I had a choice of which house renovation task I wanted to tackle today.  The first was taping and spackling over all the holes and peeling paint in any one of the 10 rooms or removing the staples from the furring strips in the living room.  Since I had spent the previous day pulling out weeds and bushes with nettles, cutting down ivy and grape vines in addition to mowing some of the lawn by hand where the ride-on mower couldn’t go, I thought I might reward myself with a “lighter” project.  I could have tossed a coin to help me make the decision, but figured I would start on the living room.  Either way, I still had to make a trip to the hardware store.   

While Lynn has a vise grip that he loves to use, I hate the damn thing. It always locks into place and you end up spending more time “unlocking it” rather than dealing with the task at hand.  If I wanted to tear out the staples, I needed a pair of old fashioned pliers.  And if I wanted to spackle, the tool he had me use was simply too large for me to handle; I needed a much smaller one of those too. 

I had spent the morning transferring some images from my camera onto CD’s (you can tell I really wanted to tackle these projects), then I made myself a grilled ham and cheese, got dressed and went to Lowes.   When all was said and done it was nearly 3 o’clock by the time I started on the living room.

This was the only room in the house that didn’t have a ceiling light fixture and at some point someone had put up some really ugly white acoustic tiles. Why did they do this?  Was there a leak in the ceiling?  Did they hate having an overhead light?  I don’t know but the tiles needed to come down.

Lynn spent a good portion of the previous day ripping them out by hand.  Lo and behold at one point there was a ceiling light fixture. Looking up at the ceiling, it didn’t seem like there had been much damage to necessitate such ugly tiles. 

I need to segue here just a tad.  PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BUY VERY LARGE HOUSES THAT THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY RENOVATE.  Why?  Because when someone comes along (like me) and has somewhat of a clue and an aesthetic sense to boot, it just pisses them off about all the extra work a room, a series of rooms, an entire house entails because of their haphazard renovation attempts.  Did I mention their choices were downright ugly not to mention stupid?   

“Just rip them out, boom, boom, boom, drop them on the floor and at the end you can sweep everything up.” That’s what Lynn had said to me initially on how to tackle the project.

Maybe this works in his world but not mine.  Problem is even though I’ve told anyone who visits and stays overnight that you can never go barefoot in this house because the floors are stripped down and really dirty and dusty, I also don’t want anyone stepping on a nail or a staple I missed picking up off the floor.  That’s why I held a bucket in one hand, the pliers I had picked up in the other and painstakingly pulled out each of the staples by hand.  I stood on an old wooden chair that I hoped wouldn’t collapse under me.  Truth is I had actually looked at some stepping stools and small ladders (think three steps) but they seemed a lot less sturdy than the chair I had at home. 


Sometimes the staple broke in half and I was left with two pieces of metal.  Sometimes the staples came out easily.  Other times I had to put the bucket down and hold the pliers with both hands and pull with all my might.  My biggest fear actually was that one of the staples would fly into my eye.  Not because it might injure me but because I only had one extra pair of contact lenses left.  If something happened to my last pair up here in the country, I was basically screwed.  (Ok, I’m really a city girl at heart but truthfully that was my biggest concern doing the project.) 

It was nearly five o’clock when Rachel texted me to say she was home from work and getting in the shower.  She would call me when she was done. 

“I’m pulling staples out of the ceiling,” I texted back. 

“Don’t kill yourself,” she answered.

Why did I detect a hint of sarcasm coupled with an extreme lack of confidence in that statement?

Shortly after that I started to get a cramp in my neck from looking up.  I also discovered I could only stand facing south in the chair because if I turned the other way for some reason I got very dizzy.  And then my arm started to hurt.

Back in March we had a wicked wind storm on Long Island that knocked over two huge pine trees in my backyard.  Even though we hired someone to chop them up and haul away the wood, the fact is when the trees were uprooted they left a mountain of dirt.  Trying to tackle the dirt and spread it around the yard, I had pulled a muscle in my arm that still occasionally hurts.   An hour of pulling staples caused it to throb.  I took a deep breath and kept going.  Since there was no light in the room, I knew I had to at least try and finish the project in one day – otherwise this task would have to be finished in the morning and it was already starting to annoy me.

When all was said and done, I finished this project in under three hours.  I probably completed it in less time than if Lynn had been tackling it since he would have been checking his Blackberry every five minutes even if he had “boom, boom, boom” just thrown the staples on the floor.

Look at my magic pliers! And the bucket, it looks at least like a zillion staples in there doesn’t it?


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