Monday, April 23, 2012

Pardon our dust

"Hey look!  I found some of my old catering menus!"
Mr. Hall turned in the direction of the voice, but saw nothing but pile upon pile of boxes.  "Over here-" came a cry, and from the floor of the catacombs next to the far wall, Mr. H. could see some movement.  The basement of Penguin Hall was in complete upheaval as the Halls continued to prepare for their move.
"Look at the prices back then," sighed Mrs. Hall.  Her dreamy smile was the vanguard of an approaching nostalgic coma; Mr. Hall cut her off in mid-flashback.
  "Don't even start!  We've far too much to do.  The hardware store awaits; but before we go- do you know where Killer is?"  Poor Killer, resident cat and champion vermin-ator, had been taking the commotion in stride. She was weathering the renovation in her usual zen-like fashion by ignoring it completely.
In fact, just to show how truly unaffected she was, she would purposely choose the most obstructive spot she could find for napping and steadfastly remain there for hours, much to the consternation of the constant flow of workmen parading through the Hall.
 The dings and scratches and bumps and scribbles that had dotted the bedrooms and the hallways were gone; to Mrs. Hall it was akin to washing the written history from the tombs of the pharaohs.
Every mark had a memory for her, and despite the fact that Mistress Colleen had drawn several cartoons on the wall behind her bed that Mrs. H. found charming, Mr. Hall insisted the new owners might feel otherwise.  The paint and plaster flew and before you knew it, the Hall was well on its way to becoming a tabula rasa once more.
The front door was completely inaccessible for days. One of the porch posts hung unsupported from the canopy, looking remarkably like one of those confusing surrealists' paintings; Mrs. H. wondered aloud how it could be so.  "It hangs aloft alone, my dear; to paraphrase Mr. Chesterton- because we take ourselves so lightly."  Mrs. H. smiled and considered that as good a reason as any.

The tired old flagstone that marked the path to the door had long since given up the ghost, and when the cement truck and workmen showed up to pour a new walkway, Mrs. Hall outdid herself with coffee and peanut butter cookies to keep  them full and happy.  Long about three o'clock in the afternoon, the last remaining worker looked in on her.
"Well, if you're going to do it, you'd better do it now.  That mix'll set up tight in another hour or two."  Mrs. H. looked up puzzled, so he continued, "You know- if you're going to sign your name.  We're always catchin' 'em writing in the stuff." To be honest, she hadn't really considered it, but after a moment's thought, she fetched a chopstick out of the kitchen and finding a discreet little spot, made her mark.

At the hardware store, they lingered over the shiny new kitchens and inviting great front doors.  After a brief contretemps over the prevailing choice of a new porch lamp and matching post light, they finally settled on an old standard style and came home.  Mrs. Hall, dazzled by Mr. Hall's electrical prowess in installing them, remarked he was still a man of undiscovered depths, and promptly rewarded him with a fresh round of martinis.
Next episode; the renovation continues.  Stay tuned!

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