While it’s still very much in the planning stages, and could be nixed by the historic commission, here’s a sketch for a shared entry vestibule that will keep the wind from whistling in (and around) our front door. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?
I’ve never been one for over-ambitious New Year’s resolutions. I like to set the bar down where I know I can succeed—eat an apple a day, get more sleep, that sort of thing. But this year I have a project up my sleeve that’s not of the “Consume More Kale” ilk (trust me, that one isn’t happening), but is, instead, a project born of a universal truth: as soon as there’s a construction renovation on your radar, there’s a countdown clock activated. You know, that 60 Minutes-style tick-tick-ticking second hand, sweeping time away, reminding you that there’s work to be done, if you want to get all your ducks lined up and your project ready to roll.
It’s not like we haven’t been here before. This is at least the third time that we’ve needed to clear the decks so that some bearing walls could move or some systems could be updated. And yet, here we are, yet again. How does the time keep flying by? How did our once-new kitchen (circa 1984!) get so old?
Some items on our current to-do list fall under the heading of things we’ve tackled at least once before, back during Reagan’s first term. These items are like the fillings I got when I was a teenager. Seriously, why did no one tell me that my teeth would crack around them, twenty years down the road, or the crowns would fall out and need to be replaced? Fillings and faucets and tile floors, it turns out, do not last a lifetime.
Then there’s the projects we’ve never quite gotten to—the rattily old third floor windows that frost over in the cold, the exterior bricks that need re-pointing, and the gaps around front door where the wind whooshes through. We have a stove that’s missing some knobs, and a kitchen counter that’s so waterlogged, it’s about to burst. And it’s not that I don’t love that bathroom with the circa 1955 pink-and-black tile floor and the cracked plastic sink. But with our boys moving on, and the prospect of recovering a some space for other (read: my own personal) purposes, the moment for doing one last This Old House project is now. Our house may well fall down around our ears if we don’t hit the basics, and soon.
And all I have to do is get three decades of living out of the way. Start with the stuff that’s been kicking around since we were newlyweds, and work on through to the current piles of periodicals to be read. Easy peasy.
That’s my New Year’s project. Attack every closet, every shelf, every drawer. If we don’t need it, give it a new home. If it’s something I’ll want to see when the renovation’s done, find a safe place to store it. Start now. Be ruthless. If it isn’t precious, make it go away.
Need I even add, easier said than done?
My son’s rooms, for starters. Even with vigilant efforts over the years to offload outgrown clothes, and to clear out the flotsam and jetsam that got dragged in and out of their various backpacks, the sheer volume of stuff that my kids have accumulated is daunting. And so much of it seems like it might be important: phone chargers and thumb drives, file folders and textbooks. Where to draw the line?
How can I find a stash like the one pictured above, and not wonder how a decade and a half evaporated since this sweet boy was reading Julie of the Wolves and The Golden Compass and naming his stuffed animals after the characters he adored? I don’t know the answer to that question. I also can’t bear to offload those creatures, not anytime soon.
Among the items we have way too many of, here are two of the five bags I’ve filled up with three-ring binders and folders and report covers. Clearly, we are a family of note-takers, project assemblers, homework collectors, meeting-minute scribes. What’s the half-life of usefulness for pre-calculus notes, or AP US History quizzes? I’m banking on the fact that the internet can provide easy access to most of what was contained within these covers.
Confession: I put this bag of baseball trophies out on the sidewalk on trash day. Then I retrieved them, at 6:30AM. It didn’t seem fair, somehow, to offload them without letting the boy who won them have a say.
This was a first wave of donations, put out on the sidewalk for pickup by the nice folks at the Big Brother/Big Sister Foundation. Lucky for me, organizations like this one send me mailers to let me know when they’ll be in my neighborhood. I’m working up to frequent flyer status with multiple non-profits.
So, yes, this is what I’ve been up to lately, and what I’ll be picking away at, over the next few months. Let me know if you have any need for, oh, say, a couple of twin beds, or a desk, or a lifetime supply of three-ring binders…