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While Sis was off watching whales in Alaska, I kept watch over her home renovation project.

If you were to ask, I’d say I had the better deal… for rarely does my vacation reality measure up to my vacation dreams.  Couple this with the downsides of the vacation experience — like how exhausting travel can be, how expensive vacations are, how vacations never seem quite long enough — and maybe it explains why I believe the best part of any trip is coming home.

So while watching whales and soaking up gorgeous landscapes had to be amazing, I was perfectly content to park myself at my family’s long-held homestead.  In fact, in coming to terms with life without Daddy, there is no place I’d rather be than at my sister’s house, which in a previous life, served as my parent’s home.  Spending time there allows me to remember past times with gladness.  And as we give this old place a new lease on life, it helps me say goodbye to what is gone as it prepares my heart and mind for the new life to come.

Sometimes I wonder if restoring unloved homes and gardens isn’t my true calling.  Because while I’m “on the clock”, time slips away into nothing.  With paintbrush in hand, while concentrating on painting clean, crisp lines, I too have been on vacation from everyday life.

As “our” carpenter said the other day, we are now experiencing the satisfying part of the renovation.   No longer are we tearing down; instead, we are creating and refinishing.  Bit by bit, this “house that Jack built” is losing its former identity and taking on a fresh, new identity.

Along the way, we’ve addressed function as well as beauty.  We’ve run new electrical wiring to address old problems and add a little glamor here and there.  For example, now centered on the antique claw foot tub — which awaits its turn in the beauty chair —  is a sweet little chandelier in my sister’s main bathroom.  Another chandelier has been installed over what will be a kitchen island.  And on the functional side of the equation, we’ve added electrical outlets in both areas — can you imagine a bathroom without an operating electrical outlet?  — and made the house cable-ready for 21st century electronics.

Though we’ve much to do before we can rest on our laurels, it’s good to share that the kitchen is mostly finished —  three days of solid painting remains.  Significant work has already transformed both bathrooms — both feature new sinks and counter tops.

Wonder of wonders, for the first time ever, the new shower in the master bathroom is plumb to the walls.  While making this miracle happen, the  carpenter wondered how the  previous shower door had ever shut.  No use wondering I told him:  The door hadn’t shut in years.  Not to be outdone in the wondering department, the plumber asked if we knew that the old shower was draining to the crawl space under my sister’s house, rather than safely exiting the house through the intended drain.  Well… no, I told him.

To learn of the few inches of standing water sitting underneath my sister’s house, along with news from “down under” of dripping HVAC ducts in need of insulation were surprises of the worst sort.  But in a renovation project, the only true surprise would be one that held no surprises.

The scariest part of the entire project is not dealing with the surprises.  Somehow, these will be made right in the end.  No, what disturbs me is that the end (at least on the interior) is almost here.  With less than two weeks before the floor refinishers arrive — and a good three weeks of hard work remaining — it’s my turn to wonder at what needs to give.  It’s time to set priorities and not get sidetracked, as I am so apt to do.

I know that somehow, everything will come together.  It always does.  And in the meantime, can I say how amazing it all looks?  I hope Sis will be pleased with all the changes the week has brought.

In my book, pleasing Sis is better than watching whales in a gorgeous setting.  And though I never once “wished she was here”, I am so very glad she’s back home.

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