Jen and I have an agreement that covers any work undertaken in the house. I’m not allowed to start up any major new projects without first finishing all the niggling little things left to do on the rooms we’ve started, and she lets me keep breathing. Because of the schizophrenic order in which we’ve worked on the place (and my own obsessive-compulsive behavior), every room needs that extra push to get it over the hill so that we might actually call it “done”. We have a page in a notebook called the Punch List, and it details stuff like touchup paint, cutting little bits of wood, fixing holes, and other room-specific stuff that takes lots of time to do for little immediate impact.
This weekend I decided to take a whack at the list and see how much of it I could knock out before Sunday evening. First up was toe molding, that essential, expensive little strip of wood that goes at the base of the kickplate around the perimeter of the room, and which keeps uneven 80-year-old flooring gaps hidden and cold drafts away from naked toes. This stuff is $.59 a foot, which sounds cheap, but gets expensive when there are two 12’x’12 rooms to be fitted out. It’s also a pain in the ass to install when there’s furniture in the way. Having the miter saw all the way down in the basement means careful measurements and allowances for dyslexia and stupidity must also be made. I usually wear running shoes for this, because I average about 50 flights of stairs before the job is complete.
Paint touch-ups take three seconds, but the process of running to the basement, washing and drying the brush, and returning to the same floor to touch up a different color all take much longer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Next up was the closet door in the Blue room, which has never closed properly since we’ve been in this house. I’ve always meant to get to it, but never have. The doorjamb is as crooked as a politician, a victim of drunken carpentry practiced as the moldings were installed in 1925, so I popped the hinges off and trimmed the top of the door with a circular saw. That process took all of fifteen minutes, but locating, installing, and adjusting an original striker plate so that the door would close took a half-hour.
As I was
swearing at adjusting the plate, I looked around and thought about the work that the Doctor did in this house, and how all of it was absolute shit. Not one thing in this house was done professionally, competently, or with any concern for the future; things like the “electrical work” in the living room come to mind, where his handimen wrapped two crumbling live wires with inches of electrical tape, stuffed the switchbox with newspaper, and then plastered over it. Or the hallway “plumbing repair”, which involved a handmade rubber gasket and a plaster wall patched with cement. I could also go on for hours about the stuff that was ignored—separating plaster, substandard insulation, cheap replacement windows, nonexistant water drainage, etc., etc.
At first this thought made me mad. But then I realized the house got exactly what it needed when we moved in, and I felt better that we’re taking the time to go through and undo as much of the damage as possible. I just wish we were independently wealthy so we could hurry the process up a few years.