No budget, but still friendly.......


It's Sunday evening and no matter how old you get it always feels like a school night. Take out the trash, watch Disney and make sure that your homework is done. As I'm older, much older, and my adult schedule is nothing less than three weeks behind, two hours over time line and at least one cocktail in my perpetually confused over analyzed self imposed map to nowhere.................I'm paying bills. I've found that the more money you send in the mail, the better people like you. I think there's a hooker joke in there somewhere, but I've promised to leave City Kitty out of this.

As I tried for the 50th time to check my payroll deposit and bank balance on line, stopped in my tracks by yet another password update, verification code change and email account safety measure that makes it virtually impossible to do anything but cuss, I've decided to resort to something that I can control and write a bit. I may be a day late and dollar short, but Wednesday or so I'll just drive by the phone company and aggressively throw loose change at their windows. I've done it before and their attorneys will inform me if it's been applied to my bill or bail. Lately they're just glad that someone actually made an attempt to pay their inflated fee and no one was hurt in the transaction.

As with any renovation, I'm months over schedule and way beyond budget. Is that even a real word? It must be French as at this point it sounds pretentious and smells a bit funny. I've been acting as my own general contractor, and knew I was being unrealistic. Budgets are for cosmetics, but the real problem is always the structure. Function over form! But, when you have effectively blown the pretty wad on the not so fun details that no one will ever see, it seems ever so ridiculous to use builder grade finishes on the part that makes you smile on a daily basis. In other words, once you've frugally and patiently made your own prom dress, why skimp on the shoes? You're already there. You might as well dance.

I don't condone going absolutely crazy and bidding on Liberace's parlor chandelier for your bathroom, but a little bling never hurt anyone and it makes the dollar store soap feel a lot more luxurious on your skin for the next 20 years that you're paying off your home equity line. Buy now and pay later? Well let's just say, buy conscientiously now, live and smile now. Besides, shiny safety bars on the tub keep your less than cerebral friends attention off of your saggy butt and wrinkled knees when invited over for a group shower. We must think to our futures.

We're at that point where the details are being added. This is also the time that you've spent too much money, yet your vision is finally coming together. The excitement will guide your heart and the sleepless nights and red lines in the checkbook will cloud your head.

The new deck off of the living room connecting to the gazebo is structurally finished. The electrical is complete and the tweaks, painting, staining, railing and landscaping will be ongoing. Dad thinks that the privacy section connecting to the house looks somewhat like a movie set for Gunsmoke. He peeked out of one of the open window sections and politely asked Grandpa Jones "What for supper"? Possum stew, black eyed peas, collard greens and the sweet tea of my youth. It looks ever so like a band stand, and that pleases him. I'm glad.

The oaks and pine are sanded, stained and buffed. They look beautiful and the the differences in materials due to salvaging as much that is original is not only interesting but a budgetary decision. Pick your battles and make it work. A wonderful guy named Jose' lovingly touched every inch of my walkways assisted by his equally detailed son Allen that I couldn't help but refer to as "Hose B".. They seemed surprised and delighted that I would bring them breakfast every morning as I believe it's impolite not to break bread with the troops. Besides, as bacon makes everything better.............it certainly perfected my floors.

The beam that is used to structurally open up the space in lieu of a more costly re-build, has been covered in a stainable veneer to compliment the floors as a design choice. Mack did an amazing job and it has become not an eyesore, but a feature. If you put a tattoo on your backside in your 20's, you better be prepared to wear assless chaps in your 60's. Embrace it. Walk tall and preferably, backwards.

The doors have been jammed.. Trim added. Windows and walls painted. Ceilings resurfaced. Lights and fans installed. Built-ins are being assembled, and with an error or two in ordering and sizing, custom blinds and pull downs have been put into place.

This week the sink and stove should arrive. I have chosen commercial grade items that for some will be over the top, but having been in the restaurant and bar biz for decades, I find them upscale, work horses that for the price are an amazing option in form and function. The sink is a stand alone deep bay double soaker with stainless cutting and drain boards flanking the sides. Very usable and helps with dollar savings on the remaining quarts counter tops. The stove is a Black Diamond that is a cost saving version of a Vulcan. The stove has perpetual pilot lights on its six cast iron burners that can be replaced with griddles and tends to run hotter than typical residential models when baking. Maybe not the choice for those with young children around, but as a Hansel and Grethel enthusiast, it works for me. I may make cookies, but not running a daycare and only bake children occasionally. The dishwasher will be a Bosch, as I have found through research and good authority is probably the best on the market for the price. In a million dollar home, keeping all appliances as one brand package may be an aesthetic and selling choice, but for my purposes, I prefer to select the best individual items I can for the price. I will be spending less than $5000 on the entire stainless, fridge, stove, sink, dishwasher, microwave and vent that an equivalent look in a custom home would easily top 20k. That works for me.

I've been working like a dog at work and on the house and attempt not to bark too often, as I am trying respectfully to not show my ass to those giving more than 100% to the effort that they are giving to my vision and passion. The closest I am coming to a German Shepherd is the constant white trash kibble of junk food I have been inhaling out of convenience in lieu of a more healthy diet that I prefer when inhabiting spaces with an operational kitchen or a Mom that delivers home cooked meals of substance and love. Yes, at times I am feeling orphaned, alone and swinging on the limb of a tree that I didn't plant.

Later tonight I'm going to stain some trim, and paint a wall of knotty pine that will erase almost 50 years of my life. It's a strange balance of sadness, dread, anticipation and hope for the future, but like many roadblocks, it must be passed. None of us can remain stagnant without consequence or move forward without hope. It's a balancing act much like a teeter totter that none of us can experience alone. In this case I am enlisting the help of my inner child, my present self and my future more enlightened presence in this house. From this moment forward I will never be the same. There is fear and beauty in that phrase that tickles my need for newness and adventure. There is trepidation as well, as closing the door on our youth limits the options of our maturity.

Know that we are of one mind and one body. We come from the same source no matter how differing our opinions, thoughts, and skin may be. But in the end, as we search endlessly for the answers and the aliens arrive to harvest us like cattle, at the best you're probably just going to be a double cheeseburger on a gluten free bun. Mcthought for the day................I prefer turkey.