Here at the Consumer Institute (Slogan: We’re working to make your dollar worth a dime) we’re investigating two Roswell women who bought a rundown 16,000-square-foot warehouse, which they planned to remodel into a l6,000-square-foot colorful home that strangely resembles a rundown warehouse.
In case you’re wondering, I have an insight into this investigation, because the two women are my daughters, Tracy and Holly, and in their scholarly way they relied on my many years of do-it-yourself expertise to begin their massive chore.
I couldn’t help but recall a time I personally built a house with my own four thumbs in Santa Fe, and when the building inspector came around for final inspection, he stated, “Wow, this is the only house I’ve ever seen built entirely of nails.”
I blushed with pride.
But back to the girls. It wasn’t enough that they were both single moms struggling to keep wolves from the door, they also enjoyed “doing things different,” which gladdened the hearts of merchants up and down Main Street in Roswell. Like the girls, my own construction years took place when I too entered the first phase of second childhood.
The upshot was, their first problem, which any second-rate zoologist could have told them, was the menagerie of woodland creatures ranging from pythons to pterodactyls that had staked claims in the warehouse at the same time Wog the Clovis Man took a trip to Roswell and threw his spear into the sky muttering, “Doggone pesky UFOs.”
But by following my explicit directions, these two delicate ladies were able to plug the Swiss cheese egress and ingress holes throughout the building and hauled away enough creature residues to fertilize the entire Pecos Valley.
Then, as I directed, they inspected the water lines in the building and found them wanting. The sewer system was even more troubling. And the electricity — well, let’s keep it simple and just say many years had gone by since the last coffee pot was plugged in, because coffee hadn’t been invented yet.
“Don’t be discouraged,” I told them. “It could be worse.” And it was.
I don’t want to say that warehouse was big enough to have its own thunderstorms, but in its day it had accommodated mammoth 18-wheelers on a concrete floor two yards thick. So I advised them to overlook the inside of the warehouse for the time being and landscape the parking lot first. Everyone needs a front yard.
That’s when they dug through asphalt until they uncovered rich soil made up of nine parts gravel and one part Indian shards, into which they planted dead trees and carved out ponds necessary to obliterate several dozen gold fish. Then, as I further directed, they fenced the entire area with hog wire to keep their domestic riff-raff in and railroad riff-raff out.
“I guess you’ll have to look indoors now,” I told them, which brought up an interesting problem — locating enough buckets to catch a waterfall of leaks. I phoned after a storm and asked, “How much rain did you get?” and they replied, “Indoors or out?”
But back to the plumbing and electricity, I advised them next to construct new floors three feet above the concrete slab in order to provide a crawl space for pipes and wires, then seal up the building’s massive doorways to prevent the entry of aliens from outer space. Remember, this was Roswell.
“You should do all this with your bare hands without hired help, adequate funds, or what’s left of your common sense,” I told them. “That way your memories will be true.”
However, I forgot to warn them not to work in the summer, because they launched the project without air conditioning. When temperatures soared well over 100 degrees each day, lightning fuses in their telephone lines melted.
Finally, when I visited them, they wiped perspiration from their brows and told me, “Someday we’ll look back on all this and laugh, won’t we? Huh, huh?”
“Stop flipping your lower lips,” I said. “You’re already having loads of fun, aren’t you?”
“Maybe we should have bought an 18-lane bowling alley,” they said.
That’s when a tiny voice from dark recesses of my mind whispered, “Don’t you wish you had a project like this? Don’t you wish you were young again and ambitious?”
And I answered, “What? Are you crazy?”
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.