when you bite off more than you can chew.

16 09 2010

We kicked off the annual day of celebrating laborers everywhere by tackling our first big project:  turning a blank, unused wall in the kitchen into a lovely set of French doors that look out into the backyard–the first of many tweaks to the main level floorplan to make a barely 900-sq-ft house feel more spacious.

the before shot:  pardon my handsome co-laborer.  you’ll probably be seeing a lot of him.

at least one of us was working!

Look at that useless wall!  Something must be done.  And there was probably some stress to be relieved.  Solution?  SLEDGEHAMMER.

take that, wall!

oh, hello! just admiring your handiwork.

We actually had to take out the little half-wall that was part of the small set of stairs, too…because once you start swinging, it’s hard to stop.  And it needed to come out anyway. [foreshadowing!]

inside wall first!

plaster + lathe + insulation + lungs = you’re just asking for lung cancer.  thank goodness for the trusty respirator mask!  [and it’s hot pink… bonus!]

then the outside.

This is, to people who know such things, what’s known as brick veneer.  The brick isn’t structural, which is why the wall has to come out from both the inside and the outside.

we're getting there...

Yucky white doors are GONE!  Hip hip hooray!

look at this mess!

This is the point of the day where yours truly started flagging.  Because as Eric was tearing out the bricks in the wall, I was carrying them, two at a time, to another part of the yard, and stacking them neatly for when we have the old doorway re-bricked.  And people, this body is not used to manual labor like that.  The dogs kept following me, back and forth, back and forth… getting in the way mostly.  You’d think they’d lose interest once they saw that nothing new was happening with each trip, but no.  I even threatened to make Auggie my pack mule [he’s the size of a small horse] and make him help me carry bricks if he was just going to keep following me, but he didn’t seem to like the sound of that, and I couldn’t figure out a creative way to make it work anyway.  Dang.  So I just kept moving bricks.

The mighty wall-slayer... and believe me, that sucker put up a fight.

Now I’m sitting on the deck [I mean, briefly resting before returning to my labor], and wondering to myself… where are we going to put all this crap from demo-ing two walls?  We just tore a giant hole in our kitchen wall!  I’m hungry!  I have dust-boogers!  The bugs are starting to eat me!  The bugs are going to get in the kitchen through our giant hole and then follow me around the house!  I hope he doesn’t fall off that chunk of wall. The dogs need to get out from underfoot and leave me alone!  Anyone have a Diet Coke?  I can’t exactly get to the fridge right now.  Is the fridge even plugged in?  THERE’S A HOLE IN MY KITCHEN.

But, we pressed on.  My co-laborer is used to this sort of thing.  Noses, meet grindstone.  Bethany, stop whining. [he didn’t say that.  I was telling myself that.]

still a giant hole, but now it's a FRAMED giant hole.

Now it’s dark.  I’m tired, and thinking about how I have to go to work tomorrow.  And then I remembered that Eric also has to go to work tomorrow, and he has to build a deck.  I have to sit in a chair.  I’m getting better at putting things into perspective.  But seriously, we were at the point of no return.  Still a big hole in the house, but not quite ready for the beautiful new set of doors still strapped to the top of the van.  So he framed, and I cleaned.  Because there was a nasty amount of dust and other post-demolition junk in the kitchen, a kitchen in a house where one person and two dogs live.  So I cleaned, and marveled at his stamina.

People, I wish I could tell you that we each chugged a Monster and powered through the fatigue, dust, bugs, and the late hour to conquer the giant hole in the wall.  Sadly, we did not.  And that is not a bad thing.  It was at that moment that we learned the first lesson of home remodel.  Well, two.

1.  Projects will always take longer than you think they will.

2.  Because of lesson #1, do your best to plan out an appropriately-sized project for the time you have available, or know how you’re going to live/work around the temporality of your progress until you can get it completed.

Our solution to lesson #2?  Saran Wrap.

the temporary fix at the end of a very long day.

Just kidding… although it literally was a sheet of plastic stapled to the new framing to keep out bugs and other, potentially more dangerous intruders.  But in my book, bugs were priority. [Seriously, mosquitoes dive-bomb me on a regular basis.]

So, at the end of a long, labor-filled Labor Day, we marveled at the progress we had made, at our aching backs and legs, and at just how much FUN we had doing it.  Even if we didn’t finish what we started.





One response

16 09 2010
Eric A

Don’t get too flustered sis, this is only the begging. Hahaha. You still have quite a bit in front of you. On DIY network there is a show called Family Renovation that you and Eric need to watch. This family of 2 adults and 5 kids live in their house while they remodel it. It looks good. Have fun!

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