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A diary: It's like throwing away what used to be my life which somehow I made paper records of. But it's more than I've no room for it; I need to shed it and the space opened up can be improved and changed and re-freshened.


Took 1st baby steps towards house improvement. Phoned landscapers & made appt for people to come estimate how much to pull out unsightly (hideous) hedge. Began task of weeding files, put two shelves in attic. Arduous climbing up & down ladder.


Took more baby steps on house improvement -- and ordering. 2 shelves filled with files gone through, about 3/4s put in attic. Found all my Vittoria Colonna folders! poetry of Renaissance male friends (including Michelangelo) and early modern women. Threw out a shelf of files from obsolete teaching. And I think I may have succeeded in setting up two appointments for different landscape people to come and give estimates on pulling out horrible hedge (!). One man was open to making flower beds. Must rest now.

9/27: went to gym during morning; afternoon hot and Admiral has bad sciatica.

9/28: "Duchess," said the admiral to me about 3 hours ago. "We have to clean the house today. "Oh no!" "Yes, it's been six weeks since we last did it." Two and one half hours later and two nervous cats (they loathe the vaccuum cleaner), we have given over. No further house improvements today. Immanent needs trumped transcendent ones.


Lovely cool day! breezes. So house improvements went on from top of house. Stayed in attic. Emptied out shelves of book cases and surrounding floor areas.  Fat files from teaching general education serious literature courses in 1990s. All abolished everywhere now. So look, see as obsolete, put in piles near ladder.  Old dampened books, journals, stuff I'll never read. Stay at top of ladder, hand down to admiral.  Then pitch into big garbage cans. Shut resolutely.


Not so modest improvements begun.

Very nice man in jeans, lovely shirt, came and made estimate for removing hedge, making two modest flower beds (silver ferns, daffodils). Discussed land: swamp on one side, rocky down back so beds go on one good side. Don't want all sorts of drains and stuff.

Discussed turning screened porch into room. Carlos asks what did I have in mind? well, walls, windows, flo
ors, that sort of thing. Heat and air-conditioning to come out of ducts. Suddenly Admiral making difficulties, all becoming very complex. No it's not. Window in present room stays. I like window, looked at it for over 30 years. Doors to porch stay. Maybe clean, replace glass, paint: fix up. Then like the rest of house a window in each outer wall, since one will be big, then have 2 windows.  Brick walls, wooden floors like rest of house again. No door from porch to outside. Admiral looks dubious. I ignore. Carlos pleased. Will send estimate for room later today.

I admit there is one statement in all W's years I actually liked. I did not hear him say it, but was told he said "I am the decider." What's the use of being duchess if I don't get to decide and get the thing done.

Realize unspoilt nature of house will be lost. Ah well. Sobeit.

Carlos says an Occupy demonstration nearby. Hurrah! I say. Bad for traffic.

'Nuff house improvement effort for today.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 1st, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
Day 1
I so hate this stuff, and there is so much to do. Even the phone call is a huge deal for me. You go, girl!

Me: Actually improving my little room while real physical labor (books weigh, folders of xeroxes are not light) and not good for knees is not so bad because I don't have to try to get anyone to help me. That's the pits. Getting someone to help -- even when you pay them.If money allows, you might want to make the kitchen a more pleasant for Jim to cook in. That's what I did the spring before Dave retired; he loves to cook and I know Jim does too.
Oct. 1st, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Day 2:

We would not have enough to reconfigure a room. To me our kitchen is good: just about all the equipment is new or only a couple of years old. Admiral has never shown much disposition to renovate; yes when the roof was in the yard, he put a new roof on; and after we got the settlement from the car accident, we really got rid of the most ugly and bad and old (wallpapers, very old equipment in kitchen, brand new sliding windows) and did insulation, air conditioning and painting. And we had a rain forest outside. But since then only what's needed -- like spouts. It's I who bought the awnings and had the screened porch brought back to life. On some level he doesn't care enough. With me it's been I am wary of spending any thing much and I had little. What's needed is new bathroom stuff as the shower leaks (for example) and the toilets (though newer) are cheap type (I was jipped). I'd like to enclose the porch because after all we don't use it much as we have air conditioning and I could use more wall space for books. But no reconfiguring anything. I won't do anything for say $30,000 a room. Out of question.

Jill: When we redid the kitchen we put in new countertops (the old ones were the original Formica that had worn all the way through in spots), a new backsplash, and a new sink. Those things made a big difference; we didn't replace any appliances or the floor. We tend to replace things as they break; we've replaced the refrigerator once in the 34 years we've lived here, the range hood once, the stove three times (the third time because the flat cooktop cracked; my fault), the dishwasher twice. I don't care about having all the appliances match, so we've never spent anything like $30,000. I think what I did cost about $5,000, but things probably cost less here in Ohio.

Me: The sum quoted for renovating the two bathrooms was $33,000. I've been told of a BathExpress where the sum is more like $10,000 -- but you can say you want this and not that and that will bring it down. Years ago enclosing the porch was said to be $10,000. So I have to see. But meanwhile I'm going to begin with the hedge, and I'm doing with my room what I can myself. I am making use of the attic. Now that I once spoke to someone about an he estimated (a contractor) $100,000. Wow. A neighbor said that was right. We have an attic that runs across the house.

Jill: Oh, I forgot to say I had the cabinets refinished. It never occurred me to get new ones because I love the old Amish-made ones, but the finish had worn off in a lot of spots. The person who did it took all the doors off and refinished them and I bought new knobs for them.

Me: I have ugly white ones, alas cheap. But to replace is a lot of money. The kitchen will probably stay as is for now. After all we have not that many years to live and want to spend in other ways. Like trips or going out for fun.

Jill: Converting attics into living space can be very expensive; you need to consult a structural engineer to start. I wouldn't take it on. Making memories or redoing living space: most of us have to choose.

Me: Right. But it's a great place to put stuff that is over-crowdnig my little study. I have old toys up there, puzzles, a left over crib, the Christmas stuff, bikes no used used -- actually there are memories up there. Off for a little walk now. I'm walking each evening for a half hour ;)
Oct. 1st, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Day 3:

Jill: When Aubrey first moved to New Orleans, her apartment was a cat's paradise of boxes for her Siamese to jump into. However, Chico unwittingly jumped into a box containing the dread...
Diane: Tru dat.
Me: They are unnerved by the noise. and suction. They also just don't like any change from routine.

Oct. 1st, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
Woot! When do we toss furniture out the window?
When you come over. I'm going to need some physical help with the broken bookcase downstairs eventually. Upstairs there's a child desk, crib and the bookcases are sturdy so it'll all stay. Rob welcome to Edwardian dollhouse; will not pitch.

Diane: My mother turned her childhood desk into a plant table, which I now have as a laptop computer holder.

Me: I love it. I have two "library tables" in my room (bought at auctions; I've no idea what they were before). The child's desk upstairs is small. I should say it's a ricket-y ladder we have going up and down from our ground floor to an upstair attic so all stuff going up and down is a heroic effort as all we have is a rectagular kind of hole in the ceiling. And I really did throw one of Izzy's chairs (very broken) out a window. We have large windows :) but not enough for bookcases.

Diane: I once came home from school and found my 4 year old brother and his friend gleefully throwing books out the window. Last time anything went out that way. I've been sorting and pitching, held a garage sale, but I have not had the heart to throw out my teaching materials. GOT to do that. You give me courage.
Me: We are on the first floor and Izzy's window faces the back. We also have bookcases lining our hall and it would be hours of back-breaking work to make a wide enough way to bring the chair out. Alas, she has another similiar chair -- these are wooden, comfortable, half-rockers for her to sit at her computer with. It's partly broken, not bad, but if we want to replace it, it's a real effort to take it out. The Admiral says it is really too large to get out the window (which is divided by a frame). We've too much furniture for some of the rooms. Yes it's hard to pitch this stuff -- also other writing from the Net I have. I'm doing it slowly, bit by bit ... hardening myself.

Caroline: I'm all about pitching things! Make way for the new! Also, just invited Yvette on the pilgrimage to Ikea. Should we look for a chair?
Me: The day is the one of her social dance. She would want a better made chair -- she really sits in it a whole lot even now. She'd probably like to do with you but another day. There are chair stores -- where people make good chairs and places My idea is a well-made chair but it's up to Yvette what she'd like. She's hard on chairs (smiling).

Jill: Look into Domestic Violence shelters in your area. This is what my father did when he got rid of most of his furniture in his apartment. They came and got it and the persons who received him wrote him touching letters. The furniture is used for abused women making a new start in a new place. The child's furniture would be especially appreciated by the children who have lived lives of such suffering. The persons who received the furniture, not him!

Caroline: The one in our area is called Doorways. They partner with us.

Jill: Dad really liked the letters, and the fact that they came to his apartment to get the stuff. But he was giving away a dining set, washer and dryer, sofa and loveseat, 2 recliner chairs, and two bedroom sets.

Me: When I renovated the house in 1993 (we did a major thing then after getting a settlement from a car accident, and that's when I bought my 93 Chevy, still with me, and Admiral his first...

Oct. 1st, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
Day 4:

Caroline: I always figured if there was a staircase, it would go either in the closet you turned into a bookcase nook, or the closet that serves as a pass through to the kitchen.

Me: Yes Admiral has said that the most likely way to make a staircase would be to take the little hall or pass between the kitchen and vestibule right before the front door into a staircase. e would be to take the little hall or pass between the kitchen and vestibule right before the front door into a staircase. That might take in the closet in the vestibule -- now a place for books. These are old-fashioned "wasted spaces" of the kind houses don't have any more. A neighbor turned the closet I use for books (all my "women's" or feminist kinds of books are there, including women's poetry) into a little office with a desk. We have these meandering kinds of thin halls that I've lined with bookcases. A thin hall leads from the vestibule past my workroom or study to Yvette's room and onto our bedroom. That's where the ladder comes down into from the hole in the ceiling (it has a sort of cover you pull down with a string).
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