Construction Zone Living in Paradise

Yes, we winter in Paradise. Hurricane Irma wrought havoc with many places not far from here. Amazingly the place we rent on an island in the inter-coastal of the Gulf sustained little damage. At least that’s what we thought – there were only a few issues, but no devastation. Enter the necessary corrections. Life is full of necessary corrections. Now, this isn’t to get your sympathies. We have not experienced the devastation that many did nor are we dealing with catastrophic problems . . . just those annoying noises and awful smells and messes that seem to last forever. You can grumble, or endure, or laugh, or a little of all three. I know those who remain in the north dealing with way too much snow, cold, ice, slush, full time jobs with way too many demands, kids with way too many activities and sicknesses may well be thinking nasty thoughts already about my ‘complaints’, but I’d prefer you laugh and maybe even find a bit of relief. Did you ever hear two cranes go beep, beep, beep for several hours—it’s really nice when they quit.

Now, I’m not from Perfect Country, but Fun Country is in my ancestry, and when fun gets poked at by annoying things, well, it’s just annoying. Stress comes in all forms and as a Bible believer, I strive to follow the admonitions my Lord has given me: Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you. Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Peace I give you. Do not fret, it leads only to evil doing. He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him. I know these verses intimately and believe them wholeheartedly. There’s also the caveat of obedience. If you obey, all these blessings follow you (and they are great blessings – check out Deuteronomy 28). Stress is an area in which I sometimes struggle. I do trust the Lord with my life and that of my family and pray earnestly for them and others daily. But those deadlines and those interruptions that keep you from the deadlines or those little things that make a short job take way too much time. . . aaah! I see you guys on facebook and I know they bug you too. But stress is awful for your health, so we really need to heed the verses about trusting rather than stressing.

I’m retired and spending three months in Florida. But in many ways I’m not truly retired. I’m no longer teaching, but now I’m an author. Five of my book have been published, a sixth is scheduled for release this summer. One other is complete and I’m hoping it will be published. Two books are in progress and I want to complete them and see them published. Plus, I do some writing for Guideposts Magazine and I need to keep up with that. But, guess what . . . after the signing of contracts followed by all the rejoicing and jumping up and down in excitement, the editing process arrives and it may be awful or wonderful or both. Then the book is released – it’s amazing and so exciting. My first grandchild will be born this summer – I’ll find out probably that book launches are not as wonderful as grandchildren.

But, after a book is released, the writer is to be the marketer. Some authors are naturals or easy learners on that front. Somehow I missed the gifting, so I must work at it. So anyway, I’m retired but not really. However, I am in Florida for three months and get to walk the beach every day – please, put down the snowballs, and really, don’t spit. Dolphins swim right next to the seawall and our view from the eighth floor is magnificent. We can’t complain, but if we look down there are two huge dumpsters, a porta potty, and the big smelly cooker that heats the tar for the roof repair. The crane rolls back and forth right outside our window and balcony. For some reason when I look in our bedroom bathroom mirror and see the crane going back and forth with tar, debris, and air conditioners I get a little dizzy, but the view past that is marvelous so no complaining . . . things will be great when it’s all done.

So back to the entrance of the necessary corrections. The elevators were damaged by the hurricane. For two months plus, there has been one elevator working at a time, and so much stuff around that area . . . barriers, tools, workers, noise . . . but repair was getting done. Noisy, a little smelly, sometimes a longer wait. Just this week we have two elevators and the doors are clean again, the lobby is almost clean, although the elevator floors are still really a mess. Elevator Two is good except it won’t stop at floor 2 going up, only down, but hey, we have two elevators. Those bugs will get worked out, and the workers have been great.

Now the carports had most of their metal roofs ripped off. Those took just a few weeks to replace, but have you ever heard three or four people pounding rivets into metal I-beams for six hours a day – it’s quite a noise. But hey, we all have carports again.

The roof – well, that’s involved. First they have to move the air conditioners . . . 96 of them. Many residents had to get new ones. Those had to be delivered, dollied in, physically lifted from the 8th floor through a closet size opening up a ladder – painful to watch. Soon they took them up on the crane. Of course the old ones had to be removed. Then the roof repair needed lots of tar – ever smell hot asphalt. . . it’s bad. The cooker is just outside in one of the parking areas and it’s strong awful sickening smell is carried by the wind up to all the balconies with the beautiful view. No sitting outside when the wind blows your way. Now for some, their air conditioners were off while roof repair was going on and the temperature was in the mid to high 80’s. Because of the smell, though, they couldn’t have their windows open . . . construction in paradise.

When I taught, I had all the fifth grade science classes. I loved doing the chemical experiments. However, when I moved the chemical substances in their sealed containers around in the closet, there was one that made my tongue and lips tingle – literally. All I did was pick it up and move it and I could feel it affect me. I have a hard time going down the detergent and cleaning supplies aisle in a store because of the smells . . . that tar smell made my head hurt.

So in the midst of all this we’re having a big baby shower in our condo for our daughter and son-in-law who will have their first child, a boy, our first grandchild. I am over the top excited and as is my personality, which reveals just a bit of Control Country ancestry, I’m totally focused on having everything ready for this party. The plan is for it to be perfect and fun . . . no wiggle room. Bethany and GC are flying down from Washington DC on a Friday. Bethany texts me Thursday to pray as there is a wind warning . . . 50 plus mph winds for Friday. Bethany and GC have experienced lots of delays when flying, so we’re praying for favor and protection and getting out on time. Thank God they did – later on Friday and Saturday hundreds of flights in the northeast were canceled and delayed.

While they were en route we were notified that our ac is being turned off. Not the following Monday, but today – Friday. At least it was no longer in the mid 80s but the low 70s – we’d be fine without ac. No problem. The kids arrive. There is no construction on the weekend so no smell, no noise, just beauty and no ac. One elevator, lobby full of air conditioner boxes, but we’re good.

Saturday morning. Kids sleeping in and Lee going for a run. I’m finishing up things and starting food. Lee comes back. The elevator is out, not working. We’re on the 8th floor. 25 people coming to our condo. Not all of them can do stairs. Several of them are bringing food. There’s no elevator. Lee starts making contingency plans. Can we go down to the library on the first floor – it’s such a pretty area and socials are often held there. Oh, wait, it’s full of ac boxes. Okay, we may have to transfer everything to Lee’s sister’s condo on the third floor.

What is my thinking  . . .that the elevator needs fixing! Have they called the repairmen? Where are they? Don’t they know I’m having a party? Lee keeps making plan B. I’m gripping tightly to plan A and praying. I have food and tables and decorations – I have spent days getting it all ready. Well, deep breath, calm down. Okay, I’d better let people know that we may have a problem. I’ll assure them it’ll be fixed, but don’t try to come early. Now I must mention I’d suggested everyone come a little early since it was likely they’d sit for a half hour on the mile-long causeway due to the heavy traffic going into the huge state park that takes up most of the island. The two previous Saturdays and Sundays traffic had taken almost an hour to travel the causeway. But now, it was cooler, so maybe there wouldn’t be such a backup, so no need to be early unless it takes time to walk up eight flights of stairs.

11 AM the elevator works! Thank you Lord!! Judy is breathing and rejoicing – see, I knew all along. Everything is good. Parking maybe tricky for those coming, as the parking lot is full of dumpsters, huge cooker, porta potty, and crane, but it’ll be okay.

Everybody made it. All the food made it. The party turned out well. It was great fun. The food was good. Everyone had a good time. I was happy and thankful as were the mom and dad-to-be.

The kids flew home Sunday – with delays, but only a few hours. They still got a good night’s sleep before work on Monday. I was a little tired on Monday – maybe a bit burned out. The workers returned, worked on the roof and the elevator, the cooker smoked up that smelly tar, but it was a pretty day. Got my walk in. Thank you Lord – all went well for the shower . . . didn’t really need ac and today the wind blew the nasty smells away from us.

Tuesday was the day to get back to my writing deadlines. I’d been so focused on the shower that I wasn’t even sure what my deadlines were. I needed to go over all my to-do lists and just get my head once more wrapped around writing and marketing, promotions and social media.

First on Tuesday, before the workers fired up the cooker and the crane rose in front of me and the hammers and pounding on the roof began, I sat on the balcony with my Bible, praying. Actually they were already on the roof and really hammering, but that was so much better than the hideous tar smell. I thanked God for a great weekend with the kids and all the family on both sides, thanked Him for the beautiful view, and the blessing of being in Paradise, and I asked Him to help me focus on my writing, have ability in marketing, and stamina to do my necessary work.

That’s when Lee called to me to come help, grab some towels, for the kitchen floor was flooding. Whaaat? Or, maybe, Well, of course, why wouldn’t that happen. We had ceiling leaks when we first arrived, had to put buckets in the living room when it rained. Why shouldn’t the kitchen flood? I’m laughing now – I mean, thank you Lord it didn’t happen on Friday before the shower. Lee turned off the water, we mopped up with the towels. Lee got a fan on the hallway carpet where it spilled out of the kitchen. We called Craig who’s in charge of many of the construction issues and he called the plumber. The plumber arrived an hour later . . . that was quick. He and Lee and Craig discuss the situation. I laugh.

He checked to see if it was the dishwasher. It wasn’t, so it went back in – but not quite right, so it began to leak the next day and the little seeps were kind of sneaky. We almost missed it, but the carpet wouldn’t dry. The plumber returned a few days later and that was fixed. But our problem this day was this old, old pipe that was put in years ago to provide water to wash the garbage chute that stood right by our kitchen window. The roofers had discovered the one at the other end of the building but hadn’t located the one at our end. Guess what – we found it. I laughed . . . can’t seem to quit laughing. But to get to it they had to jack-hammer . . . yes, jack-hammer into our cinder-block wall in the kitchen until they found the hidden pipe. Did I mention that I’m laughing? They found it, cut it and capped it off. They’ll fix the hole in the wall when everything on the roof is done and they’re sure there are no more leaks. . . this summer, maybe mid-spring. Can you hear me laughing?

So, we’ll be here a couple more weeks. The cooker is still there, but they haven’t fired it up for several days. We have two elevators as of a few days ago, and when they tested them they had to set off the fire alarms to make sure the elevators respond accordingly. The buzzer for the fire alarm is attached to the outside of the garbage chute – outside our kitchen window. Of course it is. The fire alarm works quite well . . quite loud, quite long. It’s ability to work well is obvious when it goes off every few minutes. There’s a lot of pounding still on the roof. It only bothers me when it’s the same tap, same rhythm for ten minutes at a time right above where I’m writing. Other than that, the intermittent constant noise is just background . . . well, sort of.

Friday they brought two more cranes, another dumpster and another porta potty into the parking area next to the building. Oh, but wait, two more arrived and so there were four . . . the cranes of Paradise . . . the ones that go beep, beep, beep, for a couple hours at a time. Is it illegal to disconnect that beep beep, beep? Some have told me it is. I’m praying I won’t have men in a crane basket outside my window and balcony scraping shingles and nails for our last days here – that would interfere with the beautiful view. But, alas, they’re there today. I can always walk on the beach or go watch the dolphins – they like to hear me laugh.

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