Life in the last two weeks has felt like a train rushing down the tracks. Possibly with me tied to them.

Work on the garage apartment project was desultory throughout hunting season and then in December stopped entirely for ten days. During this period O.B. would not answer his phone or return calls. I was beside myself. Had he quit? What was going on? (I realized later he had taken another job.) At the same time the loan department at the bank was suddenly — and completely unexpectedly — pessimistic. My stress level soared. I could not sleep. Had I led my family into financial disaster?

At the end of last week the bank relented. I was also finally able to reach O.B. and let him know the bank appraiser was coming today at 10 AM.

The appraisal is hugely important. It means the difference between O.B. being paid and not being paid. Like the prospect of a hanging, this has concentrated his mind wonderfully.

All this week the apartment has been a hive of activity. Painters, plumber, electrician, cabinet salesman. From the barn I’ve heard saws screaming and nail guns firing as O.B. has attacked the final punch list. For the first time in months he has arrived at 8 AM rather than 10 AM.

Meanwhile I’ve been in constant communication with the bank, cooking for the Fossils, hauling wood, decorating the house, preparing the family’s Christmas, thawing frozen water pipes, driving Lucy to Vermont for an orthodontic appointment, organizing a New Year’s Eve party, shopping for Christmas dinner, wrapping presents, buying cabinet pulls and door knobs, ordering newel posts and garage doors, and trying not to react to mistakes in the apartment project caused by the last-minute rush.

My lists go with me everywhere. Loading and unloading the dishwasher. Folding laundry. Cooking dinner. Checking my watch.

I just have to get through this last big day of work, shake hands with the appraiser, e-mail the bank the final tally of unfinished tasks, bring the animals in early, and then DH, Lucy, and I can head to the five o’clock family service for Christmas Eve.

I’m holding onto the calming image of the congregation singing “Silent Night” by candlelight.


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