Old House Woes: With Gratitude to the American Laborer

Labor Day
Last year at this time I dedicated a post to my husband … with thanks for his hard work and tireless dedication to our family. You can read it HERE. Everything I said then still applies, but this year I find myself focusing elsewhere.


Actually, it all began late last May when a sudden storm with hail and high winds left many yards in our small town looking like this …


We were thankful ours wasn’t one of them … but it easily could have been. You see, there was a large, old maple tree in the front yard.  5+ years ago when we bought our house and began renovations, it provided welcome shade in the Spring and Summer, beautiful color in the Fall, and gorgeous “architectural interest” in the Winter. It’s the tree on the right in this picture; the other one’s a dogwood.
Click here to read about our renovation.


But the past couple of years, the old tree had been putting out fewer and fewer leaves.  Renaissance Man and I kept an eye on it … not so much for its beauty anymore, but with concern for its health.


The ivy planted many years ago at its base was pretty to the eye … but was delivering a slow, invisible death to the tree. Hmmm… that reminds me of a post I wrote just last week.


This year there were just too many dead branches falling from the tree …


We had to face the sad reality:  the tree had to come down. We couldn’t risk being the house with the exposed root ball in the front yard — or, worse, the house with the mangled porch … or hole in the roof.


And so the day arrived …


… and the arduous task began.


Only moments later, these guys arrived … to replace the old HVAC unit that had long outlived itself before finally calling it quits during the hot days of Summer.


I like to document the work we do on our old house, but taking this picture from upstairs looking through the grate into the basement felt a bit Peeping Tom-ish. I was so glad this nice guy didn’t turn around when the camera shutter clicked!


I was also glad I knew I wouldn’t have to pick up this mess!


AND, I was glad that the old unit (the silver box in this picture) was coming out … and the new unit was NOT going to sit like an albatross in the middle of my basement. We had other plans for it — and plans for better use of our basement!


So while the HVAC guys tore out the old unit in the basement, the tree guys continued their work in the front yard.


And there was no turning back …


… as the mess progress in the yard continued.


Then, as if they’d received an invitation to the block party, these guys showed up.


It seems the water meter in the driveway will be in the way of the new sidewalk they plan to put in, so the water meter had to be moved into the yard. Who knew?  First I’d heard of it …


But the boys brought their toys … and started working.


All day long My Place was a real hotbed of activity with work vehicles lined up one after another …


… and no one seemed to care about “the rules.”


The cacophony of sound was incredible, and as I walked from project to project taking pictures, I couldn’t resist slowing down for a minute to enjoy a peaceful setting at a neighbor’s house across the street. The noise from my “progress” was intrusive, but at least the view was serene …


Finally, hours after beginning, it was time for the proverbial shout of “TIM-BER” when the great old tree was felled.


And then the clean-up was complete, and the first to arrive at the party were the first to leave …


… while the second to arrive continued their task …


… of hauling out the junk.


At the end of the day, my old house showed her new face …


… and the old water meter was replaced by the new.


And by the end of the following day, a new heat pump was working its “cool” magic while tucked away out of sight …


… behind the coal room door — leaving the main basement area EMPTY and ready for a hopefully sooner-rather-than-later metamorphosis of its own.


So where is my focus this Labor Day? It’s on the American worker.  While I know there are some people who are lazy or rude, on this recent day when a dozen+ workers congregated at my house, that was certainly not my experience.  While inside my home, I heard conversations from the basement as they wafted up through the floor vents.  While outside, I watched the interaction of co-workers.  Without exception, each person was considerate, conscientious, and courteous.  There were no incidents of power struggles or crude language. There were no slackers.


Trust me … I can spot them instantly!


Instead, I heard sharing and teaching and helpful suggestions.  I saw cooperation.  I witnessed a strong work ethic.  I could not have been more proud. These men were working in extreme heat doing “dirty work” that many of us would never be willing to do … and they did it without a single word of complaint.  What could have been a day of hassles and frustration was instead a day of laughter and good manners and hard work that resulted in great accomplishment.


So this Labor Day I offer a special “thank you” to all men and women who labor to make our world a better place.  There is no job so small that, when done with charity and a smile, it cannot have a positive impact on others.
Safe travel, rest, and happy memory-making to all on this holiday weekend!


I’m linking to Metamorphosis Monday
at Between Naps on the Porch.


  1. Fabulous post, Susan. Your house is gorgeous! xo,

  2. Amen, Susan…. So very well said… This is what makes the USA a wonderful nation under God.. And may He bless our country and it’s hard working citizens this Labor Day… Just makes you proud..
    Luv ya

    September 4, 2011 9:58 PM

  3. This was a very interesting post to read. I loved your tribute to the American worker, and your house looks amazing.

  4. A lovely post, and a great tribute for Labor Day. Have a lovely holiday!

  5. You have written a memorable post, a lovely tribute to those who are not afraid of hard work. Every loafer who lives by “working the system” should be forced to read this.

    We had to get a new furnace last year, 2 weeks before Christmas, and it was 7 degrees outside. Those guys were the best, and I never heard them complain.

  6. Great post, and now you can really see your house! Beautiful. I remember always having to work on Labor Day, so to me it was just another day. Kinda sad, really. Thanks for reminding us what it really stands for.

  7. What a great post! That cracks me up that you had so many hard workers at your house that day! Have a wonderful Monday!


  8. What a lovely tribute to people who work so hard here! I agree your house is just beautiful!! Enjoy your day! Thanks for stopping by:-)

  9. What a great post for Labor day!

  10. I love it, Susan. We’re thinking along the same lines. I was going to post about my husband yesterday. He is the most dedicated worker I know. His labor of love is truly admirable and inspiring. Great post, my friend.

    Oh, and I am very encouraged to hear how God is ministering to you through the diary. Sometimes I need to hear that. Thank you for sharing.


  11. FABULOUS post! Yes, AMEN indeed to the work ethic of the American worker — we have had a lot of them here at our old house at one time or another, and universally they’ve been VERY hard working, courteous, skilled — just excellent. I admire them tremendously, because they do jobs that I would never want to undertake, nor would I know how!
    God bless them.
    PS Your house looks fabulous, too! It’s simply adorable.

  12. Nice post, Susan. I’m sure you’re enjoying the new HVAC and the new view. It’s so nice to see those who work in a courteous and considerate manner and with a smile on their faces. Glad you had a nice Labor Day.

  13. I know the mixed emotions that come from losing a grand tree. Mine was a maple, too, and I wrote a whole article about its demise. 🙂

    Your end-result looks wonderful and I concur about the working men and womenn who do the manual labor that keeps places looking fit and fine.