For the last couple of days, as the renovations slow and completion nears, I find myself with more time on my hands, more time spent in the house alone.
That time alone provided me with quiet and privacy, two things I’ve willingly lacked in the last weeks. The trade-off has been worth it as I sit here in a much different living room, recliner kicked back and laptop perched on my knees. The front door is open and I can see traffic pass on the highway in the morning fog.
Today the contractor will finish his work. There’s still much for me to do, but I can complete it at my own pace. The key work is done, and even if Dad were to come home tomorrow the house is ready for him.
Last night I limped around the house, cooked some supper (the stove is now clear and accessible at last). Somehow the day before I managed not only to twist something in my back and left leg but also to injure my left wrist. Getting up has been difficult since I exit the bed from the left and it’s my left side that is the problem. I guess moving boxes and furniture by myself did this, but how I managed to hurt my wrist is still a mystery.
All I know is that last night I couldn’t even type. This morning, it hurts, but I can manage. Ah, the joys of an aging body. This gives me a taste — and only a minor one — of the pain Dad endures daily. I’m annoyed but know this will pass, and some over-the-counter pain meds help.
It’s Friday, and as I opened the front door to see a foggy day, I realized it is also trash pick-up day. The garbage truck was already rolling, so I quickly went out the back and hauled the heavy, filled-t0-the-brim can to the road. My wrist now aches, but the can is ready for the truck to empty.
Having skipped last night’s blog because it hurt to type, I put out the laptop here in the living room and started the blog. It’s slow, but I’m managing. The contractor is here doing last-minute things — putting up a blind, putting in a safety bar in the bathroom for Dad, and putting the table back together in the little dining area. At least that’s what we call the area. It’s small, and it’s not only for dining, but it’s as close as we’ve got in this house.
I take a break to go and put on clothes to wash. Soon I’ll be able to put wet clothes in the (new) dryer and turn it on and then put yet another load of clothes to wash. There are two hampers to clear, though not all of it has to be washed today.
The kitchen counters need to be cleared too, so that’s another little chore I’ll do at some point this morning.
Bit by bit, I start to regain a house rhythm that isn’t tied to construction and renovation. It’s the life of a house, the nuts and bolts of everyday chores. Clothes to wash, boxes to unpack. Re-organization into new zones of use — an office out of Dad’s old bedroom, the living room that will be his new bedroom, my own bedroom which now can return to being only a bedroom for a change rather than a hold-it-all room. Kay’s room waits for her to sort and clear and order.
Yes, the house is finding its rhythm again. Rooms are beginning to emerge from chaos. Order peeps through too. There’s more to do, but now there’s also time.
And that’s what I’ve really savored the last couple of days. Time. Yes, I’m still getting up and being ready for workers, but I’m inside alone. I can move from room to room without fear of interfering in something. After today, only the last of the plumbing work has to be done, and that will be one day next week whenever the plumbers can find the time to come back. Now, though, I can actually begin to use the house, to live in it again.
The construction zone is about to end. Chaos still lives here, but not for long.
And I will be able to sleep without an alarm clock soon, too. Another joy. If I want, I can stay up late and read and watch television or work on clearing more boxes and discovering where I’ve stashed stuff.
Late nights are normal for me when I don’t have to adhere to a set daytime schedule. Even as a kid, I loved to stay up late and work. Now it’s no different. The quiet time of night usually is when I enjoy tackling projects of many kinds. When I was still teaching, it was normal for me to revert to a night owl’s schedule on semester breaks and over summers. For most of my life, I’ve had to force myself to follow a different circadian rhythm, and I will have to do that again when Dad returns. But for now, I look forward to late nights.
Quiet time is something I’ve missed as the renovations have gone on, but only in the last couple of days have I realized that. Now, though, I remember that as I have hours of time to myself for a change. That will also come to an end whenever Dad comes home. Then I’ll revert to living with someone.
For now, though, the time alone is wonderful. Hours spent reading or working on something. Hours when I can sit and chill at watching television.
Foggy days like today just call out for quiet time. The fog closes in on you, in a good way — sort of insulating you from anything else. If you’re not out driving in it, it’s even a comforting thing to enjoy. It reinforces the quiet time, the time alone. It calls for reflection and thought.
The view out the front door affords me a view of the field across the road, of trees, of birds. of cars as they pass on the highway in front of our house. Once Dad comes home, this will be his view. Mine will be out the window in the office, into the back yard. That’s a different perspective altogether. Even with the blinds and curtains I plan to put there, I know I’ll want to work sometimes with the blinds up and the curtains pulled back.
From those windows I can see in the distance the house of the neighbor who lives in the area behind our lot. More visible, though, are the old pump house and the shed at the back of our lot. That’s where the riding mower is, where the truck is, and where the 1977-ish Blazer is. Closer to the house is the garden area Dad used last summer, the large barrels nearly covered by the grass around them. Clearly, I need to get the wildlife-refuge look under control. The fig tree beside the pump shed is coming to life now as warm weather has come to stay.
Green grass and plants, trees and spring wait for me there. I must be sure to orient one work area with a view there.
My own bedroom has one window, but it’s covered by blinds and one curtain, and will remain that way. I want it to be a shelter, a refuge. There will be no real workspace there when I’m finished, though there could be if necessary. Instead, it will have a different feel. I’ve re-oriented the bed, and the new frame will join it soon. The head of the bed is on an east-facing wall, and it feels right. I may change it, but not for now. One small bookcase will stay, and the library table will rest behind the head of the bed, with space for a lamp. My chest 0f drawers is in place. The small chest Dad built for me in high school is there too. The many baskets and boxes filled with my stuff and stuff from elsewhere in the house wait for me to sort through them, moving things into place or into a box for storage or into a garbage bag. The new light blue color on the walls (Clear Blue Bottle, as termed by Lowe’s paint department) replaces a darker, harsher blue that my Dad surprised me with years ago. The color choice surprises none who know me; blue — any shade of blue, almost — has always been my favorite color. Its lighter and softer hue opens the room up while managing to establish a comforting, enclosing refuge.
It’s going to be a grown-up’s room, too, not a 15-year-old’s. I won’t use the mirror that’s been in place since I was in high school, with its remnants of high school and college life. Instead, I’ve got an antique mirror in Lake Charles that I’ll put up. Now that the two large bookcases have been moved to a separate office area, lots of wall space is waiting for something to go up. I think I’ll bring some of my paintings from Lake Charles. My DVDs will go into the small bookcase. I’ll mount the television on the closet wall, freeing the window seat for use as something else. Perhaps I’ll put a small window air-conditioner in the window once that’s done.
It’s only 9:30 a.m. now. Dad is having some physical therapy before getting ready for dialysis and I won’t visit him until later today. After I leave him, I’ll drive to Lake Charles and join friends at a coffeehouse, where my friend Mike is playing guitar tonight.
It’s Friday and the weekend is nearly here. The fog has lifted. The garbage truck has emptied the garbage can. The contractor is finished. For now. I’ve got one more project to complete, replacing the 46-year-old indoor-outdoor carpet in the small room off the garage and laundry room; that can wait, though, because that room has become the default junk drawer of the house and it requires full-time attention. That can wait for the rest of the house to be cleaned and organized.
For now, it’s time for diet Coke and maybe a book.
Order is returning with spring as rooms are brought to life and new purpose.