Sunday, January 6, 2008


I know a lot of people that claim winter is their favorite time of year and when I hear friends and aquaintences make this statement, I simply assume they've missed a few doses of their medication.
Personally, I take the “I’m not leaving the house until the snow is gone and you can’t make me, no way no how” approach to winter. This, of course, takes a lot of skill to accomplish and only the truly dedicated can actually be successful at this particular lifestyle. I have never had total success, but have come damn close some years. Born of this lifestyle is the disarray that has become my house. Even though I try not to leave the house from mid-November to early April, I manage to acquire an alarming amount of crap. I have no idea how this happens, I don’t shop online and you have do some pretty heavy negotiating to get anyone to deliver anything during this time of the year. But somehow, a curious variety of stuff makes its way into every part of the house. And this is the year I’m going to wage war and reclaim the space for which we’re paying a 30-year mortgage.

Of course, spending that much time cooped up in the house does lead to some slightly delusional behavior…our downfall seems to be a tiny overestimation of our handyman skills. At least once every winter, either my husband or I decide we’re going to do something impressive to the house over the course of the winter months. One year, we deemed the time was ripe for us to make the opening in the wall between the living room and the front hall. The theory was solid, this was going to make the front hall less claustrophobic and allow the heat from the fireplace to do something other than pool in the living and dining rooms, raising the temperature of these two rooms to approximately 185 degrees Fahrenheit, shutting off the thermostat and plunging the rest of the house into a climate similar to that of the Arctic Circle. We got as far as making the first cuts to the plaster and when the alarmingly large cracks began to form in the rest of the wall, we called Dan’s cousin Regis, the contractor, to finish the job.
The following year, Dan though it might be a good idea to get rid of the dropped ceiling in the living and dining rooms that we both passionately hate. My antipathy for the horrible acoustical tiles was tinged with both fear of the unknown and a healthy dose of curiosity as to what exactly was underneath them. Our house was built in 1890 and the hope was that the original crown moldings were underneath the 1960s textured nightmare.
During one blizzard that kept us housebound for three days, Dan became a man possessed…or obsessed. I’d catch him sitting in the recliner, fully prone, staring at the ceiling and muttering wildly under his breath. I swear I heard him say “All work and no play makes Dan a dull boy.“ at least once. Just as I started channeling Shelly Duvall in ‘The Shining’, my beloved sprang into action. With the energy born of a new mission, he had the living room nearly cleared in just over an hour, entrances sealed off with large sheets of plastic, the larger pieces of furniture covered with drop cloths, the ladder and pry bar in position and the children huddled in the office, convinced Daddy had gone completely mad. Two days later, the tiles were stuffed into the biggest garbage bags commercially available, waiting in the garage for the annual citywide spring clean up, the majority of the dust had been removed and the original ceiling was exposed to all. Oh dear. The crown moldings were indeed there, so was a plaster ceiling that was cracked, pitted and had several disturbingly large chunks missing. Time to call Regis again…he loves us, we keep him from getting bored all winter. I expect to get front row tickets when his children graduate from medical school, we do like to see the payoff to our investments. I’m hoping my simple organizational project will keep us occupied for the remainder of this winter so nothing like that ever happens again, right? Right??