Mariposa Life

Debbie Croft: House isn't a home -- it's a project

Debbie Croft

Lately when my mom calls, her first question is, Are you done painting yet?

Embarrassingly I admit, No. I'm not.

After reminding her of my usual responsibilities, I list the problems that keep us lagging behind in our recent home improvement projects.

Most property owners in this part of the country refer to their home as "The house that Jack built." Walls are crooked, floors are crooked, doors are hung crooked and anything else that might usually be built on the level is crooked. It will take the rest of our lives to get this house straightened out, I'm afraid.

One author wrote, "Normal is a setting on your dryer." Which translates for homeowners: There's no such thing as normal.

Expect the unexpected.

And don't make plans until it's over.

Because even when it should be over, it's not.

And won't be for another two weeks.

Or three or four.

If you're lucky.

But to answer my mom's question, my one- and two-week decorating projects have somehow turned into living with construction dust and debris for months.

For instance, after pulling off old paneling, I discovered chunks of even older brick and mortar facade on the wall behind it. Did I mention gaping holes in the wall where previous owners tried to remove the old wall-covering before putting up the paneling?

Now, what began as a simple project just inflated to super-size. Before we can paint the wall, we have to scrape the wall, replace entire sections of the wall and then tape, texture and prime the wall. And it's not as though we have extra pieces of sheetrock sitting around just waiting to be hung. Which means the project is postponed, until my hubby or I can borrow a truck and get to a hardware store.

When I removed baseboards in the same room I found mold and another hole in the wall, where dry rot has eaten away at the framework behind it. Now we have to bring a Bob-the-builder guy over to tell us how to fix that problem. Which means another waiting period. Or we could hire him to make the repairs. But how many husbands do you know are willing to let another man come into his house and do work that has to be paid for with his hard-earned cash, when he can do it himself? If he only had the time... the tools... the money... and the expert knowhow...

On the plus side, renovating, remodeling and redecorating are big business these days. One homeowner's idea of dream decorating is the next homeowner's decorating nightmare. Which work together to keep the American economy stimulated. And our budgets strained.

Just about the time our family refinishes the kitchen cabinets, some decorating guru decides shelves are the latest trend for storing culinary gadgets, dishes, pots and pans and the like. Shelves make the room appear more open and inviting, he says. This same All-Wise-One has now decreed kitchen cabinets hung on upper walls to be "so passé."

Great. That's all I need. More space for resident spiders to make their cobwebs, not to mention the accumulated dust and grease on those fashionable shelves.

I think I'll keep my cabinets right where they are, thank you.

On Facebook last month I posted something about my decorating frustrations that day. When husband Ron read it, he guessed things were looking pretty bad. And he was right, but he came home after work anyway. What a guy!

With the old hymn speaking of mansions in Heaven, if I didn't know better, I could easily believe that Hell is one giant fixer-upper, in a rundown neighborhood comprised of millions of dilapidated, horribly decorated rooms, with neither cabinets or shelves, that was built by the same guy who built this house. And all the hardware or home improvement stores would be hundreds of miles away. For the rest of eternity I would be tormented by a demon whispering in my ear, "Forget trying to make this place beautiful. Just use duct tape."

To be continued ...

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at, or at her Sun-Star blog: City Girl, Country Life.