The Wazoo is a river in darkest Africa that flows through the Watusi tribal grounds. No one knows its source. It is where barges and barges of our projects have been carried up river where they collect and procreate like bunnies. They float back down in groups, unbidden, and untimely. We will never run out. They’ve followed us everywhere since we signed the bottom line of home ownership. If it wasn’t a room that needed painting or papering, it was a garage sale, shrubbery replacement, a sandbox or swingset, and just wait until I tell you about the steel I-beam in the basement after our 1986 midnight flood. We are currently building fence sections as a backdrop to a flower bed that is overgrown with grass. And the new maple tree is simultaneously curling up and sprouting new grown. Go figure.
Of all our projects, the one that comes to mind as the most fun is the railing in the Litch house. The second most fun was the removal of the wall between the two bedrooms creating a bigger and better master-almost-suite.
When we first moved in in 1974 we were thrilled. Moving day saw the two of us, Herb and Edna, Don and his whole family doing something. Everybody had a paint brush in his/her hand. Gary was in the linen closet, Herb painting in the master bedroom all day, Don painting in the spare bedroom a few hours, Stan, Kevin, and Greg hauling loads of stuff from the apartment, and Edna, Berniece, and Linda all over the kitchen disbursing dishes and pans and food. Each room was a different color. That was the 70’s and that’s how it was done.
The basement was concrete and open 2 x 4’s because we could get a price reduction by leaving it unfinished. The carpet was gold in the living room and hallway, blue shag (yes, shag) in the master bedroom, a green sculpture in the second bedroom, and a rust-brown-orange-yellow hexagon pattern in the kitchen. The kitchen carpet fit the 70’s well and the crumbs blended into the pattern for well over a week at a time. As time went on into the 80’s, the fall colors gave way to mauves and blues, and in our case, peach. We did keep up with the times.
I stayed home with the babies. I will treasure that opportunity that will not come around again, even though we had to sit on a $20 bill for two weeks consistently. Both hosting and shopping garage sales became a way of life. Being in the house during that time, I was able to see all the things that needed doing – lots and lots of projects. One of them was the railing. Make that two. We had a split entry house, six steps up and six steps down from the front door. The living room wrought iron railing protected one from falling into the entryway. The Mediterranian look of black furniture, white walls, red accent–usually in the form of fur pillows or something vinyl, and black wrought iron was big then. All we had of that look was the black railing to accent the gold room. It didn’t take too long to get really tired of it especially when I was looking at it all day every day. Taking that out was easy — unscrew 10 or so screws, lift off and carry to the garage. The other railing wasn’t a railing at all but a wall–2 x 4’s, sheetrock, dark wood plank– it was a wall between the steps up and the steps down. It blocked my view of, of, well, it just blocked!
I wanted Stan to cut it down and replace it with spindles. Oh, but this and Oh, but that. We need to be sure about something about loadbearing or keeping the steps from caving or I forget what all the dangers were. "Don’t do anything," he said on his way to work.
Did those wedding vows actually say "obey" and was I to take that literally or not? What was the root word that was loosely translated as "obey" and was that the King James verson?
Stan made sure he took all the applicable tools with him — didn’t he trust me? — but he failed to factor in the neighbor’s fully stocked garage and willingness to help. Conveniently, Neil Dennin was home and let me borrow his saw. It didn’t take too much work to pry off the ugly board, cut the sheetrock out with a razor blade knife, and saw off the exposed and now hazardous 2 x 4’s sticking up. There. What’s for lunch?
It didn’t take Stan long to sense there was something different when he walked in the door. That ol’ Stan is pretty sharp especially when walls are … gone. Guess we have to do something before the kids flip over into the lower level and hurt themselves. Had Stan not had such a good nature, I think I would have been flipped over.
So, off I went to the lumber yard to procure some spindles, a post, and a handrail, and call Mom and Dad to see if they aren’t doing anything special and want to travel 500 miles to install them. They came. Dad put the spindles in. Upside down. It looked great.
I’m really proud of that home improvement. The best part was the look on Stan’s face that day when he came home to find the railwall … gone. It was one of those Wazoo moments in time. I wish I had a picture.