Hurricane Reno

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I’m typing this week’s column with my laptop perched precariously on an ironing board in my bedroom. My door is shut in a futile attempt to keep out the thunderous noises happening downstairs, which no longer seem to be bothering my two dogs who are snoring softly on the bed behind me. And I’m drinking soda from a plastic Solo cup, washing forks in the bathroom sink and wondering if life will ever get back to normal.

This is life in the midst of a home remodeling project.under construction graphic 2

A few days ago, a friend asked me how the project was going. I closed my eyes, rubbed my temples and said, “It feels like a hurricane is happening inside our house, except I’m the one who opened the door and invited it to come in.”

“And you’ve got to pay for it, too,” she correctly noted.

“Yep. Even though I know eventually we’ll get to the rebuilding phase, right now all I see is damage – to the walls, the floors, the bank account – everything. Including my sanity.”

She nodded sympathetically because she knows I’m the kind of person who needs a certain amount of order. I’m not a clean freak, but I do appreciate an organized system. And I’ve never met a label maker I couldn’t put to good use.

So last week when the remodeling project took over our kitchen – the hub of all family activity – it was jarring. Moving everything out of the kitchen and watching the walls come down felt a little like standing in the eye of the remodeling storm. As I glanced around the adjacent rooms, piled up with storage bins, paper bowls and an oddly placed toaster, I realized we now look like hoarders who can’t decide if we’re coming or going.

Before the kitchen’s demolition day happened, I really believed I could minimize any disruption to our daily lives. I thought I could organize my way into a somewhat sane system of living through the remodel. But now I realize that, despite all my planning and high hopes, there’s no denying that we have peanut butter in the living room and dog food in the foyer. When one of the kids asked me for help finding the cereal this morning, I said “Check the coat closet.” There’s nothing normal about that.

Speaking of abnormal, did I mention that my desk is now an ironing board that wobbles and squeaks every time I move the computer mouse? I had to set up a temporary work station in our upstairs bedroom today because there are a whole host of wonderful people trying to put my house back together. The carpenter, electrician, plumber and HVAC experts are down there working their magic on that empty shell of a kitchen. But their brand of magic is loud and involves a lot of coming and going, which was sending our two dogs into a frenzied barking fit every time someone swung a hammer or opened a door.

So, I gathered up the fur babies and brought them upstairs along with my computer. Every now and then, one of the guys downstairs calls my name and I go down there to answer a question about cabinet heights or where the light switches should go. When I come back to my ironing board – I mean desk – the dogs lift their head slightly off the bed and look at me as if to say, “Did you bring any dog treats back up here? I think we sniffed them in the coat closet.”

Despite the chaos, the dust and debris, the inability to find anything, and the constant tripping over all the things we’re not actively looking for, I know this process is going to yield good results one day. Perhaps in a few months, I’ll be typing a column with my laptop perched on a new kitchen countertop, and I’ll look back at this crazy journey with fondness as well as construction debt.

In the meantime, I’ll be up here eating and working on an ironing board desk, waiting for the guys downstairs to smooth out all these renovation wrinkles.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of

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