Sometimes you gotta paint naked. Sometimes that's just what it takes to get your plus-1/significant other/spouse/life partner/long-term live-in/lover/ball-&-chain, or whatever you want to call him or her, to help you in your renovation journey. I mean, lets face it, not everyone shares in the joy of renovating things. DIY & HGTV channels are NOT the only channels that get watched even in our house, let alone in homes of those who are not addicted to plaster, lathe and hardwood floors.
Early in or marriage, I realized two very important things; if you want someone (i.e. husband) to help you, it usually works best if you can make it his idea, and 2) whatever project you want help with has to be "the fun side of the island"; It must be more exciting than whatever s/he is currently doing. So, in 2002, when I really wanted some room or another in our tiny Kansas rental repainted, (and at that time, Ben had not yet "drunk the Reno Kool-Aid" and was not nearly as self-motivated to participate in that particular Sunday afternoon project), after asking nicely, demanding somewhat and attempting the silent treatment (NEVER a winner when trying to recruit help for DIY), I got an idea.
Keep in mind that at 23, your balance and general fitness are substantially better than anything after 35, I put on my birthday suit, shimmied up a ladder with a paint tray and began to paint. In my memory, I see myself as a cunning Venus with flat abs and a toned butt. I picture my legs tanned (AND shaved above the knee even) and my hair tossed up in a messy-enough-to-look-like-I-don't-care bun. This is how I will forever picture this moment. It is highly likely that this was very much NOT the case, but whatever sort of hot-mess I actually resembled, it didn't take any further asking and I had the very attentive help of my dear husband! (As in, "what football game??") Room painted=happy wife=happy life.
Fast forward to two kids later, cellulite, stretch marks, a winter diet primarily sourced from concession stands and much larger windows. Nude anything sounds like a lot of prep work and the need for VERY limited lighting, which is naturally NOT good for painting. Adding ladders sounds like a B-team Cirque de Soliel performance gone rogue. And, it for sure detracts from the moment if you gotta go get your knee brace and acceptable footwear rounded up. Not to mention that kids (especially little ones) are like sneaky ninjas who just appear out of nowhere, with absolutely ZERO warning.
So, although really, truly painting naked may be reserved for the newlyweds or the empty-nesters who have found their second honeymoon, I think the "paint naked" philosophy is still applicable to everyone. Want your kids to help plant spring flowers? Listen to their music while you plant. Have carpet you need pulled up and need a friend to help? Treat them to pizza & a cold beer while you work. Want your wife to help clean the garage? Clean the house (including the bathrooms!). It's easy really. Give to receive. Be thankful for ANY effort (even if it is far from perfect). NEVER criticize volunteer labor. EVER. Say thanks. A LOT. And just remember that you will always catch more flies with honey and that bathtubs and sleeper sofas are impossible to lift alone.
The other day, while speaking with my mother, I casually mentioned that we had finished filling in one of the hotel's "Yikes-holes". A brief pause ensued, that was followed shortly after with her inquiring what, in pray tell, a "Yikes-hole" was. Although I commonly use this phrase while talking to myself, apparently it hadn't made it's way back to New York and into everyday lingo. So, I felt this term blog-worthy and would like to coin this verbiage so that now all are in the "know" before it trends on the tonight show as #yikeshole. (You're welcome Mom!)
"Yikes-hole" is a broad classification for a much larger sub-species of holes; it's the Genus so to speak. "Yikes-holes" can be identified and termed based upon numerous factors. Some of the most common include; the size and depth of the hole(s), the degree of surprise one has in finding the hole(s), the difficulty in getting into, up to or over to the hole(s), the amount of time/money/supplies needed to fix the hole(s) and of course, the ever popular, is there anything resembling treasure in the hole(s).
In the beginning of the hotel remodel, during what I coin as the "honeymoon phase" (this is the point in any renovation project in which the plaster literally shoots glitter at you and the rainbow colored unicorn-of-simplicity frolics around farting 4-leaf clovers while promising you that this will be an easy and fast project), the old girl had a nearly zero level "Yikes-hole" factor. Roof was good, foundation solid. Oh there were a few broken window panes (not even in the Yikes category) and the old coal holding rooms (but those were only minor, as in, "Yikes, we better plan on fixing those"-holes). Piece. Of. Cake.
But then I turned 40, which wasn't a really big deal, except that it forced me to accept that I can truly no longer look or act 20. And also, that gravity wins. However, I digress. On my birthday, while nearly on my deathbed with Influenza B (a welcome to middle age present), Ben called and said 10 words that I may never forget: "Yikes, I found a big, %$#@ hole under the hotel." Well played, gravity, well played.
Well doing some concrete removal to run a new septic line, Ben felt his jack-hammer fall into a void (a very posh and tidy nickname for a "Yikes hole"). After removing some debris, he located the "Yikes, this is not good and may stop this project" hole.
This discovery was then followed by an army of "Yikes-hole" inspectors. After much deliberation and exploration, it was concluded that the original hotel that burned in 1915 was buried on-site and that over time, combined with a leaky roof/chimney combo, the dirt had settled. It had probably been this way for 50+ years, just waiting to be found. Lucky us. Since a new roof was placed about 15 years ago, the water issue was long resolved, but, for everyone's peace-of-mind, we now needed to fill the, "Yikes, this is going to be expensive"- hole.
It is actually quite funny how news can travel when it's juicy, and this was no exception. People would pop in wanting to see the "Sinkhole the size of a truck" (it later became rumored that it was as large as a house!) I may have even fueled the fire by throwing out that maybe Jimmy Hoffa was buried there..... although that didn't seem to gain much traction.
To fill the "Yikes, we didn't see this one coming" -hole, we called in another army of "Yikes hole" filling experts and eventually opted for utilizing very high density foam (think hard as concrete with a fraction of the weight). Although quite stinky during application, this stuff was amazing. A HUGE shout-out to Mitch from K2 Concrete Leveling for turning this "Yikes hole" into one that I don't lose any sleep over anymore!
So from a "Yikes, worst possible scenario"-hole, we graduated to the basement septic capping project. Apparently cast iron was nearly free during 1916, as evidenced by the miles and miles of tangled and intertwined sewer pipe. Although not too deep, these fell under, "Yikes, there are a zillion holes now in the basement"- classification.
Finally, just this week, since the weather finally threw us a bone, we circled the wagons back to the original "Yikes, we are gonna need to address these"- coal holes. The original hotel was fueled by 2-dinosaur sized boiler units (think the scene in the Titanic where Kate and Leo are running through the bowels of the ship. That is what the original Historic Hotel was using for heating; Titanic-sized coal furnaces). In order to store and deliver that amount of coal, 3 large, brick rooms were constructed with removable lids so the coal could be shoveled in from the delivery truck/horse-drawn wagon and be stored until use in the basement next to the boiler.
These behemoth's of brick served their purpose in their day, but now were just ways water, critters and other unfavorables could make entry into the hotel. It was time to put these "Yikes holes" to bed too.
Enter several large pieces of expensive-looking equipment with drivers who have ZERO, I repeat ZERO, fear of "Yikes, this digger-machine could easily fall into this enormous hole" kinda guys. On a side note, as a joke, I mentioned that I would like to salvage all the brick and stack it to use later. No one there found my humor even remotely funny and I have to say for a second I worried I might end up the one buried in this particular "Yikes hole"!
To secure the old openings into the boiler room from being inundated with the fill dirt and sand, huge sheets of reinforced steel were lowered, coated with tar and secured in place. Please cue, "Yikes, that's some fancy stuff in that hole".
So, far be it for me to say, but I kind of hope "Yikes hole" will catch on and be the 2018 buzz word in the renovation industry. Maybe we can score an HGTV show because of it?? Meanwhile, while we're waiting, I'll just hop on my unicorn and leave my trail of 4-leaf clovers.....