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
Independent 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.