There I sat, in the middle of the kitchen floor, just one day after a whole host of friends had shown up to assist us on our siding project. We were physically exhausted from the day prior, and emotionally exhausted from the idea that we only completed the lower half of the large wall through all of our physically exhausting efforts. Alex had stayed on the scaffolding until the wee hours, trying his best to put us just an inch further in our project, but even he has limits on the effort he can safely exert.

So there I sat. One day later. No hopes of the coming calvary that had been our saviors the day before, no delusions that this project was going to get easier as the scaffolding got higher, and no desire whatsoever on my part to be the person that was going to climb up and down the scaffolding to help my less-afraid-of-heights-spouse install the remaining siding.

So there I sat. Dreading the day, dreading the work, dreading what was to come.

So there I sat, in the middle of our kitchen floor, as Alex prepared all of the tools and supplies to put in another day outside on the scaffolding.

So there I cried, as I sat, in the middle of the kitchen floor, overwhelmed and exhausted, not sure how I was going to get through the day.

In all of our years of home improvement projects before and after, there have occasionally been tears, definitely arguments, and sometimes frustration, but this moment, during the siding project, crying on the kitchen floor, I felt simply defeated. I had reached my breaking point. I didn't know how we could possibly complete the project, let alone complete it before the painters showed up just two weeks later.

There I sat, amidst a complete and total meltdown, sobbing into my hands, wondering what was next? At that fateful and defining moment I heard our backyard gate's latch make the telltale "click" we know so well. I slowly raised my head, wiped the tears that were clouding my eyes, and focused on the person who had just sauntered into our backyard. We weren't expecting anyone dropping by. We hadn't planned on any visitors. Hell, our backyard was an unmitigated disaster area, so the last thing I wanted was a neighbor wandering into our minefield of siding construction. I looked up through my glassy and tired eyes and saw our friend, Michael, who had been one of the people helping us the day before.

As Michael walked in the back door and found me slumped over in my own tears, I was probably blubbering like a child (it was far from my finest moment). Concerned at the level of human wreckage he just unearthed, he looked down at me and said "Mary thought you guys might need another hand. So I'm here."

It was like the second coming. I simply can't describe to you the immense and immediate sense of relief that swept over me at that very moment. Michael's wife, Mary, was my first friend that I made when we moved to DC, and she knows me about as good as anyone. Mary sensed the runaway train of emotions the day before and sent her ultra capable husband back to our home for round two. It was the single biggest gift and act of friendship anyone could have bestowed upon us in my fragile state, and I couldn't have been more grateful. I gave him a huge hug, and tried to dry my tears.

Alex was outside and hadn't seen Michael arrive. When we walk around to the scaffolding Michael looked up at Alex and said, "How can I help?" It was like magic words were coming out of his mouth.

Siding install is very much a three person job, so this was a perfect setup. I would be responsible for cutting, Michael for priming the cut ends, Alex for applying the thick beads of caulk in the corners, then Michael to support one end of the board while Alex nailed along the defined areas.

We were running like clockwork and knocking out the upper half of the wall. Alex had made two jigs that he and Michael were using for siding placement to ensure each course of siding was placed with appropriate spacing between the boards.

The boards need to overlap but remain separated by about 1/8" to allow for moderate expansion. Without this gap the boards would begin cupping, warping, and pulling away from the side of the house in no time. If you ever see a warped and bumpy siding install it's usually because the installer didn't prime the backs of the boards and/or didn't maintain proper minimal spacing.

This whole day, though long, ran so much smoother than the first. We found our groove and were able to get all but the last six or so boards up on the side of the house. We were feeling really good and really proud of what we had accomplished. The project I imagined there was no way we could complete was taking shape.

We still had a fair amount of work to do before we could mark the project as "complete," but I could finally breathe a sigh of relief as I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We still had to complete the back of the house and do some work on the bay window, but that didn't involve work up on the scaffolding. It was looking like maybe, just maybe, we'd be able to get everything on our list done before the painters came two weeks later.

That day was one of the moments in DIY home renovation when I've never felt so low, so unsure of our abilities, and so utterly dejected. But at the same time, you realize how much you love and value your friends. Especially those that don't mind mascara streaks on the shoulder of their tee shirt.

Comments 4


8/29/2013 at 2:23 PM
I'm go glad I'm not the only one who has cried over a project! I have definitely had a few of those dejected moments recently, and seeing that even DIY Gods like you and Alex have felt the same way makes me feel SO much better!
8/30/2013 at 12:02 AM
Oh man. You really convey the sense of exhausted desperation you were feeling! Thank God for kind friends.
8/31/2013 at 1:36 PM

You know I'd totally give you guys a hand if I were closer. Even though I hate heights, I'd still lend a hand. I'm confident you guys will be done in time, and the finished product will be simply amazing.

Melanie Allen
9/3/2013 at 10:20 PM
I know the feeling, take a break, look at what you have accomplished so far, tell yourselves you are assume, then solder on....
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