Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Home Renovation II: Party Time

“You hung streamers today?”

Caroline seemed pleasantly confused as she walked in the door from school.

“Are we having a party?!” her eyes danced with excitement. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth, so I hung up the kids’ tiny coats and gave them both an after-school kiss just beyond the cheekbone. Cyrus proceeded to the living room without a word; rain was forecasted, and he had hours of carpet farming ahead.

But oh, to be five again and view the world in such a way that you believe the multiple strands of fly tape hanging from the kitchen ceiling, bathroom ceiling and living room ceiling is party streamers.

Caroline on the only horse we'll welcome to the farm at this time. 

Last week was an active week of the home renovation project, though I wouldn’t exactly call it a party. The builders worked on the roof and ordered cabinetry; the HVAC expert came and installed a new furnace; the local, farmer-owned cooperative set a new propane tank, trenched the line, and hooked up the system; and the electrician began marking outlets and asking a lot of questions I don’t know the answers to.

How many outlets does one laundry room need? I have no idea. My current laundry room houses two sump pumps and a tank of bull semen so I don’t believe I can accurately assess how a real laundry room should function.

We only went without heat for 36 hours while the new furnace was installed and the kids loved every bit of our camp-out (more like glamp-out, as we slept in our own beds). They begged for a fire in the fireplace and smores, but it was a Wednesday and I try not to start disasters mid-week. They settled for a Curious George story told by flashlight.

With all those guests over for a “party”, the influx of flies in our farmhouse was natural. Though, that didn’t make it any less annoying. Flies in the shower, flies over the produce, flies swirling around the kitchen sink, flies buzzing around the Halloween candy jar (this was the only time the children even noticed them), flies stuck in the curtains, flies in the hot-wax burner, our coffee, my hair.

So, I asked Cody to pick up a remedy the next time he went to the hardware store.

He returned with eight rolls of fly tape, and you know how I don’t like to let things go to waste. Eight rolls of fly tape can canvas a 1000-square foot home quite thoroughly.

We may not spend our Saturday mornings in a tree stand like avid hunters do this time of year, but Cyrus has really taken to checking the fly tapes every morning when he wakes. They’re high enough that he can’t touch them, but he can count the flies caught. He asked one evening if we could take the flies down so he could haul them in his grain cart to the elevator. I reminded him that he’d get docked for pests and foreign material. He quickly went back to hauling stale Cheerios. I do appreciate his interest in diversifying his farming operation.

I survived a major home renovation in the ‘80s, but I was Caroline’s age, so the mess, displacement and lack of order didn’t phase me. Survived isn’t even the appropriate word; I thrived in it. Every day was an adventure in which I was actively engaged. 

I remember my grandmother coming over periodically to view the progress. She’d walk in (usually through a wall because we didn’t have doors for a long time), look around and mutter about what kind of mess her daughter had gotten herself into. I remember her hands in her pockets. I remember clearly that Grandma rarely sat down, and she never took off her coat.

More than thirty years later, my mother showed up to our farm recently and wanted to walk through our home renovation progress. She walked right into the kitchen, then stopped and put her glasses on. “Do you have fly tape hanging up in your kitchen?” she asked with a teaspoon of judgement.

“Yes. And the bathroom. And the living room,” I revealed without hesitation. If she was going to judge our living arrangement, I might as well air all our dirty – fly specked – laundry now.

The woman didn’t say anything more, she just zipped up her coat.