I enjoy watching home improvement shows on television, mostly because I'm not the one doing the improving. The thrill of redecorating, let alone renovating, has lost its glamor for me.
There was a time when the thought of taking a sledge hammer and crowbar to an existing wall, to bump out a kitchen or add a sunroom, set my heart aflutter. Changing paint colors throughout the house every few years was as thrilling as opening a new box of 64 Crayola crayons when I was a kid - so many colors to choose from.
My sister has the same fixer-upper gene. We blame it on our mother - the home wrecker. She and my father were married for 61 years, and in that time, she wrecked and rebuilt at least five homes. There was no such thing as flipping back then, these were our family homes.
When my folks bought the house I grew up in on Hammond Avenue, the basement was a maze of tiny, dark rooms with dirt floors. Or so my mother thought at first look. Turned out is was poured concrete with a few decades of dust and grime on top.
It wasn't long before those basement walls came down. The floors were scraped and cleaned, the fluorescent lighting went up, and a rec room emerged. All it needed to be "Brady Bunch"-worthy was a groovy vinyl floor, but that would have to wait while my father, a thrifty man, purchased discounted vinyl tile remnants, piecemeal, from a commercial installer.
In the meantime, my mother talked my dad into a brand-new, built-in wall oven for the kitchen. The old oven went down to the basement, where it cooked the turkey or ham on holidays, and frozen pizzas on weekend nights.
Once there were enough of the mismatched tiles to start the project, that old stove came in handy. Mom figured out if she warmed the 12-inch vinyl squares in the oven they would conform to the bumps and dips in the concrete without cracking or breaking.
That's where I came in. My job was relaying the warmed tiles from the oven to her. Bit by bit, she and I tiled that entire basement floor in a patchwork of every color and pattern of public school, church basement, hospital and clinic tile you've ever seen.
I carried on the do-it-yourself tradition. I've lost count of the walls torn down and rebuilt, painted, paneled and wallpapered, the additions added on, the floors, shower surrounds and backsplashes tiled. I'm ready to hang up my tool belt.
There's just one wrinkle. The hubs and I are coming up on 20 years in our current home. It's time for new flooring throughout, but that's not all. Every room and all the ceilings need fresh paint, the deck needs to be stained (again) and the sidewalk is cracked beyond further repair; it has to be replaced.
The kitchen is dated, and the appliances are white - nobody has white appliances anymore. The tub in the master bathroom is a shade of green there is no name for, something between sage and canned peas. Let's just call it "ugly green."
As much as I like the idea of a whole-house makeover, the reality is giving me nightmares. My fixer-up days are over. I want to sell the farm, move to a trailer for rent in Florida, and put the property manager's number on speed-dial.
My dear mother, queen of the fixer-uppers, must be turning over in her grave.
Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of "Sins Of The Fathers," a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at judithliebaert.com.