What Were We Thinking

We have lived in our house for 29 years. During that time we reared two children, and coped with two Welsh Terriers, one Fox Terrier, and 4 cats.  It is a modest, ranch style house of about 1200 square feet with an attached garage. The basement is finished.

Over the years we have upgraded the kitchen and done some cosmetic flooring changes.  We made the house and yard functional for our needs without much thought about the future. Well, the future is upon us, and I feel daunted by the things we need to undo and change in order to sell the house when I retire in 4 years. My main thought as I survey the house and property is “What were we thinking?”

The terriers dig up and consume the asparagus? Put a fence with steel posts and hog panels around the asparagus bed. Who cares if it disturbs the flow of the yard space and makes the back yard ugly.  Don’t worry how you will remove the posts and haul away the hog panels when it is time to dismantle the fence.

Need more garden space? Just dig up the front yard and grow veggies there. Who cares that no one else in the region will appreciate that scheme and will want a grass covered front yard to mow.

Need book space? Just attach brackets and shelving to an entire wall in the basement family room.  Then fill all the shelves with books. Don’t worry one bit about what you will do with all the books, or the damage to the walls when the brackets are taken down.

Closet doors in the entry way don’t slide well and get the way when you want to access things stored there? Don’t hire a carpenter. Just remove the doors and store them in the furnace room for 20 years. During that time, cannibalize the door slider hardware from them to repair other closet doors. Now, figure out how to put the entry way closet doors back on and find replacement parts for the missing hardware.

I figure we are looking at remodels of two bathrooms, wall repair and new carpets in the basement, lots of yard restoration, and the help of a patient carpenter who can just bite his tongue and not judge. I am glad we have several years to put things to rights.

What have you done, or what trends have you followed, that made you say “What was I thinking?”

36 thoughts on “What Were We Thinking”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Oh, seeing your life with fresh eyes can be really embarrassing and it sounds like you are there, Renee. Find a friendly handyman to help you out.

    This is the question of my life–what was I thinking? The worst day that came along when I thought that was when I looked at my wasband and thought “What was I thinking?” That bad choice had consequences I had to live with for a long time.

    Christine Lavin has a funny song by that title that fits this precisely. She especially focuses on fashion. I love getting out old photos and looking at the fashions of the day. Football gear sized shoulder pads, eye glasses with lenses that look like portholes from a ship, hip-hugging bell bottoms that get caught in the bike chain, and on and on. I had a few fashion choices, that were, well, ill-advised. The 1973 platform boots were probably the worst.

    When we cleaned out my mother’s house, she had collected those precious moments figurines. I looked at those loathsome things, and thought “What was she thinking?” They did not appeal to me.

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    1. Oh, ugh, those precious moments figurines. I knew someone who collected them, too, luckily not someone I ever had to live with or will ever have to clean out her stuff. I believe she wanted every figurine ever made…and had an entire shelving unit filled with them and nothing else. No appeal for me at all – in fact they repel me.

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  2. Well, after 30 years, our yard is in pretty good shape, except for the spreading raspberry patch in the southeast corner. But we must replace all the carpeting in the bedrooms, clear out and repaint our grown son’s bedroom, find the hall closet doors (or replacements), find a home for a couple hundred photography books and a couple generations of “valuables.” I wish we’d have started 4 years ago, but we have more like 4 months. (The painters show up today to begin painting the exterior which somehow has 4 shades of brown paint on it because of window and siding repairs and incompetent color matching on our part.)

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        1. I also took the sliding closet doors off when I moved into my house. I gave them away so if the next folks want them, have to be brand new. Folding doors would be better anyway, but I didn’t replace them with anything. As noted by Tim, “open” is better. I did put a curtain of sorts on the guest room closet. My closet has to be open for the resident dogs to have their bed.

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    1. mini’s with colored leotards for me when teaching second grade and we weren’t “allowed” to wear slacks…all that bending over and squatting wasn’t as important as the “dress” code in 1967-9

      What was I thinking? too many things/times to remember.

      Yard? How about a jungle of trees and tall grass just to please the birds.

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  3. Renee, if you had lived in your house for 29 years and never customized it to your interests and needs, that would have been extraordinarily strange. It’s important to make your house your home and live in it. Nothing you itemize above is difficult to “neutralize” when the time comes.

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  4. This is a topic near my heart these days. I’ve had a couple of people in my life move and downsize in the last year, my neighbors to the north just recently. And this is made me think about all of the stuff that I have in my house. It seems like way too much to me. So I’ve actually started getting rid of things in the last month. My goal is three things a week. Doesn’t seem like a big amount right now but hopefully in the course of the next four years it will help.

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    1. Good luck, VS. One of my daughters asked me if I wanted to do a 30-day declutter challenge with her and other two daughters. Start out on Sept 1 and discard one thing. Two things on Sept 2, three on Sept 3, and so on. I decided to try it just to see if I could do it, even after all the decluttering/marikondoing I’ve done in the past few years. So far, so good, but I’m not sure how I’ll do as the month progresses. Anyway it feels good and I even found a way to recycle two empty toner cartridges that have been kicking around the attic for many, many months.

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        1. I doubt that I will resort to buying stuff on savers just to discard it (but if I do, it will be on Tuesdays when I can get that discount). However, I can see myself doing your second example. Like, when I go through the papers in my inbox, it’s not just one stack of paper – it’s 28 pieces of paper. And I’ll include the envelopes. And if I discard a book, should I check how many pages it has, so I can count each page that I’m discarding? Just kidding. Sort of.

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        2. And when I fill up a box of stuff to donate to Savers, I’ll be sure to count the box itself, not just the stuff in it.

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        3. I hadn’t done the math. Thanks for that, Bill. At the rate I’m going, I doubt I will complete the challenge, but I’m only 6 1/2 days behind now. If nothing else, I’m showing my kids that, even if they think I’m ready to move into a Tiny House now, that there’s almost always stuff you don’t need hanging around.

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  5. A lot of my “what was I thinking” stuff is when I overestimate my energy level or interest in doing more mundane daily chores. Like when the kids were young and I would make a menu and think I’m going to cook all these amazing things for every meal every day (and the kids are going to like them – ha!). Or I can cook a thanksgiving meal with all the side dishes and desserts – by myself. And the house will be clean, too. I’ve pretty much learned my lesson and stick to easy things with an occasional forary into some fun baking thing for book club or just because. And big holiday meals with lots of different dishes went by the wayside a long, long time ago. For me, simple is better.

    There’s a ton more “what was I thinking” things, but those all have to do with major life decisions that I don’t want to detail on a public blog. Lucky for you because it would be a mighty long list.

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      1. Yeah, that’s my approach to a lot of cookbooks. I like looking at them and imagining eating all those luscious things…but 99.9% of those recipes ain’t going to happen in my house.

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