Saturday, November 8, 2008


" . . . [H]alfway. A midpoint in any venture is difficult because that's the place where days gone and miles done equal those ahead, and the result is equilibrium, stasis, inertia. A rollercoaster nearly stops just before the last drop to the finish. In some ways, the first mile of the second half is the most crucial because it's the one that propels the traveler down the slope of endurance to destination. . . . "

Thus sayeth William Least Heat-Moon in his book River Horse: A Voyage Across America. Mr. Heat-Moon was in the middle of navigating America's rivers via a C-Dory, a canoe, and miscellaneous other craft from the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Hudson River to the Pacific at the mouth of the Columbia. I'm in the middle of stripping my house's woodwood piece by paint-covered piece from the dining room on the first floor to the hallway on the second, taking in the living room, front room, first floor hall, and the staircase on the way.

A couple hours ago I stripped piece No. 168. That's 50% of my 336 piece tally. Halfway. Half done.

So here's the question: Am I going to fall prey to the midpoint inertia that Mr. Heat-Moon describes? For him, it gets worse:

"While we were still some miles shy of being exactly halfway, I knew I had already emotionally arrived there. So I dragged up onto my feet, doleful, depressed, dejected, disgruntled, dissatisfied, dissipated, discouraged, disheartened, downcast, and otherwise down at the mouth, and I went into the damp, dreary, dismal day drooping, despondent, disconsolate, and damnably in the deep doldrums."

Well, it is undeniably dreary today in southwestern Pennsylvania. After a week of lovely Indian summer weather, today it's gray, cold, and soggy, and if the temperature got above 50 degrees it was a wonder. It was not fun to go out on the back porch and strip woodwork. The wind was blowing. My feet were freezing. If it hadn't been for the heatgun, I coulda got frostbite!

(Yeah, right.)

I have every excuse to fall into the halfway doldrums.

But I won't.

How do I know I won't?

Because I went ahead and stripped piece No. 169! I'm over the top! I'm on the drop to the finish! I'm descending the downward slope of endurance to my destination!

And oh, yeah, I've also put off doing the front room with its 60 to 70 trim pieces until that dim, distant day when the dining room, the living room, and the stairhall from bottom to top are done, done, done-- trim, wallpaper, floors (as needed), and all.

Wonderful how encouraged you can feel when you can delude yourself about the true magnitude of the job.


Sandy said...

Woo hoo! Over the top and down hill for here! Good job!

p.s. As far as I know, I'm the only one that got the "key" treatment. Sigh. What was that woman thinking?! I can understand destroying the guy's vehicle, but not everyone elses!

Kate H. said...

Sandy, the fun thing will be seeing how well I can keep up the speed once I have to move operations back down the basement. Only so much you can do before getting gassed out.

PS to your PS: You don't think the key treatment was aimed at you, do you? I hope not. Maybe your car was just convenient.

Larry said...

WOW!!! You've done a lot! Wish I keep as motivated.

Your work looks GREAT!

Hey - would you e-mail me? I have a question for you.

correus @

Keep up the good work.

Sandy said...

Seeing as how I was the only one, I'm thinking it was deliberate.

elaine said...

Woohooooooo!!! You're a stripping MACHINE!