Major house renovations have kept Paws for Reflection more than busy this oast year, and we apologize to our readers for being a bit more absent than we had planned.
With a big old farmhouse in rural New England, life is a challenge, and fitting the time in to blog is near impossible with all the lawn work and gardening, say nothing of making sure the kitties are spoiled rotten.
Add to that major house renovations and unexpected dental work and it put us over the edge.
Planned time-off from work was eaten up with both of these time killers. The renovations were planned. The dental work was not.
Even though others are actually doing the renovations, you can’t just them go at will. You need to know:
- What’s going on now?
- What’s going on next?
- What you want to happen next.
- What you have to do to make the next step happen.
- Slotting in the time to make all of the above go relatively smoothly.
- Keeping the cats calm with all the noise & distractions
The Paws household had a new foundation put in on our ell which literally would have collapsed. We also had a new roof put on the ell, which also presented a whole layer of unexpected work. Just to let you know, an ell is a wing of a building that lies perpendicular to the length of the main house. In old farmhouses like this, the ell is often extended to attach the main house to another building, usually a barn. It takes its name from the shape of the letter L.
This saga started last year when we hosted the Memorial Service for my Mom’s passing. A dear relative whom I will not name offered to help fund the foundation work. ‘It’s what Mom and Dad would have wanted’. So the search began for someone to do the work.
Cats not impressed with major house renovations
But while the Paws family was thrilled, we were also scared. The last time someone touched the foundation on this house, an old safe, which probably weighs at least 2 tons, went through the floor. We didn’t know that a cement wall had been built underneath to sure it up. All we knew was that any time you walked into the cellar, it looked like a mine had collapsed. (The debris had never been removed).
While my Mom had been able to open that safe, I never could. So step 1 was to hire a locksmith to unlock the safe. While I had most of the combination, I didn’t have the exact reiteration. After some searching and phone calls, step 1 was accomplished. Should have done that one years ago, as it would have saved me mountains of grief after my Mom died. The missing will was in that safe.
Then, there was the time to go through everything in it – nothing of value, but lots of history, sorting through each sheet of paper, piece by piece.
Foundation work began in mid-May, and took about 5 weeks. Two weeks were without front steps. It was interesting to see the whole story unfold, but very stressful.
First, what do you want done with these huge granite slabs that had been the foundation? Where do you put them? I’d always wanted a rock garden, and figured out where they might go?
Do you want the dirt from the fill hauled away? It’ll cost more $$. My brain spiraled into action finding a place for that.
Water away from the house – where can the ditching go? The deck needs support which had rotted from the winter – can they do that?
What’s the process? There were 6 footers put in – then the cement.
Needless to say, the cats were not impressed at first. If the crew wasn’t directly underneath the living room, they adjusted, except the final jack, which put the house back together. When we heard the house groan, both me and the cats felt like running for dear life. (We;ll talk about how the cats fared with all these changes in a later post).
At the end of June, the project drew to a close, but now it was time to replace the ell roof, which hadn’t been replaced for over 40 years. Shingles were strewn over the lawn, and there it was obvious this job was 10 plus years overdue.
I contacted a contractor whom I’ve had do many jobs, and he agreed to take it on. But once we ordered the materials, there was a strange silence. We found out a hernia operation delayed the project by 6 weeks.
They didn’t plan to take off the old shingles, but thought it best to do so. I had planned to find someone who would pick them up and haul them away. Turns out that person was me, and I spent 6 days of time-off, picking up shingles and disposing of them at the dump. I kept thinking, ‘who needs a gym?’ Great flexibility training.
The new metal roof meant that the car could no longer be parked in the old spot as the snow would come careening off the roof, and well, it would be impossible to maneuver to get back and forth to work during heavy snowstorms. That meant moving all the wood from the woodshed to a new home so it could be converted to a new car port.
Moving that woodpile was an expected task, but it also took a good 10 hours to do. More time spent on non-writing tasks.
The job is not done. There’s a couple of storm doors to be replaced, 3 windows, and a few other things. It’s hard to get contractors to work on old houses, and I know the Leroy will most likely retire next year. His assistant, Paul, has hinted at the same. So I’m trying to maximize what I can because finding a new contractor may be well to impossible.
Paws usually has some free-lance writing gigs, but this year, they all evaporated. We actually were quite happy about that because there was no way it could have worked.
With a full-time job, a 2-hour commute, lawn work, and yes, the dental issues which took another 4 days of time and discomfort, plus the cats, there just hasn’t been enough time. But with fall and the renovations coming to a close, we hope that changes. Rather than falling back, Paws for Reflection hopes to blog and write ahead. And of course, there’s the social media… And how do we find the time for that piece?
And the winter was spent getting the house back in order. Everything took twice as long as expected. And when Paws found time to devote to our blog, we went back to the basics (more on this coming in a future post) with Google Analytics, Security issues, finding a good backup program, and learning how to use Yoast to ensure better Search Engine Optimization. .
Have you ever had life’s events overcome you, and prevent you from spending time doing what you’d really like to be doing? The house seems a constant. There’s always something? And then, there’s all the time on the job that pays the bills, when we’d much rather be doing something we really like doing? I say, thank goodness for blogging and writing about cats – because it’s the 1 thing that keeps me sane. Ever feel like this? Please share your thoughts.