It’s been three weeks since we took possession of the blue house with the red barn and we’ve been hell bent on destruction – two overflowing 12-yard dumpsters a testament to our efforts, more Greg’s than mine. Visitors either commend our efforts or delicately ask if we know what we’re doing.
An old house demands decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. In some not too distant decade, bathroom fixtures the colour of Calamine lotion seemed a better use of space than a dining room – a choice probably made by someone acquainted with the outhouse. We have determined the kitchen should open to the front room, the living room doorway ought to be wider, and an upstairs wall must make way for a new bathroom. The cramped pantry, the worn out kitchen cupboards and the old bathroom have met an inglorious end piled high in the dumpster.
Some things, we know will remain: the hand-smoothed newel post and stair railings, the pretty window trim, the bedroom floorboards long buried by lino and shag carpet.
We ended Sunday’s work day each on our own clean-up detail. Me, with a rake at the shoreline, combing through dried seaweed in search of glass and other detritus that had been discarded by people now also gone. Greg put a few old things roadside for the garbage truck but a woman driving by saw something to love in the peeling pink and red paint of an old door, and a man in a pick-up backed up to grab an old glass jug with a chipped lip. It would, he said, look nice on his table.
The last thing to go was the chipboard walls of a makeshift cold cellar in a corner of the stone basement. Behind it were 10 jars of largely unrecognizable contents, a few pickles poking out of their evaporated brine, some sludgy dark substances someone foolishly thought would last in a Cheez Whiz jar, and fruit they couldn’t bear to lose with summer’s end.
We tipped them all into the dumpster. Some things simply don’t keep.