That Great Horned Owl is taunting us. We still haven’t spotted him, but he seems to wake up in the afternoons just long enough to hoot a few times. Twice we’ve been out on walks around the neighborhood to try to track him down, me with my long zoom lens on the Nikon, Emma jumping around excitedly, and Carol peering up into trees, but we never see him and he is always silent after the first few hoots.
He’s out there, somewhere. He lives in the neighborhood, sleeping amongst leaves or fronds where he can be hidden from view, and only at night does he silently fly from tree to tree and hunt for dinner. The only way we can find him is by his calls, and he only calls when he cares to advertise his presence, which isn’t often. He knows he has the advantage, with far superior sight and silent wings. But we’ll get him — with the camera — sooner or later.
The owl provides a bit of comic relief to our otherwise dull house duties. We passed two small milestones today: the dishwasher arrived, and we finally managed to order shades for the windows. You might not think that those two items are really all that difficult, but if so it only proves you’ve never done a full house renovation.
A kitchen renovation alone is cause for obsessive behavior that should rightfully cause one to be medicated if not locked up. At first it is a simple thing: go get a few appliances, order the cabinets, then sit back and relax while the contractors do the work. But soon the details begin to overwhelm. It’s not long before you are stressing out over things you have laughed at only a few weeks before. Should the countertop be Formica, granite, Corian, stainless, butcher block, tile, marble, concrete or some mixture of types? Should the drawer pulls be traditional or modern? Should the undercounter lighting be fluorescent, halogen, LED, or krypton?
It goes on seemingly without end, and the people in the retail stores are no help because they like to point out (and thus magnify) the tiny “flaws” in your design. “Of course, you could go with that oven, but then the stainless won’t exactly match the stainless on your refrigerator.” Suddenly, you realize how wholly inadequate imperfectly matched stainless would be. Friends will come over for dinner parties and notice how you apparently couldn’t afford the complete set of Thermador or Fischer-Paykel appliances. There’s only one solution: go upscale to a point where everything matches perfectly, and the child’s college education fund is gone. She can always get student loans, right?
We’ve tried to hold the line on this sort of thinking, but there’s no question that the house is getting fixed up a bit more expensively than we’d first planned. So today tangible evidence of that phenomenon arrived, in the form of a special order Bosch dishwasher, which I call “the dischwascher”. It is a Teutonic marvel, washing dishes in a tiny amount of water while making less noise than the refrigerator. It is even more amazing that we need such a thing, since we have had no dish-washing machinery in our lives since 2005, and haven’t really missed it. But now the dischwascher has arrived to fill a gap in our lives that we didn’t know we had.
The shades were more of a problem. All I wanted was cellular shades for some of the windows. Our bedroom is basically 50% glass, so shades were critical to having any privacy at night. A few other places in the house also needed shades. But it took four trips to the store, three measuring sessions (one by a paid contractor and two by ourselves when we realized we’d need additional shades), and multiple sessions with the shade books before we could finally place our order.
Think I’m kidding? OK, try this: (1) Choose light-blocking, light-filtering, or translucent. (2) Sixty-four different colors. (3) Many colors only available in certain “lines”. (4) Many lines unavailable in 96″ widths, which is the width of three of our windows. (5) Left or right pulls, draw-up only or optional bottom-up/top-down? (6) Double cell or single cell (only in certain lines) (7) Inside mount or outside mount? And it goes on …
The decision process was so complex that I was about to write a computer program to figure the possible permutations and then select which ones would work for our window sizes. Imagine going to Burger King and discovering you have to choose from 1,286 possible combinations of Whoppers, and only after you’ve measured your colon can you actually place your order. All I wanted was a stinkin’ shade so the neighbors wouldn’t have to watch me getting into my pajamas.
Well, the cellular shade order has been placed, and it’s a huge relief. Every time we get past one of these steps I feel like I just left the dentist’s office. You know the feeling: your jaw is still numb but you’ve got a spring in your step because you know you don’t have to go back for a long time. Hopefully, I won’t have to order shades or dischwaschers again for a long time.
Counting forward, I see at least a dozen more steps before we can call this job done. We are halfway through the mental root canal that is a house renovation. That means a little time pressure is cropping up. I’d like to have it in good shape before Bobby & Danine get here. We are expecting them in the next two weeks, with their Airstream. Not that we’ll be in any shape to cook them dinner by then, but at least we’ll all be able to admire the gleaming new kitchen before we go out for something to eat. Perhaps the owl will join us.