Sunday, I had a morning date. Well, it was a chore, but I decided to pretend it was a date. (“Pretending” is the only way I’ll ever get asked out by my house-obsessed husband.) We drove to Helen GA, a quaint Bavarian tourist village in the mountains. There is a wonderful rock shop there, with an owner who will make you a deal, if you smile sweetly and buy more than a few rocks.
On Saturday, the workers showed up (yahoo) to finally begin doing the rock on the fireplaces. We have been collecting geodes for this project, hoping to embed all kinds of beautiful, natural stones into the river rock to make this fireplace a work of art, not just a traditional, pretty fireplace. And so, they began. The rock-layers don’t exactly have much artistic sensibility. You can tell this when you hand them a lovely nine dollar crystal amethyst and they slap mud on it and put it in backwards so all you see is the outside, grey rock. Um… I was hoping it would go in the other way. . . . They shrug and react as if you are slowing down the job. Jeeze.
Anyway, Mark stood at the bottom of their scaffolding, picking out rocks and gently recommending they insert them in special places. He is careful not to come across as “a high maintenance prick” and yet, he wants desperately to get what he wants artistically from these laborers. It is a delicate line to walk. The fireplace slowly began to take shape, featuring all kinds of geodes and interesting natural stones. The workers said, “We are saving these nice ones for right up here in the center.” Mark points out that there will always be a piece of art hanging there, so anything in the center is going to be covered. “Please, just keep to the places I tell you to put them,” he says casually. Meanwhile he is gritting his teeth, wanting to shove them off the scaffolding so he can climb up to do the job himself. He would, if it wasn’t such a huge job demanding experience he doesn’t have.
He couldn’t leave the project, which turned out to be a problem because, as they were putting our carefully collected special rocks in backwards, downstairs the other laborers had used the wrong stone for the second fireplace. Instead of the pretty round river rock with amber, pink and light grey tones that we bought especially for this stonework, they used rough, square, black jagged rock that was bought for outside. Mark pulled me into a closet to point out his frustration, but said he was going to let it go because if he kept making them re-do every job, we would never get in this house.
I said, “Can you live with it” This is an important question. I will consider the house pretty and special no matter what. Heck, I’m just thrilled to have all these fireplaces. But I know my husband, and he will stare and snarl every time he goes into a room with something he doesn’t like– it will eat away at him, until one day, he will walk in with a sledge hammer and a glint in his eye. Because he won’t be able to stand something that he feels is “not right” from a visual standpoint.
He insisted he could live with it. It is just a family room after all, and we have the super fireplace upstairs. And he is so tired of all the stress of building this house – he just wants it done. He can live with the black rock downstairs if it saves us money and time.
I’ll hold him to that (as I hide the sledgehammer.)
At day’s end, with half a fireplace stoned, we realized we were short on geodes, and now that the project was underway, we also realized we needed rocks that were slimmer to fill in small cracks with something more interesting than mortar. So, Mark planned a trip to the rock shop and asked me if I wanted to go.
Sunday out? You bettcha.
We are good rock shop customers, because we want all those rocks no one else would ever want. We do not reach for the shinny, sparkly rocks that most people want to rest on their mantel or to use as bookends. We like the ones that, when cracked open, only have bits and pieces of crystal and geode showing. We want rocks with live edge, the more oddly shaped, the better. This assures the fireplace will look natural, and we want people to have to sit with a glass of wine staring, to take in all the interesting detail. A bunch of wildly colored polished rocks stuck in with weathered stones would be too obvious – draw too much attention to one area rather than a blended whole. We also need geodes with crystals that do not sink in too deep because I don’t want sparkly pits to collect dust in areas I can’t reach to clean. It is all more complex than it sounds. We want subtle beauty.
Anyway, we bought about 6 dozen geodes, many of them smaller, but a few big raw crystal pieces for up high. And we bought enough to embed them in the 18 inch rock that will be going around the ceiling too. Might as well make it all match. The rockwork has turned out to be remarkable, and probably one of the most interesting things in the house. The workers stare and say, “How did you ever think of this? We’ve worked on hundreds of houses, some worth 5 million dollars, and no one has ever thought of these different ideas. They’re amazing. Beautiful.” Then they point out that they will do this at every other house they work on for now on. Gee, that’s nice to hear. So much for our having an original home. But they say copying is a sign of flattery. So, I will take it as such, proud in this unique home we are building.
Back to my date. We picked rocks in the pouring rain for about an hour, then Mark says he has to get back because he has to return to the house to keep working. I point out that it is Sunday and since we’ve driven 1 ½ hour to get to Helen, maybe we should browse and share coffee or something. I got him to agree to stopping in the sweet shop for a couple of chocolate dipped strawberries (my favorite), but that was it. No time to play. No time, even for breakfast – had to drive through and eat on the run. It wasn’t much of a date, but I have ROCKS to be proud of– that’s for damn sure.
I figure, eventually this house will be done. I’ll then be able to demand my husband sit down with me for at least an hour, in front of our pretty fireplace with all those pretty rocks, to touch base and get reacquainted. For now, I just turn the drudgery of our days into dates through the acrobatics of my mind. It is all in how you view a thing, ya know. If all ya got is a rock to amuse you, make it a geode, see the beauty within, and give that rock a fun association. That is how you make something lovely out of something plain. Don’t do this, and you’ll go crazy.
Speaking of going crazy – my son filled my car with Diesel gasoline last night. Yep, even though the hose doesn’t fit a normal car, he managed to force it in, hold it just so, and pump 24.00 of death into my engine. The car promptly died. We had it towed to the shop where they will have to drain the engine and hopefully, after a thorough cleaning, it can be saved. My son insists this is my fault because I drove up to a tank that offered both sorts of gas and I didn’t watch what he was doing. The fact that he has pumped gas a hundred times isn’t to be factored in. I did ask him to pump, true. (It’s 15-year-old boy’s job, in my opinion.)
I figure there are worse things that could go wrong in a day. It’s just a car (albeit a fairly new car, whose warrantee has just been voided due to this error.) Ah well. It will give me something to tease him about for years to come. Kids. Can’t kill ’em. What ya gonna do? Complain for eighteen years, then miss them, that’s what.
Today, I am cleaning because my parents are coming to visit on Wednesday. Last night, I started by going downstairs to put in some laundry and “eek”. I jump a foot. Something ominous is there, waiting to “get” me. Turns out it is a pair of elk antlers as big as me. Mark is working on the computer a few feet away. I say, “What are these monstrous things?”
“That is your new coffee table.”
I check to see that these antlers are naturally shed, and they are. “What kind of deer grows such huge antlers?” I ask, imagining some poor animal toppled forward because his antlers are as big as his body (like the dog in the Grinch cartoon).
Ah, that makes sense. “How much does a pair of elk antlers this huge cost?” I pry.
“Less than a coffee table.”
Ha. That depends on if you want to factor in the workshop, tools and opportunity costs (which, in this case, is the time I will have to wait for this alleged coffee table to actually show up in front of my not-yet-maybe-never-to-be-acquired couch.)
“Cool. Can’t wait to see what you do with them.” I say.
I don’t suppose there is a coffee table in the world I’d like more than one made with my husband’s hands from a pair of monster elk antlers. But, I rather they didn’t sneak up like that and scare the wits out of me. Sometimes, I wonder about that man and the things he is playing with.
Men. What ya gonna do? Can’t kill ’em. Complain for eighteen years, then . . . complain for eighteen more, that’s what.