Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Indecent Places

The banner motto on this blog is "I'll make a silk purse out of this house if it kills me."

And yeah, I've put a modicum of suffering into it . . . To the tune of refinisher-tanned fingers where the stripping gloves wear through . . . and lingering congestion when the ventilation isn't quite adequate to take away the fumes of a five-hour basement woodwork stripping session . . . and the occasional bruise or splinter when pieces of trim get out of hand when I'm prying them off the wall . . .

But "if it kills me"? That's just been something cute to say. Window dressing. I have not truly suffered for my renovation Art as so many of my houseblogs.net fellow travellers have. I have not lived with crevasses in my bedroom floor, or done the dishes in the bathtub for four months or gone to the bathroom in a coffee can while the toilet was waiting to be plumbed, or endured the other true hardships necessary to enter the kingdom of house renovation heaven. No, even while removing a piece of trim here, and stripping it there, I have endeavored to go on living a Civilized Life. I have had my books and music on their shelves where I can get at them. I've had my computer in my study, to take me whithersoever I will. I've got my piano in the front room. And if I don't feel like facing the state of the house, I can sit down and read or surf or play, and pretend everything is just fine.

But last week, when I moved the trim removal operation into the living room, the penny dropped: Silly hobbit! This isn't Civilized Places! I have to make the sacrifices everyone else does.

So the books on Art and Architecture History, the Church and General History Books, the beautiful tomes on ancient icons and Frank Lloyd Wright and medieval cathedrals, they all had to be packed up in boxes and stored in the guest bedroom until the trim is back on and refinished and the walls are repapered or painted. Can't get at the trim or the walls with a full bookcase in the way.

And the two other bookcases in the living room must undergo the same fate, as soon as I get more boxes. Ornaments and pictures and candlesticks have to be put safely away. And when the time comes, the furniture must be covered and moved aside. I've must to do what I have to do and live as I must live to get this job done.

. . . Of course, having thought of that saying of the famous philosopher Smeagol the Stoor, I had to follow the quotation to its source, to make sure I had it right. Which I didn't: It's actually "Silly! We're not in decent places!" And in the process of finding it, this past week and a half I've reread half of Tolkien's The Two Towers, and then of course I had to reread all of The Return of the King, and here we are again, alas! alas! fallen from the daily rigor that should be my path and my goal.

I've been very civilized these past few days, but from a house renovation perspective, not exactly decent!


We are in said...

Oh, there's always time to read - no matter how "indecent" the house may be. It's like a touchstone to sanity and civilization.

BTW - LOVE your fireplace!

Kate H. said...

Isn't it a beaut? It's a big reason why I bought the house. Thing is, it's not original. Real estate agent told me a previous owner moved it from a mansion being demolished in Sewickley, sometime in the 1980s or '90s.

But I think he must've destroyed the original firebox getting the original Foursquare House red brick fireplace front off, since my existing firebox is common brick laid up all nohow, probably by the PO-1 himself. It needs completely rebuilt.

Happily, the marble mantlepiece is attached only by plastered-in wires. Easily removed, easily put back. I think.