Finding Peace in the Middle of a Construction Zone

Yes, I am trying to find peace in the middle of a construction zone. And no, I am not talking about living through major building renovations in the middle of New York City, or rebuilding in the aftermath of a tornado. Well–it’s actually quite a bit like a tornado.

Let me explain. My husband of nearly 14 years, my beloved Crankee Yankee, calls our home (circa 1953) his hobby. He is a retired carpenter, and a good one, too. Between he and his younger brother, they can do just about everything from pouring a cement foundation to repairing a roof. We moved into the house in which the Crankee Yankee and his brother grew up  after my wonderful mother-in-law died in 2007. We had moved in to help care for her along with Hospice, and she was pleased that we were going to be moving into the house that she had loved so much.

So, fast forward to 2016. While I am filled with awe and admiration at the Crankee Yankee’s ability to renovate, restore, re-purpose and replace nearly everything in the house, we are nevertheless living in an on-going construction zone. I can honestly say that there is no part of the house, inside and out; that hasn’t been torn up, re-insulated, patched, painted, and so on. Ours is the only house in the neighborhood that looks like it’s recovering from a bomb blast.

While the house is my husband’s hobby, it is also our home. We have four cats, two indoor only and two indoor/outdoor ones. Although they have never told me directly, all this hammering, sawing and demolition work isn’t anything they are too thrilled about. Me, neither. I have never in my life lived like this, and even after 9 years it’s still hard to accept, never mind live in. It wouldn’t bother me so much if only each project could be completely finished, and then move on to the next. However, I do get that when you’re working on an old house, there are constant surprises, and you can’t always finish one part without having to deal with another part (or several parts) that affects the first part. That’s just the way it is.

Case in point: one of the first projects the Crankee Yankee tackled was the beautiful bay window in the living room. His dad, also an excellent carpenter, had built a three-sided bay window off the living room decades ago and there was definitely some upkeep needed. But when the Crankee Yankee started pulling some of the bottom boards out, guess what he found: the entire inside had been taken over by a gang of honeybees! The inside was full of some pretty old and nasty-looking sticky combs, also dozens of dead bees; all of which had to be removed. So cleaning out the “honeybee hideout” wasn’t part of the original plan of just replacing a few boards, but nevertheless it had to be dealt with.

And this is how things go; you can plan to do this, that and the other thing, but in an old house there are always going to be those things you didn’t plan on. The upside of this is that we pay for materials as we need them, so we aren’t in debt. The Crankee Yankee is doing all the work, and often with the most welcome help from his brother, who is also no slouch at renovating, and also does electrical work. So the labor is free. But it takes time and patience.

Why am I telling you this? I tell you this to remind myself why, even with all the mess and dust and aggravation, I am proud of the smart, resourceful, handy and savvy guy I married. I am also telling you this to remind myself not to smack him upside the head when things never seem to get done. I may never make peace with living in a construction zone, but at least I haven’t snapped completely.

At least, not yet.


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