Thursday, September 3, 2009

Opening Another Can of Worms

I can't tell you how grateful I am that the title is a figurative phrase, because the literal version would gross me out. The "can" I am referring to is house repair. We have all been there, where we start to fix one thing only to find out we have now cause an avalanche of something else. Open a wall only to discover it's only insulation is a 1963 newspaper. Yes, that actually happened to me. Pull out a fixture to discover the pipe is completely rotted and now has to be redone entirely. Replace the counter top and the kitchen cabinets collapse like dominoes. It really is always something.
All I had wanted to do was pull down the bad 1980's wall paper. It was a simple and meager act, until I started to remove it and the previous "handyman" had put the wall paper on bare drywall. With every piece that came down all the plaster came with it. I was stunned by the "can" I had opened and realization that a simple 2 day job had now become a 2 week project hit me on my head like the plaster itself. Every room with wall paper had to be re plastered. Day after day I go up into the bathroom like a prisoner in solitary to chip away at the wall paper in order to start the next phase of the project.
Michael and I have come to the realization that we cannot do anything half assed in a house when it comes to repair or remodel. Even when we are certain we are selling it; there are even less short cuts instead of more. We are truly Midwesterners. You can move out of Ohio but the work ethic and need to pull farmer hours stays with you long after you leave.
Have someone else come in and fix it? Are you mad? Do you not realize where we were raised? Where we come from, it is more than just money at stake here. Being from working class families we were taught to do things yourself and any inability to do this would cause great shame.Back home it would be embarrassing for us to have to hire someone to do what we should be able to do.
Michael and I also have to admit that we have trust issues. Not so much with each other but definitely someone else who might not care as much as we do about our property. I will admit that every once in a while we turn on each other. Usually this happens when we are exhausted, so it's all done in passing with apologies and regret.
We do because we can. I was once accused of being cheap because I did so many things myself. To that person I say,"So be it." I am careful with my money and assets, including my house. When our jobs are finished we can look at what we have accomplished and know for certain it was done right. We never have to go back or call someone to come back and fix what wasn't done right the first time. It may take us a lot longer, but I can guarantee it is always worth it.
Well, it's back to solitary confinement for me, with a scraper in one had and a bucket of hot water in another. From there I will be putting plaster on walls and taking names, so to speak. When the house sells, and it will, this will all be worth it. My next house needs to be about 900 square feet covered entirely in tile, so cleaning is the equivalent of hosing down the house. Actually, we just want a small simple one story that we can fix the first year and be done. Next year, I will be writing about bike rides, camping, travel, dinners out and the release of my next book, not plaster, mortar and paint, oh my!

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