Pink House Chronicles No. 6

I’m in my house. I actually live here, get mail here, fall asleep and wake up here.

It’s not totally finished, but close enough. I’m still missing some closet details (like rods and shelves), and I’ve not removed the stickers from new windows and doors (WHY are stickers so hard to remove?!)  The main thing is the (formerly) pink house  passed the city of Redding inspection.

I moved out of my twin sister’s house, with some help from the kind guys at the Good News Rescue Mission, who sent over four strong men, a huge truck and a van to move me and my stuff five houses down the street. (I love calling up the GNRM for moving.  You pay what you think is fair. I’ve never been disappointed.)

For a couple of weeks I actually lived in the house while it was still under construction, which was interesting, in a front-row-seat, TMI kind of way. But it also did a major number on my privacy. I got so I didn’t mind if contractors Ron and Dave saw me in my bathrobe in the morning, but I tried to be up and dressed before the parade of subs started wandering through.

The house turned out better than I expected. With its original wood floors and exposed beamed ceilings, it feels welcoming but modest. Would I do some thing differently? Of course. For example, I’d make sure there were lights in all the closets, and I’d think twice before I chose such dark kitchen flooring as the vinyl I picked because I’m constantly wiping stuff up with a paper towel. (My previous kitchen floor criteria was that I could toss a handful of salt, flour, pepper and sugar on the sample and you’d never see it.) Also, I’d have added more skylights, the large square ones, not the tube ones. (Because I can’t see the sky in the tube skylights, which defeats the purpose — for me.)

I participated in some pet projects, like sanding a pair of old doors I bought at an Epperson’s auction for $5 each nearly 30 years ago – two husbands ago. I’ve been dragging those doors around all this time, and finally I sanded and finished them and gave them a proper place. (They’re hall closet doors now. And that’s Alan Phillips’ adorable daughter, Iliana, helping me sand.)

Oh sure, I have some things to get used to, such as the alarm system. Note to self: When you set the alarm in the “stay” position at night, remember to disarm the alarm before opening an outside door in the morning. Just an observation: Security alarms’ volumes seem even louder at about 6 a.m.  And strangely, although for nearly six months of remodeling I didn’t see one ant inside the house, the day  I passed the city’s final an army of piss ants invaded the kitchen.

Other that those tiny things, I’m beyond happy with how the work turned out. There were some unexpected events along the way, such as when I turned to a familiar, formerly banished woodworker to build some custom cabinets and an archway between the entryway and kitchen. Call it compensatory furniture-making. Call it moving on beyond the rage to civilized conversations with the person with whom I’d spent more than a dozen years of my life. Who would have guessed I’d ever choose to speak to him, let alone let him into my house, or even consider having his work in my house? I know. I never would have imagined that scenario, either. But life is funny that way. Never say never. O-M-gee. Ain’t that the truth.

I’ve intentionally not published photos of the finished product yet, but rather, photos of the last leg of the remodel. After the next chronicle, then we’ll move outside, where we’ll see how Karen McGrath’s landscape design is going. I’m saving the final photos of the interior shots for the next installment – No. 7 – which is my lucky number.

I do feel lucky. And I feel so connected to this house, not just walls and a roof,  but a project I immersed myself in as I healed from the hurt of a failed marriage and searing betrayals. My divorce was finalized just before Valentine’s Day. Soon, I’ll resume my maiden name: Chamberlain, and leave Greenberg behind.

Meanwhile, Ron and Dave of Best Choice Home Improvements have moved onto other jobs that were waiting in the wings, as have all the other terrific craftspeople who helped transform this pink house into my personalized dream space, a place where I can host group hugs for our team of anewscafe.com meetings, and I can watch The Most Adorable Grandbaby in the World, Austin, every week.

And maybe I’ll even get back to teaching private cooking classes from time to time. Not just yet. But eventually.

Now it’s just me … adjusting to living by myself for the first time in my life. This is a new chapter for me. And it’s a new chapter for this house, built in the same year I was born.

I can’t think of  a better place for a do-over.

Photos by Alan Ernesto Phillips

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doni-new-mugIndependent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Eleanor T says:

    Thanks, Doni – I've been waiting on an update on TPH, and I have been missing, missing your written words! So much information and emotion contained in so few lines – you are the best at the craft (and so early in the morning, too!) Any news on chickens for Shelly? We just bought some baby chicks and now have to quickly build a coop (predator proof)

    Best wishes always.

    Eleanor

  2. Avatar jacki g. says:

    Well done, Doni…on all counts!

  3. Avatar Tom says:

    I guess this is an official welcome to the neighborhood. It is a pleasure to see that the pink house in no more. Also good to see the spotlights removed from the front of your house. Welcome, Doni.

  4. Avatar JeffG says:

    Wow Doni, it looks great! Congratulations!

  5. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    Glad to read this. I've been meaning to write or drive by, so I'm happy to know that you are in and settled.

    If you resume your cooking classes, put my name on the top of the list. They were a blast!

    Love to you and baby Austin too!

  6. Avatar Doug Mudford says:

    Hi Doni

    I appreciated the "do-over" tips. I'm filing them away for future reference. What final touch will make you sit down and say "that's it… I'm done"?

    Doug

    • I'll be done when I have speakers on what's now bare wires; when the closets have rods and shelves and doors; when all the kitchen cabinets have all the shelves and pull-outs … but those are small things. For the most part, it feels pretty much like a real, finished house. Other tips: leave enough space beneath doors that a rug can be opened in front of the door without bunching it up when the door opens …

  7. Avatar Jenny Hart says:

    Doni,

    How truly wonderful for you to finally be IN your house. I totally identify with the feeling of having your very own, mine-all-mine, everyone-else-has-to-knock house. Living alone is its own adventure, but it grows on you! And thanks for letting your readers share the journey. I love your house, but I also understand how much more YOU love it.

    Best wishes, homeowner!

  8. Avatar Chere McMillan says:

    Wishing you lots of wonderful memories is your home. Thanks for letting us come along on this journey!

  9. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Doni, Welcome to your new home and a new beginning. Your former pink house must feel proud that it's not pink anymore and other residents of the Garden Tract are probably thanking you as well.

    Your grandson, Austin is a cutie. My wife and I just became great grandparents again…God how time flies…to a little peanut named Austin.

    Have fun in your new digs Doni Chamberlain. We love ya!

    Budd

  10. Avatar Amy Gibbs says:

    Hey Doni-

    Congratulations! It looks cozy and sweet! I like the clerestory windows. More pics when the inside is more complete, please.

    I totally get what you said about He-who-must-not-be-named doing work for you. It just feels more civilized. And there is some compensatory value there…my ex still does work on my Mom's clarinet, and he by God better do it free!

    Love,

    Amy

  11. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Wonderful, Doni. Nice to have a lot of the work done. Yes, I also chose the wrong color for the kitchen floor, and I knew better.; also no lights in the closets. We shall call you Doni Chamberlain from now on.

  12. Avatar Grammy says:

    Congratulations, Doni! You are an amazing example to us all! Enjoy your new home…May it continue to bring peace and joy to you every moment.

  13. Avatar Janel says:

    What joy you are sharing! So good to have you healthier and stronger.

    Smoooch.

  14. Avatar Karen C says:

    I was happy to see you have moved in Doni. Love the red door! It will be fun to finish it one step at a time and make it "yours". How lucky you are to have your twin so close. Be good to yourself and have fun with the rest of the project.

  15. Andrea Charroin Andrea Charroin says:

    SOOOO happy and proud of you!!! Congratulations on moving forward, you are one amazing lady!

  16. Avatar Kelley Franks says:

    Congradulations Doni, Oh boy what a year, right?

    You not only had the courage to remodle the pink house, but I can,t help but congradulate you on the transformation of you!!!! What courage!!!!

    Some how I think that the living by yourself thing will be sort of like a coming home… I think we all get to a stage in our lives where we become comfortable with who we are, You have the bravery to do this in front of yur readers. You have a lot to be proud of. Best of luck as you add all the finnishing touches that make a home. Austin is going to have soooo much fun this summer.

  17. Avatar Kathy says:

    Congratulations Doni!!!

    Wishing you good health and much happiness in your new home as you start a new chapter in your life.

  18. Thank you, everyone, for the nice comments. I may live alone, but obviously, I'm far from truly alone, thanks to you! I'm blessed and feel grateful.

  19. Avatar Dave Armstrong says:

    Congrats on the new pad, Doni – best wishes for the future! 🙂

  20. Avatar Kathleen says:

    We're so happy for you Doni! Can't wait to see the finished product. It's been so much fun watching the transformation. I'm also very excited about the prospect of you doing more cooking classes. I need you;^)

  21. Avatar Tammy D says:

    Congratulations on "it takes a village to create a home" approach. Beautiful and inspiring! Best wishes to you in your wonderful new digs. Great job everyone! Looking forward to final pics and landscaping.

  22. Avatar tom graves says:

    Hi Donni- I was impressed with what you have done with my old house- I owned for a couple of years, and frankly made pretty good money when I sold it. I almost bought it back a couple of times- I have regretted at times selling it- it is a unique house and has a lot of character. The open beam ceilings and the pool and the hardwood floors were all unique. I am glad that you saw the potential and have upgraded it. I liked all the nooks and crannies on the sides and there is a lot of potential for gardening. Anyway, it is a good house to heal in and no- I did not paint it pink. Actually, I had it fixed up pretty nice. Anyway, would love to see the finished product.

  23. Avatar Karen C says:

    Hey Doni,

    The tip about leaving enough space under the door so it will go over a rug may not work, if it is an outside door. The cold/hot air will come in and then you will need to add weather stripping. Just move the rug back a step or two, That is what we do.

    I've driven by your new home many times (on my way to see Donna Rose) and loved watching the changes. Your front doors are lovely. Can't wait to see the new yard.