So, while engaged in the seemingly endless task of cutting away the years-worth of bittersweet and green briar vines choking my high-bush blueberries, I began thinking of the perhaps-apocryphal quote attributed to Michelangelo communicating his belief that his sculptures were always present in the stone – his job was just to carve away the marble that surrounded them. The vine-swallowed blueberry bushes present an obvious equivalent, but the more I thought about it, the more Michelangelo’s belief also seemed to describe my feelings about this house and the life I hope to make for myself here: I can almost make out a vision of what I want it all to be, now my job is to carve it out of what is now standing.

On a less ethereal note, the contractor says he’ll be able to start May 15 if all the fixtures have arrived. And my faithful realtor has assured me that sinking $30,000 into this place isn’t an example of good money following bad, so I’m going The downstairs bath (left) is tiled in a lovely plastic marbleized product – note the rotting wood window in the tub area.
to be holding my breath and signing a contract in the next several days. In this case, I’m hoping the contractor is able to carve usable, attractive spaces out of the two areas that currently go by the name of “bathroom.”




Thinking this all through last night was pretty stressful – I got kind of cranky with Mike the Contractor yesterday afternoon when he came back with final numbers that were $2,000 above previous plumbing estimates, based on higher copper-pipe prices and fixture choices I had made.
Upstairs, you may think that’s tile, but it’s actually fiberboard patterned to look like tile and nailed to the wall. And that’s no fancy valance above the window – that’s a towel shoved above the upper sash, which refuses to close all the way.

As I spent the evening running logic circles in my head (“That’s so much money” … “You knew it had to be done when you bought”… “It has to be done” … “That’s so much money” … “Bathrooms recoup 102 percent of their investment”… “That’s so much money”…), I realized what I really wanted, more than an upstairs toilet that flushed without leaking and a downstairs bath with a usable shower, was someone to calm me down and tell me it was all going to be o.k.

It turns out that adventures lead to scary places when you might least expect them to, and, when carving out a new life, one is likely to hit knots or veins (depending on your material/metaphor of choice) that can force you to work harder to ensure that envisioned design emerges. One hopes the satisfaction of achieving the desired goal is worth all the added sweat and tears, but it wouldn’t be a real adventure if you knew the ending ahead of time.

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