Mission Impossible 4: DIY Protocol

My project list was nothing fresh this weekend: Finish the Window Trim, the weekend project that has become a saga of blog posts and may yet expand to include therapy sessions.

My mission was to compensate  for the fact that the oldest (of three) window frames isn’t plumb, and at the top extends past the wallboard.  I can’t easily explain the idea I was attempting: it would take a labeled picture at least. And it wouldn’t matter, because it didn’t work.

The first setback was the realization that the rasp I purchased to grate away some wood was still in the trunk of The Guy’s car. And The Guy was in Las Vegas. Unwilling to spend another $16 on a second rasp, I figured the cutting wheel on my Dremel might suffice. A few passes into the job I smelled something. Was the Dremel getting hot? A thin curl of smoke alerted me that what I smelled was, in fact the ancient dry wood scorching. So much for the Dremel.

Also, so much for my idea: besides the very eminent danger of catching my house on fire, a little more exploration showed a new problem for which my fix didn’t account. Foiled!

A couple hours later I had burned through two reciprocating saw blades, my arms ached, and I was just under 1/2 way finished with the wood removal on the first window. It was past dinnertime.  Defeated, I followed in the footsteps of such adventurous notables as Hemmingway and James Bond and headed for a bar, where I soothed my stone-tight shoulders with a Sazerac and pretended to read while eavesdropping on drunken hipsters.

Maybe next weekend.

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Unboxing the Past

Since I moved into the Pink Palace roughly two years ago, my garage has been filled with boxes. Most of them came directly from the basement of the house I  rented for the first year after my divorce, unopened there or here.

Packing for the end-of-marriage moving day was done in a hurry, amidst the worst emotional turmoil of my adult life. Usually a well-organized, careful packer (a mover once complimented me) I just threw things into whatever box was handy. I didn’t clean or cull, just dumped anything in the house that I had defined as “mine” into a container, shoved them into the u-haul, and that was that.

In the following year I acquired some used furniture, new bedding, and rugs for the hardwood floors. I opened most of the kitchen boxes and a few books, but the rest stayed in the basement, awaiting a “permanent” home. Once I had one, I dumped the boxes in the garage and set about remodeling. I did one garage cleanout, but still didn’t have enough emotional distance to really dig into the boxes from 10 years of marriage.

Today dawned gorgeously: sunny and brisk, with leaves drifting from trees and a forecast for a rare dry day. Inspiration took hold, and I plowed through box after box.  Photo of the pricey cherry dining set I left with the ex? Gone. Little gifts I have no use for but saved for sentiment? Gone. Old boxes of pens and pencils, toys my godsons long ago outgrew, books I bought but never read? Gone, gone, gone.

When I came across a wedding photo or momento of my ex-husband, I smiled at the captured good memories and paused to hope he is happy. And meant it.

I found three calculators, two bike bells (neither ever installed), a huge  box of gauze bandages I can’t for the life of me account for, my favorite childhood ragdoll, and bungee cords. Lots of bungee cords. Large, small, red, blue, orange.  Apparently my life has required a lot of flexible tie-downs over time. Seems right.

I left kites on the steps of a neighbor with kids, and Dr. Seuss books on the porch rocker another uses with her infant. I put out a “free” pile of design magazines, complete with the magazine holder, and was pleased it disappeared in under an hour.  I donated old bifold doors and light fixtures to the Re-building center, and clothes, bedding, dishes, and toys to Goodwill.

The last effort was a scary one: the top of the garage came with large full garbage bags of… something. The house has a peppered history of shady tenants, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wrestled my configurable ladder into the long version and climbed up. There were more bags than I expected. Some were translucent, and a mass of greyish stuff showed. “Oh, please don’t be pot, ” I said aloud.

I nabbed the closest and dropped it off the edge. Tufts of fluffy grey matter huffed out a hole as it landed, and I realized it was bl0w-in insulation. But it was used: there were chunks of lathe poking through other bags. (Really it was easier to load it up a ladder to the garage loft than get it to the dump?) Still: not pot, not nasty mildewed clothes, just insulation. .

So, no more ghosts. No wondering what is in the boxes, or left from renters of years past. Only things that I can use, now, in this house and this life. And a whole lot of bungee cords.