Done! Done. Done.

Some years ago our family sold our comfortable condo at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in order to acquire an actual house, a fixer upper located in a quiet cove off the lake’s main channel. By mutual agreement the family named our place Casalago. That’s Italian for Lake House.

The former owners had shared the property with a menagerie of five dogs and as many cats, all of which left behind so much hair and fur and dander that we had to have professionals extract the nasties from the a/c and furnace vents. More animal hair covered the dark wood paneled walls.

There were three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main level—all livable, as well as a galley kitchen and somewhat cramped living/dining area. The main feature in that area was a large, space-consuming fireplace that extended to the lower level. In addition to a second living area, that level had a decent third bathroom as well as two dark bedrooms accessible by an even darker hallway.

We, the new owners, along with a few time-generous friends, put hearts and souls into making Casalago a comfortable retreat, one that required somebody with construction expertise. Fortunately, Offspring #2, P, the only person with an architectural/construction background, took on the role of Casalago project manager. The rest of us, including P, contributed via a ton of sweat equity. The removal of an awkwardly placed staircase made way for a spiral staircase in a new location. Every dark paneled wall got cleaned and painted the color of creamy milk. Every interior and exterior door—thirty-two or so—given a coat of paint over the prime. Cathedral ceilings were cleaned and polished to show off their tongue and groove knotty pine.

In the lower level walls came tumbling down, sort of. The two lower level bedrooms were relocated, on either side of a new Jack and Jill bathroom. (Just thinking about that plumbing, my male offspring drilling through rock-hard Ozark clay makes me cringe.) A new L-shaped wet bar and swivel stools filled one corner and a new wall in the lower living room separated it from the laundry and utility area.

Other than the upper level bedrooms with hardwood floors, new carpeting and ceramic tile on both levels replaced old linoleum or concrete floors.

Five months later, just in time for the summer season, we were done. Or so we thought.

If only the entry off the carport wasn’t so uninviting. During the next year or so three new doors and two side windows and a ceramic tile floor made a world of difference to create a cozy sunroom that gave us more space. As did an additional boat slip, making room for three boats used by five families plus an existing swimming dock and high sliding board aimed at the water.

At some point the main bathroom need a new ceramic floor and countertop. A job for a professional, you bet.

Then P decided the privacy fencing around the upper deck and lower seawall had to go. Why? I argued to no avail in defense of privacy. P got his way and rightly so. The wire fencing opened up the upper and lower level views to our dock and others lining the cove.

After a few years I suggested closing in the carport to create another community space to accommodate our growing family and their friends. Bingo! P to the rescue, again. One week and two weekends later, four of us had enlarged the sunroom to create a 20×30-foot living space with pine paneled walls and sloped tongue and groove ceiling, newly stained to match the adjoining sunroom and main living area.

Once again, we were done. Or so I thought

Then, one day I casually mentioned bumping out the kitchen to create a pantry for storing the monumental clutter of groceries people brought in for long weekends. Just a storage space, I emphasized. No big deal. Right? Wrong. P and some of the other owners saw a bigger picture than Hubby D and I had envisioned.

New construction and improvements meant various permits and approvals that necessitated a larger septic system and updated electrical system. The bumped out storage space I originally suggested soon evolved into a gourmet kitchen plus master en suite on the first level plus a carpeted bonus/dormitory room below that space. D and I sold the old kitchen appliances, a bistro set, outdoor bar plus five stools. Also the washer and dryer to make room for two stackable sets. The old kitchen became a walk-through pantry with counter space overlooking the cove. Minus the dock’s sliding board that P sold to create extra lounging space. Another decision I argued against. Not that I ever slid down the board but you never know.

We were done! Or so I thought. If only the water pipe hadn’t burst in the lower level, ruining the new bonus room carpeting plus that in the lower living room. After getting that bad news from the tile layer who happened to be working that day, D hurried down to the lake to confirm the worst. Three inches of water covered all the new area and part of the old. Thank God for the insurance clean up guys who did the dirty work of pulling out the ruined carpeting and evaluating the damage. Three weeks and more new carpeting later, we were back in business. As in no business. That was two years ago. Since then …

No more projects. No more improvements. We are done! Do you hear me? Done. Done. Done.

How about you? Any projects you’re done with. Or so you thought?



About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at:
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