To tell you this exciting story about replacing a window shade in the bathroom, I really, really should have taken a Before picture. I could show you just the After picture, but that's no good at all. Seeing only the After picture, you would have nothing but criticism and mehs. "That really doesn't seem worth either the fuss or the celebration, and also she has no concept of window design, and really that whole bathroom is kind of depressing-looking," you'd say. "Here Swistle has been for YEARS representing herself as a person on the forefront of home decor trends, and now we find out she doesn't even know how high to hang a valance! And that she still uses SHADES!"
No good. In order to really APPRECIATE the hero of this story (me), you would need to see how it looked BEFORE. THEN you would see the difference and be amazed. But there is no Before picture. And since I didn't take a Before picture, there will also be no After picture: instead I will call on your imagination. (I am saying that in the SpongeBob voice, with hand rainbows.)
So this is what you should imagine. We begin twelve years ago, when Paul and Swistle have just bought a house and now are in the process of switching from third-person to first-person. One of our very first home improvement projects was to take down the DARK GREEN window shade in the bathroom and replace it with a white one. Window shades apparently need to be cut to fit by a store employee. Our store employee did such a crappy job, I can't imagine how he handed us the shade with a clean conscience: the shade was ragged all the way down one side, with actual little ripped bits sticking out. He surely would have noticed this, even though we did not.
Did we return it, as we should have? No. I was a week or two from giving birth to William, and we had one zillion other things to do with the house, and even just changing from "battered dirty green" to "ragged new clean white" was such a vast improvement we weren't so concerned with the little details.
Next what happened was that because one of the ragged places was right near the stick that goes through the bottom of the shade, the sticked area gradually ripped off completely; I trimmed the edge with scissors to make it tidier. Still we did not replace the shade: we had a toddler and an infant, and that was for me the most impossible stage of parenting. Going to Home Depot for a new window shade seemed like it belonged to an alternate reality.
Let me see if I can speed this story up a bit. Next the shade got some sort of mold/mildew issue, and then Henry used scissors and snipped it in the middle, from which point it continued to rip until nearly the entire shade was in two pieces. A ragged-edged, mildewed, no-bottom-edge-thingie, ripped up the middle shade, for YEARS.
(This is where my dad cut into the story I was telling, saying "So this is when you started thinking it might be time to start thinking about needing to replace the shade sometime in the near future," and my mom said to him reproachfully, "SWEETheart.")
MEANWHILE, there was no curtain on this window, even though I'd thought it would look nice. There was a lot of mental whining every time I turned my mind to the issue. "But I don't know what style of curtain to use! There are too many/few choices! And what COLOR? I don't want it to MATCH the shower curtain, but it should Look Right with it. And the shower curtain is kind of whimsical/babyish, but curtains aren't---unless they are, and then it looks like a Kid Bathroom when it isn't. And I like to change shower curtains periodically, and then the curtain won't go with the new one and I'll have to go through all this AGAIN." And then, at the store, more whining and indecision: "They're charging $14.99 for a 1x4 piece of fabric I don't even really like?? Outrageous! I see these on 70%-off clearance ALL THE TIME. I will just get one THEN." And then, when there is a clearance display: "There are too many/few CHOICES. This is such a messy pile. I don't know what would look nice. I should just pay full price and get the full selection. I'll do this later."
Okay, so how is your imagination working? Good, good. So you can see that the situation was dismal, and not likely to improve after a decade or so of no progress. It was not a situation for drops in the bucket; only big SLOSHES would accomplish anything here---and big sloshes are in short supply and have to be reserved for big priorities such as choosing a new calendar.
But then, unexpectedly, RESOLVE kicked in. New feelings and thoughts emerged: (1) The situation was bothering me every single day, and (2) the situation was fixable. I used one of my Coping Thoughts For Hurdles: "This will not be fun but I am technically capable of handling it; by this time tomorrow it will be over AND done." (Some of you reserve such thoughts for, say, childbirth, or for a move, or for a major remodel. Different strokes.) I scooped Henry up, and off we went. First to Home Depot, where I chose a shade and got it cut. (Fortunately I'd thought to measure the old shade before starting out.) Then to Target, where I went to the shower curtain aisle and got the same shower curtain we have, and took it with me to the selection of seriously four valances they had, chose the one I liked best (a sort of butterscotch color), and paid $14.99 full price for it with hardly any flinching and only minimal whining.
Then I went home, forgot to take a Before picture, took down the old shade and threw it away, did a little wiping of the dusty window frame, put up the new shade and adjusted the tightness, found a curtain rod in the basement, realized it was all bent and found another curtain rod in the basement, put up the new valance and tidied it in a finicky way, and DONE.
It was not that big a deal, but IT WAS A HUGE DEAL. (This is where my dad cut into the story to say "Wait, is this the same window you're replacing in the spring? That new shade isn't going to fit," and my mom said, "SWEETHEART.")
Okay, fine, here is the After picture, since I do have one. I trust your imaginations to handle it:
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