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the renovation blues

So okay, it was a nice idea while it lasted, my renovation plan to create an apartment upstairs in my house. As I’ve said, John has already punched holes in the walls and ceilings, locating beams and plumbing. I had to clear out a little storage room for him to do so; boxes of files and photographs are crammed into my office. Chaos. Well, yesterday a man named Brian came to take a look at my brilliant ideas. His job is to take people’s reno plans to the city for approval, so he knows all the city regulations. Hello, wakeup call.

Immediately, Brian told me a city inspector would say the spiral staircase to the third floor, which we’ve used a million times since moving in here in 1986, would not pass code and would need to be replaced. Every single wall between what would be my home and the new apartment would have to be lined with fire retardant and “sound attenuation” baffles, including my living room ceiling, which would have to come down. There would have to be fire dampers in all the ducts. And more, much more. As he spoke, I felt weaker and weaker until I had to sit down.

The cost would be astronomical and the disruption enormous.

So. Not. Though Anna did suggest, if I decide to do it anyway, that I wait till next year when I’m not working and simply go away for 4 or 5 months while they do the work.

I don’t think so. Time for Plan B, only I’m not sure what that is. Maybe trying to do something much less there, a much more basic space, which would be far less expensive to create – and also, of course, bring in far less income.

I don’t know. I’m confused. Because to tell you the truth, part of me is relieved. My childhood friend Ron, a lawyer developer who knows all about real estate and city regulations, is coming over on Saturday (after he spends the morning riding his horse, which is boarded north of the city) to chew it over with me. In the meantime, my walls are full of holes and my office is full of boxes.

But I’m feeling human, at least, after more than a week of feeling lousy – fighting a bug, and winning. Yes! I hardly did anything physical, sucked back soup and juice, slept in – and it didn’t get in. Though just saying this makes me nervous. These things hang around waiting for their chance. Anyway, that’s why I don’t have much to tell you.

As a recovery treat I bought some organic Irish salmon from the new fish store on Parliament Street – so expensive, it’s like caviar – and my own personal tall tattooed chef is here preparing us dinner. I’ve been going through old papers, trying to throw stuff out and get my office back in order. Threw out an entire file marked “Indignant Letters;” there were many, and indignant they were. Took all the photos out of two battered albums – put the pix in a box, threw away the albums. This work is going to take a long time.

Found this photo of my dad. Who could resist him?

Found my identity card from theatre school in 1971 – such a serious young woman.

So yes, this work is hard, but fun. Going backwards into memory, and forward into the next adventure. Whatever that may be.



4 Responses to “the renovation blues”

  1. theresa says:

    Indignant letters! Oh I love that. Perfect title for an essay collection. And I hope something can be worked out, re: reno.

  2. beth says:

    Yes, for awhile, I now see, when Anna was a baby and I wasn't doing much writing, I made up for it with indignant letters – to the grocery store, the American government, various organizations … long, well-written, and very indignant. My friends know this is a habit. I used to write Letters to the Editor too. Not so much now, though in some ways as I get older, I'm crabbier than ever. But also more mellow. Ain't life strange?

  3. beth says:

    Okay, I'd better get on it and do something with that title before they do – well, with Leonard, it might take awhile…

  4. Stan says... says:

    "Indignant Letters" ~ That is the best album title I've heard in a while. Hell I can just picture Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits working on the album right now.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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