A blog dedicated towards architectural refinement of buildings and environments in which we live, work, and play. Chiefly this is brought about by the author with finish carpentry at heart, and many other disciplines radiating or spinning off from it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Tribulations of Working With Family

I feel pretty lucky to have this job with this particular client. I don't have to be in at the crack of dawn, and can work until I'm either too tired, or at insurmountable odds with a problem. Most the time I work until dark (because, lazy loafer that I am, I don't get going some days until the crack of 9:30AM, especially after teaching myself how to draw on computer until 2AM) House is empty. Three bathrooms with five working toilets, the one in the basement being the only one needing some attention.

The three-part crown moulding job turned into two more rooms, the Foyer and a small side hall to the study. The ceiling in the latter was humped badly in the middle and I was called on to flatten it out with some kind of in fill material.

This I do by pulling a string (10 lb. flourescent fishing line) over the hollows approximately where the ceiling moulding will sit. I use drywaller's cardboard shims every 16 inches and then pull a product called Structo-lite over these hollows. (Structo-lite is a pinkish gypsum plaster with styrofoam fillers in it.) Once I have a pretty good fill into these just short of the stringline I pull regular air-cured gypsum mud over that to top it. I had to fill in about 3/8 of an inch of space at its highest point.

At this point I was so spread out with tasks in carpentry that I called a brother that is a school teacher on summer leave to see if he wanted to make some extra money painting. This would go on manageably for an entire week, or until disagreements in method or procedure would arise. To me this is my livelihood, attempted or not, and to him it's a convinient sideline he can walk away from anytime he wants. A certain amount of this one can tolerate. It's to be expected. He would disregard how I wanted my tools taken care of and justify it with a mis-attributed tale of waste supposedly taught to him by our father, the painter (about losing a quart of paint every time you wash out a roller.) I don't know the basis of this, what amounts to disrespect for me or my tools. It's just a simple courtesy in my book. No need to chisel it in stone: "Clean out the roller every night that you don't know if you'll be back the next morning!" I later checked this legend with dear old dad and found he'd never said any such thing. There is insult to my intelligence added into the mix knowing that this roller is a very low nap, a well-worn one I have taken care of for years, and not a stucco roller with a 1 3/4" nap that just might hold a quart of paint. I answered back with something trying to make sense to him, " It's a low nap roller!" It's only then I realise my mistake in giving my opinion, and not an order in this truly familiar process. This one brother has a quicker habit than any of the others in deciding that he is in charge when something doesn't make sense to him. Then come the philosophical sayings to justify it: "Better to pray for forgiveness than to EVER ask permission", when he doesn't do either with me.

It puts a definite crimp on calling for help. Sometimes I think I more than likely call for company than help. In the end I take solace in the fact that he left construction for good reason.

The owner decided to finish out the garage with sheetroock and fiberglass insulation stapled in craft-papered batts inbetween the framing. Such heavy lifting is my brother's forte. We bid it out by the sheet (4' x 12' x 5/8"thick) at 25 sheets total. Over the weekend before the ceiling was to be started I performed the same ceiling flattening process as I used in the den, pulling the heavy fishing line from corner to corner. I got about 1/3 of it shimmed down to the string when I called it a day, expecting to be able to finish this process before we got the overhead hoist to work in there. I was over-ruled! It would make a huge difference in finishing out later, for which he was not able to stick around. We got into an arguement of how he was splitting a rafter bottom. I was suppose to trust him, instead of listen to a decent explanation. I didn't expect all the blow-up about it concidering he was a teacher, who supposedly had a lot of patience, or pedagogy. No patience, no answers. It feels like working with someone who fakes competence and beams false pride.

School was starting up again. And I think I was actually relieved, took the trade-off well. The next day he was there hanging twelve-foot sheets by himself when I gave him a list of things he could do until I got there. By now I didn't want to get there, and when I found my roller cover still dunked in paint I cleaned that out first. He had also brought one of his boys to babysit AND work at the same time. This I thought not only dangerous, but cheating the work of his full attention. He then asked me what I thought about his cutting an opening for the electric panel in one of his humongous sheets. It's a snide swipe at me when I know my opinion doesn't count for much! Again, the degree of insult he probably doesn't understand. He blew up when he found out that I took care of the roller first, when I knew he was lifting heavy sheets by himself. That was it. Got called evil. He took his boy home.

I was overwrought about it and upset. I figured he might come back for his tools and
continue to insist on how he'd been wronged. I wanted the whole day to go away.

Now at the age of 47 I never ask for any favors, or help from this direction. And although the company might be nice I forgo that too. I end up getting too much advice and so little help. "You're just too different", says my father. And so it goes.

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Budding Sculptor at 56, chiefly interested in mold-making and casting, with particular interest in geometric abstraction, industrial technology, vis a vis solar power and re-chargable batteries that could power kinetic sculpture and illuminate LCD screens.


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