As I stand perpetually perched at the starting line in our most recent renovation project, I feel as though there might not be a really good reason for me to even enter the scene until we have the finish line fully in view (well, except to make sure everything is being done right!). To me, the jobsite looks literally the same in recent days as it did a month ago and, even though I know differently, it feels as if we once again are trudging through the mud in flip flops, doing all the boring necessary work that makes me wait, wait, wait to see my designs come into actual reality. I can see the end result; I just can't touch it quite yet. Or not even nearly touch it yet, to be exact. I have clear visions early on in every project, but I always have to wait to see them materialize. And if you know me at all, you know that I do not like to wait. We know that waiting teaches patience and patience is a virtue, so I guess I'm not very virtuous. How many times do I say that? Too many, ugh.
But regardless of how much it feels as though it's dragging along, this renovation continues to move forward at a steady pace. There are so many if's, and's, and but's in a renovation project and, in such an old house, there are issues that come up you need to resolve that you didn't even know you were gonna have. Hence, the core work of the infrastructure that one day will be unseen but is completely necessary -- the shoring up, the bringing to code, the re-doing, the re-surfacing and all the other "re's" that come along with renovating a house that is 125 years old. Now, if you talked to my hubby and son-in-law and brother, they would be all too glad to show you the back-breaking work they've accomplished in the last six weeks. They have demoed and cleaned up enough debris to fill a garbage dumpster (and they did). They have also removed enough old wood to literally build another house! This wood will be reassembled on walls and ceilings, used for shelving, used to patch holes, and even become floors in some parts of the house. Studs are being "ripped" and set into place to receive drywall, but no wood will be hidden behind said drywall. Nope, that is a given. Drywall will be used in the bedrooms to break up the massive amount of wood in this house but, unlike the fifties-something drywall that was added, the fresh new drywall will NOT hide beautiful wood! The demo crew has uncovered yet another old brick fireplace and my mind is reeling with the possible ways I can make this fireplace functional in the bedrooms, making them modern but respecting their past.
In the meantime, as the demo crew continues to impress with the many hours of moving and rearranging of antique wood, the electrical is also being completely redone, and plans are being made to begin plumbing work soon. This week all new windows are going in and for this I am totally excited! I am a big window girl, and you cannot have too many windows in my book. Natural light is a must in my mind and windows bring light. You know those modern lofts that are one side all windows? That's what I'm talking about! (but not for this house) This little house that was once a humble 19th century home is very dark. But even though I am trying to protect every bit of original character I am able in order to preserve this house's humble roots, the plans are to maximize the light by opening up rooms and using lots of white that will reflect any and all light that comes in. Light is life, right?!! Recently a fun little fact about this house was discovered and, even though I will not reveal that secret quite yet, it has triggered some inspiration that will honor this home's history in a big way. I can't wait to share!
So while I am biding my time and just making periodic check-in's on the project, I've taken to a wee bit of travel. I went to the North Georgia mountains for a few days with the bestie where I ate some amazing food and did a lot of -- well, nothing, of course! I more recently returned from a visit to see my youngest out in Texas to attempt the third leg of a search for the perfect wedding dress (hence, the three+ weeks since my last post). It is always fun to visit Texas and add a few more experiences to my repertoire of Tex-Mex culture. But, alas, waiting again held me in its grasp as both my flights to and from Houston were delayed. But no matter the trouble it takes to get there, I am always glad that I went and getting a couple of days with my girl is always worth the effort. I always seem to manage to bring home a small treasure from her studio and little by little I'm amassing a collection of Boxsparrow fine ceramic pieces. She is an amazing artist and I am so proud of that little chickadee. She always shows her mama a good time, and reassures me that all is well as she speeds down the crazy Houston interstates in her little Honda at what seems like warp speed and me hanging on for dear life. Lord, help us all!
And even though I feel I'm still standing with my freshly-pedicured toes perched impatiently at the start line and they feel as though they will never be able to take off in a mad sprint, I know it's just a matter of time before the gun sounds and I'm off again, doing what I do to make this little house a home for someone out there. Eventually the baton will be passed to me, and I will take off like a mad woman with paint, finishes, tile, appliances, a gallon or two of good cleaner, and all kinds of "purdy stuff." And I imagine at the same time I'll most likely be screaming "WAIT, HOLD ON A SEC, SLOW DOWN A BIT, I NEED A BREAK!"
Bring it on, baby! I am so ready.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
(Couldn't have said it better myself, Ari)
The last couple of weeks have been a lesson in...uh, how to stay sane when life throws you a curve ball...then a fast ball...then hits you in the gut...you get it, right?
But I cannot say the last few weeks have been boring -- oh, no, not in the least. They have included trips to ER's, primary care doctors, and cardiologists while the everyday duties of being a wife, mom, nana, daughter, and person whose titles include "self-employed" go on. The reno continues at not lightening speed, but also not a snail's pace. It's more like a constant hum. Every day something is done to move the project forward, and the closing of the Hog Mountain project happens this week, and for that I am so excited! Another door has flung wide open, as the last one finally closes. My personal life, on the other hand, is a speeding train these days and I'm just tryin' to keep it on the track.
As my eldest daughter and her family cruised back into town after a week at the beach, they came home to mail collected, plants watered, and pretty much everything in order, as most hope upon their return from a trip. The family had gathered at their house for dinner and for nana to love on the grandbabies (I instructed them specifically before they left NOT to give any kisses meant for me to their gaga with whom they were traveling, but I have a sneaking suspicion the kisses flowed!) Good thing about babies, they have enough love to go around for everyone! As dinner was being prepared, our 4-year-old stirred the pot and stirred it well -- and I'm not talking about the meal on the stove. It was certainly not her fault, but she managed to scare the patookies (is that a word?) out of us all. This part of the state has received a good bit of rain lately which we needed and, much to some kids' delight, produced wonderful puddles to splash in, which my little one did in her hot pink rain boots as her dad weeded a few feet away. Much to our horror, she was bitten by a snake in that puddle but, thanks be to God in heaven, it was not poisonous. However, we did not know this until later, exactly 10-paramedics-in-the-house, a-trip-to-the-ER, and a near-heart-failure later. A soundly sleeping child is a blessing, but even more so when they're tucked into their bed after a scare like that. Thank God for ordinary days, when there are no scares, no accidents, and life feels pretty boring! Later in the next week or so, we would meet the paramedics at the ER with my elderly dad who was hallucinating from a new medication, seeing snakes (those darn snakes!), people in trees, and other such delights. His toe even fell off in the process...or so he says. To finish up this round of "crazy encounters of the weirdest kind," I wound up at the cardiologist's office for some heart-related questions. Maybe it was the result of the scary preceding events, who knows. But this old ticker doesn't need such excitement these days. Thankfully all is well for the time being, and life has returned to the norm at least for the here and now.
Meanwhile, the renovation moves along and, unless you were there from the very beginning, you cannot fully appreciate the present state of things. To most who would happen upon our tiny little 125-yr-old Georgian cottage, they would think we were trying to put her out of her misery. And indeed we are! But she is a hot mess right now, with walls coming down, old brick fireplaces being unearthed along with a few petrified critters, and piles of old wood lying around. But it is surely the means to an end and, just like a woman takes on masks, creams, and sometimes even mud to purify her complexion, it requires making it ugly first before you can make it pretty, right?! Most of my work right now is in the planning stages, attempting to capture a solid vision, sketch out drawings, and then brainstorming on how to make it all happen. When I've been on the jobsite lately, it's to walk around, stop and take it all in, and think about what comes next. I spend a lot of time just staring at the rooms when I'm there, working on scale and fitting everything in. And when I look and think, I make comparisons.
As the walls have come down and the spaces are being opened up, I've reflected on how much that very act reminds me of people. One particular wall in the house was covered with layers and layers of stuff -- wood, old linoleum, anything the owners could find back in the day to make it weather-proof I suppose. Aren't we as human beings the same? We keep covering ourselves with anything we can find to protect us from the harshness of hurts that might come our way. Why love when love can surely bring us pain? But then one day we wake up to find that we are not only insulated from the dangers that might overtake us, but also to the people who surround us. We have built walls that divide. But if we ever acquire the fortitude it takes to tear those walls down, we are able to breathe again, to experience freedom from the things that keep us bound, and for the first time in a long time began to get back to the bare bones of who we really are. And just like the old house, we begin to see the light coming through and, let me tell you, it's a good feeling indeed.
Whether you are renovating a house, rearing little ones, sparring with teens, caring for elderly parents, or enduring a job that wears you down, I hope you won't build walls that you'll have to one day tear down. Keep life simple and free and real, focused on the things that matter. For me that is family, friends, relationships, and the things that have lasting value.
Like the gift of a super-uneventful, totally-unexciting, no trip-to-the-ER....beautifully ordinary day.
Glorious light flooding through from the front door as walls are coming down. And that fireplace!
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.
- Helen Keller
Posted by CC
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