This week marked our first anniversary. No, not a wedding anniversary (we got to spend that one rescuing relatives from a broken alternator belt). It was not the sort of anniversary that was celebrated with cards or roses or golden rings… we celebrated this one with some non-ceremonial shoveling of concrete and a the ritual bandaging of bloody gashes. (Actually, it was only one gash: a gift from a shin-high piece of rebar.)
A year ago (June 26th), we stood with rose-colored glasses before a lawyer, promised our undying (30-year) devotion to the bank, and performed a symbolic exchange of keys. The key exchange was truly symbolic since the front door lock hasn’t worked in a decade, the back door (now removed) could have been opened with a pocket knife, and the other key seemed to belong to a rusty padlock, which may or may not have kept any would-be thieves from stealing the broken vacuum cleaner and the endless cans of roofing tar that were included with the place– no extra charge!
Since then we’ve removed an endless stream of rotten & crooked carpentry nightmares. We tore down the moldy greenhouse, and hauled off as much of the rubble as we could manage. We saved a thirsty spruce tree from an untimely demise (hopefully– keep making cones, big tree). We ripped out the rotten front porch, fixed the damaged columns, rebuilt the porch, and finished it (twice). We’ve hauled lots of dust-laden fiberglass insulation to the dump, along with its cousin, asphalt shingles. We moved the electric meter out to the alley. We’ve pulled lots of permits and (mostly) completely rebuilt the kitchen addition in the rear. We’ve pulled thousands of nails & made huge piles of boards in the rear yard. (We’ve not yet figured out what to do with all that not-so-useful lumber.) We completely gutted the inside of the house. We’ve jacked up walls, floors, wood stoves, stairs, and just about everything else that has sagged over the last 100 years. Unfortunately, there is not a wire or pipe or stud that hasn’t been touched or modified, shortened, shored, or removed. We’ve moved various piles of dirt and boards around again and again in a never-ending square dance that always ends with a neat board pile devolving into entropy within seconds of being stacked.
We’ve had moments of deep despair, wondering how we’ll ever finish it and how we’ll ever pay for it all while juggling our business obligations with our sanity. We’ve resented the project for taking all our “free” time, and we’ve enjoyed the rewards of making something so significant with our own hands. We continue to hope that it will all pay off for us someday (before my ovaries dry up?)– with a clean modern house to live in, and a really reasonable debt load that will allow us to enjoy it even in an unstable economy with rapidly rising energy prices.
So here we are, a year later, a little bit bruised, a little bit overwhelmed, and often wondering where all the romance has gone. The honeymoon is definitely over. The work has just begun. We’ve checked into getting an annulment, and apparently they’re not available at this time. But at least we’ve got our health (despite sucking a lot of plaster dust into our respirators), and maybe that’s the best we can ask for at this point.
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Tags: back story, framing, original condition, renovation