CAUTION: UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Donna Cronk Photo /// I know. But hey, don't judge! We're under construction up here in the "bonus" room." I captured this image right before the new light-gray carpet went down. It takes some creativity to work around those crawl-space plugs, but we're up for the challenge. Will show you the results in a few weeks.
I’ve been slacking in the blogging department lately. It seems that too many other projects have been demanding attention. I’m not complaining; they are all positive uses of time.
As you might surmise from the photo above, we’re in the midst of redoing our “bonus” room upstairs in our house. I don’t like the term, “bonus” room. I suppose it’s a logical-enough generic title real-estate folks give to an undesignated “bonus” space in one’s home.
It's vague enough to allow potential homeowners to envision the random space however they want, keeping the area open to possibilities. But the name sounds to me as though the builder had some extra materials and time and as an after-thought, decided, “Oh, what the heck. Let’s just slap on another room.”
For the first decade we lived here, the room under the eaves at the top of our stairway was something of a family room. I’ll never forget move-in day when I made the unrealistic request to move our roll-top computer desk upstairs. My fearless helpers did it, although they all may require hip or knee surgeries these 21 years later, dating back to the moment of hefting that thing skyward.
When laptops revolutionized our online work spaces to hours spent with keyboards in home easy chairs and even while stretched out in bed, the computer desk became a dinosaur.
I tried selling it (yes, you can LOL) on Facebook, then giving it away. No takers. I learned that not even Goodwill accepts these relics, nor do they take entertainment centers, another dated concept that worked well a generation ago.
Our bookcases, our second-string sofa and loveseat, and a TV with a game system hooked up filled much of the room in the years the boys were home. There, they enjoyed their games and did homework at Brian’s high school desk.
Once the boys left home, something like a decade ago, I had no vision for the mostly abandoned space. For a while, I stocked it with summer outdoor furniture in the off-season as well as miscellaneous antiques. Our bonus space became more of an attic than anywhere we wanted to spend time.
It was Brian who suggested a makeover! So this winter and early spring we’ve sorted through all our books, donated 110 volumes and reassigned others to different venues in the house, ordered and installed carpet, I’ve worked on streamlining and organizing family archives of photos and paperwork, and we got rid of excess furniture, hauling things down, and then last weekend, back up again after the carpeting went down and we undertook a careful edit.
Last Saturday after celebrating Ben’s birthday in Indy, Sam and Allison took us to IKEA in Fishers. We had never been, although Brian had long since told Allison he wanted her to give him a personal tour.
We found new bookshelves, in black, to go with our new space, and picked them up yesterday. The kids are coming Sunday to help put them together.
We have easy chairs ordered, and within another three weeks, our bonus room will have morphed into a new “study.”
I’ll show you pictures when that happens but for now, it’s under construction, so here's the before view..
My other construction project consists of writing four programs for spring! In fact, I need to make hay on a couple of these today. The first is a program for a Knightstown sorority week after next. I’ve never spoken to this group before, and their emphasis for April is on the literary arts. I’ll speak on the topic, “It’s all about the story,” and reflect on a career consisting of various kinds of writing.
Then from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 12, Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service in New Castle is hosting a special program called “Luncheon With the News Girls. They’ve invited a variety of women who take part in regular outings organized by Wanda Jones. There is a catered meal and the program features my friends and sister authors Sandy Moore, Tina West and myself. We’ll each give short programs and after that, visit with attendees and have book signings.
Seating is limited, but we’re allowed to invite some friends ourselves. So if you would like to attend, RSVP as instructed on the flyer below. Reservations are required and going fast.
Then in May, I’m speaking at two mother-daughter banquets – one near the Ohio border and one near the Illinois one. I’ll be sharing reflections on my journey as a granddaughter, daughter, mother and the joy of learning I would become a mother-in-law.
So those programs, too, are under construction.
With that said, I’d best get my hard-hat on and get to work.
LOWERING THE VOLUME OF OUR VOLUMES
The following column appeared in Sunday's, March 10, Courier-Times.
In our 60s now, Brian and I are clearly beyond the era of furnishing our home. We’re more in the stage of unfurnishing it.
In this latest round of “what we keep,” the topic is books. We’ve collected volumes all our lives. My collection began at the top of the stairs in the old Veach’s store in downtown Richmond where a rack of Little Golden Books caught my eye when shopping with Mom. I’d be permitted to pick one to buy on occasion, and more than half-a-century later, I still have those shiny-covered stories.
When Grandma Jobe was ill in the 1960s, she received a sunshine box from church friends. It contained small amusements, encouragements, and cards. I still have the slim volume of friendship-themed poetry from that box. I’ve raised my hand with that tiny book in it several times, set to discard it, but always stop short.
College books in my major seemed too important to hawk at the campus bookstore. So the texts about editing, crafting feature stories, the history of journalism, and the requisite grammar books have roomed on our shelves for thirtysomething years.
Then came the decades of novel buying, gifting, garage saling. There were Friends of the Library-sale tables that yielded recycled tomes for a quarter apiece and offered no guilt if I didn’t read them right away – or in 20 years. Then there is my double-copy problem. When I enjoy a book such as “The Shipping News,” if I find a duplicate on the cheap, I’ll pick it up for a loaner.
Brian has similar stories. He attended college a good many more years than I did for a master’s degree and certifications beyond that. He never wanted to purge his textbooks. In one noteworthy attempt, I held the volumes up and he would declare to keep or not. One book of poetry garnered his curious comment, “I hated that book. Keep it.”
So that’s how the weeding process has gone until now. We got a new sofa downstairs which inspired us to remake our upstairs bonus room. The room is where most of our books hang out and every last one of them, along with their shelving, and all manner of miscellaneous and mismatched furnishings, have to be hand-carried downstairs before our new carpeting is installed.
I’m envisioning a carefully edited library area with new shelving, a library table moved upstairs from down, and a designated family archives section where neatly organized lidded baskets will hold a family-history paper and photo trail. Should the need arise for our presidential libraries, it’s all there.
Meanwhile, we’ve given away works of Bill (Shakespeare); Uncle Walt (Cronkite’s bio), and a good number of less notable notables, including those duplicate loaner copies. Brian has decided that when it comes to our volume of volumes, less is less.
“All books do is sit there on the shelves,” he said.
“Yes, that’s what books do. It’s who they are,” I told him.
What does he expect them to do, spin, or for the non-fictions to reshelve themselves just for kicks into the middle of the photo albums? For Dad’s art books to mix it up with the novels?
So far, the tattered sofa and loveseat are gone; the new carpeting ordered, and we’re each hauling down at least one armload or large object a day, our stated minimum requirement on this project.
Then we'll reverse the process and the edited version will go back upstairs. At this rate we might be done while still in our 70s.
We’ve gone through nearly every book in the house and given each the yea or nay. No book in our collection is worth a marital spat so the criteria is simple.
1. Each of us may keep any book with no judgment from the spouse. (Rolling of the eyes is not to be within view.)
2. However, if there is no expressed desire to retain a book, and if said owner does not see himself or herself enjoyng it within the next 10 years, it’s gone.
If one person’s trash is another’s treasure, then our recycled books are someone else’s shelf problems. We wish them well.
Brian kept the poetry book because he hated it so much. Remember, I’m not allowed to judge. (Rolling eyes out of view.)
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times. She also edits the quarterly her magazine for women.