Archive | January, 2010

The Big Project Plan in the Sky

31 Jan

This weekend’s focus:

Inventorying and planning out all activity to be accomplished to stage move-in to new house and sale of current house.

Pretty overwhelming. I laid it out room by room. Currently, the plan has over 100 tasks, spans two years and basically has us working on my in-laws’ house every weekend until May, plus all week during spring break.

Ben and I have tasks–and so do the kids. I am an extremely good painter and am kind of looking forward to it, even though I know I’ll be sick of it after several rooms.

What I am not is a good spackler. I need to take some remedial spackling training. The last time I spackled something, it took Ben a day to sand it back to flat. Oeuf. I’ll be studying up because we really need to divide and conquer with our tasks, and I need to deliver in this department. Stay tuned for some mistakes–it’s inevitable. I’ll be working with plaster.

The tentative plan is to move on Memorial Day Weekend. By then, we will (hopefully) have all of the bedrooms in the C-ville house painted, plus hopefully the living room and dining room. The family room and kitchen can wait.

Then, after our move to C-ville, we will paint every room in the Bexley house white again and get it ready to go on the market.

I need to take some before pics at both places and will soon post so that I can document our progress. It’s going to be a long next few months!

Another Winner!

21 Jan

This contest round’s winner of an annual subscription to Harvard Business Review is the extremely opinionated Mr. Brad Hunt. Brad offered his reflections on 2009 and prognostication for 2010 a few weeks ago.

Brad, congrats on the win. I will look forward to your informed musings fueled by HBR. Will be in touch to get your details for snail mailing.

Not Your Mother’s News Media

21 Jan

A post from the Werth Mentioning blog — one part of my day job.

Our Home Makeover Adventure

13 Jan

My husband and I have decided to begin the process of buying his parents’ house in Beechwold, north of Clintonville.  We are very excited about the possibilities. This is the home where he and his four sisters grew up and where he and I were married. Safe assumption that there’s significant sentimental value rolled into it.

Benefits:

  • Beautiful hardwood floors and woodwork
  • Slate roof
  • Overlooks a gorgeous ravine
  • Skylights
  • Lots of space — at least double our current square footage
  • Lots of good memories
  • Chance to carry on the family legacy in the homestead

Challenges:

  • How to reconcile the 1920s “old” part of the house with the 1970s era “new” part of the house? The styles happen to be ones I like, but they are not easily interwoven. There’s a definite shift in mood from one part of the house to the next…making it somewhat bipolar.
  • What if we change something that has particular (perhaps unknown) significance for a family member? There are aspects to the house that have been embedded in memories. We are being cautious here, but we want to make it our own home and are mindful of that, too.
  • Walls covered with a mixture of cork and wood paneling. Very brown, very dark. This is an aspect of 1970s interior design that we just cannot embrace. Like the color orange in carpets and couches, this was a trend that should never, ever return. Let’s hope. Our difficulty is we may not have enough money to put up anything else. Wonder what it would look like if we painted it all…
  • 4-foot-wide gothic chandelier that weighs as much as an anchor. This was custom-ordered by my father-in-law for the space. I remember when this variety of fixture was popular. A place my parents liked to dine called the Cork ‘n Cleaver had this type of interior feature. Just begging for lively Renaissance fair action occurring underneath, with “Greensleeves” as the soundtrack. Not really our style.
  • Buckling Pergo floor that needs replaced, but may have to wait until we have the funds to do it right.
  • The door to nowhere: One second-story bedroom has a door that used to open onto a back porch, but when the addition was built it took the old back porch’s footprint. So this door no longer has a purpose, but it remains in the bedroom. If opened, a person would step off the cliff and fall one story into the great room. It’s an interesting view from the great room, too…just hanging out halfway up the wall. Eventually, a spiral staircase to connect the too floors from the back of the old house into the great room is the logical way to go. Again, cha-ching.
  • Kids think the house is a bit spooky. This can be traced back to the chandelier, cork and wood paneling, and the fact that my husband and sisters-in-law have told them stories about the house being haunted.

Just for extra fun, not in the benefit or challenge category: Rumor has it that there was a still in the basement soon after the house was built, which was during Prohibition. Makes for added interest.

What issues will we have the time and funds to resolve prior to move-in? We have no idea, but it sure will make for some interesting stories along the way. We are thinking about blogging about the process, so watch for more info as details unfold. This will be a home makeover adventure!

Glassblower, Snowdriver

8 Jan

On Christmas Eve, the glassblower awakens molten dripping

On the end of a six-foot stick

And makes it grow like dough in the oven.

He says, “The Gorillaz give me the best beat,

But the glass won’t always shape my way.”

His trouble is to blow enough, and no more.

A fence’s distance away, he wills the glass into itself,

Which is akin to driving in snow and ice.

A tactile challenge: To feel the road,

Hands on a wheel and feet on pedals,

Through machine to four tires and layers of precipitation

To pavement.

In the crush of holiday travel on I-90,

The front tires are my hands, the back my feet

On this road that must be finessed

I can touch its salt and slick,

Divine a slide before its start.

Like the glassblower feels a vessel gel into base, curves and lip,

Without a finger risking burn.

Checklists As Memory Aids

6 Jan

I heard this bit on NPR yesterday about Dr. Atul Gawande’s new book, The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right. It made me think a lot about the value of documented repeatable processes, and how often I fall into the trap of thinking I’m too smart to have to use a checklist.

Dr. Gawande spends his “leisure” time writing for The New Yorker when not performing operations at Dana Farber. Clearly, he is a man with time management on his side. The bottom line, he says, is that no one is too good for a checklist. In fact, we should use them more often. When he asked surgeons whether they would use the checklists, 80 percent said yes. For the holdout 20 percent, he was curious. Would they want THEIR surgeon using a checklist prior to operating on them? Ninety-four percent said yes. No surprise.

The doctor analyzed pilot reliance upon checklists and applied that practice to the O.R. — with very positive results. He catches himself at least weekly forgetting something from his checklists, and his colleagues report similar results. My sister-in-law is a surgeon, and I know smart when I see it. If a surgeon can admit to needing a checklist, it must be worth doing.

And I read this piece last night on The New York Times site, about a new study confirming what the “middle-aged” crowd (defined as 40-60, therefore including me) already knows:

We forget more, but we can claim mastery of locating patterns in the midst of chaos. And we can become quickly distracted.

Shiny ball syndrome is our weakness. An apt quote that pretty much sums up my daily existence:

Brains in middle age, which, with increased life spans, now stretches from the 40s to late 60s, also get more easily distracted. Start boiling water for pasta, go answer the doorbell and — whoosh — all thoughts of boiling water disappear. Indeed, aging brains, even in the middle years, fall into what’s called the default mode, during which the mind wanders off and begin daydreaming.

I look forward to using this “default mode” excuse the next time my gray matter wanders astray. It gives meaning to something I’ve always blamed on character weakness.

Where was I? Oh, yes.

One point from the memory study is that we middle-ageists can resuscitate our memory abilities by learning new information, in particular information that runs contrary to our own set of beliefs or expands our current knowledge base.  Simply put, we need to take the road less traveled, in order to keep our thinking young.

It strikes me that memory-building involves both Dr. Gawande’s recommendation for relying on tried and true to-do’s and the exercise of stretching our brains to connect up neural pathways through new learnings. In other words, we can make ourselves smarter with memory aids like checklists and becoming (or continuing to be) lifelong students.