Memorial Day. We are sitting in the park, in a big, rough circle, in lawn chairs and on blankets and straight on the damp grass. We are balancing plates of pulled pork and fresh beet salad and fresh fruit. We are talking and one person is juggling and other people are complaining (about the line for the food) and there is some gossiping and there is lots of eating. That is neighbors.

Around which time, a neighbor asks: are you still doing that blog thing?

Not really, I say.

Too busy doing the thing you are blogging about, he says. Smiling.

No, not really, I say. It’s just—you know, you write to learn from something. But now that I’ve written about the houses for so long, I keep turning up the same lessons. Like: stay committed. But be flexible. Like: be nice to each other. Same thing, again and again.  It’s hard to say it new.

And that’s true. Renovating seems to teach so many of the same things, whether we’re working with wallpaper or siding or plaster or foundations. Or one of us is spending [fill insane number of hours here] shopping for a stair runner while the other person is upstairs in the land of dusty drywall for [fill in insane number of hours here].

I’ll let you guess who was the one drywalling. Handiwork here:


Anyway, at that neighborhood Memorial Day picnic, the one with the juggling and the pulled pork and the conversation about Dayton Grit, someone brought a book about veterans and wedged it at the start of the buffet. Trying to remind us all, in the midst of food and gossip, what the day was about. Because we forget the things we never could have imagined we’d forget.

And so I know, too, that one day we will forget most of what we learned with these houses. What I hope is that it is mostly drywall installation and sanding techniques and those types of things that we lose. Not the really important stuff.

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