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Things don’t always work out the way you think they will (Duh!) (08/20/2006)
By Frances Edstrom

I know a lot of people who have redecorated, renovated, knocked out walls, and even built new homes. And I always marvel at their fearlessness. Anybody who sells paint or wallpaper or carpeting in this town knows that I take on the purchase of such things the way most people would plan a trip to the moon. I decide, then I undecide, I choose, then I find another choice. A year, maybe two later, I might undertake the project. By then, my original decorating choice has either been discontinued or is grossly out of style, and I have to start the process all over again.

Knowing all this about my building-based decision-making abilities, I was surprised to find myself poised to hire a contractor to build a new room onto our house. If I hadn't involved an architect in the process, I would probably still be staring at my own crudely drawn rectangle that was supposed to represent this new room, without any idea how to bring it from paper to reality.

But architects and their cohorts in the building trades are used to people like me. Part of their job is to act as a combination of social worker, probation officer, confessor, life coach and lion tamer.

I signed on, dreading the process but buoyed along by the promises I saw in the neat blueprints and books on colors, trims and paint techniques.

In my mind last April, I saw myself coming home from work at the end of the day during construction, strolling around outside and peeking in inside, to assess the progress made that day by the workmen who had by then gone home to dinner. When all the banging, sawing, hauling and installing would be happening, I'd be comfortable and oblivious in my cozy office downtown. Oh, maybe a phone call now and then to answer a question. I was confident I could handle that.

The one thing I didn't plan on was being stuck at home, confined to one bed and one chair during the add-a-room project. It's kind of like going to the theater and finding your seat is behind a huge post. You get the gist of what's going on, but you know you're missing a lot.

But over the past two months I've gotten to know the workmen who come to the house. Not really know them well, you understand, but sort of the way you get to know characters in a TV show.

"Oh, there's Tim (or Jay)," I'll say to my sister. "What's he doing?"

Or, "Who's up there now? What's that funny noise? What are they all looking at?"

I think it drives her crazy. She does drive me slowly past the place so I can see the outside, and once took me for a walk in my wheelchair so I could get a good close-up.

But now that the exterior is about done, and they are working on the interior (have you ever chosen a color scheme for a room you've never seen?), I'm really driving her nuts.

"Go up and see what they're doing?" "How does it look?" "Is this in? Is that done?"

Finally, she took my digital camera up and took photos of the paint job, the woodwork and the view. I was satisfied for a while.

Then, this morning, two guys came and started working on the outside of the room on a side I thought was long finished.

"Go see what they're doing," I said. But she went to take a shower instead, and by then the guys were gone and their business will remain a mystery.

Not to compare a new room to the arrival of a precious baby, but the processes do seem very much alike to me. I live the developing action vicariously, and when I get to see them each in a little over a month, they will be fully hatched. In a way, I feel sorry for this new room. How can it ever compete with my first granddaughter?


Thanks, WSHS marching band

A rousing cheer to the Winona Senior High School marching band for their Mill Street performance on Friday at 2 p.m. It was a dreary day, I was sitting waiting for e-mails from the office, when my sister came bursting into the room, demanding that I crutch out to the front porch. There, marching west on Mill, was the WSHS band! You guys look great! Disciplined, precise. And you sound great, too!

Come any time for another performance on our street. (Just ignore the cats bolting from the bushes and the dogs joining the percussion section.) 


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