One Thing After Another

A couple of weeks ago, my parents emailed me with a picture of a big old pine wardrobe that someone in their condo building was giving away. I showed Ken the picture and he thought about it for a minute, then said, “You know that built-in cupboard in the upstairs hallway, the one made out of plywood that we keep sheets and pillowcases in?”

Me: It’s not plywood. It’s just not the best wood, but it’s not horrible.
Ken: I’ve always hated it. What if I rip out the built-in and we replace it with that wardrobe?
Me: It’s built right into the ceiling. You’d have to replace the drywall and then patch and paint behind it.
Ken: Cool!

We picked up the wardrobe from the very elderly parents of the guy who lived in my parents’ building. They were literally adorable, both in their 90s. He insisted on helping Ken and his son carry the wardrobe out to our trailer, while she insisted on showing me their house, including the rugs that she’d hand-knotted herself. We promised to send pictures of the wardrobe in place once we’d completed the project. And so the process began, as most home renovations do, in the ‘one thing leads to another’ school of fix-it projects.

1) Rip out the old linen closet. Discover a very cool hollow space at the base that would be perfect for hiding valuables, or love letters, or human remains, or old clocks. Discover that there is NOTHING in there. Wander the house in existential disappointment for 10 minutes.

2) Find some drywall for the ceiling. The old linen cupboard pre-dated the upgrade to the hallway, and the previous owners had simply drywalled AROUND it, which left quite a gap. Go to the store to buy drywall compound. Purchase Pokémon toys, shampoo, and chocolate in addition to drywall compound because I’m AT THE STORE, KEN.

3) Put up the drywall. Tape it and patch it, as well as all the holes in the wall where the nine-inch nails were holding everything in place. Not Nine Inch Nails the band, because that would have been super cool. But no—just stupidly long nails that ripped out pieces of lathe and plaster when Ken crowbarred the cupboard out.

4) Continue to apply drywall compound, because Ken is a fanatic.

5) Let the drywall compound dry. Search the house for the one can of paint that might match the rest of the walls in the hallway. Find three different cans, none of which match. Determine that now the ENTIRE hallway will have to be repainted.

6) Sand the drywall compound that coats the walls like a powdery white lover until you’ve almost scrubbed into the next room so that the walls that will be hidden behind the new wardrobe will be supersmooth. Spend half an hour vacuuming up all the dust.

7) Contemplate the waste of opportunity around having a very large space that would have been perfect for gold bullion, a severed hand, or even a rat skeleton, but which has been squandered. Realize that reality is never as good as your imagination and that you may be obsessing just a tad.

8) Mix two colours of paint together to get an approximate match. Decide that it’s not approximate enough to avoid having to repaint the ENTIRE hallway.

9) Curse the wardrobe. Curse it long and curse it deep. Rip a small piece of painted wallpaper off to get a match at the paint store. Meet a girl who is a WHIZ at paint mixing and who makes you paint that is indistinguishable from the rest of the hallway.

10) Realize that, if nothing else, the whole experience has provided you with a writing topic in a week in which not much happened.

In other news, there are less than 3 weeks until At The End Of It All, my new short story collection, drops. I’m super-excited. I don’t know how these things work, but if you want to host me on a blog tour once it’s out, I’ll repay the favour by promoting you and your own work, or posting a review, or whatever you like. I’ll even come to your house and look for ghosts, or name a character in my next book after you. I’m easy. And if you want to grab At The End Of It All as soon as it’s released, you can go to the Potter’s Grove website, or pick it up on Amazon.

55 thoughts on “One Thing After Another

  1. Wow, that wardrobe is in great condition! It’s beautiful and it will most definitely look wonderful in your house. I’m sure the work to get it into the exact space you wanted was some work, but it’s going to be so worth it. Ken is a wonder at drywall from what I could see, and of course your a whiz at mixing paint! I can’t wait for your next collection of short stories to drop!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow! You and Ken did an amazing job–and I can understand the disappointment of not finding anything in the gaps. But you never know–you might have disturbed a spirit? It might pop out of the wardrobe? It might want a glass of wine and a Pokemon toy?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I, and probably ten million others, would probably drive twice that many miles to have paint mixed accurately. (And, yes, I was worrying about this the other day, because I KNOW that even though the insurance adjuster said everything would be restored to how it was after the pipe break repairs are completed, I have my doubts when it comes to matching the original paint on the siding! Ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Why did you not leave the Pokemon toys in the secret compartment? I assumed that’s why you bought them. Well, that and to have Pokemon toys, but if you bought twice as many you could hide the second batch in the secret compartment and someday in the future other people, or aliens, will renovate the house, although it will be a very long time because any time it comes up I assume the conversation will go like this:
    “You know the built-in cupboard in the upstairs hallway that we keep bloxnorbs and greblzrg in?”
    “Yeah, that thing is freakin’ awesome. Whoever installed it did a really good job.”
    “I thought so too. I’m not even sure why I brought it up.”
    So while it may seem like you missed an opportunity all that work you and Ken did means no one is ever likely to see that little space ever again.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Home projects are always so challenging, Suzanne. You two get it done though, and the new wardrobe looks great. Too bad there wasn’t any treasure in the secret compartment! I’m looking forward to your book and would be happy to host you some Saturday in February if that works (maybe the 25th so I can read and include a review). Just let me know and I’ll stick it on the calendar.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I often wonder if the owners of my childhood home found the secret cubby in my closet where I kept my playboys. When I was 15 we moved and I couldn’t find any viable way to move them with me without getting caught. I’ve been back to my home town many times, as a matter of fact, I was just there last weekend and drove back by the place. I wanted to stop by and ask the owners if they would let me look around for old time sakes but I was too scared they would comment on the pervert kid that hid playboys in his closet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Having finished a home improvement project myself, I know exactly how it feels when you realize you have to repaint an entire room because of one little corner. And how disappointing it is when there is nothing worthy in those hollow spaces you discover under closets (there were some broken tiles in mine, probably left there since 1975, when the building was born). I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your house is exactly the kind of place I would’ve loved to live as a kid — full of secret compartments to inspire the imagination!

    Hey, if you want to stop by my blog on your tour, I’m happy to oblige! Shoot me an e-mail and let’s talk about the format of it! A simple Q&A?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That is so-ooo much fun! You omitted one of the most amazing properties of drywall compound dust, which is that the particles that float in the air are of a size slightly smaller than alveoli in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Also the tiny gaps between the contacts of every single mechanical switch of every electronic device within a 40′ radius, and especially in the guts of stereos. In that sense it’s like volcanic ash and it’s not uncommon for excavators to find families in recently dry-walled homes still sitting at the dinner table, perfectly preserved, after many years, a la Pompeii.
    JK, but I do recall a project involving the entire first floor of our old house when the two contractors were about to sheetrock the triangular shaped dead space below the stair way and above a small closet. “Do you want to play ‘time capsule?’ ” one of them called out. We walked in from the kitchen and saw them about to place the last piece of sheetrock and nail it down. Behind it, to one side, in the dark, we saw the eyes of our little cat, Roscoe.

    Like

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