Friday, April 9, 2010


DH and I probably should never have married, but after 40 years what is the use of discussing that one now? Ha, ha. We have as much in common as a river rock and a red balloon, but the differences did not show as much (love is blind come to mind?) during courtship, newlywed years, making a home, holding jobs, rearing children, becoming a part of a community, and growing into adulthood as they do in retirement. From morning until night anymore, each of us look at the other and wonder what alien took possession of our spouse’s body!

While I am a nester, DH isn’t sentimental over anything including a wall. Nothing he likes better than to take a crowbar to sheetrock and rearrange a room. In the latest project here, he attacked the bathroom walls making even the kitchen walls moan in agony with each hit; chunks pink ceramic tile fell into the old bathtub sounding like fine china breaking. The noise was deafening, and I felt like that crowbar was tearing my own tendons with each whack. True, the bathroom needed work, DH needed a project, and I had agreed to take the room down to the studs even when I knew the havoc it would cause all over the entire house and yard.

We had bought our home from second owners who had not taken care of the interior, although the house’s structure was good. The original owners, a highway patrolman and his wife, had built the house when pink was the rage, using every shade of pink they could find for walls, tile, cabinets and floors. But then the shades were totally outdated. We set to work redoing every room, the roof, the garage, and even added a shop over the next number of years. Since DH would never consider hiring help, we learned while doing on many things. A couple of years ago we spent a long while hunting a newer house, but I hated almost all I saw. DH accused me of just not wanting to leave this house where kids were born, sorrows had been lived through, sandboxes became outdated, graduations occurred, prom breakfasts had been served, and my job had been just down the street at the junior high. There might have been some truth to the idea, but mostly I didn’t like new styles that catered to new life styles. I did not want a galley kitchen, or a great room, or to give up a dining area, or to eat at a bar. I told one realtor that the bar had helped wreck families: they forced people to eat all facing outward at a television instead of around a table where they could look into each other’s faces. It was probably a stretch as a sociological statement, but the realtor said he would think about that one.

I don’t need the newest things or most expensive models. I don’t change paint and wallpaper on a whim. I make choices very carefully and then live with them, tending my home with care. Rooms and furniture don’t have to be perfect or even new, but they need to be orderly and comfortable. Living in chaos makes my mind and disposition chaotic too. I can’t sleep or even write if there is a sink full of dirty dishes. Stuffed cabinets or closets, piles of papers on a desk, newspapers crinkled around his feet simply don’t bother DH. And if jeans don’t get taken out of the dryer, why just pull out a pair right there and pull them on! (No need to empty the dryer either until you need another pair!)

How we approached projects nearly reduced me to a pile of plumber’s putty each time we took on a new remodeling or addition. DH spent time making blueprints of a project, but that was the last orderly step for him. He whacked out walls, worked among the trash build up, lost his hammers and found them again, called for broom workers (the kids or me), worked until he dropped from exhaustion and then work stopped until he could get on his feet again. For me, I never did anything without a note pad, each page carrying a supply list for different stages of a project. There was a page for the tearing down, the building up, the painting and finishing, and even a page for what went back on the walls or in the room. I took things in stages, stopping to clean up as I worked, reorganizing tools and work areas as needed. I also was cook and laundress during these adventures, and our projects often looked like Abbot and Costello were the team working on the job. But turn out they did and progress was made.

I agreed to this latest project because it really was necessary as the bathroom needed work on the tile. It was the last of the pink anything in this house, and tiles were becoming loose in spots. However, to get rid of the pink tub meant knocking out the side of the house to get that tub out and new one inside the walls. So after three weeks of being on the run visiting children in opposite directions of three states, waiting on the weather to break, and checking on elderly parents with some serious issues, we arrived home Easter night exhausted but with sun in the forecast. I thought maybe a day to do up laundry, mow the grass, gather our wits and prepare a plan might be in order. I should have known better. DH had his crow bar out at dawn on Monday.

While the side of the house was coming out, the weatherman changed his forecast. The storm front coming in carried hail, 60 mph winds, and possible tornadoes. DH closed the hole with plywood and anchored things down. The storm came and went with only a growl instead of a roar, and the sun came out early. Back to work and the hole was reopened. About 3:00 that day we noticed a chill sitting in; the three day forecast of 75 degree weather had changed again. It went down to 35 degrees Tuesday night and by then the bathroom ceiling was open to the roof rafters. Heat escaped upwards all night long.

Yesterday we went for the new tub to make sure we had the style we wanted even though the job was not quite ready for it. It cost more than DH thought which always sets him into a rant. He thinks you ought to be able to replace a 1959 tub with 1959 prices! Then the two boys loaded the unit for us, they broke flanges off the shower part. It all had to be unloaded and reloaded, meanwhile scratching our truck. Once home, it was DH and me to unload that monster onto the deck. While I once lifted and toted like a stevedore around here, my bones are tired and sore with age. It was no picnic wrestling that unit, but we got ‘er done in time to dash off to my Writer’s Guild.

Writing has been scarce these past weeks, but I am determined to find time again somewhere. Yesterday as we headed to Joplin for the tub, exhaust fan and fixtures, I managed to scribble a few lines on a scrap of paper. Sitting in the truck, I added a few more lines while the men loaded (and reloaded) the tub in the supply yard. Maybe I can finish those lines soon. Right now, I have to go mow the grass (around a truck loaded with sheetrock scraps and rearranged yard furniture). Maybe I will get a new story while walking behind the mower. If not, at least I can daydream about a time in the future when my little nest here on River Street is back to its comfort zone with walls on all four sides!

1 comment:

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Claudia,
I know what you mean about the pink era. My bathroom tile is that odd shade of pink, but I love it. My hubby always wants to replace it, but I say NO. The PINK, metal kitchen cabinets HAD to go though when we moved in. Before we bought this house, we toured a number of others. I shall never forget the PINK house - everything from the fixtures to the drapes and carpeting was pink. Happy rehabbing.