One Thing after Another

I hail from an outlying area in Illinois. Rural life is fast disappearing in this country as people move to the city or even the suburbs, hence the need to preserve small town America. This cause has become my life. I have earmarked a couple of local buildings for historical status and am working hard to persuade the town council. They are the powers that be and they are not easy to convert to my point of view. As much as they love the town and its unique style of architecture, not every building gets special status. I am very committed and sometimes I get a bit stressed out when things don’t go my way which brings out a few nervous tics. We all have something that gives away our mood like wringing our hands, shaking our legs while seated, coughing at odd times, or what not. I have trichotillomania. What? Yes, this is a real condition. There are people who pull their hair out all of the time, creating horrible bald spots. When one thing after another goes wrong, I unconsciously pick at my eyelashes. The poor things get thin. I wouldn’t call if a bald spot exactly, but it is obvious that a few are missing. Now I get even more stressed out wondering if they will grow back.

Imagine wasting your time pondering this problem, but I do want to know the answer. I did a bit of research and the answer to my question is a fortunate yes. Eyelashes do grow back although it takes time according to Eyelashes to Die For. Women can wear false extensions in the interim but I just put up with it. I will give it three or four months before I panic and go to the dermatologist. He can prescribe a solution that I will put on my eyelids twice a day to regrow lost hairs. People who pull out the hair on their heads have to just stop. There is always Rogaine for men and women if you need restoration after the fact. Of course, I have to stop my bad destructive habit. Some people scratch their skin and some overeat or drink to combat nervous tension. Articles on the Web say to get a shrink. Yikes. Am I a basket case? I think I might try hypnosis. It is the perfect treatment for trichotillomania I read. If you have it done by a professional, the odd habit will cease and not come back.

When something causes stress, you have to get a grip. I need to take my own advice. It takes time to get approval for historical status. The council will surely come around. There are only so many buildings in our town and it is obvious that they need to be restored and protected. If I present a calm demeanor, perhaps I will have better luck. Nervous people make others retreat. The focus on the issue at hand is obscured. So don’t touch those eyelashes. I repeat this mantra daily.

Renovate vs. Restoration

In my book, any improvements in local buildings are warranted as they keeps the town alive and growing. When areas deteriorate, so do the spirits of the inhabitants. You feel it in your bones when you survey a decaying scene, even if that decay is on the interior. Let’s just take one room in a house, for example. Bathrooms take time to become dated, but when they do, they affect home prices and rentals. People need to update and renovate and that takes money and time.

However, when these rooms are pristine and modern, it gentrifies the neighborhood and bespeaks of care and restoration. It uplifts the entire town in the long run. Building owners and landlords need to address the issue now and take stock of their properties and either renovate or restore as the situation dictates.

You ask, what is the difference between renovating and restoring and why does it matter? Isn’t it the same thing? Not really. Renovation is complete overhaul during which the contractor does whatever is asked without regard to what came before. It is not necessary to preserve an older style or maintain a look. Many a bathroom with a claw foot tub is now ultra-modern and “spa-like.” Showers, sinks, toilets, etc. may be relocated and the walls expanded. Ideas can be found on web sites like this one. New plumbing is de rigueur.

In renovation you might go for chrome fixtures instead of the old brass. You might want a Jacuzzi tub which didn’t exist at the time the room was first conceived. You might want heated floors and towel bars or built-in storage. Of course you will change the color palette as neutral is now in vogue.

When you restore, you keep the basic lines of the room intact and usually the location of the facilities. It is less costly overall than renovation as it may involve simple upgrades and not a total transformation. If a building is under consideration, for example, as an historical landmark, this would be the approach taken to keep the period look intact. A claw foot tub could be refinished and not replaced, century-old tile could be regrouted and not demolished. Carved cast towel bars could be polished and repaired.

There is a big difference and it merits consideration. Those who are willing to undertake refurbishing projects need to keep the historical nature of the area in mind. They must think of the monetary value of what they are doing, of course, but also of the public aspects of their work. I vote for having an historical committee appointed for such ventures. They could review the proposed renovation versus restoration and make suggestions before giving approval. They would be a good resource if the members were historians, designers, and local architects. It would make upgrading property a public enterprise.

There are so many choices to make when redoing any aspect of a building or home. A bit more research will help in making the wisest ones. Few people care about their city or town as a project seems small in comparison. But it does, in fact, matter what you do.

My New Year’s Resolution

I am on a mission to save my town. I can’t do it single handedly, but I can do a lot of promotion and spreading the word to others. I can do research and provide data and vital information to builders, designers, and architects. I can keep building owners apprised of the important issues at stake. In essence, I am a one-man public relations band with a message of vital importance. Sometimes, I get so fully absorbed in the whole enterprise, however that I neglect my own health. I don’t think it is a bad thing to be obsessed by something that requires attention, but on the other hand, if I am not at my best, I cannot provide good counsel on the subject.

Some projects and situations sit idle and no one takes the reigns. When it falls in your lap, you know you have a responsibility. I actually elected to become a spokesperson for renovation in my region and I didn’t balk at all at the task. The time is ripe for motivating others to the matter at hand. Urban decay, literally and metaphorically, should be the enemy within. In the meantime, I am taking a look at my lack of diet and exercise that is starting to compromise my health.

When you gain a few pounds and it is out of the ordinary for you, it is often because you are not going to the gym or on those long power walks. Your brain has been absorbed by other things and the weight gain hasn’t registered. Now that I have noticed it after the holidays in particular, I am going to take quick action. The first order of business is to buy a bathroom scale.

When you don’t own one, you can kid yourself about your clothes not fitting and make excuses. When you jump on a nice, new digital model, the truth be told and action must be implemented. I am going to take time out of my busy schedule to learn to eat better and drop those pounds fast. I owe it to my cause to get in shape so I can pursue more important issues.

The best approach in my mind is to be disciplined and methodical. You set before you a regime to follow to the letter. It can consist of a lower calorie diet than you are used to and a day or two more of exercise in combination. You use the scale as a benchmark of your success. You have to be realistic about goals of course and not expect overnight magic. A few pounds a week is a good objective.

I am looking forward to a new me in the New Year. We all make resolutions, but mine will be a keeper. I don’t want health issues to mar my ability to move forward with my cause. Weight can creep up on you if you don’t heed the warnings and cause stress on the body and the mind—no matter your age. I don’t want to even approach the subject of rampant obesity in America!

An Unlikely Source for Kitchen Appliances

Excavation unearths many interesting things depending upon where you look. You enter a realm of time past and bring objects and detritus into the present. Surprises are in store! It is a kind of quasi-historical endeavor as it brings to light ways of life that have gone before. This is an activity I relish. You never know what you will find, but if you dig enough and spread yourself over a big enough territory, you get the makings of some pretty unique displays. Urban archeology, anyone?

Yes, displays. Some of the things you might find would fill a museum of life, a tribute to practical ways and mores of your region. Think of old egg beaters and toasters of early 20th century design; think of old style pressure cookers, can openers, blenders, and juicers. Any items that have been transformed by time and have become nostalgic memories. I personally find this fascinating. I would designate a building downtown on Main Street for my cause. Surely an abandoned space would be the perfect match. Some of you might balk at the idea, thinking “this is no museum,” but what is the definition after all.

A museum, according to an online dictionary, is an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value; a place where objects are exhibited. I see it as a repository for my “junk” relics that may well stand the test of time. Who doesn’t want a glimpse at what came before?

To make it more legitimate and authentic, I would group the displays into categories and accompany the items – whether kitchen or bathroom items, personal care objects, and tools and implements. People would see how and where they were used and stored. If I wanted a really comprehensive collection, I could no doubt find fill-in pieces on eBay.

The best part would be to charge a small admission and also ask for donations. The money would go for building restoration in order of need and importance. We all know that the town cries out for help, and -this could draw attention to the on-going project.

The cost to run the museum would be minimal. I would get the city to “loan” or lease the abandoned building at $1/per year. Volunteers would greet visitors and help assemble exhibits. With the right press, people would know about the efforts and jump in to support the cause. Hopefully, they would find and donate items of their own. It could grow exponentially with satellite museums placed strategically around town!

Revitalizing one’s town is a sacred cause for me and one I hope will rub off on others who read this blog. Meanwhile, I hope to amuse and tantalize you with stories and information that will keep you coming back. A project as enormous as the one I envision takes a lot of talent; it takes a village. But it must, in fact, be done. I cannot sit back and watch deterioration takes its toll. It is time to sit up and take notice, and action, of needed renovation and restoration.