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2001-07-30 - 10:19 p.m.

After editing EVERY prior entry in this journal this morning I felt obligated to come back on line to follow up with some topics mentioned previously....

not that they are particularly interesting, but they are things mentioned in the past but not ever discussed again that MIGHT be of interest to someone. So here are the updates:

House Expansion Project: A prior entry refered to the "window guys" who were here. I had written that they were here to finish the window installation-- and I think that was back in the Fall . The news here is that they once again showed up just this past SAT to ostensibly finish. However we sent them away as thjey only showed up in response to our letter from our grand old Southern Gentleman attorney that informed the contractor that because he is in breach and has failed to complete the work, and also failed to communicate to us in response to our letters and calls that we have hired a different stone mason to complete the work they had not done, and that their construction company will have to pay for the cost of that work. (As we indicated to him we would do -in the last letter he had ignored.) Interesting that he ignored all the letters we wrote but finally responded when he got one from an attorney. The irony of that is that the last letter said the EXACT same thing... Hmmm.... I don't have Esquire next to my name yet ...

So we basically paid our fine noble Southern gentleman farmer lawyer because he has esquire next to his name. That label is valuable!

When the workers showed up on Sat we called our lawyer-- who was out mowing at the time. I just love that image of this distinguished old guy on a mower. He's been practicing law for over 30 years....and is grey haired and smokes a cigar while you sit in his office. But the good man called us back and confirmed that Westley handled it well. We basically said that if the company will sign a letter stating that they agree to complete all the items on the punch list they have not yet done, and commit to do so in a specific time frame, that they can come back and do the work this week.

We were most concerned about the fact that we orally made and arrangement with another stone mason to come do the job. That is an oral contract which we could be held to if the other stone mason relied on it in any way. But since stone masons are hard to come by I'm sure the one we found will not be concerned if we tell him we don't need him to do the work. He likely has a list of folks who'd like him to work for them.

The house expansion was supposed to be started in October or Nov. Westely dug up the slate porch we used to have out back, and he also removed Soren's favorite "climbing tree" , the old crab apple which Westley took poride in beautifully pruning last year. All that was completed in preparation for the construction as we THOUGHT they were going to start. We had hired the builder to do the window job as a trial to see if we liked their work. Well the quality of the work is just outstanding! The problem is that they NEVER finished the job!! So it was clear that these are not the builders to be doing a whole expansion.

I think one of the reasons they didn't finish the job is that the builder himself got cold feet and deceided he didn't WANT the big job of the expansion. It seems like rather than saying that outright he has instead been passive aggressive. He is a nice man from Greece who is totally intimidated by the fact Westley insisted on having EVERY detail formally addressed in the written contract. Westley himself should be a lawyer as he is just brilliant in the area of contracs. We heard horror stories from MANY people about problems with rennovations, and mainly because the standard template contract that builders offer to customers id in favor of the builder and offers little protection to the customer. Westley insisted on certain terms-- which I think scared away the builder.

Barn Rennovation: In a LOT less time than it has been taking the one builder to finish replacing our windows, three guys from Blue Ridge Construction re-build our old quaker built barn. I regret that I did not take advantage of the incredible photo opportunity-- as they literally re-built the stone walls and ripped out ALL the rotted wood and replaced every beam. The barn is just beautiful, and the process of its restoration was really incredible to watch.

The most amazing thing to me was that one Feb morn I awoke to discover our world here was covered by piles of snow and ice. I looked out to see a huge tree laying across the driveway. Westley was in sunny California on business. As I held the baby girl I thought about what a fun day I'd be having leaving the kids contained in front of a Barney video while I try to figure out how to use a chain saw and chop up a tree. Just then- at 7:30am sharp, as they did EVERY morn, the guys pulled into the drive in their red pickup truck. They hopped out-- chainsaws in hand, and proceeded to chop and remove the massive tree from their way. By 8am they were standing on the roof in the snow-- hammering away. I had been so excited I ran out to thank them in my Pajamas--

What is even more amazing is that one of the three is older than our attorney. He is white haired and also distinguished, though in a simpler way. He is distinguished in his steadfast work ethic and artistry of the stonework he does. He clearly loves the way he spends his days.

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