DE-FUNKING

All long-term restoration projects involve…creeping funk.

This is when somehow, when you are not looking, every room gets filled with clutter. In one room miscellaneous trim fills a corner, a stack of wood shingles sits in front of the mantel, small boxes rest adjacent, several doors (from where?) rest against another wall.

And so on.

You do not even recall how these various bits of flotsam ended up in the room. But, there it be.

And almost every room in the Cross House now suffers from this creeping funk.

Oh, the horror.

 

Today, I began the process of de-funking the house. Young Brock (who works with Justin and Scott) and I started in the Round Bedroom. A while back, while trying to ascertain the damage to the mortar holding the vivid blue tiles surrounding the fireplace opening, I first removed the oak mantle, and began poking at the mortar. Suddenly, most of the tiles (and brick backing) collapsed. I threw my body against this avalanche and managed to stop the irreplaceable tiles from smashing to the floor. The bruising I suffered was well earned.

With the mantel to one side, and blue tiles, bricks, and chunks of mortar on the hearth, I stepped out of the room vowing never to return. And this is how things have been ever since.

Today though, Brock and I reinstalled the mantel, the fallen tiles were placed neatly on the hearth, the old collapsed mortar was discarded, and the area vacuumed.

Oh. MUCH better.

Along the south wall was bits of the main stair. This was all taken down to the basement. Adjacent, were small bits of fiberglass insulation. This was discarded. There were tools laid down years ago (and often searched for). These were collected and taken down to the basement workroom. Tears filled my eyes witnessing the joyous reunion between the long-lost tools and tools properly stored.

And so on.

It took but a half-hour but the room was emptied of everything and the floor vacuumed. The difference was astonishing.

 

The Sewing Room, too, was de-funked and the adjacent sleeping porch was subtly modified to be hostile to pigeons. For several years the birds…for reasons which escape me…decided to roost on the bathroom window cornice and then shit shit shit on the porch floor. So, Brock made the top of the cornice unsittable via a 1×12 board screwed to the wall at a sharp angle. The porch was then de-shitted. Ahh, civilly returned. And one would naturally now be thinking: Ross allowed this to happen?

Ross did.

Baaaaaaad Ross.

 

In the Long Bedroom were parts of scaffolding. Why was this still in the room? There were many many many bits of electrical parts, the result of when the room was rewired…a friggin’ year ago.

Covering the hearth was a large pile of lath. Where did this come from?

A Hefty garbage bag revealed curtains. I put these inside the 1950s Hollywood-Regency dresser.

And so on.

Then the now empty room was vacuumed.

 

In the rear hall is now a lot of…stuff. I asked Brock and Justin and Scott to grab some of this stuff every time they descend the servant’s stair and, thus, with no extra effort, in a week or so all the stuff will migrate to the basement so it can be properly stored.

 

The third floor is not toooooooo bad, having been cleared a year ago but it requires a vacuum, STAT. The first floor is pretty OK as I have been able to forestall creeping funk. The basement is immaculate after a huge amount of work this year. And the carriage house…praise the Lord…is more immaculate than it has been since I purchased it.

 

An issue, a huge issue, is that the blood clot I developed in 2020 really assaulted my energy (the clot, eventually, dissolved. Or so the doctors think). I feel like I have half my pre-clot energy and even before the clot I experienced annual reductions in energy levels from when I purchased the Cross House in 2014. Of course, this is normal as one ages. When I was 40 I was a whirling dervish. I am 65 now. Golly, what will 70 be like? The question scares me.

To compensate, I increasingly rely on Justin Scott Brock. If they are working on the house this somehow charges my batteries and I get way more done. They returned today after a week and a half off and during their absence I accomplished almost nothing on the house.

This compensating factor is, obviously, $$$$ but it is unthinkable to just stop working on the house.

 

Hiring Cody was another compensating solution, and to help with the business. His departure in March punched a huge hole in Getting Things Done. With his help I was able to get 30 lights listed for sale monthly but this dropped to to 6 in April (EEK!!!!!!!!), 8 in May (EEK!!!!!!!!), 10 in June ((EEK!!!!!!!!), and 15 in July (EEK!!!!!!!!). This is bad and will, no doubt, depress my numbers for a long while.

In short, I have to daily ration out my energy and the business is awarded about 80%.

And this is why pigeon shit piled up on the sun porch.

And this is why there have been vastly fewer blogs posts this past year.

 

I have friends who, due to health issues or depression, exalt if they manage a daily shower and cleaning the litter box. They marvel at my current energy. “I would kill for even half your current energy!”

This, thus, informs my response to a precipitous energy decline: I am both alarmed at the decline and grateful for the energy I still have.

Fear and gratitude, sharing space.

Life is weird.

 

 

12 Comments

  1. john feuchtenberger on August 4, 2022 at 2:11 am

    Time, like an ever-rolling stream, leaves us with

    “A general flavor of mild decay,
    But nothing local, as one may say.”

    BUT “Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    You have the right of it: when there is help available, flagging energy stabilizes and is renewed to get up and do it again. And again. And again.

  2. Dan Goodall-Williams on August 4, 2022 at 3:09 am

    Ross, you really need to let more friends help. We all slow down as we age, like it or not. However, I think your energy level is still quite high.

  3. Karen on August 4, 2022 at 4:55 am

    I am nine years older than you. It gets worse. My solution is to accept help when it’s offered and pay for what I can’t do. Thank goodness I have the means to do so. It also helps to pace oneself. Work and rest….work and rest. Things might take longer, but they do get done.

  4. mlaiuppa on August 4, 2022 at 5:07 am

    I’m 67 now and I accept that I can’t work like I used to. When I was in my 30s and 40s I worked 16 hour days. I’d put in a full day at school, then when I got home work in the yard or on the house until it was too dark to see, then go inside and do other stuff until bed.

    I can’t work like that any more.

    Plus I can’t be working for hours non-stop or be on my feet for long periods of time. My back can’t take it and I have to sit and rest for 20 min at least every so often. I work sitting down when I can.

    I also accept that for some things that I used to do, now I have to hire out. I had planned to climb on the roof to install two TV antennas (UHF and VHF) but have pretty much decided that I’m going to need to hire someone to do that and just supervise to make sure it’s done the way I want and not slipshod. I don’t think I have any business climbing all over my roof at my age.

    You have accomplished an astounding amount in the 8 years you’ve worked on the house.

    Just the de-funking alone is a big accomplishment. I’ve got funk sitting all over the place. I’m busy cleaning up splinters all over my parent’s house when I should be home working on my own logs but that’s the way it goes. I need to get some of those projects at my parent’s done soonest so they have a chance to enjoy them before they pass. After that, I’ll have all the time in the world to get my own house in order.

    After all that you’ve accomplished you deserve some years to just sit back and enjoy what you’ve done.

  5. Pam on August 4, 2022 at 5:43 am

    I hear you Ross. I never had much energy except for my work, which I needed to devote myself to for my survival. Having two houses must be a financial and an energy drain. How close are you to resolving that situation? I think every single effort should go towards moving you in. Then effort should be made to get you a better income by renting out spaces that are rentable.

  6. Rebecca Van Hout on August 4, 2022 at 8:34 am

    I relate to the energy suck. I think this has been a common theme amongst everyone Inknow during this weird time since COVID started. Time moves at its own pace and slows down or speeds up in strange unpredictable ways for me. My husband usual high energy has been replaced by malaise, and then I’ll get a burst of energy and exhaust myself doing all the things in an effort to keep up. I think you have accomplished so much despite everything! In the last 6 months all we have managed to do is rewire the whole house $$$$ hired out to professional electricians and put in new vanity cabinets in 3 bathrooms and hire kitchen cabinets to be made. You will be pleased to know we were able to save the original combination gas/electrical fixtures. Your work on your home inspires me. Every step forward is a step.closer to your long term vision!

  7. Kim on August 4, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Time. Ugh. It drains away everything in incremental bits. It slows everything down, just when “right now” seems oh, so important! Struggling against the net seems to pull one further into cautious … disregard? … neglect? …

    Then I remember … baby steps …
    Think of it this way, Ross: the past year, your health has been your new, long-term restoration project. Everything had to be reorganized to include a few “extra” things to keep it all (Ross) going – doctor appointments, medications, very necessary rest, etc.,. The health situation magnified what would have been disappointing yet, not too, too unusual setbacks. You’ve juggled everything fairly well because … baby steps.

    Health will always be the other, “ongoing” project, alongside the other long-term restoration projects.
    💜 Baby steps, Ross … baby steps.

  8. Bill F. on August 4, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Lately I have been going back and rereading the posts that started this blog while I await new posts. In a very early post you said your goal was to make the Cross House a little bit better than it was the month before.

    Eight years later you still manage to make the house a bit better than it was before. It’s hard to to see the progress when you are in it everyday, but if you step back and make a monthly list of “betterments” I think you’ll be as impressed as we all are at the progress being made.

    I too tend to think the last 2 and 1/2 years has sucked the energy out of everything. Between COVID and polarizing politics it has been exhausting.

    My hope is that once you move into the house your energy will return. The energy within the house will protect and improve you as you have been doing for the house these past 8 years.

    And sometimes it really does take a village to get thru. Lean on your support network and never be afraid to ask for help I think the response will amaze and surprise you l.

  9. Karen Spencer on August 4, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    Hi Ross,

    Thanks to you, I am much more careful about standing on weird things like the countertop to reach—I totally channel you and get a step stool!

    You are making remarkable progress, and as you know, it will all wait for you.

    I have recommended your advice to be careful, and your patented baby step method to many.

    I am 6 years older than you. I have a few injuries here and there. You can find me taped up with bright pink or turquoise KT tape pretty often. The news is often what really hurts…

    I look to Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden. Those folks are some great examples of aging.

    Keep on truckin’ dear Ross!

    And always, thanks for all you give this wonderful community you have built.

  10. Laurie L Weber on August 4, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    This is so weird that I read this post now. I’m with your friends – always so amazed at what you can get done. I did 3 miniscule things today I’ve been putting off for months that really took no time at all, and I feel awesome. So don’t beat yourself up = you do amazing all the time; you don’t have to be superman all the time! 🙂

  11. Cindy Belanger on August 4, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    Oh Ross, join the crowd. I am 71, it seems I really started slowing down when I turned 70. I can still do most of the things I used to do, but I can’t do them all in one day like I used to. I need to lay down and rest my back when I’ve been working in the garden or on the house for 2-3 hours. You have had an amazing amount of energy in the past, you probably still have more energy than most of us that are posting answers to you. Be proud of the projects that you have accomplished. And like people have said ask for or accept help when needed. Baby steps really do yield results. I hope you can take some solace in all of the comments written. Here’s hoping you can move into the Cross House by the end of the year. That will cut down on traveling back and forth. Also work and expense on two houses. Hang in there Ross. Big hug.

  12. Mike on August 5, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    I feel your pain; I am 57, but have survived one heart attack and two bouts with cancer, so I am thankful just to still be here. I look at my house, and I wonder…will I ever finish it? Or will I leave it with things undone, for my family to either hire done or sell it as-is? I have to keep faith that I will get there; working on my house is like therapy, as long as I accept my limits and work within/around them. It’s slower and more expensive, but I am making progress, and so are you, my friend. Keep on keeping on.

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