairs and I had a sassy Go Big Red! man cave of my Husker photos surrounded by a comfy bedroom, bathroom, laundry and sewing room.
And still the wine reposed in darkness at the back corner of a cupboard.
A rock retaining wall and hidden drainage pipe stabilized and spruced things up outside the garage and a patio pour in the backyard gave her something to work with there, too. Enter a fold-out louvered canopy, her special touch landscaping and we had an outdoor living space we so enjoy during the two weeks of bearable humidity between spring hail and the Attack of the Mutant Mosquitoes.
Realize, this is not something that took place quickly. It required years of squirreling away money on GWN’s part even to get it done on the very cheap thanks to Aaron.
Despite substantial if ponderous progress, there remained the lingering issue of “That kitchen!”
Enter a local cabinet craftsman, whose endless patience during what seemed (to me) mind-numbing commiserating over wood type, grain and finish amazed us every bit as much as did his talent and meticulous attention to detail.
A new tile floor and appliance upgrades gradually followed on GWN’s pay-as-you-go plan.
Was it time to open the wine at last? She wouldn’t hear a bit of it and instead caused me to understand that a white range in a kitchen of otherwise all stainless-steel appliances would never, ever do.
The quest for full completion of the house remained in limbo … until Wednesday when the range deficiency was mitigated at last.
Out came the wine. We didn’t slaughter the fatted calf, however a ribeye to share was duly thawed. We saluted her hard-won accomplishment and all the local contractors and craftsmen who made it happen. They were wonderful, every one of them. We would love to share their names. Please ask.
As for the wine itself, yes, it had lost some of its luster after 11 years stuck in the same bottle, Whitney’s ribbon still looped around its neck. GWN opened it with gusto and we both tossed back a glass.
A little long in the tooth, off-color and vinegary? Perhaps, but no wine ever rated a more satisfying finish.
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