TV shows abound in which a home is gutted, completely renovated, and beautifully decorated in a matter of weeks; sometimes even days. It’s perfect, and the homeowner never had to lift a finger. It’s almost instant gratification. The typical pattern of construction in Terlingua, however, is a little different.
Construction workers are hard to find – or to keep on the job, materials can be difficult to obtain, and most projects are completed on a cash basis. Typically, a project is started, but for any number of reasons, it grinds to a halt before completion. It could be due to lack of funds, a material order that didn’t arrive, a truck that broke down, a family emergency, too much rain, too much heat, too much wine the night before, . . .the list of possibilities for delay is endless. It will be finished, eventually, but it may be a while. You often hear people refer to being on “the 10 year building plan,” and asking a group of people about construction in Terlingua is sure to engender some rather heated discussion. So, I’m not completely shocked that my porch remains temporarily unfinished.
After hauling multiple truckloads of rock, purchasing numerous bags of portland cement, and having piles of sand delivered, the rock masons went to work. These guys are amazing, and worked hard through some viciously hot days doing work that most people wouldn’t even consider attempting. Cash flowed out, the rock pile dwindled, and the porch floor and walls slowly started coming together. Finally, there came the day, when the masons were out of time allotted for the project, the cash budget was just about depleted, and discussions occurred about completing the work next winter. So, along with various other projects, the porch remains unfinished, but usable, and running through my head, as I sit on my partially completed porch, sip a glass of wine, and gaze out at the mountains, is a friend’s favorite phrase – “The owner built home is never done.” Well, maybe someday it will be. And in the meantime, I think I’ll reread Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. It seems apropos and should be mandatory reading for anyone contemplating construction in a rural area.