A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


I don’t know whose idea it was to remodel our home right smack dab in the middle of the coldest, snowiest winter in recent memory.

OK, that’s a lie.  I DO know whose idea it was.  But if 30 years of marriage have taught me anything, it is that this is probably one of those times that I should leave her name out of this.

So anyway, when Anita decided (OK, so maybe I haven’t learned anything in 30 years of marriage after all) to get this remodeling started RIGHT NOW, there were good and compelling reasons to do so.  For one, her nephew is getting married in April, and his family will need a place to stay while they are here.  I’m not exactly sure why a wedding in her brother’s family should end up costing us thousands of dollars, but if I’ve learned anything in 30 years of marriage . . . well, you get the idea.

The other reason we decided to do it in winter is the fact that . . . well, it’s winter, and since nobody in their right mind would intentionally gut their house while there is more than a foot of snow on the ground, the remodeling crews are unequivocally available.  My response to this is the guys who host river running expeditions in the nearby – and currently snow-covered – mountains are also available right now, but I don’t see us rushing to take advantage of their services.  To which Anita smiles, pats my cheek and hands me another box to haul downstairs.

To be honest, the house we live in has needed to have some work done on it ever since we bought it 14 years ago.  The plumbing was done on the cheap, and we think the electrical wiring was probably installed by a pyromaniac.  Then we turned the dining room into an office and just sort of filled the doorway with drywall and Silly Putty.  Every time my father-in-law comes over he asks when we’re going to get that fixed.  I used to reply that fixing the wall would also mean fixing the wallpaper in the room, which would also mean new carpet, which would also mean new furniture, which I couldn’t afford.

So there’s a bunch of stuff we’ve been meaning to do for years.  And I guess with the wedding and the availability of work crews and the fact that Anita has been saving for this for years . . . well, it just seems like the thing to do right now.

So we’re doing it.  Right now.

It’s been an adventure.  We currently have three rooms in the entire house that are more or less usable.  Thankfully, one of them is a bathroom.  But one of them is NOT the kitchen, although we do have access to the refrigerator and huge piles of snow outside for cold storage.  The workers broke our stove, and the power is cut off to the microwave.  So we’re pretty much reliant on the good graces of the Colonel and a cute little redhead named Wendy for food.  When this is over I will swear off fast food forever – or at least until they bring back the McRib.

It’s been a challenge, but we seem to be making it.  And if I understand the plans correctly – and there’s always some question about that, believe me – within a few weeks we’ll have a better place in which to live.  So this is temporary, and we can endure it.

But the other day we were talking about those who live like this – or worse – without any relief in sight.  We have indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, the opportunity to shower every day, cable television, mattresses upon which to sleep and the means to eat three meals – Happy and otherwise – each day.  For about 90 percent of the world’s population, that would be considered lavish living.  There is love in our home, and we are warm and dry and safe.  And if we start feeling too uncomfortable, we can hop into our car and go somewhere else.

For most of us, life is pretty good when you stop and think about it – the occasional temporary discomfort notwithstanding.  Sure, there are challenges and frustrations, and once in a while a serious crisis rears its ugly head.  But often, the bad things that happen only serve to remind us of how good our lives really are – most of the time.  We just need to remember to appreciate the good times when we’re living them – and especially when we’re not.

No matter whose idea the “when we’re not” part was.

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— © Joseph Walker

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