This week’s column has little to do with sports. We didn’t have a golf match, and I didn’t make the cut. Since I have been scribing part-time for the past sixteen seasons — my lovely editor allows me to freelance. My family and I are now tackling a major construction project. And since I have the required permits in hand — I guess we can go public. Obtaining these documents was quite the tale. But that is a story for another time, kids.
We have been entertaining this idea for quite some time. My parents are currently living in West Hollywood, CA. They are both retired. Jim and Gail sold the farm and headed west five years back. They are helping raise my two beautiful young nephews. Their plan is to stay until Frankie and Luke both reach kindergarten. And then they hope to travel back and forth as long as they are able. My rents are totally set in CA. My sister inherited all the good genes, and she does extremely well. Now for their spot here in Lycoming County.
I encouraged them to buy a rustic cabin. That idea was quickly shot down. There is still time to reconsider. We briefly considered an upgrade. But we absolutely love where we reside. Moving is not an option. Adding on was the winner, and we started the process of finding a contractor. I would say that I know several guys who owe me a favor. Some called back. Others priced it heavily. Look, I get it. Who in their right mind would build during a pandemic?
Then it was decided. My father and a few of his chums were looking for a challenge. Believe it or not, Big Jim has already built two of our houses. One in Minnesota. The other is in Montana. Both structures are still standing. He is like many of his great generation. Jim knows his stuff, and he isn’t afraid to tackle a large project. I had total confidence in my pops, but Teach was somewhat puzzled.
YOUR DAD IS ALMOST SEVENTY. YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH HIM ON A LADDER?
We had some delays with permits, and everyone is quite busy. My father was hoping to start sooner than later. But unfortunately, we had to push everything to September. I am very thankful for my dad, and I plan to chronicle this entire experience. Oh, it is trending.
Day 1. He Made it.
Big Spence drove 2,700 miles cross country. West Hollywood, CA, to Williamsport in less than 52 hours. He relied on a few Walmart parking lots for sleep. The van is packed with tools and four good-sized windows that he scored at a Lowes en route. Who shops in Missouri? My pops. What a character. We have accumulated all kinds of gear over the past few months, and the permit is finally in hand. Jim is serving as our master contractor. Sorry folks. He will be quite busy. In fact, he is only allowed to see his friends on Tuesday mornings.
We were all very surprised to see him. He was hoping to make it by Saturday. Jim said hello to his grandson and took a quick shower. But now he is currently playing with our breaker.
YES. THE LIGHTS ARE OFF. TURN THEM BACK ON. JIM? TURN THEM BACK ON. JIM?
Day 3. Adjusting.
Big Spence is rolling. Jim borrowed a few tools and tore down a wall to make way for the new hall. Jensen got home to find his room in complete shambles. Poor kid. The text messages and videos from him are hilarious.
HE DIDN’T EVEN ASK ABOUT SCHOOL. HE TOLD ME TO GRAB A HAMMER. MY XBOX STILL ISN’T WORKING.
Day 6. YouTube
Big Jim continues to roll. He’s barking out orders, cutting wires, and tearing down walls. Spence is keeping us super busy and always needs some help. We do most of our damage after a long and stressful day at work. Jensen, Teach, and I are doing our best. No second thoughts here. We are so glad we decided not to pay someone to do this when Jim Spencer feels confident after watching a few clips on YouTube — digging a big hole very soon. Oh. Don’t worry. We actually hired someone for that.
Day 8. Amish Relations.
I had to swing by S&J Woodworking to touch base on a few jobs. I asked my father if he wanted to tag along. He has heard many tales about my talented bearded friends. I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to experience it firsthand.
Jonas gave us a quick tour of his surroundings. He also introduced him to all of the busy workers. Big Jim is now well versed in building cabinets without electricity. Oh. They absolutely loved his sense of humor. My friends couldn’t stop laughing. Jonas quickly noticed our similar size, looks, antics, and attire. Shorts and a Patagonia fleece with a ball cap, baby.
YES. JAMIE AND I ARE A LOT ALIKE. WE EVEN WEAR THE SAME CLOTHES. WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU GUYS.
To be continued, I am sure. Don’t get me wrong. We love having Jim Spencer around. This will be a fun memory with several ups and downs. It will require a great deal of patience. We remind ourselves daily. Jensen is being a great sport thus far. He is learning a great deal. Hopefully, he will cherish this experience of building with Grandpa. Cheers.