Just out of law school, I had a chance to be a judicial clerk for a remarkable man. I think that most law students who want to and are lucky enough to clerk find their Judge to be remarkable. And if I think that’s true, then it may be that my Judge wasn’t, really. Anyway. He always knew where the weak link in your argument was. The piece you elided or glossed, or just knew wasn’t quite sound — that’s the place he would put his finger and push.
The sting was that you knew walking in that spot was weak — at least in the back of your mind. And he knew right away, like, immediately. And you’d drag back across the secretary’s space to the law clerk’s office and go back to work on that one logical false step, the one plank in your bridge to conclusion that wasn’t sound (or maybe even wasn’t). See if you couldn’t shore it up, and if not, bin the whole memo and start over again. You knew. But you sent it on anyway. And now you’re back where you started.
Well, we can’t start over again. This is the trailer — or, as Paul Newman had it in “The Verdict,” “There are no other cases; this is the case. There are no other cases. This, is the case.”
There was this dark spot of wood on the cab-over deck. I knew it was wet. I didn’t want to look under there. I’d pulled down the ceiling in front, and ripped out the ceiling in back, and torn out the rotted frame and shored up the skylight and, and, and. I didn’t want to deal and I hoped that fate would let me slide. The fact is that the whole thing could be disassembled to the axle and rebuilt — probably should be torn to the axle and rebuilt. But, “budget solution to a temporary problem.”
I was up on the roof of this shitcan, caulking the holes, patching the big one. “Jims, we’ve got more ants!”
Shit. Shitshitshit. Fuck. (Sorry, mom. That’s what I said.)
Of course we have more ants. Like the finger of the law, pushing right on that link in my chain of happiness and finding nothing but rotted wood, and lots of it. And ants.
I didn’t want to tear into the mess. But, you can’t not. The ants were spilling out of the hole by the window, but I knew the problem was in the front deck where everything was dark with moisture and mold. I had wanted to leave it: paint the bastard over with BIN and forget about it. Leave it to the next guy — even if the next guy eventually decided that the end of the line had come and the soda can vacation spa born in Bristol, IN, would die outside of Wilmington, VT.
So we tore the thing apart. Up front at least — and man. Was it wet and rotten in there. Good move, all things considered. Pictures of the carnage later; here are the nits on escape:
The vacuum was employed once more; this was the mother lode. I think we got the most of them — certainly I’ve got more rotted wood than I ever needed. The fiberglass insulation was heavy-wet. Like a loaded diaper (or so I’ve been told). Like a towel that’s been dropped in the river. Oops. Oh well, never mind — ants like this sort of thing.
We needn’t have stopped there. We found some more dried rot when we pulled the panels to check. (Pro tip: If you don’t want things to get wet and rot, DON’T DRILL THEM FULL OF HOLES.) But again: this is supposed to be a temporary, stop-gap solution. A place to sleep and cook and sit out of the rain, and lock up the tools when we’re not at the site. The goal is not to spend weeks rehabilitating a travel-trailer.
So today the roof was sanded and caulked. And more of the inside was gutted. I salvaged some styrofoam blue-board insulation that will help to replace what we pulled. We ran to Lowe’s and grabbed some expanding foam, and some plexiglass to replace the broken window in the door. And we cruised through the Habitat for Humanity Restore to see what they had for windows (for the cottage). I think in the end we’ll take the best they have or what we can find elsewhere, and make an eclectic collection of lights. It will be nice, and it will be much cheaper.
Hopefully, tomorrow, after some more deconstruction, we can start putting back. This wasn’t supposed to be the main f-ing event, after all.