Reversing an old habit

The adage goes ‘Old habits die hard’, and they do. Certainly one of the worst ones I have is the need for clutter around me. Well, I can’t say it’s a need necessarily, it’s just what I’ve become accustomed to, what’s easiest and it’s certainly what I grew up with.

My parents were pack rats. Today they would be branded as hoarders, but the result is the same. Granted this condition probably stemmed from growing up during the Depression years of the first third of the  20th century where families were losing fortunes, property, and their life savings as well as their possessions every day. You held onto whatever you had as long as you could. Too, things were built to last longer, not like today when items you purchase might not even last a season, let alone a year.

With all that in mind, I’m reminded that I have a house chock full of stuff. Every room has piles of things that just sit and take up space, they don’t move for weeks, sometimes months and quite often years. Add in the fact I have a storage bin with boxes of items, old furniture, and antiques from my parent’s house. Much of it hasn’t been touched in close to 30 years, certainly, much of it is still in the same boxes they were packed up in, in 1992. As I get older, I begin to worry about what will become of it when I’m gone. I don’t have children to pass it onto, so more than likely it will either be auctioned off or tossed in a dumpster somewhere. Or a landfill. That’s a sobering thought.

With all that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion something needs to be done before that scenario may come to pass.

The way I figure it, there are 12 rooms/sections of the house (not counting the storage bin, but definitely counting the garage) and there are 12 months in the year. It’s not to the point where there are newspapers and junk piled in every room, but there are things, and boxes, trash, and just stuff cluttered here and there that can be dealt with. I’m not going for a ‘hoe-out’, where things get tossed en masse, but we do need to cut down on the crap and minimize in many cases. Donate some, sell others, toss what’s broken, can’t be fixed or is beyond salvage. When we cleaned out my parent’s house in ’92 we filled 5 long construction debris bins with things they had accumulated over the years, and a lot of stuff was still left behind even so. I don’t want a repeat of that. That was hellacious.

So that’s my goal for 2020. 12 months, 12 rooms. I’ll be updating this as I go. If I finish a room early, I can start on the next, I think that’s fair.

Wish me luck.

Decorating a-go-go

I may have mentioned this more than once, but we’ve been living here in this house for almost 20 years.  We moved in the first day of November, 2000 and were renting the house at that time.  About a year later the people that owned the house made us an offer well below what they had the place listed for.  My wife and I at that time were still both working (she retired in 2006) and getting a mortgage from a ‘brick and mortar’ bank was proving elusive.  Online banking was in its infancy, and we decided to go that route instead.  We inputted our combined earnings with one of the fledgling startup mortgage companies and wonder of wonder, we got approved.  They sent us the requisite paperwork, our percentage rate wasn’t too bad, and it was agreed to be a 30 year note.

Before we finished purchasing, we had a company called ‘Pillar to Post’ go over the house and property, so as to give us an idea of what exactly we were getting into.  Granted we knew the house was built in the 1830s, so it was bound to have certain quirks, and we already had been living here for a little over a year, so some of those quirks were already known to us (sadly, the bats were discovered about a month after the sale was finalized.  Would have been better to know about them beforehand) though the inspector gave us some other things to consider and discuss with the sellers before everything was signed and monies were paid.

One of the things we thought was a little weird was, before we were able to occupy the house, the owners decided to paint just about every room in the house white.  The only rooms they left alone were ones that either had paneling, wallpaper, or a combination of the two.  Consequently, as we were never able to decide what color to paint any room of the house, we’ve pretty much lived with mostly white walls.  Over the course of our time too, we’ve not hung too many pictures, and what ones we have, have been a bit haphazard to say the least.  In the hallway there’s a piece of signed artwork from Berkeley Breathed.  It’s a print of the comic strip Bloom County, from 2015 when he decided to start drawing the comic again after a hiatus of about 25 years.  He’s continuing to draw them, but he’s relegated his postings to Facebook, and not newspapers.  So he doesn’t have to be required to ‘toe the line’ of publishers, in essence he’s self-publishing his work.  It seems to be working out the better for him.

Getting back to the topic at hand, we really haven’t had much time or money to do anything with the interior of the house, most of our time and expense has been with the exterior.  Getting a new vehicle put a dent in our money set aside of repairs and upgrades for the house, so perhaps this year we may not get the new furnace we were thinking about, perhaps just a coat of paint for the outside parts that aren’t brick.  A lot of the fascias and soffetts could use a coat of paint, the garage needs some work inside and out, and the bathrooms could use a major upgrade.

Lots of work to be done here.  Just have to set aside the money and time to get it all done.

Projects

Along with the small engine issues and the accompanying garden fun, I have other projects that I’ve been considering doing to both spruce up the place and keep busy, since when I’m doing things, I’ve discovered I’m not lying around the house and eating.

  • For many years I’ve been wanting to replace the old borders between the driveway and the small flower beds alongside the house, but could never find the right sort of lumber to do it with.  This morning, while I was scoping out information on Home Depot about the roto-tiller, I happened to look at the print ad and found ‘landscape timbers‘.  While doing a little investigating about what all they could be used for, someone had posted a review saying that they built an outside planter with them, as they’re the right size and fairly inexpensive.  Which got me thinking, and once I was thinking I started measuring.  Instead of locating a dealer or lumberyard that sells untreated cedar lumber (not easy in this area) I could utilize this instead, and build both the planter and replace the rotting timbers that are lining the driveway presently.  And at a very inexpensive price!  Not to mention, Home Depot delivers, so I don’t have to figure out how to get the [17] 8 foot timbers to the house.
  • I have a storage bin that has the accumulated items from my parent’s house, when I moved from there in 1992.  Since then, I’ve moved the items three times, and as of this writing am really not making use of much of the stuff there.  In 2022 it will have been 30 years since moving, and if I haven’t made use of anything, it seems that I probably never will.  Saving $750 a year might be a good idea, and the remainder I could couple with my wife’s storage bin.  Yes, she has one too!
  • Last year we had a local handyman fix the two Adirondack chairs that are sitting on the side patio.  We bought them when we lived in a cottage on one of the Finger Lakes, and they moved with us, and ended up being stored in the garage for 10 years.  Finally, I dragged them out and set them up on the patio, where they’ve sat ever since.  They’re made from pine, and have weathered over the years, but could definitely use a coat of paint.  The handyman offered to paint them after doing the repairs, but painting is a relatively easy thing to do, so I declined at the time.  I actually have a third chair that I’ve been meaning to build (it was an extended ‘reward’ on a Kickstarter campaign many years ago) but just haven’t gotten around to it.  Perhaps I can do that as well this summer.
  • The shutters on the house are in serious need of repair or replacing.  I’m thinking replacing, since they’re in pretty bad shape overall, and are so old, that they’re nearly all falling apart.  Too, they have antiquated hinges that I can’t seem to find replacements for, so I might have to get in touch with a contractor and get a quote on suitable ones; but I don’t want vinyl shutters, since you don’t put plastic shutters on a 180 yr old house.  That would be a little stupid, in my opinion.  (Wow, just priced wooden shutters and got sticker shock.  $550 for a pair of redwood… even pine [pine!] is $140…)

There’s more around the place, but I think that’s sufficient for now.  Just have to get the gumption up to get around and do such things.  Some are definitely easier than others, and some are going to put a serious dent in the household funds insofar as repair and replace.  But that’s part of owning your house.  As opposed to renting.  For the most part you’re keeping it up for the next people who are going to own it.

I’ll probably do a review at the end of the summer.  See how I made out.