When I retired, almost 9 years ago, I had no plan other than to not leave my house for a couple of weeks. I had no job prospects, nor was I looking for any gainful employment. The only thing I was very sure of was that I was more than a little crisp around the edges from 27 years of police work. I was not then, & am not now, at all regretful of those 27 years, but I was most emphatically DONE. And while I will always value the skills I acquired in law enforcement, many are not transferable to civilian life, such as my ability to hold my own in a bar fight. But what do I do NOW? Just housework?
Actually, yes. While I was hibernating in it, I looked around our house. I looked in closets & containers. I inspected walls & cabinetry & floors. And I expanded my definition of housework to include work that if I hired someone to do it, would have cost us a fortune. Never mind that I did not know HOW to re-finish wood floors, hand-trowel plaster, or repair sheetrock. Nor had I even painted anything in some years. I viewed these as unimportant details. After all, I was reasonably smart, not unfamiliar with hard work (although I was thankfully distant from a time when I had to do it frequently), & perhaps most importantly, I had the time to learn both how to do these things & to actually do them. I was, without question, woefully naive.
And so it began. I de-cluttered the attic, closets, drawers, & had a tag sale with my neighbors (I believe that for all the work I did, I averaged about 75 cents an hour.) Working on a room-by-room basis, I repainted the walls & ceilings, acquiring decent skills in repairing holes & re-taping corners. I stripped & refinished the oak floors, using a palm sander (I once asked the nice Roger how other people accomplished this task, & he told me that other people HIRED other people. I found this unhelpful.). I refinished the kitchen cabinets. And finally, in searching for an eco-conscious wall finish that was not paint, I fell in love with hand-plastered walls. If only I knew how to do this. Well, I know now. It’s a pain in the ass. That must be why plasterers are expensive. They know to charge for their respective asses being in pain.
During most of this process, the nice Roger appeared to be content to stay out of the way, & dealt fairly well with whatever the inconvenience of the day happened to be, whether is was furniture constantly being re-arranged to facilitate painting/plastering/floor sanding, household traffic patterns disrupted, or just my occasional exhaustion-induced crankiness. He erred only once.
One fine late spring morning, I was getting ready to continue working on the painting of our bedroom, as Rog was getting ready to go to work SOMEWHERE ELSE. This was not the first room to be worked on. It was the fourth. This fact may account for my reaction to his decision that morning to give me some advice. Rog apparently felt that I was not working in a particularly organized fashion, so he took it upon himself to say to me, “I think you should BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH”, detailing the specifics of how he felt I should proceed with my work. Unsurprisingly, I was spectacularly uninterested in his advice. The conversation did not end well. Frankly, I was quite rude. On the upside, it never happened again. And, he left for work forthwith. There was no downside.
Nowadays, the vast majority of the work is behind us. The nice Roger actually did do many helpful things involving carpentry (moldings & entry surrounds), electrical (new outlets, switches, light fixtures installed), & even a little painting (I don’t like heights, & our living room ceiling is 15′ up). One fun-filled (HA!) weekend recently, we successfully worked side by side to re-surface our kitchen counters in copper sheeting.
Our house is hand-made, & I find that makes me happy. I’ve acquired mad repair skills, & extensive knowledge about how my house is built. It’s easier to maintain. I look around at what I’ve done with the nice Roger & I am deeply satisfied. This is probably why I don’t hate housework. It’s actually lifework. And life is good.