Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Home Work

These past few months, we've been living in a rather sad version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, with one simple home improvement idea (hey, honey, let's get our wood floors refinished!) leading to - unearthing, really - a host of other issues. Isn't this always true of houses? Of teaching? Of any work? One sweet idea and the next thing you know, you are immersed in something tangential, then something else, and else again, on and on.

I've been surprised at how sad I am about the discovery that we have major repairs to make to the existing structure of our home. Yes, truly sad. Quite unexpectedly. 

Here's how I know: when the contractor shared impressive, clear, careful details of the work we must do, I burst into tears as soon as he left our house.

A good friend suggested that I am perhaps feeling a sense of grief, a sense of loss. The more I think about it, I think she is right.

We have an older home (1938). I like to say - "old enough to have problems, not old enough to be anything extraordinary." But, we have loved this home. It's been my home throughout our marriage (my husband bought it before we married) - some 33 years now. It's full of our fixes, our repairs, our "make do's." As one little example, let me share a photo of the kitchen "backsplash" that I painted 25 years ago, because we couldn't afford tile: 

I have been so content with this painted backsplash through the years! Ha! It makes me smile.

Our remodeling will begin any day now (we are waiting on blueprints...). I feel like a young child on the verge of a tantrum when I say: I really don't want to think about the innumerable details of this new work! 

But it is work that must be done. 

These structural repairs mean that a lot of the little, personal touches we labored on through the years will vanish. (Yes, the backsplash, too. I know - the time is past due. I hear you.)  This is why I am feeling such a sense of grief - it feels as if we're tossing aside memories, erasing our life.

Breathe in, breathe out.

I am making peace with the reality that the timeline will be long, inconsistent, unpredictable - as is true with most remodeling projects, but especially during this time of pandemic when every contractor is in hot demand and working on several things at once.

Breathe in, breathe out.

I remind myself, it's a good life, right? We are so blessed. Change is always, change is constant, change is needed.  

Of all the unforeseen and unfortunate problems in the world, this is a good problem to have. Quit my bellyaching!

Breathe in, breathe out.

Realizing I am feeling grief, I decided to work my way out of my blues. Action is needed! We "popcorned" ideas about things that need to be done around the house that are NOT this structural issue, that do not require a professional, that we can do ourselves. We came up with quite a list, big and small things. (Think - painting projects, culling belongings/extras, donating furniture and other items we no longer need.) Now, we are chipping away at these - and it feels WONDERFUL. Seriously. It helps to be accomplishing something.

This past week, we repainted four radiators (before the onset of cold weather). Here's a 'before and after':


(Yes, there is a goof of paint on the tile above the right corner. 
Thank goodness for "Goof Off"!)

It also helps to write poetry - ha! Just yesterday, EthicalELA offered the inspiration to write an "Abecedarian" poem. I thought about our house and its overwhelming but necessary repairs, and an A-Z poem just flowed out of me. I love it when writing just tumbles forth, as if a release valve has been opened. Yes, it was truly a release. 

I guess the truth of it is, remodeling doesn't soothe my soul...I'd rather be writing.

Falling Apart Alphabetically

Absolutely excited to 

begin home improvements, the

contractor was summoned to

develop a plan of action.

Emotionally unprepared I was

for his first question,

Goodness, why is your ceiling sagging?

How is it that we never noticed?

I have asked this many times since.

Jarringly, it is all we see now.

Knowledge is sight, I suppose.

Lamentations aside, we have

mustered courage (though

nerves and tears still rule on many days) and we’re

opening ceilings

paying for blueprints

querying engineers contractors designers websites friends 

rapidly learning about beams and 

structures and foundations.

Things fall apart. Yes, indeed.

Unexpected challenges and loss, it is said, may also reap

very real opportunities, silver linings, transformation -

wisdom I should print on index cards or

xerox and post everywhere, reminding, as we

yearn for this work to be done, it simply

zigs and zags, ebbs and flows, starts and stalls.


It's Tuesday and I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

1 comment:

  1. Oh I hear you loud and clear. Our house is not as old but we began the planning of a basement redo just to watch the price of it go up and up as we wait for materials and contractors who have time. My husband is sadden by the loss of the knotty pine walls but I know there is mold hiding behind them. One project leading to another. Good luck with all the work and know you will love the change when it is done!