Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


January 28, 2015 by Jean

I’m making a halting sort of progress in getting my new-old house in order and getting my belongings unpacked. I am now settled in to my new master suite; and last weekend, my contractor finished cleaning up the construction debris outside my house. While there is still outside work to be completed (some of which probably won’t get done until spring), my house no longer looks like a construction site. A person could actually walk up the steps to my new front door, ring the doorbell, and enter the house that way!

But my primary indoor focus, converting my old bedroom into a new bigger and better study, has been taking much longer than I had imagined. Sometimes the process has been slow because of procrastination on my part. At other times, I have been frustrated by unexpected hurdles and delays. The first step in this project has been to paint two walls that were affected by the construction. One of these walls will then be covered with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves; the other will become the location for my desk. I had several delays getting started on the painting. First, I had to work myself up to the task. Then, I realized I had forgotten how much time it takes to prepare to paint; I had to clean the walls and the floor, tape along the ceiling and floor lines, fill holes and repair some damaged sheet rock, sand wood surfaces, buy paint, and find all my painting supplies. This last was not easy. Everything related to painting is stored in my basement, where my belongings got moved around by the construction guys over and over again. I did eventually find most of what I needed; but on the Sunday afternoon when I was finally ready to paint a coat of primer, I discovered that I couldn’t find my 9” roller anywhere. And I couldn’t just run out and buy a new one because it was freezing rain outside. Aargh!!

I went out and bought a roller first thing Monday morning and got a coat of primer on both walls and their associated trim on Monday afternoon. Then my painting got interrupted by the delivery of 2 cords of firewood for my woodstove, and I needed to spend big chunks of time over the next four days getting the firewood stacked and out of the driveway before the next plowable snow event. In the midst of the wood stacking, I did take a half day to get a coat of paint on the walls. Then I was delayed by the discovery that the paint I had planned to use for the trim didn’t work well with the paint color. This necessitated choosing a new trim color and then running out on Saturday morning to buy a gallon of the trim paint. I got the first coat of paint on the trim on Saturday afternoon and a second coat done on Sunday afternoon. On Monday evening, a week after I finally began painting, I finished removing all the protective painter’s tape, did some touch-ups and began putting the room back together.

Yesterday, I got all my paint stuff picked up and put back away in the basement and worked on some cleaning up (e.g., of a few stray paint splatters). I also need to get some no-longer-needed chests of drawers emptied and moved out of that room. Then, finally, I’ll be able to work on assembling the bookcases that were delivered more than a month ago. The boxes for these are quite heavy, and it’s not clear that I’ll be able to assemble them and put them in place without a helper – an eventuality that will create still more frustrating delays. And all my work on this got delayed again today as I shoveled two feet of new snow.

My current expectation (realistic, I hope) is that I will finally have my study finished and functioning by the end of February. Then it will be on to the next house project: converting my former study into a combination guest room and sewing room. By the time I get that done, I will have the house the way I want it. And by then, it will probably be spring and time to start working on the garden.

6 thoughts on “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

  1. Jean R. says:

    Washing walls is hard enough for me, especially since I can no longer do ladders and have to do them with long-handed tools. My days of painting rooms are over. It sure is a satisfying project to complete though. Once your bookshelves are built the real fun begins. I can’t wait to see the photos of your completed (or partly completed) office. I image you’ll be spending a lot of time in there so taking your time to get it just right now will pay off.

    Stacking wood and shoveling two foot of snow in the same week? Wow, that’s a lot of work!

    • Jean says:

      Jean, I agree that a painted room is very satisfying once it is finally done. (Of course, it was equally satisfying in the rooms that the contractor painted 😉 )
      I thought of the wood stacking and the snow shoveling as being in two different weeks (thank goodness!). Hauling wood for my woodstove and shoveling snow seem to be my winter fitness program — aerobic and strength training all in one package.

  2. Diana Studer says:

    imagine visitors able to do – steps bell door welcome.
    We have a weird house with no front door. Visitors must come thru the garden gate then the patio door. No bell, just yell.
    I can dream. But you show me that it will all happen, and then it will be a delight to start putting things as and where we want them.

    Been going around ordering … oy vey … laminate floors, various tiles, kitchen cupboards, bathroom fittings … you remember how that is. And more tomorrow then we hope to start soon. Waiting on windows.
    The Rare Plant Fair and Kirstenbosch Annual Plant Sale will be in March and April – that I really look forward to!!

    • Jean says:

      Diana, Choosing and ordering all that stuff can be daunting. I think I found it easier than most people do — both because I tend to make decisions quickly and not second-guess myself and because I only have to please myself.
      The plant sales are indeed something to look forward to. You can think of them as your reward after all the remodeling hassles.

  3. Well it seems your work and patience will pay off soon Jean…. things are going at their own pace but getting done to your satisfaction….I have loved the views of your new spaces. I have waited a year before I have been able to redo my living space…. finally been clearing out 10 or more years of stuff and boy has it been liberating…I have a few more projects and all done just in time for spring as well since I have loads that needs doing in the garden this year too….you continue to amaze me at all you do. Painting is not a skill I have, although I can do the edging, but I get more paint on me and everywhere else than the walls.

    • Jean says:

      LOL, Donna, I didn’t say I was good at painting. I have “painting clothes” that are a record of all the rooms I’ve painted over the years, since they are splattered with all those colors. The cutting in of edges is the part that I’m particularly bad at, so I just have to tape along all the edges to protect against my mistakes.
      I think because I was moving at the same time I was retiring, I did all the purging first. I was ruthless in making decisions about what I would bring with me to Maine, keeping less than 1/3 of my home and office items there.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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