December 17, 2014
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Beware of hot tubs

The guy who took out our garage, a door and a wall before driving off, may have done us a favor, but, of course, it didn’t seem that way at the time.

Once given the go-ahead by the insurance company, Charlie Frigon and his crew had everything back together, and actually looking better than before, in less than a week. Then he cleaned up. The dumpster was hauled away and life resumed … well, almost.

I found another job for Charlie and soon he and the dumpster were back to replace the lattice around the porch. He buzzed through the job and the only disappointed resident was the displaced skunk that Carol came face-to-face with early one morning. After squaring off, they went their separate ways, the sunk being kind enough not to leave his calling card.

But soon Charlie returned.

For years Carol has talked about a hot tub. And for just as long, I’ve rebelled at the thought of stepping out the back door in the middle of winter – and at night because I wouldn’t want my neighbors to think I’m any crazier than they do already – to soak in a tub. Carol, however, thinks it would be great to be gazing at the stars and taking in the fresh air.

Charlie pondered this domestic situation and offered a solution grander than I could have imagined. It was plans to remodel the kitchen and open a wall for direct access to the tub on an adjoining deck – only two steps of cold before being pickled. Carol could take dips between cooking dinners.

It was when we were exploring the hot tub possibilities, and the new thought of remodeling the kitchen, that we gathered in the living room.

“What’s that?” asked Charlie, looking up at an oval stain on the ceiling. Actually, the ceiling is more than stained; it also bulges and is lined by cracks.

“Oh,” I responded as casually as possible, “I think there were leaks around the bathtub.”

With finesse, Charlie responded, “Looks like it might come through.” Then he walked around the spot like someone going out of their way not to walk under a ladder. We made a trip to the second floor bathroom to look things over. Charlie spotted the crack running the length of the title floor immediately.

“I think you have a problem here.”

The garage was starting to look like a cakewalk.

Would one of us, along with the tub, end up in the living room? We laughed nervously and moved out of the bathroom.

It’s been said that, out of crisis comes opportunity.

Before I fully realized what I was saying, I asked Carol how she would like a Jacuzzi. She beamed. She didn’t have to say a thing. The hot tub idea was put to rest.

Charlie saw where I was headed and was already miles farther down the road. I suspect he was born with a Sawzall in place of a right arm, because he outlined a plan to expand the bathroom by extending it a “modest” three feet into the adjoining room. There would be heat lamps, shelves for books and recessed lighting.

“What about the tub? How will you get it out?” Carol asked like she didn’t really want to know.

Charlie would dispatch the tub with a sledgehammer and then get to the root of the sagging ceiling. It all sounded easy.

Carol cringed at the mention of the sledgehammer. This was like an execution.

“I don’t want to be here,” she declared.

She was going to Montana in a couple of weeks anyway. The timing seemed perfect. The dumpster arrived the day after she left. Charlie and his crew charged in. When I got home that night, the dumpster was half full; the tub was gone and so was the wall. The opposite wall – the one to our bedroom – was full of cracks. That came down the following day – another casualty of the sledgehammer. As for the floor (an inch-and-a-half of concrete capped with tile), Charlie used a jackhammer to get it out.

“It must have weighed a ton,” he said.

He announced that the living room ceiling was easily lifted with the help of a jack, once the floor was removed.

I relayed all this to Carol.

She emailed the next morning that she was extending her visit to Montana. Our friends, Rick and Kathy, didn’t mind; she was welcome to stay.

And, I remembered, they have a hot tub in their yard.

Maybe I should join them. With the water at my house shut off, that’s looking pretty good right now.


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