Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home Improvement, More or Less

I need new carpeting.

Not in the whole house, really. To be honest, most of the house has been headed the other way for the last few years. We've got hardwood floors in all of the main rooms, so far as we can tell, and Kim has been on a decade-long campaign to bring them to the surface. I resisted this when the girls were little and learning to walk, but this hasn't been a problem for some time now and I expect that by 2013 there won't be any carpeting left in the house except for one or two rooms.

Of course by then the world is scheduled to have come to an end - on my birthday, no less - so I suppose changes to flooring is just one more thing I don't really have to plan for.

But my office is another matter.

It is at the very end of the heating duct runs and isolated on three sides from the rest of the house - it's a kind of architectural peninsula sticking out of the northwest corner of the house, and as such it gets very cold in there. I have learned, on those nights when I stay up late working, not to touch Kim when I climb into bed, lest I end up peeling her off the ceiling. It's the little things that make a marriage work, I've found. So removing a layer of thermal insulation because there's hardwood underneath just isn't going to happen in there.

But the rug has got to go.

For one thing, it is criminally ugly. It is the kind of carpeting that gets installed in prisons to remind inmates of the heinous nature of their crimes. It can leach the beauty out of poetry in closed books and achieves its remarkable effectiveness at hiding stains through the simple tactic of being uglier than anything I can drop onto it. It was there when we moved in, almost 14 years ago, and one of the first things we said to each other was, "That rug has got to go." Naturally, it remains.

And it would probably still remain except for the fact that I have now worn a hole in it where my desk chair wheels around. At the moment the pad underneath still holds it up, but that won't last. Eventually the hole will widen until I fall into the basement, where it is even colder in the wintertime than it is in my office and then I won't be allowed back into bed at all until summer.

That cannot be good.

So Tabitha and I went over to the local Home Improvement MegaMart this afternoon, for to order up some carpeting.

Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick but there are a lot of different kinds of carpeting out there. There are loops and twists and assorted other kinds of fabrics that also sound like aerobatic maneuvers. They come in colors that range from sort-of beige to beige to more beige to even more beige to electric drug-induced hallucinations, without going through any of the steps in between. And they all come with reduced price installation, simply because the stores know that installing the carpeting is the least stressful part of the job.

It's getting the room ready for installation that will kill me.

Remember what I said about this being my home office? I'm a historian by trade. This means that my tools are books. And I read for pleasure, which means even more books. There's a whole lot of books in there.

Ah, you might say, books are just paper - they should be no problem to move! This would indicate that you are illiterate and have never tried to deal with books in quantity. If you had, you would know better. Those of you who have ever moved large numbers of books are already shaking your heads, thinking, "This idiot thinks he's going to move large numbers of books! I hope somebody is filming it."

Because books are not paper, not really. They are finely sliced lumber. Lumber that has been so finely sliced, in fact, that all of the air has been removed and all you are left with is the condensed essence of wood covered in heavy-metal ink.

So I have three weeks or so to figure out how to do this without causing undue strain on my back, my bank account, or my relationships.

But in the end, I'm sure it will be worth it. I will have new carpeting.

I went with the sort-of beige. It seemed appropriate.


Unknown said...

Think of yourself as a scientist/astronaut, figuring out how to wrestle with the physical laws of a black hole...

KimK said...

And now is the time, if there ever was one, for the invention of the Household Magic Wand. One wave the HMW, and your books are folded into another dimension, to wait for you there until you wave them back into their former spaces.

Lori said...

I have stained and ugly carpet in my home office and I figured out that if you cram enough books into it you can't even really see the carpet.