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Tuesday, 04 June 2013

In Total Silence

By Mage Bailey of Postcards

“Free,” they told us and we, knowing there was really nothing free, signed on the dotted line anyway.

It all began last year. The Quieter Home Program, as it is called, was set up by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to quell the masses of complaints about aircraft noise and stop any possible suits from aircraft that might fall from the sky on our heads.

They promised to install new triple-paned windows, new soundproofed doors, heating and air conditioning so those of us who lived under the flight path could now live in silent, softly cushioned, totally isolated comfort.

We signed the papers about two years ago. A year later, we were invited back for a design review or two and almost a year from that date we went back to their offices to finalize everything.

Over that last year there were small changes. They agreed to lower the office ceiling instead of our elaborately structured, Victorian bathroom ceiling. No longer was a large heating unit to be installed on our living room wall. We waited.

Finally they gave us a start date and at the end of March, we received a little printed-out map that showed us which items they wished us to move away from the walls.

Of course it made sense - move all our things off the walls. All. They didn’t want to be responsible for the mountains of books or the huge volumes of art they might knock over, poke holes in or cause to collapse.

They wanted to install miles of ducting and wires. I understood. I didn’t want their damages anywhere in our home either. Only when confronted by the actual thought of “all’ did I begin to get upset.

We don’t live in isolation; we live in the middle of a fortress of books and art.

My husband, George, set up his home office in a corner of the living room and went back to work. I began to pack away the first of the art and books. By the ninth of April, the packing was reflected in my blog writing:

“I woke up very depressed and cranky this morning,” I wrote. On the tenth I said, “It’s hard to stay depressed with the sun out, the temp in the high 60s, and clear, white clouds scattered here or there, but I am feeling dark and gloomy. I have never admitted to being depressed and cranky before, yet I find I’m acting like a spoiled brat going through menopause.”

On the 11th, I ran away from home to work leaving poor G to deal with the workmen. They installed most of the doors and windows that day and the following day the HVAC was installed.

We moved to a hole in the wall Airport Ramada Inn while the electrician had the power off, only to find that the electrician had called in sick. He showed up late Monday afternoon.

We waited out other chaos-filled days by camping out with our two computers in a corner of the living room. We waited by eating on our laps on the sofa hidden behind a mountainous wall of living room stuff.

We showered at the Y because our main bathroom was filled with art. The downstairs half bath was three-quarters filled with boxes and more art. I got crabbier by the day.

We slept on our bed pushed up to the sliders surrounded by office furniture and dressers. We crept through tunnels of boxes to escape the madness.

Most days little got done. G discovered the office DSL and phone lines were walled up behind the new ducting. They fixed it. I ate over it. The inspectors came too late. I kept eating. The drywallers never came. I had ice cream.

By the 14th day of living in the midst of chaos, I began cleaning out the still-standing bookcases. Seven shelves of science fiction books went to the Discovery Thrift Shop. Two big shelves of unused-by-me cookbooks went there too.

Am I going to read it? Is G going to read it? Will it be used? Out it all went. I ate cookies at work.

Bookcase shelves were scrubbed, the dust was banished, any remaining mold from the big house was dispatched at light speed. I had a peanut butter and butter sandwiches.

We keep waiting for more action. Nothing much happened this week. The chaos hangs there imprisoning me in my thinking.

I’m going to go have a steak. Nothing is free.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Having gone through a similar situation, I can feel your pain, but cheer up! As my 93-year-old mother told me long ago, "This too, shall pass.

Well, there was a silver lining after all - it got you to sort and discard. I cannot recommend that more highly!!

I applaud you!!! I'm doing some major long overdue cleaning here, too. Fortunately, I have no set deadline!

Your confusion is a little like that created by moving. Everything is up in the air; take this, discard that and where and to whom? Unread books I was saving to read, extra pans in case I decide to take up baking again,out of date computer books, but some I might just need some day....too many decisions and I just want to throw everything away and start new, but practical me won't let me do that yet, but who knows about the future?

I feel your pain, Mage, having endured moves from the west coast to the east coast and back again in two and one-half years. My husband and I are also bibliophiles with lots of artwork, momentoes, an aging cat, and two vehicles. We've agreed that we'll never move again--at least not beyond the county limits.

I wonder if there'll be a second episode to this story....

Checking your diet as I read. Wondered if you were getting fat or was the stress burning all that? Tee he hee

Hi Mage - reminded me of our 'trial ' this year having the ceiling of our living/kitchen area replace and living on the back verandah for about four weeks - but like you - did get rid of a lot of old books and dusted the shelves! so it was worth it - worst part was trying to relocate art works - "is there a better place to put this?" - hope you enjoy the silence.

Thank you all for your notes. I really appreciate them.

A coda to all this is that I now have a workspace in the living room. I was able to let my pretty old room go and accept a slightly messy studio room instead. Now my books are clean, their shelves are clean, and I shared art works with family members. Now too, I am closer to the TV and c an see the words on the screen for the first time in years.

No more depression here. Thank you.

I can picture all this in my mind -- your beautiful, charming & serene home transmagorified into piles & heaps & boxes & no bathrooms. No wonder you're crazed! I've been doing the same, as I now have a young lady with Huntington's Disease living with me. So, clear out the guest room that was really a storage room, & then, what to do with all this stuff?!!!
I just read an interesting blog about challenges -- I think you'll like it.

You know the cleaning and moving of the stuff in your life wouldn't be a big deal if I were in your shoes. It would be the struggle with not having a computer! I saw that was a priority for you, though. Small wonder. Well written!

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