Holidays and Home Improvement at Our House – 2020

This post is, obviously, all about holidays at the Karstens house. More specifically, it’s all about how I feel about the holidays in 2020. It’s particularly focused on me, holidays, and life here in Tucson in December of one of the most tumultuous, unprecedented, and dire years in recent American history. So who knows where this is going to go?

I’m not sure what Tucson has to do with how I’m feeling because, frankly speaking, the first six months in Modesto, CA were almost as chaotic and lacking in connection, charm, positive employment circumstances, and reasons for optimism. Almost.

In fact, settling in Tucson, AZ is starting to feel like the silver lining in the last two years. The Wife is geographically close to her much-admired and loved older brother, and her equally admired and loved sister-in-law. Unexpectedly, I am (STILL #@$) unemployed but we are in a financial situation where we can carry on for a bit with The Wife’s Navy retirement and my life savings, thanks to the low cost of living here and the fact we bought a cheap house.

Unfortunately COVID19 is in full swing in Arizona despite the Pima County mask mandate. All conservative and Q-drivel complaints aside, the locals are singularly sensitive to the risks and most of the people we see and speak with wear a mask (all the way up over their nose). Nonetheless, we are clear that every single engagement with other people is a risk. Our rock star window guy has lost his mother and two brothers to COVID19 since February. Our HVAC project manager has COVID racing through his work associates. (he wore a commercial respirator the last time he worked in our home)

Yes, it was pink.

But… and I realize this says something about me as a person, we’re still plowing ahead with the upgrades on our fixer-upper. We have signed contracts and handed checks to a General Contractor crew, a kitchen cabinet guru, and our countertop source – mainly to ensure that we get on their calendar before they get booked up through June 2021. We are on the books for a metal pergola over the pool to be installed in March. Despite starting this conversation in early November, we are still going to have to wait until December 28th to move ahead with the guest bathroom tub and tile update. This is the second time we have been weeks without a bathtub since we moved in, a fact I find truly problematic. There are open walls, decomposing insulation, and unfinished everything as far as the eye can see, but the bathtub? That really hurts me. No hot and foamy soaks after a long day of painting for me until after Christmas.

Mind you the latest delay was equal parts oversight by the tub company and my determination to get things fixed while the walls are open (rather than rip down tile and drywall to fix what is broken in the plumbing, and repair afterward). I still want to grumble about the lack of a bathtub. If every single tradesman wasn’t SO busy, I could have gotten all that done and immediately had the tub installed and the shower tiled.

But these are The Times of COVID (TTOC), and for some reason, a whole lot of people feel the need to update their home. What grates on my last nerve is that many of these customers are people who have neglected their cracked bathroom tile, ancient water heater, and lack of insulation for decades. But now they’re staying at home more than ever, and THINGS need to be fixed. Fine. If only they weren’t setting back my bathroom remodel.

To be honest though, I’m pretty psyched about the fact that the construction industry is booming. This is an engine for economic recovery. If drywallers, tile installers, cabinet makers, HVAC manufacturers and general contractors are in high demand, the money being paid to them will be spent locally at various small and large businesses. When money is being spent, the economy thrives. Fuck that ‘trickle down’ shit. This is trickle sideways stuff. Give Americans a bit of money to spend, and they will – usually on practical expenditures; rent/mortgages, food, utilities, medicine… home infrastructure, a more reliable vehicle, a chicken coop, better windows. Screw Wall Street, this is what the American economy is all about.

On the other hand, we’re living in a construction site with a minimum of furniture (because, cheaper to move + space for construction supplies and work), and I want to get things back to something resembling a functional living space.

So when I say that I look forward to December 28th like I used to look forward to Christmas, I am serious. Christmas is for children… and people with comfortable homes.

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