Mon, Nov 24, 2014 ●
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The Universal Notebook: Heartache and home improvement

Opinion

The Universal Notebook: Heartache and home improvement

Carolyn and I have had a few home improvement projects going since last fall and I sure hope we can wrap them up by summer. My nerves are frayed from living in a state of constant flux, not knowing where anything is half the time, reflexively turning the wrong way to put something in a frig that has wandered across the kitchen after 30 years, fretting that there seems to be less room in the new cabinets than in the old.

My lovely wife is an optimistic, can-do kind of person who always thinks anything is possible and she can probably do it herself. I’m a pessimist. My motto is “Nothing’s ever easy.” I know I can’t do anything myself. Left to my own devices I would probably just let the house fall down around me rather than undertake major repairs and renovations.

Were it not for my incredibly helpful brother the plumber, we would have been living without a sink for close to a month now. Apparently that’s what people do when they renovate their kitchens, either make-do without a sink or move out. Paul came over and popped the sink out so the counter guys could make a template and then put it back in temporarily so we wouldn’t have to wash dishes in the bathtub.

When we had the floor tiled in the only bathroom we have, Paul pulled the toilet and replaced it twice. Still, even living without a toilet for 24 hours is a challenge. Carolyn was conveniently away over night, but the dog and I never go anywhere. Good thing we have understanding neighbors and woods behind the house.

Last week, the new dishwasher arrived, or almost arrived. The delivery guy called from the top of the street to report that the town had posted seasonal weight limits. I’d either have to come pick up the washer, wait until May 1 when the heavy weight ban was lifted, or get the town to grant an exemption that had to be faxed to New Hampshire before the truck could complete the delivery.

So the burly, young deliveryman jammed the dishwasher into the trunk of my Hyundai, I secured it with a bungee cord, and then drove very slowly back down to the house where I was just able to horse the dishwasher up onto the back porch. Paul will be by to install it when the new counter top arrives – if it ever does.

We ordered the stone counter top back when we ordered the new kitchen cabinets, but last week we were informed that it is back-ordered and won’t be available for another couple of weeks. Meanwhile I have patched together a counter top out of old cabinet doors and pieces of wallboard.

Speaking of wallboard, I’ve learned a thing or two about putting up the stuff as a result of these renovations. I’ve learned not only to measure twice and cut once, but also not to do it in a bathroom before you’ve figured out where the new vanity is going to go. In order to center the medicine chest over the new vanity, I ended up having to take down a day’s worth of wallboard and re-hang it.

“Heartbreaking,” was all my buddy Don, who did most of the work, could say.

I’ve also learned a valuable lesson about marble. Searching for a bathroom counter, I found a marble display model that was just perfect and half-price. I loaded it into the backseat and proudly hauled it home to show Carolyn, who loves a bargain more than I do.

When I climbed into the car to retrieve my luxurious prize, I placed my knee lightly on the matching marble back-splash, which instantly snapped in two like a sugar wafer. Who knew marble was so brittle? No wonder all those Greek statues lost their arms.

At the moment, we’re just waiting for the kitchen counter to arrive. Then we’ll order new flooring and that should be it. I say, “should be,” because something tells me it won’t.

Nothing’s ever easy.