ChrisC of A Fisherman's House fame sent us a fun set of interview questions as part of meme that is circulating around the blogosphere. (You can read the answers to her meme questions as part of her other blog, A Pretty How Town.) So, I jotted down my answers and then asked Aaron for his input. You'll be able to tell from the text here which one of us is the chatty one and which one is the strong, silent type. ChrisC would make an excellent journaliste.
1) What has been the most challenging aspect of renovating this place for you as a couple? What about you individually?
Jeannie: The most challenging thing for me has been balancing the house with the rest of our lives. I miss seeing our friends more often, traveling, doing more activities outside of the house. I'm also very closure-oriented...closure motivates me and a lot of renovation is not about closure! I'm my own worst enemy in this regard because I'm also obsessed with doing something "exactly right" and will research it to death. If I can't find the answer, I may get hung up searching. Aaron is really the perfect renovation partner for me because he is fearless about picking up the Sawzall and making the first cut, as well as more patient with the progress of things.
Aaron: Individually? Needing to have patience when things aren't going as fast as you think they should. I really wanted to move onto the second floor last August...that didn't happen.
Jeannie: Well, maybe he just gives the impression of being patient?
As a couple, learning how to make decisions and handle the stress of renovation together has been challenging. When we started the project, we each chose the five things that meant the most to us and then agreed to be flexible on everything else. (This works well for planning weddings too, by the way.) We both have backgrounds in organizational psychology, so we use a lot of funny terminology when we disagree. "I can see that your preference for more information will delay the decision and I guess I'm just feeling frustrated because I have a preference for closure." Sometimes we can even talk this way without laughing. But not often. Occasionally, we spark over something. I can be pretty stubborn and Aaron was a philosophy major (so he is EXCELLENT at debate.) However, he also has a very dry sense of humor and can always make me laugh. That helps. The houseblog helps too, strangely enough. If we get discouraged or frustrated, we can just laugh, write about it and then let it go.
2) Regrets? We all have regrets about certain projects in our renovation files. Besides all that business with the p.o. do you have any regrets about anything like "I wish we'd done this first" or "not bought that" or something?
Jeannie: For the most part, I can't think of anything that we've done TO the house (so far, fingers crossed) that I've regretted. We tend to "overplan" and that's been working well. We've had excellent help. However, I do regret "picking" at parts of the house that we aren't ready to tackle yet. I cannot resist wanting to know what's behind that ugly wallpaper or under that "thing that cannot be identified". And then I have to live with it until we're ready to address it. Ah well.
Aaron: I wish we hadn't refinished the tub in the first floor bathroom before working on that bathroom (because we had to do it twice.) And I wish we had torn down the basement ceiling (which was already in very bad shape) when we first moved in...we would have been able to handle some of the rewiring and plumbing fixes more efficiently and effectively. We did a bit of rework there.
3) What's the most common statement people make when they see the house for the first time? What part tend to impress them most? Least?
Jeannie: Either "wow" or "eek!" Everyone loves the built-in's. They are intrigued by the "map wall". They're horrified at the quantity of stuff left behind in here and the amount of dirt that created. That tends to be the general consensus. But everyone reacts to the house differently. Some see the potential and some don't. Some are excited by it and other people think we're nuts. I can relate to everyone's point of view as mine seems to flip-flop weekly.
Aaron: I don't think I remember them making a statement. But people who can imagine it being nicer are generally more positive.
4) Okay, the "Coco" part I can understand but "Dave?" I mean why is this poor innocent cat named "Dave?" Does he actually answer to that?
Jeannie: I had both pets before I met Aaron. Coco was adopted when she was 6 years old...otherwise she would have been "Bob". Dave the Cat is named for an old friend who had a goatee. Dave's original name at the shelter was Osbourne but he never answered to that. Once I saw his goatee, I exclaimed to my sister, "Look! He has a goatee just like [our friend] Dave!"
So, Dave the Cat it was. This invariably led to much confusion as I would be on the phone, interrupt what I was saying, and hiss, "Dave NO! Dave, off of the counter! Dave, don't eat that!" And the person on the other end of the line would slowly ask, "Um...are you living with someone now?" And, yes, he does answer to Dave. He comes running when you call him.
5) You both seem to love travel. Can you talk about where you've been, what you thought about it and how it affected you?
Jeannie: We both traveled quite a bit before we met. I remember being fourteen and begging my mom to take me to Arizona or anyplace "other than here." I devoured every travel book I could get my hands on...Paul Theroux, the writers from Traveler's Tales, Richard Halliburton. But I didn't leave the country (except for Canada) until I was 18. And I never set foot on another continent until I was 30! I've backpacked up the East Coast by myself (rock climbing and sailing) and that was a milestone because I was very shy growing up. I have traveled with friends to the mountains of Costa Rica to build a house for Habitat for Humanity and then we wandered down to the coast by jeep, hiked around Europe sleeping in hostels, explored the wine region of Germany on another trip, lingered awhile in the Cotswolds, and visited some islands at different times. I've traveled all over the United States and Canada for work. I'm a bed and breakfast/pension addict, even when working. Travel outside of my home country has been the most enlightening and exciting thing I've ever done. I'm not a good "tourist'...I like to get off of the beaten path, talk to people who live in small towns and really take my time. I stay away from big hotels and anything that reminds me of "home". I'm more interested in people than monuments. I think international travel has been a critical factor in my development as a person. It can be humbling to confront your fears, broaden your perspective and get out of your comfort zone but it can be liberating, too.
When Aaron and I married, we honeymooned in St. Lucia. And those were the last upscale accommodations we've ever sprung for. :) We seem to do much more with backpacks and public transportation. We've been to Alaska twice to visit Aaron's sister, Kjerstin. But our most exciting trip together was to mainland China. Words cannot describe the loveliness of that trip, even as we traveled on just dollars a day. We still have so many places we'd like to go. I could talk about travel forever. I have extensive diaries from many trips that I love to go back and read.
Aaron: Before I met Jeanne, I traveled to South Africa, South Korea, France, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, England, Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. I like to see unusual and beautiful things...Mont St. Michel, the place where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated in South Africa, a small Miao Village in rural China, being at the World Cup Finals in France when they won (in 1998), watching the running of the bulls in Spain. I think that going to other countries, especially very different countries such as China and Africa, are helpful in developing a broader perspective on life.
5b) One last question to sneak in: what ever happened to the new bungalow door !?
Jeannie: The bungalow door is in the basement awaiting the completion of the second floor so we have time to stain and install it! I can't wait for it to be in either!
I now offer up Christine's excellent house-related questions as a meme to all of the other housebloggers out there. How would YOU answer the following?
1) What has been the most challenging aspect of your house project?
2) Regrets? We all have regrets about certain projects in our renovation files. Do you have any regrets about anything like "I wish we'd done this first" or "not bought that" or something?
3) What's the most common statement people make when they see the house for the first time? What part tends to impress them most? Least?
So, TAG! You're it! Pass it on...