Operation hat rescue

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As we proceed with our farmhouse remodeling project, we are feeling like we are doing something that will enhance the house but also our lives.

This house is well over 100 years old and has had many families and generations living in it. If we are not going to build a new house, we should be able to justify putting money into our older home. It will be a house that will hopefully be around for many more generations. With that said, I am thrilled that my brothers-in-law have stopped by and are thinking as we are, happy to see their childhood home being updated and remodeled.

The remodeling project goes from one room to the next. I am surprised how quickly things are moving forward. As soon as we hear that a carpenter or electrician is available, we all get into gear to move furniture from one room to another.

There isn’t a place for us to sit to relax after chores, except for the kitchen table and the chair by the computer. While the other project is moving along, my daughter Anna, is eager to keep going into the next room where the computer is.

While I was working on payroll, I spotted Anna looking at the old wallpaper. She couldn’t help herself. She took a corner of the wallpaper and ripped it off the wall. She was smiling like it was satisfying. It was obvious she lost control and went from one spot to the next. She commented how easy the paper pulled off, and I now see all the cracks that the paper was hiding. I was glad the job was easy and done. Looking at the naked walls gave us time to consider what the next plan would be for this room. Wallpaper is in again, and it can cover cracks just like the outdated paper.

The makeshift closet in the room was covered with paneling 30 years ago. This got the Anna treatment too. The paneling was ripped off, and under the paneling was retro, bright yellow and pink flowers with lime green leaves. Duane remembers seeing that wallpaper from his crib 60 years ago. Duane said this room was his parents’ bedroom when he was growing up. They had been living and farming here since 1958, and that paper was definitely from the 1960s.

This process has been liberating for all of us. The items that were in the closet were boxed up if they were to be donated to charity or hauled upstairs to be saved. Why did we need to keep so much stuff that doesn’t hold any special meaning to any of us? There were hats, hats and more hats along with promotional items that were shoved in the closet. I have at least a dozen cloth bags that will save the earth if I can remember to put them into the car and bring them into the grocery store.

We had boxes stacked up in the kitchen and on the porch to go to the dumpster, the donation collection container and a box or two that were going to other family members because they said they wanted the hats. In my haste, I loaded my cloth bags along with many boxes into my car. Unfortunately, later that evening, a box or two ended up going into a donation collection container that had some special collectable items — hats that were wanted. All of the boxes went to a donation container at the grocery store. I felt awful and knew I would have to make it right.

In an effort to correct my error, Anna and I knew we had to do a rescue mission to get to those boxes. We had to be prepared to climb into the donation box if needed. We wrote a note to the donation organization explaining our predicament and put $40 into the envelope if we needed to cut the lock. But, we also had to be prepared to answer to a police officer if they were called to check on the two women climbing into the donation container. We were hopeful that police officers could understand the error in donating boxes of hats that should not have been donated.

The grocery store closed at 9 p.m., and we pulled into the parking lot just a little later. There were just a few cars parked by the employee area, and we were nervous that it might look suspicious retrieving the boxes. Upon inspection, when we opened the door, the last box was still on the edge and hadn’t fallen in yet. Anna was trying to reach it, but in it fell.

I backed up the car so she could try to stand on the bumper and reach into the container. Anna could see the boxes with her flash light on her phone. She just needed to scooch a little bit further into the bin. She was so close but not quite there yet. She crawled a little further, about half way in, and was able to reach the edge of the box that had tipped in. Wiggling around, she passed it out to me and then went farther inside to retrieve the next box. It was open and hats had fallen out. She creeped in further, with just her lower legs and feet hanging out, and was able to scoop up the hats and grab the last box. After she passed the boxes and got herself out, we shut the door and put the boxes in the car. Whew. Operation hat rescue was a success.

This event will be one of the crazy things Anna and I will remember about this house remodel. The hat rescue along with the groovy wallpaper.

Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2,300 acres near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.

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