Thursday, March 31, 2011

Four Projects, Four Weeks: Revelation

I've had a revelation.  Right after the afore-mentioned meltdown, and just before I worked 54 hours in one week,  and along about the time I was studying for a huge skills test at work, but about a week before I started having a sore throat and an earache, I had a revelation.  This revelation came courtesy of my faithful reader Karen Anne, who said, "The world isn't going to collapse if this isn't done in four weeks, ya know."  She might as well have appeared to me in a burning bush.  Seriously.  That's how much of a revelation that sentence was.  Oh.  Yeah.  She's probably right.

So instead of working on the house for an hour or so in the morning when I got home from work and then sleeping for only 4 or 5 hours so that I could work on the house again for an hour or so before I went back to work, I slept for 7 or 8 hours and waited until my days off to work on the house.  A little.  In between sleeping a lot, recovering from this stupid cold, partying with my friends for the first time in ages, and folding laundry while watching chick flicks.  After I got all that done, I worked a very little tiny bit on the house.  Not nearly enough to be done by tomorrow.

But guess what?  The world continued spinning on its axis.  Disaster did not befall me.  Karen Anne is right.

Karen Anne (and you) just might be tickled to learn what happened next.  The best part of slowing down is that AJ took me to a jeweler's on Saturday, where we discovered that we both like emerald-cut diamonds and that my ring size is a teeny 4.5, which meant that the ring he picked out by himself the next day had to be sized way down, so that I had to wait until today for AJ to get down on one knee in the kitchen, in the exact spot where he first said "I love you", so that he could ask me again to marry him, this time with ring in hand.  I said yes this time, too.  And now, with a chunk of diamonds on a band of white gold, it's official:  we really are engaged.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Four Projects, Four Weeks: A Real Plan

Okay, so I'm a little over two weeks into this "Four Projects, Four Weeks" thing.  Just past the halfway point.  So I should be halfway done, right?  Bwah ha ha ha ha ha!  Not even close.  It's okay, y'all don't have to pretend to be surprised by this.  Even I'm not really surprised.  If I've learned anything the past four years of working on the Kelly House, it's that nothing ever goes as planned.

Mostly when things don't go as planned around here, it's because's because of a lack of a real plan.  "Do this, do that, do the other things, and have it all done by April 3rd" is not a real plan.  It causes me to run all around the house frantically doing a bit of this and a bit of that and generally making a worse mess of things.  The house looks like it's been ransacked.  It's so bad I won't even take pictures of it.  And friends, I have shared some embarrassing stuff with y'all over the years.  This is bad.  Very bad.  The good news is that there is no more wallpaper on the front parlor walls.  Wahoo!  The bad news is that there is so much other stuff to do that I am overwhelmed.

Yesterday I had a meltdown that started with me sniffling and fighting back tears as I cleaned the bathroom (but really, doesn't everybody want to cry when they clean the bathroom??) and ended with me sitting in the front parlor wailing over the phone to AJ.  Generally, I do not wail.  The man wisely recognized the situation as dire indeed, came over immediately, and together we lined out a Real Plan.
Each room now has a to-do list.  That way, anyone who comes over in the next couple of weeks and wants to help can see exactly what needs to be done.  (Actually, I'm hoping that seeing the to-do lists will guilt people into helping.)  Breaking down everything room-by-room helps it seem a tiny bit more manageable to me, too.  Then I made labels which say "AJ, G-ma, Dylan, Sale" to stick on the furniture so that everyone knows the destination of each piece of furniture in the house.  That probably sounds really crazy, but there's been a surprising amount of confusion over who gets what and I'm tired of answering the same questions over and over.  "Yes, I really am selling the buffet.  No, not that wicker furniture--the other wicker furniture.  No, the kitchen chairs are being sold--the dining room chairs go back to Grandma's house."  You can see how that might get tiresome.  And then, AJ extracted a promise from me that I would let him help me on the house this weekend.  He has previously (and repeatedly, I should add) offered to help on the house, and I've always turned down those offers.  Brushed them aside with an off-hand, "Oh, I can do it by myself."  (Y'all know those are my favorite two words:  by myself.)  AJ said simply, "I know you can do it by yourself.  I'm tellin you, you don't have to."  Oh.  Right.  The whole teamwork thing. I'm still learning how that works.

And after all of that, we went back to his house, where I discovered he'd baked a chicken for supper.  What a guy.  A real plan.  A good supper.  Promises of help.  I feel better already.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I answered the phone this afternoon and was greeted by a broad Irish brogue.  "Top o' the mornin' to ya, darlin'!" 

He continued, "I know you have a bit of Irish in ye, but I'm thinkin' you don't know so much about the folklore of your country, so allow me to educate ye.  All those times ye misplaced a tool in that house of yours, all those many many many times, you've been thinkin' it was your own daft head causin' that.  But that's not the case, me girl.  Twas the fairies who did that.  You've failed to show the fairies what a kind heart ye have, and so they bedevil ye.  So the next time you're workin' on that house of yours, be sure to leave a wee bit of food out for the fairies.  Sure, they may not eat it, but it's showin' them that ye have a kind heart."

When my laughter subsided enough that I could speak a complete sentence, I said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too, Bob!"

White Trash Bob.  The inimitable, irrepressible White Trash Bob.  Gosh, I'll miss living across the street from that man.  He's constant entertainment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Four Projects, Four Weeks: Day 8

It was a week ago yesterday that I dragged my stressed-out self into the realtor's office and agreed to finish four projects in four weeks so that I can list my house by the first week of April.  So how am I doing?  Welllll...I'm not sure.  I packed up all of my winter clothes (optimistically), my pots and pans and a bunch of kitchen stuff and my cookbooks and moved all that over to AJ's.  I cancelled the cable and the internet at my house.  I gave my little red microwave to my pal Nita.  And every afternoon after I wake up I scrape wallpaper off the front parlor walls before I go to work.  Only the wall above the fireplace and the upper half of the east wall of the front parlor still have wallpaper on them.  That's good, right?

Or is it?  I still haven't even begun to remove the wallpaper from the other parlor.  The back bedroom still looks like something from an episode of "Hoarders".  Three Christmas trees and four boxes of decorations are still in the basement.  The floors are still covered with black glue.  And all the other stuff I've accumulated over the past four years is still scattered all over the house.  Yikes.

But reinforcements are on the way.  My daughter-in-law Sarah has ten days off from work and has offered to help me at the house.  AJ is coming over Sunday to patch the holes in the plaster walls of the front parlor.  My mom says she'll pack up the eleventy million things I have in my two china cabinets.  Nita says she'll come over the last week of March and help me clean.  So I am trying to take it just a day at a time and not panic.  I still have three weeks to go.  I think I can, I think I can...

And I started a new little blog, less about houses and more about life.  I hope you'll like Sweet Red Pickles.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

For Reals

First off, I have to say a huge thanks to y'all for all the well wishes and good thoughts in the comments to my last post!  It means more to me than you know.

So, having sprung the big huge ginormous news, I thought I ought to tell y'all a little bit about where we go from here.  Yes, we.  I'm dragging you, my faithful readers and trusty advisors, along with me for the rest of this crazy ride.  Truth is, I just couldn't do it without you.  For reals.

I knew that, of everyone in the world, it's my blogfriends who would really understand the bittersweet nature of what I'm doing.  Yes, I'm sure I have to sell the Kelly House.  For reasons I won't get into here, but that are financial and emotional for both AJ and me, it just makes more sense to live in his house.  AJ's house is 110 years newer than the Kelly House and it's beautiful.  Well, except for that green-and-white gingham wallpaper in the kitchen...that needs to go.  And yesterday, when we were standing in the breezeway watching geese fly over, AJ did mention that he'd like to make the patio a bit bigger, brick in the grill, build an island out there and maybe even put in a hot it does seem quite likely that I'll be moving on to other projects at his house.  Which is soon to be our house.  It's also quite likely that I'll be writing about those projects in a separate blog.

When I say soon, I mean pretty darn soon indeed.  Exactly how soon, I don't want to say just yet because, although AJ and I have a specific date in mind, we haven't shared that date with our kids (his two daughters and my son) and we want to tell them first, of course.  Suffice it to say that we'll be getting married during my favorite season of the year...and that my DIY talents aren't limited to house reno, so you just might be hearing about a wedding project or two.

And I'll still be blogging, right here, until the Kelly House sells.  I'm hoping that will happen sooner rather than later, but you never know.  The house around the corner from mine sold three years to the day from when the for-sale sign first went up in the yard.  Three years.  Gulp.  Pretty scary.  Before I can sell my house, though, I have to list it.  And before I can list it, I have a couple of teeny-tiny things to finish up.  See, shortly after AJ popped the question and I stopped smacking myself in the forehead and muttering "Holy hell, hooo-leee hell!" (well, okay, I still do that, but not 17 times a day any more) the panic about selling my house set in.  Oh lordy, who's gonna buy it in the shape it's in?  What if I don't even get out of it what I owe on it?  Should I finish it all up before I sell it?  Should I just stop what I'm doing and run?  I had several days of racing thoughts like that before I finally got myself into the office of a realtor I trust with my life (how often can you say that?!) and got some good advice. 

That advice boils down to four projects in four weeks.  Four projects.  Four weeks.  Kinda makes your blood run a little cold, doesn't it?  First project, finish taking the painted-over wallpaper off the front parlor walls.  (I am very nearly done with this.)  Second project, same chore in the second parlor/front bedroom.  (I haven't even started.)  Third project, sand the black glue off the floors and leave 'em bare wood.  (I will be happily paying someone else to do that.)  Fourth project, get the house spic-and-span and ready for showing.  (I am tearful just contemplating that one.)  The next several posts will be part of a series titled "Four Projects, Four Weeks: Day [whatever]".  Please do come back for those, because I'll need everybody's encouragement and support.  When I say I can't do it without y'all, I mean it.  For reals.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Big Thing & The Other Big Thing

I have begun this post four or five times, discarded what I wrote, and started over.  Once I decided not to write a post at all and instead watched the first hour of "The Runaways".  (Sadly, I cannot recommend that movie--this from a girl who wanted to be Joan Jett when she grew up.)  I debated with myself, a not-very-productive argument.  It went something like this:  If I tell 'em the big thing, I have to tell 'em the first big thing, and I don't know if I should throw the first big thing out there...but I can't tell 'em one without the other or the whole thing makes no sense.  (Makes no sense, kind of like that last sentence...) At last I consulted one of my besties.  "Not to sound all Nike or anything," she advised me, "but just do it."

So.  Here it is.  All of it.

The First Big Thing:  I am getting married!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Married.  Me.  Typing it makes my fingers all tingly.  I am getting married.  Holy crow.  I've never been married, so this is uncharted territory for me.  You know that feeling when you lean just a bit too far back in a chair and you almost fall but don't?  Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel all the time now, every day.  And while that might sound like not such a good me, it is.  It's the best.  That feeling makes me dance in the shower.  It makes me laugh out loud while doing something perfectly ordinary like mashing up potatoes for supper.  It makes me randomly stop in the middle of what I'm doing to stand, stock-still, and just breathe in and out for a minute and whisper wow....just wow

Okay.  Enough of that mushy malarkey.  This is a houseblog, for the love of Pete. 

So here's The Other Big Thing:  I am selling the Kelly House.

I hope no one hurt themselves falling off the chair after reading that.  Really.  I hope no one choked on a bit of ham sandwich or an ice cube.  Maybe I should've given y'all some warning.  Better prepared you.  After all, I've had a couple of weeks to wrap my head (and my heart) around the idea and it still freaks me out.  See, it's okay to be freaked out.  It's even okay to say things like "Oh lordy" and "Are you sure?" because these are, after all, tough times to sell a house.  Especially when you never planned to sell that house because you stalked it for years before you bought it and had a five year plan to restore it and just now finished the outside and just now made some real headway on the inside and you thought you'd live in it forever and ever---Excuse me for just a moment while I cry a little, okay?

There.  I feel ever so slightly better.  It's hard to let go of the Kelly House.  AJ (my husband-to-be) knows this.  He understands when I get teary-eyed talking about all the work I've done on the house.  He is proud of me and what I've accomplished and he knows that, in a very big way, the Kelly House is part and parcel of who I am as a person.  To his everlasting credit, AJ has never once said, "It's just a house."  He knows that the Kelly House is more than just a house.  It's proof of my independence and stubborn determination and grit.  He gets that.  Which has a lot to do with why I love this man so much. 

So, work continues on the Kelly House, though the plan now is a different plan than the one I had even a month ago.  More on the new plan as we go along.  And, the blog continues as well, for as long as I own the Kelly House.  Y'all have been with me this far, so I'll hope you'll stay to see how the story ends.