Heather Zydek writes about life on the east side of Tosa.
When Walt Whitman wrote lovingly of grass in his poetry collection "Leaves of Grass," he must have been referring to the showy, ornamental varieties, or, more likely, wild grasses swaying in summer fields. Surely he couldn't have been thinking of the kind of overly-watered-yet-still-thirsty, scalped, grub infested squares of lawn that form a patchwork quilt across suburbia.
Within hours of learning that we were going to host our very first family Christmas party in 14 years of marriage, I made plans to do something I've wanted to do as long as we've lived in our blue bungalow: rip out the dingy carpets in our living and dining rooms and expose the hardwood floors underneath.
- Aesthetics: Our house was built with oak floors. Wall-to-wall carpets weren't in style in 1918. I wanted those original floors, obscured under matted carpeting, padding, and an ungodly layer of dust, to be restored to their original beauty.
- Health: I have pretty serious indoor allergies. I'm allergic to dust mites and certain molds. Carpets are a dust mite paradise.
- Sustainability: Carpets degrade much faster than wood, needing replacement every 15 years or so. And they require frequent vacuuming. I'd much rather sweep than run an electric vacuum.
- Cost: One online source says it could cost $3.75 - $5 a square foot to refinish hardwood flooring. According to that estimate, our 435 square foot area would cost up to $2,175 to refinish. This is not exactly an amount we'd planned to spend on something largely cosmetic – not at this time, anyway.
- Disruption: Packing furniture into other rooms, ripping out and disposing of carpets, and staying out of a good portion of living space until the floors were sanded, stained, and polyurethaned wasn't something our busy family of five (plus big dog) wanted to do.
- Soundproofing: We wondered: would every foot placed on a creaking floorboard ring through the whole house?
- Insulation: We worried that stripping out carpets would remove some needed insulation from our floors. Does carpet really retain heat better than hardwood floors? A little. "Carpeting will provide a modicum of insulation to a first floor over an unheated basement or crawl space," said an article in Chicago's Daily Herald.)
I did it: I successfully ended another gardening season. From June on was able to harvest everything from strawberries and currants to grapes, carrots, and zucchini. Now I'm enjoying watching my pumpkins finish growing and admiring the last blooms of the season from my mums, sedums, and other fall blooming perennials.