In the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, after the miller boasts to the king about his daughter’s many amazing talents, he ends his proud statements by saying, “She can even spin straw into gold.”

Well, this of course caught the king’s attention and caused all manner of problems.

There’s an old adage that should have been tattooed on the miller’s forehead and on mine as well: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP.

Our first leaping episode happened when I said to my husband, “Why don’t we follow your great grandfather’s Civil War journal?”

That leap resulted in three great trips and a book, GOING TO SEE THE ELEPHANT,  currently available at Amazon and other ebook vendors. So  another leap, moving from a large town to a small town, seemed like a really good idea at the time. Like lovers in the earliest throes of infatuation, we  packed file boxes for stacking, and rented UHAUL trailers.

For several years, we’ve been coming to this beautiful mountain valley and staying in our nifty little condo above the town, VERY SMALL, but warm in winter, cool in summer and comfortable.

The phrase, VERY SMALL, is the important element here. In spite of my husband’s caveats and protests and dire words of warning, I totally misjudged the number of boxes that would fit in the space available and held on to stuff I should have discarded.  But we were moving! We might need it.  We’d solve the space problem later.  When the condo next door came up for sale, we bought it, thinking we’d open the wall between the two units and make a home out of the two. And solve our space problem.

Like I said, tattoo on the forehead.

The end of March my husband struck the first blow, ripping down a panel of sheetrock to reveal . . . insulation and a second wall. He removed the second partition. More insulation, sheetrock and crooked two by fours. But in between the small breaks in the wall, it was possible to see the tantalizing glimpse of what could be if we persevered—the two units connected. No more trips out the front door of one and into the front door of the other with Mistral-like winds howling around us.

That was in March.

It is now June.

I estimate completion sometime in early August.

We now have the wall opened between the two units and our lovely French doors installed. They’re even stained and varnished although the green tape to protect the glass from the varnish is still in place, giving the doors an odd carnival look.

The kitchen in our new second condo has been a bit stubborn, but the last cabinet was removed recently and placed to one side to go into the new alcove for a full-sized washer and dryer. We currently have an apartment sized (in other words, tiny) washer and dryer that will hold roughly three socks, two shirts and if you hold your mouth just right, a small towel. The lure of the larger washer and dryer and thus fewer loads of wash per week was a major factor in the breaching of the wall between the units.

The electrician comes soon to unsnarl the Gordian knot of electrical wiring, outlets and switches that were uncovered with the removal of the cabinets and the small partition between the kitchen and the living room. If you haven’t surfed Wikepedia lately, the Gordian Knot phrase is “often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (disentangling an ‘impossible’ knot) that is solved easily by cheating or ‘thinking outside the box.’ ” According to legend, Alexander the Great saw a wagon tied to a pillar with one of those impossible knots, and being a man of action rather than a philosopher, whipped out his sword and severed the knot. This released the tethered wagon and no doubt embarrassed the men who, after several centuries, hadn’t thought of such a simple solution. I don’t visualize our electrician using a sword on the electrical wiring, but who knows.

Unlike the miller’s daughter, we aren’t trapped in a three day window to find a solution. Our first-born child isn’t at risk. We will finish our renovation when we finish it. We live in a very small town and some of our craftsmen have day jobs.

As I wrote earlier, the miller and I should have the words,  LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP tattooed on our foreheads. But then the miller’s daughter wouldn’t have married a king and we wouldn’t look out at the Sangre de Cristo mountains each morning when we wake.

Maybe that old adage should be edited into something more modern: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP, BUT THEN GO FOR IT!






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