Column by Kay Frances
Column by Kay Frances
This old, OLD house.
I’m in a long-term committed relationship. With my house. But I have to admit, sometimes I develop crushes on other houses. Currently, I’m obsessing over a newer home that is for sale. I go online and gaze longingly at its garden tub and open floor plan. I feel like I’m cheating on my house, but I just can’t help myself. I have even physically stalked that newer house by driving slowly past it, hoping that the current occupants don’t see me and alert the authorities.
Parts of my house are over 150 years old. With at least two add-ons, there are two other “ages” to my house. (I know how it feels. Sometimes I “feel” like I’m 21, but then my knees remind me that I’m actually 154.) A real estate listing would describe it as a “charming older home.” Translated: “This house has ISSUES!” I just live with its many quirks and don’t even notice them until I have a visitor and I have to go through the litany of “watch-its.”
“That door sticks, so you have to pull it up, over and down.”
“To turn that light on, you have to make sure that both switches on either side of the room are pointing skyward.”
“Before you flush, jiggle the handle for exactly four times, then jump up and down until it finishes the cycle.”
Yes, my house practically oozes “charm.”
Over the years, I have replaced every surface of my house; walls, flooring, ceilings on the inside and siding and roofing on the outside. So, I have had a parade of handymen of various stripes parade through my house, offering up their counsel and wisdom. I’ve learned that sometimes people will overstate their abilities. The phrase I’ve come to dread is, “Well, I’ve never actually done that before, but how hard could it be?”
My dad used to have an expression, “Don’t put a 100-dollar saddle on a 50-dollar horse.” So, I’ve always endeavored to have the work done as cheaply as possible. But I like things done “right” so it’s been an exhausting dance that I’ve done over the years, balancing quality with price. Sometimes, my stubbornness will kick in and I’ll buy into the notion of “How hard could it be?” and search the internet for how-to videos. One time, I decided to mud and sand my own drywall. BIG. MISTAKE. The guy on the video made it look soooo easy, as professionals often do. I didn’t have the “knack” of putting the mud on in a smooth way like the video guy did and when I went to sand it, there was so much excess that my whole house looked like the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
With all of the work, money and sweat equity that I’ve put into my house, I guess I’ll stay awhile. Maybe I will go online and learn to knock out a few walls and open up the floor plan. I mean, how hard could it be?