Mountain Kingdom Reno: embracing the mystery...er, misery

Tyler Austin Bradley
By Tyler Austin Bradley
July 8th, 2010

Townsfolk! Warmer, drier days are upon us.

Like rapidly dwindling stocks of fresh water, your hesitation to undertake nagging home projects must evaporate, your ambivalence toward leaky faucets and sagging eaves troughs need to slow to a trickle. You must channel your inner handy-person through the canal-like locks of a banal and shiftless upbringing.

Know this: childhood summers spent wiling away the daylight in favour of the pale glow of Divorce Court and Brady Bunch reruns has yielded you little more than the ability to overcome similarly-equipped adversaries in aimless TV trivia board games and pop culture-driven conversations.

Recognize your folly, embrace it, and accept that while you have wasted much time exploring the proverbial bottom of the barrel, now it is your lot to learn how to build it; be it a barrel for water catch and contain, a compost bin, a lintel, a chicken coop, a gabled sub-roof for your ailing basement door, now is the season of do-it-your-selfing, the window of opportunity to clean up your lot, spruce up your digs, and earn the respect of not Bob Villa, but your villa, su casa, your home.

Your house is watching you, noting your competency or lack thereof, and reacting accordingly. Creaking floorboards a recurring complaint? Exterior stucco leprosy psychosomatic in nature? Do NOT let your home lose faith. Shore it up. Do the right thing.

Roll up your sleeves or go shirtless if you must; acquire some steel-toed boots. Scuff your footwear up, look the part, swear a blue streak like dear old dad. Be a sailor, a merchant marine upon the high seas of renovation gales.

Yes, gales, swells and squalls. Renovations are violent, unpredictable things, moments of calm and quietude merely the eye of the storm as it passes overhead, the hydra-like beast of self-induced building posing as respite. I have seen it, and to know its many-headed faces (faced heads?) is to know fear.

What lurks in multi-layered walls of Rossland ‘character’ homes is chaos.

Visualize the cutaway diagrams commonplace in children’s How Things Work editions, and track your way through a cavity as if you were a probing crowbar, forged steel becoming so confused as to its findings that you bend several degrees further, thus assuming the form, the likeness, of a question mark: ?

“Wha..?! Another layer? [Insert expletives here]!”

Demolition phase. The run-down on the tear-down.

Crushed glass stucco sprayed onto Donna Konna may sound like a clever, sexy scene from a James Bond film, but when it comes to construction and demolition it is not so awesome. True, it is worse to leave and ignore this drafty, poochy, poorly conceived excuse for siding in place, but its removal can be tricky. Trust me. I know. Diarising challenges along the way reads like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or, worse, what passes for exposition in fantasy adventure video games: “Nails located every four to six inches impede your progress. Wire, placed only intermittently, hampers you further. The stench of burning, smoke fills your nostrils. Your diamond blade has begun to dull. Blue Valkyrie is about to die!”

Like levels in a video game or sequels in a film franchise, each subsequent layer in the side of a house (my house) is tougher to get through; Lead-based Trail-green paint, crushed glass stucco, Donna Konna (she’s a really tough boss to beat- I recommend a pry bar), Willy Nilly Ship-Lap (try a reciprocating saw, crowbar combo), Willy Nailly Ship-Lap (a variation on the previous level), Rotty Stud (he attacks by falling apart on you), Pink Bat (burns you with a fibreglass assault), Jumpy Panel (your nails and screws bounce off of him), and so on.

The worst part, though, comes at the end of the brutality, the deconstruction; after the piles of now lifeless scrap are hauled away, you are charged with rebuilding it (assuming you don’t have the scratch to hire someone to do this on your behalf).


This is where real-life renovations take a significantly divergent route from fantasy and video games. You are cast adrift, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get stuck in the doldrums. Your cache of beer and well-wishing friends and neighbours depleted (most people can be cornered to rip things apart, but a rebuild? No), you are on the hook for the re-do.

How many video games have that special feature? After destroying the city, committing multiple homicides, tearing your enemies to pieces, how often does a game mandate your reconstruction or recreation of a previously dysfunctional system/body? Not one that I can think of: Grand Theft Auto doesn’t have a “repay your debt to society” option wherein you and your avatar start a soup-kitchen and a clean-up, build-up, and clean sweep of the host city.

But you, offending siding, wall treatment, wonky cabinets torn from their moorings, are faced with the stark reality of this; something has to go in, on, or around what you’ve just ripped out, and the person to whom the mantle of leadership falls, by default, is you.

You’re going into uncharted waters, and the only question that remains is this- Are you ready?

Categories: General

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