I started this project 19 months ago. Looking back at the pictures I was shocked when I realized I started ripping down this ceiling before the dining room project. But that’s how it goes I guess. You start in one room and then you move to the next, like a bad buffet line. Endless and unappealing.
It just so happened that when we pulled down the dining room ceiling there was that issue we had where the walls didn’t exist and I inadvertently opened a porthole to all of the bats living in the attic to come hang out with us. So the living room got budged in line by the dining room, and that, of course, took longer than we thought it would (as it does) and then the last thing you want to do (or have time for doing) is more sheet-rocking, even though (we thought) nothing could be more complicated than the dining room…
Starting last winter we tried moving forward on finally, officially taking over the mortgage of this place from my family. A really big step. Scary and exciting all at once. I wrote what I thought would be my last rent check…but then the bank came in (as it does) and pointed out all of the renovations we were in the midst of and made a big long list of issues they had. (Problems we had brought upon ourselves, for if we’d just left the horrible drop ceilings they wouldn’t have said a thing). They gave us a list of all of the projects we needed to fix (which were all things we had recently, partially destroyed, because there’s only so much time in a day for farms and soaps and bands and house repairs and general every day life things like sleeping and birthday parties and making eggs on the stovetop).
We needed to fix all of these things before they would give us a mortgage. But even more panic inducing: they gave us a deadline. We had two months to finish sheet-rocking the ceilings of three rooms, get the bathtub installed upstairs, remove a wall and add support beams to a section of the basement, and fix a few holes that had been hacked in the upstairs ceiling by someone in the 1970s who installed a spaceship-sized air conditioning unit. It took us almost a year just to finish the dining room. You do the math.
But we had no choice. So we dove in. It was high farming season and high wedding season and high festival/show season, but now it would also be high sheet-rocking season. Because there’s nothing to get your adrenaline pumping more than spending your days digging dirt, mixing lye, slinging gear, and slopping mud.
Of course it couldn’t possibly be as easy as popping up some boards of sheet-rock and calling it a day (if that were easy). When I dig in I tend to dig in, and it’s ALWAYS worth it in the end, but in the meantime it totally, completely sucks. Sheet rocking the ceiling turned into scraping and painting the molding, turned into removing the peeling wallpaper, turned into sanding stubborn wallpaper, turned into masks and goggles when I thought I’d detached a retina and suffered inhalation damage when in reality I just had wallpaper particles in my eyes and in my lungs, turned into repairing plaster sections of wall that came off with said wallpaper, turned into painting walls and then restoring a section of 100 year old wallpaper that I am ALWAYS surprised and rewarded with after treating these rooms the way they deserve to be treated (ie: working so hard that I think I’m suffering from some life-threatening illness). I live and die for this house, for better or for worse.
The paint color is literally robin’s egg blue. As in, I put a robin’s egg in a little jar and stuffed it in my bag when I went to the paint store. Then I stood in the aisle matching paint swatches to this fragile little egg shell while the paint guy furrowed his brow at me until I found the perfect match. In the process I absolutely destroyed this tiny egg shell, but it is memorialized here. Who knows -this shell may have been from the offspring of the very same robin that sh*ts all over my porches. The circle of life. What a strange world.
‘Course, that was just one check off the list. This was another.
And you’ve seen the pictures of the bathtub and the basement still looks like a dungeon, only a little bit less of of a dungeon, and the holes in the upstairs ceiling are still there because guess what? The bank is confused and confusing me and our deadline came and went and NOTHING HAPPENED. I spent the summer absolutely bonkers and now I’m pacing around the house like a hamster whose wheel has just been taken out of its cage and I have no effing clue how to get back to feeling like a normal person. But I’ll get there. Or, I won’t, I don’t think I was necessarily normal to begin with. I’m okay with that.
update: Since I wrote this post I have fixed the final hole in the ceiling and am on my way toward fixing another hole that they didn’t see, but surely will see when they return because that’s how it works doesn’t it?