I know that I am done because I made the phone call to my mother to tell her about it. It's become quite the ritual: I spend a day or two slogging away at some home repair/improvement project, and then once the dust finally settles and the furniture is back in place and any broken bits have been carefully disposed of, I call mom. That's how I know that I am finished.
This morning I began at eight thirty. I draped plastic around the bottom of our chimney, then made a narrow alley out our basement barn doors where all the refuse would go flying. I knocked a big hole in the base of the chimney, and found it clogged with soot and cinders. This shouldn't have come as a surprise since the house was built in 1895 and the fireplace didn't get walled off until 1964, so there was almost seventy years of ash to deal with. Oh yes, and the bricks. We had what was essentially a three story brick structure to dismantle, and it all had to pass through one tiny little opening.
By ten o'clock, our contractor friend and guiding force arrived and helped facilitate the exhaust fan situation. It was vital that all the dust and sand and debris would draw out from the bottom, not up into the face of the poor soul trapped in the wall as the fireplace was dropped, brick by brick, into the basement where I scurried to keep up with the demolition. I dragged wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow out behind our house where my wife made neat little stacks of the recently disordered masonry. Clouds of dust poured out of the basement and we kept going. We worked from the top down, and we kept going.
And then I saw legs coming down through the hole that had once been my chimney. Too early for Santa, but the gift he brought was welcome nonetheless. By one thirty in the afternoon, we had a pile of rubble, and a hole in our roof. With the demolition complete, there was a matter of patching the roof, and managing debris. I watched as our friend made short work of the patch, and a new cap for our water heater vent. It was all over before supper time.
What did I take away front he experience? Certain jobs require expert help. Many tasks of these jobs can be done by the minimally skilled (but I am willing to learn). Our house, which has lived with the structural equivalent of an appendix can now rest easy here in earthquake country, because that great big brick tower doesn't run through it anymore. No major injuries, no broken glass or hurt feelings, nobody had to be carried away from the job site.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear the couch calling my name.