Hello everyone, this is Ryan, Emily’s other half. I will be joining Emily as a writer on this blog as we chronicle the adventures of our new life in smaller town Minnesota. By following us here, you will be able to not only keep in touch, but hopefully gain some home improvement advice, witness a good amount of entertaining stories, and some deeper insight into marriage, life, and faith. We will sometimes be co-authoring posts, and when that happens, Emily will be writing in black, and I will be writing in another color.
This past weekend we ended up going out to our new town to clear out a bedroom in my Grandma’s house, (we are going to rent from her for awhile and possibly buy it later). It is a beautiful house–a great amount of potential–antiques in the attic, beautiful hardwood floors under the carpet, crown molding hidden above the drop down ceiling. We can’t wait to settle in and eventually see what we can do with the house!
We began our little adventure by deciding to make the hour and 45 minute drive out there the morning after a fresh snowfall. It was a bright beautiful sunny day, and there was a delightfully fresh coat of powder on everything. We drove past a ski hill and I sighed with envy that it was a perfect day to be on the slopes. Ryan hates skiing. 🙂
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we could get to that point on the highway, we had to get on the highway. We slid our way through the streets of the city, and turned onto the entrance ramp (Ryan was driving, btw). It was one of those really long ramps (thankfully), and it was badly in need of plowing. Snow drifts had formed in the middle of the road that looked about 6-8 inches deep. Needless to say we started spinning. It was that nice smooth quiet glide that feels almost fun and quite surreal. I think we rotated fully twice, and we ended up on the side of the road with the back end in the snow bank and facing on-coming traffic. But we were still at the end of the ramp on the side of the road, so we were out of danger. When we had stopped moving I think I said “Well that was fun” and proceeded to get out of the car to push us out (I was smart and decided to wear my good snow boots that day). Two minutes later a plow comes down the ramp and completely clears the snow away (Thanks Mr. Plow for not being there 5 minutes ago). He also decided to stop right next to us and block the lane so when we were out we’d have room to turn around. Yay! for nice Minnesota plow drivers! Another guy also stopped to help me push the car. But I basically had it out already, and we were on the road again!
All that to say that I was definitely laughing to myself how peaceful Ryan and I were able to be about the whole incident. Nobody panicked and we both remained completely calm for the rest of the drive. It was a little weird actually.
One of the regrets I have is that, for whatever reason, I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood. I think I was mostly oblivious and aloof and just didn’t think it important to remember anything. Part of the reward of cleaning out a room in my Grandma’s house was that, in a way, I was able to come to get to know my Grandpa better. He died when I was in 5th Grade, and while many of my specific memories of him have faded into my subconscious, I have many general memories of him as being very kind, funny, and talented in many ways. He was both musical and handy, and part of his career was fixing musical instruments like organs and accordions. He also grew up during the Depression, and learned to make do with what he had. Finally, perhaps what I am most grateful for is the legacy that he’s left me–he was the Grandson of a Czech immigrant, and I try to learn more about the heritage and be proud of it. Going through his office, which will become our temporary bedroom, was not only like rediscovering pieces of him, but pieces of myself. I look forward to discovering more as the years progress, and will do my best to help keep his legacy alive.
I felt like I was getting to know Ryan’s grandfather as well, even though I had never met him. You know the phrase that you can know a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse? Well a man’s office/closet/basement/shop/garage… can give you a freaking encyclopedia on his existence. When I first looked around the house I had to take a deep breath. Its intimidating to clean out someone else’s stuff. Its even worse when there’s no place to put any of it because every nook and cranny of the place is packed with more stuff. I realized about an hour in that I had a choice: I could get really irritated with everything and be a …. well… not nice lady… to my husband and whine all day, or I could find a joyful way to cope with the task at hand. I told Ryan that I had made up my mind that whenever I found something really crazy old, something completely ridiculously jury-rigged or something otherwise mind-boggling in the house that I was just going to look heavenward and say “Oh Jerry” (Ryan’s grandfather’s name was Jerome). So when I was scrubbing the basement bathroom with the neon butterfly wall paper I laughed and said “Oh Jerry”. When I found record players, a camera from 1945 and a cool Czech missal book I said “Oh Jerry!” (excited). And when I was hauling 5 effing accordions out of the closet I said “Oh Jerry. Five? Really Jerry?” And that list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the number of jury-rigged items in the house – the cutting board holding up a built in shelf, the two-by-four screwed into the desk to hold a lamp, and the fact that the air conditioner drains into the basement shower. Oh Jerry, how many years of entertainment are you going to give me? 🙂
I hope I don’t sound sarcastic. It really was a joyful day for me. It was so exciting to go through the house and get to know Ryan’s grandparents and the legacy they had created and passed on. They have a beautiful family and I am honored to be a part of it now.
The best part about working on the house together was that we learned things about each other and our marriage in general. I was reaffirmed in my belief that Emily is going to be an excellent homemaker; and she is a visionary as far as a house is concerned. She easily sees the potential in something and almost instantly knows what it will take to get there. I can’t wait to help her make our future home beautiful. I was also thoroughly impressed with how hard she works, and the versatility of projects that woman can undertake. She can clean a bathroom like a beast, lift heavy furniture, bind a rug, and still maintain a positive attitude. Haha… she still has a lot to teach me and I’m excited to learn!
I was so very proud of Ryan that day. He hates housework. It’s pretty much his least favorite activity. But he didn’t complain any more than was reasonable and he maintained a positive and adventuristic attitude that really inspired me. It was so fun to poke around the house with him and find little treasures and listen to him tell me about his family and his grandparents in particular. I rarely see him so animated. It was really special. It was neat too how we were able to practice dividing up the work. I focused on the basement cleaning while he worked to clean out the bedroom upstairs. I’m still not going to tell him everything I saw in the basement; but I will promise him that any that I saw that was living is now not-living. Hehe. We take care of each other in unique ways 🙂
This post is long enough.