We're only a few weeks into this project, and I've already got the itch -- and, no, it's not from poison ivy, though it surely could be -- I'm talking about the itch every decorator feels when they're waiting to get to the decor part of a project, but having to wait for the boring stuff to be completed first. The decorating part is truly the part I love...picking colors and cabinets and fixtures and finishes and countertops and flooring, and seeing it all come together in a beautiful symphony. But like a good manicure, renovating a house has steps that have to come in the correct order so that the final product looks shiny and beautiful AND is long-lasting! Would you even think about adding polish before trimming your cuticles, cleaning your nails and then filing them smooth? I think not! The bulk of time during a manicure (and, oh, how I'd love one right about now!) involves the clipping, the filing, the buffing, and the moisturizing before the nail polish is carefully applied (in usually less than five minutes). It's the prep work that sets the standard for a finished product you can be proud of.
The last week or so have been a flurry of activities and might I add the supervising of some downright nasty jobs that I would not do if my life depended on it! This week I have been very grateful for workers who are willing to do work that so many find appalling (as in me) and feel they are not capable of doing (as in me), at least not without some dire consequences (like a severe case of bronchitis or worse)...jobs like pulling down old ceilings and insulation...pulling up old nasty carpeting...lifting and moving and tossing out the scum of the earth -- well, in this case, the scum of a house that has been sitting destitute for almost a decade, and doing it all in a house with no AC on -- in 90-degree heat. First things first...we have to dig down deep and replace, refinish, and reinforce the bones of this ol' girl before shining her up and putting on the final coat of polish that hopefully will take her through the next several decades at least. If only a manicure could last that long! But just like a manicure, we gals like to change up the colors of home more often, so manicures and changing up the house decor is a fairly regular event, at least in my house.
One highlight of this project is that my dad can be in on the fun. I owe literally all of my dad's involvement to my sweet hubby who has religiously updated Daddy on the project's progress and, true to his word, picked him up at 6:00 a.m. on "roofing day," took him out for a hearty breakfast, and set up camp under one of the great shade trees on the property while they "supervised" the progress. Hubby says no man ever gets too old to need a project to be involved in, and I'm seeing the truth in that more and more. My dad has "perked up" with this new project and shown a bit of excitement, which in and of itself is a small miracle for my non-excitable dad. I mean, after all, my dad IS 90-years-young! My husband never ceases to amaze me at his level of commitment to work and family and excellence in everything he does. Also, he really and truly loves my dad and this blesses my heart beyond measure. I'm also finding that I too am feeling a great excitement as the roof goes on, much to my surprise...even thinking now that it's probably setting the pace for everything that follows.
A few of this week's challenges in photos...
At the end of Week 3, I feel so much has been accomplished but there is so much still to do! But more than anything, there are so very many things for which to be thankful. I am thankful to have gotten this far in this relatively short length of time. I am thankful for all the sharp minds, helping hands, and willing attitudes of good people sent our way. I am extremely thankful for all the hard workers who have come out to help us move this project forward doing the grunt work, showing up on time and tackling the unthinkably-nasty jobs. I am thankful for good health, happy hearts, and the fact that everyone still has all their fingers and toes intact. My brother-in-law came extremely close to losing his thumb on one project...don't want a repeat of that one.
And I am so very, very thankful that our family patriarch, aka Daddy-o, can be with us for the work and to supervise from his chair under the shade of a distant tree.
For those of you who are following our renovation shenanigans... they have officially begun! I hope to bring you the play-by-play action of our most recent renovation, complete with some belly-aching (I'm quite sure), lots of photographs (definitely), and a good dose of fun (what's life without some fun?).
This past weekend marked our official start on the Sleeping Beauty renovation. I've named it this for the sake of the blog because I am convinced that this house has beauty that has not been awakened in quite some time. It has been sitting quietly desolate for close to a decade now and, although it has fallen into disrepair and it's quite sad to see its melancholy state, I am absolutely sure there is beauty to be revealed behind the years of neglect. As most know the term used often in the housing-reno business, this house has "good bones." But even good bones get a little tired when they haven't had the proper nutrition, right? We need regular calcium and vitamin D to strengthen our human bones and ditto for houses. Regular maintenance and a daily dose of vitamin TLC (as in fresh air, housekeeping, yardkeeping, and the like) go a long way in maintaining health and longevity. A house is just like a human being in many ways. It starts out fresh and complete with everything in good working order in the beginning, but within years can become quite needy and equally rundown from a lack of upkeep. But from the first time we laid eyes on this house we knew it had potential. Follow along as we wake this sleeping beauty and bring her back to the land of the living...
Week 1 ... Bulldoze the Land!
Our first incentive for progress was the need to deliver this house from the years of -- horrors of all horrors -- NO YARD MAINTENANCE! As my sis stated and I wholeheartedly agreed: "We need to let this house breathe!" And giving it back some space to breathe is exactly what we did this past weekend. We had our first official workday where we began the long grueling task of cutting down thigh-high grass, overgrown shrubs and trees, (a true understatement), and just generally delivering this wonderful house from all the overgrown mess that threatened to suck the final bit of life out of her. It's good we came along when we did; I am convinced another five years and the house would not have been visible at all, completely choked off by all the overgrowth.
The first evening we had our team assembled but absolutely no plan whatsoever. Where to begin when you have such a daunting task ahead of you? Well, first of all, you show up. Second, you just start...somewhere...over there...anywhere! There is no official place to start a yard renovation when there is so very much to do, so you just grab a trimmer, a chainsaw, a hoe, a rake, a shovel, a mower, something of cutting or digging ability, and get to it! It doesn't matter if you start on one end or another, because eventually you're gonna meet in the middle and see amazing change taking place. We did choose to begin in the front of the house and work our way back because everyone likes to have a good front view! This house is nestled on almost two acres, surrounded by a preserve, and mature magnolias, chestnut and pecan trees. It will afford a future family beautiful views, a great deal of privacy, and space to spread out and enjoy life. I can't wait to see which lucky family will end up with this house.
The second day was a full-on, show-up-early-and-get-it-done kind of day. We pulled out all the stops and our team accomplished more than we thought possible. Having a good team of folks who work well together makes the job so much easier, and having the right tools is essential. My hubby, brother-in-law, and nephew showed up in their snake boots and shorts (a true sight to behold). Two of the three (I won't say which) had pistols on their hips. I couldn't decide if they looked like true rednecks or urban cowboys! They were prepared to confront any rattlesnakes that dare raise their venomous heads near them. My brother showed up in a good pair of work boots and jeans. I'm sure he felt a little left out with no snake boots but he is an electrician by trade so no snake boots are usually needed! My sweet nephew ran the bush-hog literally all day and, as he drove and cut and pulled and hauled debris, I was amazed at the total transformation, revealing that there really was a house behind there! We cut grass, cut back shrubs, removed limbs from trees, trimmed hedges, swept, raked, blew, and generally gave it that breathing room, awakening her from her deep, decade-long sleep. My sister and I hauled five million and two limbs to the burn pile. I see a huge bonfire in our future when burn restrictions are lifted in October. Bring out the dogs, s'more fixin's, and a cool drink, please. By day's end, we were all filthy, a layer of red Georgia clay dust covering our sweaty bodies, our hair stuck to our heads in goofy formations, scratched and limping, having survived the 90-degree heat, and tired as ol' cowhands. But we felt good about the work accomplished on our very first workday of many to come. We said our goodbyes, each headed back to our own corrals in various parts of the state, hit the showers, and bunked down for the night.
More awakening to come...stay tuned!
We all enjoy a good love story, right? I think most do. Many times we see a love story or hear about a love story or read a good love story book and we think man, if life could only be that way. And much to my own chagrin, life never does seem to fit into the scenarios we see on television and in the movies...you know, the love that is steeped in complete understanding and trust of each other...the ability to forgive even the harshest offenses...the innate desire to always see the best in each other. There may be a love story out there that possesses these rare qualities, but I've never seen it or even heard about it. Because love, like life in general, is a messy affair. It's a messy affair because it is a complicated relationship between two human beings...human beings who are messy. We're all a mess. If you meet someone who seems to have it all together, don't be fooled. Beneath it all, they are intrinsically broken. They don't want to be, thus making a valiant effort to make it look as if it ain't so. But it is. Sad, but true. Every human being on planet earth is a broken creature. But don't despair. This blogpost gets better.
So we enjoy seeing them on TV and when we go to the movies -- love stories, that is. I, for one, am a hopeless romantic when it comes to the screen, big or small. Even if the story is not considered a "love story," if it has a bit of romance flowing through the plot, I'm in! I have always been a lover of going to the movies and, if it's a good love story, even better. There's just nothing more fun than settling down in a comfy chair in the cool of a dark room to watch a flick with a bag of that famous movie popcorn (oh, the popcorn!). I have a good friend who buys popcorn every time she sees a movie. It doesn't matter if she has just consumed a large meal, she's gonna get that popcorn, baby. And it seems as I've gotten older, I am becoming more and more like her. But I do try and have a smaller meal before the movie so that I have plenty of room left for the popcorn. And after all, it is a whole grain, so I allow myself the splurge! But going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do. Especially when the weather outside is either too hot to tango or too cold to breathe because your nasal passages are frozen. So I bet you know where this is going. Yep, this is your free movie critique. Enjoy!
I have actually attended two movies in the last couple of weeks, both of which were love stories. Both were about a deep love between a man and a woman, and both were very good. There were major differences between the two but, because I am such a lover of love stories, I really enjoyed both and will give them both two thumbs up! But let me warn you, if you think you might want to see them, just remember...
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! Spoiler Alert! Okay, you are warned. Naw, just kidding. I've left out the main component that makes each of these stories unique.
The first film was Florence Foster Jenkins and, as far as I can tell, hasn't received much notoriety, except that it stars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant. It is based on the true story of a woman who hopes beyond all hope to be a famous opera singer but who does not possess the talent needed to see her dream through to fruition. Now, you can go to the Fandango website and get an overall summary of this picture, pretty much the same as I'm giving you here. The difference? The critiques I've read so far don't even begin to touch on the love story between these two characters. Because it's a story of two people who love each other deeply but cannot express that love physically makes it even more beautiful. It's a love that reaches deep, deep down into the hearts of each person and grows, built on shared interests and mutual respect. In the end, love truly does prevail. Go see this movie if:
The second movie is Light Between Two Oceans and has just come out. Wow, the love story of all love stories. The summary on Fandango does not (as well as the Florence Foster Jenkins movie) reveal the depth of the love between this couple, and the life circumstance that threatens to tear them apart. The main male character (portrayed by Michael Fassbender) is the story of a man who loves so deeply that he truly is willing to give his own life to protect the one he loves. He plays the part of a man who, despite seeing the terrors of war firsthand, is good and true, hard-working and stable, and possesses a devotion that is rarely seen. The scenery is majestic, the cinematography is excellent, and this heartbreaking tale of extreme love and loss is one that will go down in my book as a true favorite. Go see this movie if:
There, I don't think I gave you too much info, did I?
I'll admit it. I am a true hopeless romantic at heart. But unlike when I was in my teens, I have learned through many years of life experience that true love is a lot more than the gooey feelings you experience when you have your first crush or your first kiss. It is a deep well of emotion and commitment that runs the gamut of everything from heartbreak to exhilaration and the real-life struggles that generously dot the years of love in between.
And with that definition in mind, I think it might be entirely possible that I have indeed found true love my very own self...two broken pots in a broken world, somehow making life bearable because we have each other. It's our very own love story.
Make the title of this post The Tale of Three Love Stories, please.
Thanks to our good friend, Hermine, it is a rainy Friday morning in Georgia, and also the start of Labor Day weekend 2016. He (or it is she?) is the reason I am not in Tampa, Florida visiting my grandkids. Hermine decided for me that this was not the best weekend to travel to a town where strolling the beach and attending baseball games was supposed to be the designated activity of choice. No one will be strolling the beach OR playing baseball this Labor Day weekend in Tampa. As I looked at a video of Clearwater Beach yesterday completely invisible because of the wind shear and the pounding rain, it was final; I was not gonna see my grandbabies this weekend, ugh. And much to my horror, the video showed a young man braving the elements as he played on a boogey board in the storm surge that blended water and sand; some people will do anything to be on the internet. And, tell me, please...where was his mama?
This morning I've had a rare block of time to be alone in the apartment and do some reflecting, some piddling (I am a great lover of piddling), and some chores – most importantly, laundry! I am enjoying this moment of reprieve from the crazy, hectic days recently. Solitude is one of those things in life that you either hate or you love. I personally love it, as most know, and it is in those moments of solitude that I do my best thinking, receive my best inspiration for decorating, writing, and photography projects, and when I feel most at peace with myself and the world. Some folks cannot stand one day of what they consider dreariness but, as much as I don’t like a constant diet of dreary, an occasional rainy day is not only enjoyed and needed, but truly appreciated. It’s a day of staying in (if you’re able), catching up on some reading (if possible), and just doing a bit of meditating (always). It can even be a day of cleansing, as the rain washes away the dryness of late summer and hopefully ushers in a little bit cooler temperatures. I have a pumpkin spice candle burning in the kitchen, and the thought of autumn being around the corner on this rainy day feels very real at the moment. And I know the crazy days are returning...they too are right around the corner.
It appears that, after many days of negotiating, title-searching, repair-estimating, and other seemingly endless technicalities and paperwork, we will be closing this week on the house purchased to renovate. It is the biggest reno we've ever taken on and I am beyond excited to get started! But in the midst of all the craziness trying to get closed and started on this project, we did what any normal American couple would do...we bought another house to renovate! Wow, did I just say that? It's true, but I can't get too excited because closing on this one is still weeks away, and we have found in the due diligence period that is standard on any house purchase, sometimes wild things can happen...like finding out that the foundation is literally crumbling beneath the house...or that we can't a get clear title because the seller has more tax liens against the house than what you're paying for it...or there is an underlying repair that we're not willing to take on which makes it a deal-breaker...these are real challenges we've had before! Thank God for a good team of realtors, attorneys, and other inspectors and advisors who help us place potential purchases under the microscope so to speak to make sure (as much as we can) that it is indeed a good investment. It truly takes a village to raise a house renovation.
Our most recent hopeful acquisition (I’ll call it hopeful since we haven’t closed) is another diamond in the rough. There is one thing that sets this purchase apart from our other renovation projects: It is the oldest house we've ever purchased. Now, I don’t mean 1800’s old, but say, circa 1960. I am dating myself when I say that this house is only five years my junior and I am sure in the day (just like me!) it was a pretty good catch but, alas, it has seen better days and needs someone to give it a much-needed facelift. I believe we are the ones to do it. I never thought I wanted to re-do a house from this era but, as I've gotten older, the 60's and 70's style houses have become more appealing to me and I know this house can return to the splendor days and, better yet, be even more appealing. I look forward to being able to bring this house of my generation back to its roots and beyond into the present year. It is sad when you see a house that has fallen into disrepair, but so rewarding to be able to give it a new lease on life. I know that my days are about to get really busy, and I may have some days in the not-so-distant future where I long to be just sitting alone in the rain in this quiet, comfy apartment that I am calling home right now. But this is what we do. This is where we thrive and, even though renovations are dirty and sometimes take it out of us, we are happiest doing it.
Here are a few initial pics of the challenges ahead...hold on, little house, mama is coming to save you from the years of neglect!
So I sit here reflecting on this rainy, almost perfect, day with laundry in the dryer and the smell of pumpkin wafting through the kitchen, planning and dreaming of all the hard work ahead. I've heard it said before that you're not really working if you're enjoying it, right? Whoever said that is a complete nut! But working hard to see something morph from a thing of brokenness with no purpose into a thing of beauty and usefulness produces great satisfaction however you look at it. It might be a chunk of wood or a lump of clay or an antiquated piece of furniture or ingredients for a great meal (that on their own don't amount to much) that one takes and creates into something delicious or stunning or highly useful. In my case, it's broken-down houses, and I fully intend to make this one amazing. I'll be the first and the last to say there's a lot of hard work that goes into taking the ugly and making it the pretty, but every single time it's been totally and completely worth it.
Let the gutting, the repairing, the re-configuring, the polishing and shining AND the crazies...begin!
Posted by CC
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