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Extreme Home Makeover

Well, hon, looks like we need to find a roofer!” my husband said, phone book in hand. I couldn’t help feeling he was just a little too perky about it; in my mind, it’s just wrong to spend that much money on something I can neither wear nor drive. But he is a Project Man, and Project Men are simply not happy unless there is major construction happening in or around their home on a regular basis.

It started last winter, when the combination of record snowfall and subzero temperatures created an interesting dilemma, i.e. should we shovel the roof or simply incorporate the rivulets of water streaming down our living room walls into the general decorating scheme?

After some debate, we pulled out the phone book and found a young man to shovel off the roof … and that’s exactly what he did. He shoveled off our roof, shingles and all, instantly calling to mind that old joke, “What time is it when a guy with a shovel shovels off your roof? Time to get a new roof!” Oh, you mean that’s not how it goes?

But we needed a new roof. What we didn’t need was new landscaping. Unfortunately that’s where most of the shingles chose to land in their dramatic escape from Shovel Boy, and as I gazed out at the stump and branch that were once my beautiful hemlock, I almost wept. Such a young life, cut short by a convoy of fleeing shingles. It wasn’t fair.

“And as long as we’re replacing the landscaping,” my husband said, dreaded book open to the magical yellow pages, “I think we’ll put in a little patio over by the deck—it’ll have paver bricks and a walkway and little lights and you’ll love it!“ And it was a kind of miracle, really—a little hemlock growing into a big patio. Something you don’t see every day.

But was he happy there? Not so much. As our new roof was being installed and our yard underwent reconstructive surgery, my husband looked out and said, “That sure is a nice-looking roof and yard. Let’s paint the house!” And off he went to find the phone book. I really have stopped trying to understand him. It’s just easier.

This newest project sparked The Great Family Debate as to the perfect color for the house. My husband and I favored a neutral, non-glow-in-the-dark shade. My daughter would be happy with nothing less than Barbie Pink, while my son chose camouflage, proving once again that my goals and desires for my children are essentially meaningless in the face of biology.

“Hey, Mag, did you ever notice we don’t have a storm door?” he asked excitedly the next week. Fortunately the new door we apparently had to buy to go with the new paint job was easy enough to match, because hey, what doesn’t go with camouflage?

“Now about the playroom,” came next. This one actually perked me up.

The playroom, you see, was my pride and joy. It was a wonderful, large open space painted in primary colors that would at once provide our children a safe place to play, and me, a room with a door in which to shove all their toys.

Unfortunately, it also had a drop ceiling that, well, dropped. Kaboom. One day it was a ceiling, the next it was a floor. Play dates became a little tricky: “Yes, your child will be playing down there, but I’m sure those hanging wires and things aren’t really dangerous …”

We decided that if we ever expected our kids to have friends, a ceiling was crucial. And now that it’s done, naturally we have to repaint the entire room, which was—oh, let’s call it unexpected, since I’d just painted it last year and all. “No problem!” said my husband. “Really! It’ll be fun! We’ll just get the kids their own little brushes, and they can help!” Uh huh. What’s that saying about some path and good intentions?

At any rate, I think we’re getting there, although there may be a few wrap-up projects yet to do. I came home the other day and The Book was open to “Driveways,” because you really can’t have a new roof without a new driveway. And of course we have to replace those pesky outside lights that no longer coordinate with the house because of the new paint job. But then we’re done.

Color me surprised, then, when my husband walked in today with new home listings in hand. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I’m just getting a little bored here. Wouldn’t it be fun to just look around a bit, see what’s out there?”

I simply smiled, picked up the phone book, and hurled it at him. He ducked, looked back at the hole in the wall, and said happily, “You know what? You’re right. There’s still plenty to do around here!”

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. She’s decided to frolic in the sun this summer, so this is a column reprinted from 2004. Reach Maggie at maggiesimone@verizon.net and tell her you miss reading her new stuff.

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