A man’s home is his castle, it is said, but in my case the kingdom has been downgraded to a spare bedroom for an office and the garage.
Not that I’m complaining.
Inside, I have a computer, small television, desk and shelves aplenty to hold the different books and projects collected over the years. Toss in a comfortable chair, good desk lamp, easy access to a nearby bathroom and I have everything needed short of a wet bar.
Outside, through a window a little to the right of my computer, I can look out over the Iowa River valley and into Iowa City. On the horizon the glint off the old capitol gold dome catches my eye, as does the video scoreboard of Kinnick Stadium.
When we moved here in 2005, the Hawkeyes had just installed the board, which is essentially a humongous television screen pointed our way from about two miles. They were calibrating its color settings at night, and I was convinced that one or more of the following things were taking place: secret experiments in the U’s laser laboratory; alien landings; or the mother-of-all tailgate parties sending fumes of beer bongs and hookah pipes into the atmosphere to create a unique brew of swamp gas. The last mentioned possibility gives added meaning to the term higher education.
2005 is also the last time my room has been clean, according to Sabra. In fact, just lately she said my room is disgusting.
“Disgusting,” I replied, “what’s disgusting?” (making the mistake of asking a question without being prepared to hear the answer).
“Just lift up the plastic mat under your chair,” she countered. I followed her suggestion and was surprised to find that over the last eight years some reactant in the plastic has dyed the brownish-gray carpet underneath white.
“What do you think we should do about it,” Sabra asked, “rent a Rug Doctor or buy a new carpet?”
I suggested, we just don’t look under there, but somehow I don’t think my solution will fly.
My other sanctuary is the garage, and I have a good one. There’s enough floor space to park two cars, two riding mowers and a scooter with space left over for a workbench, tool cabinets and shelves. One feature I really appreciate is the higher than normal ceiling, which allows me to hang bicycles, ladders, Christmas decorations, and other miscellaneous projects up and out of the way.
The extra hanging weight caused the ceiling to sag, however, and several cracks were becoming visible. I asked a buddy who has some expertise in construction about a solution. He suggested climbing up in the attic and nailing reinforcing wood beams to the joists, an idea that seemed reasonable if not a little difficult as the space is fairly tight. I’ve been called a lot of things in my day but “fit for tight places” hasn’t been one of them.
Off to the lumberyard I went, returning with a dozen two-by-sixes, each eight feet long, which I carefully pushed up through the scuttle hole and into the attic space. Besides the tight confines, placing the boards was made exponentially more difficult because the joists were covered with a half dozen full sheets of plywood. Using a couple of two-by-fours I lifted each sheet up and then cut them into smaller pieces with a power saw. No easy task on your hands and knees.
And have I mentioned my bad back yet?
In short it was an arduous and dirty job but eventually I got through it.
When I was done, I made the mistake of asking Sabra to take a look.
She peaked her head up through the scuttle hole but instead of complementing me on a difficult job done, she said, “it’s disgusting up here, I’m going to get the dustpan.”