Building - Memoir by Pat West

February 1987

2/2 & 3

Went on a fire standby call yesterday evening. The trailer was fully involved sending heavy black smoke into a multi-colored sunset. The firemen in bright yellow slickers snaked their hoses through the slush- the firetrucks, ambulances, cop cars all had their flashers on- looked like disco lighting. People were rushing around looking for the kid reported missing. A collie dog, run over by a fire truck, lay in the middle of the road, blood running from his snout. The dog and his owner, an old farmer who stood over him, were the only things not moving. I sat in the front of the ambulance, knowing that I’d been right to stop trying to paint rescue calls. Could never in a hundred years get it all in.

Up and down the ladder, sanding, sanding, has filled the rest of my days (Beware- never put oil on anything you just might want to sand again). Sanding oiled wood is about as much fun as scrubbing old dried vomit off a floor using cheap toilet paper. Except for the floors, I’m about done with the upper room. Going to start on lower room tomorrow. I hate this work.


Kids are running amok in my house. They are all winter nuts. Except for Fridays, when I took the day off, have been filling and sanding like the mad person I truly am. This is the worst job of all.

Spent all weekend trying to get the dust off and out of the upper room. Two days to wipe up one 16’ X 16’ room. I’m so sick of dust. But it looks good.


Radio last night said 50 mph winds. On hearing this, Tyree wailed, “Will it fall down- say no even if you don’t know!” I told her “no” but if it did, she should run and I would go down with the ship. No sleep. Roof banged and shook- house trembled but did not fall. I looked at my sills today- nothing moved. Sure felt like it was jumping about to me. One time last night I felt the house falling over but it was just my body trying to fall asleep.

Hung plastic between the rooms and sanded all day. My right hand is about to give out from holding up that damn heavy shaking took- hate this work! It was about a year ago I started cleaning up the old trash piles and digging footer holes. Wish I had written then so would know just when I started.


Sanded walls and filled cracks.

2/11 & 12

Sanding and filling and going nuts. The back window shattered when the wind slammed it shut. Another piece of old wavy glass gone forever. Taped plastic and paper over the hole. The wind outside makes it look like a lung breathing in and out all day. Labored breathing too, from the sound it makes.

Have sheets of plastic between the two rooms trying to keep the damn white dust out of the upper room. Nothing works. My disk sander died today- made a bad smell and ran slower and slower till it sighed and died. Most likely killed by the white dust of death.

Ordered valentine flowers to be delivered at school for my kids.

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