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Dear friends and readers,

For now we've finished our work in the attic and re-arranging the bookcases and books, and some furniture downstairs. Today didn't take too long: good thing because despite the very warm weather earlier this week, the attic was chilled. Nights the temperature goes way down. I also somehow or other strained my back the other night and can't do much. If the pain keeps up, I'll go to the doctor next week.

Suffice to say I was satisfied when I'd finished. I now have a usable room in the front of the attic -- four rows of bookcases neartly filled (with toys and puzzles as well as books and folders), desk, table, chairs. A corner for left-overs from Caroline's wedding and Yvette's time at Sweet Briar. Two boxes of my book as yet unsold and undistributed. In a corner stuff to throw out Easter time: bamboo curtains.

In the back of the attic all storage. In one place the crib and things from the girls' childhoods (including several trumpets), keepsake dolls, basket, Christmas things. Next all the luggage we have. Across way lots of these plastic crates and baskets, containers for storing things; next to that all the beach and picnic stuff (chairs, umbrellas, bags which keep things cold), the two heaps of electronic goods, some obsolete and will be thrown out Easter, some still working (the two small TVs) or near their end (the VHS cassette player). These latter I'll keep. Intertwined in final pile old stuff I'm not allowed to throw out except Easter time: boxes of tiles, cans of paint, and such like, left-over from very early attempts at renovation by ourselves (basically failures).

I swept too.

All done.

I started in early September.

I wish I could feel as complacent about what's to come. Tonight I'm not as anxious as I've been the last couple of days. We paid half of a lot of money to have our two bathrooms totally renovated and were told that the sums we were paying included all dry wall work. The woman came and looked at the rooms. I had told her we never renovated and these were 63 year old rooms, and there was a leak from the shower small bathroom into the large bathroom wall, but it didn't register. Suddenly the contract did not include all dry wall work, only the stuff under the tiles. I didn't like her behavior or evinced attitude towards what she saw in our house either but if she's an ass-hole so what. What troubled me is the money. I began to be afraid I'd pay this big sum and yet not have the two rooms really nice and fixed right. I don't care about vanities; I do about the ceilings and walls. After some more talk where I saw she was stone-walling, I stopped joining in and just sat in my chair. 

The admiral was annoyed but he played along, took over and went to the room with her to figure out where the vanity could go. He agreed to let a man come who was said to be able to do this suddenly "special" dry wall work; he would measure and phone her with the sum he'd charge and then she'd email or phone us. He came the next day and by the day after she still had not phoned or emailed us.

My trust in such people is not large to start with -- I've had too much experience of contractors not doing what they said they would, suddenly reneging here and there. And yet I had paid and still didn't have what I wanted unless I expended yet more money with more contractors. Which I couldn't and didn't.

The admiral emailed her (included the word "Silence!") and almost immediately he gets an email saying she doesn't know why but the man has not contacted her as yet. How strange. If you believe that, I've got a bridge I could let you have.

I didn't read these emails but my Admiral wrote and by the next day she had written that after all she and her team would do this extra work and she would inform us of the extra charge. Now instead of starting this Monday they would start a week from Monday. I had had visions of paying a huge sum and the room left in a mess. After all we have yet to talk about the painting. She had said we would do that half-way through. Now I'm thinking maybe she will do all she promised with more payment. How much could it be, the Admiral asks. Not that much. I know I'm feeling less distressed because it's put off.

He says if we wanted to take our money back now, we can't. Our hold is we won't pay the second half of what's due unless the rooms are made to look the way promised. I've had such trouble with contractors I just hope he holds her to it. She is not to get all her money until the whole job is done, painting and all.

Still very apprehensive. Last night I was crying about this.  I enjoyed doing my attic because it cost me nothing and I didn't need anyone but the Admiral to help and then most of it I did myself. DIY has this: you can depend on yourself. But much in life cannot be DIY, at least not for us. I had been so happy over these plans, and now I feel burdened. If all goes well and the price is not that much higher I may still try for kitchen renovation but I think not with this company. And I did want to enclose the porch and at long last paint the house a decent color. I may have to face and live with (yet more? another?) disappointment. Rien a faire.

It's not so bad. I love my house in my way even as it is. I was perhaps getting my hopes too high. Money makes no magic. I had been forgetting that. Here is also an example of why heroines in novels sometimes say they don't mind not having money. 

So to get self back again into satisfaction and calm, I printed out a photograph of the two cats, put it in a small frame and hung it on the kitchen wall. I also have beautiful music going from my radio: Nocturne by Alexander Borodin.

Sylvia

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