Beautiful Things


We’re going to take a break from our usual construction update for a bit of a personal reflection from our Construction Manager, John LiCastro. We hope you enjoy it.

Memorial Day Weekend gave most of us a break from renovation. Most of us, but not me. You see, this was the weekend I’d picked to begin painting my living room. After packing up and moving as much out as I could, the first task was to scrape off the peeling paint and patch those voids with spackle. Now, I live in a seventy year old building in “Beautiful Downtown Flushing” and the paint is about twenty layers thick, or roughly the same thickness as an audio or computer CD. When you start chipping away at a crack the size of a pinky nail, you generally end up with patches the size of a pizza, and I had pizza-sized patches all over my walls. Needless to say, I bought a lot of spackle and troweled it in fairly expertly if I do say so myself. So, by Monday, I was ready to begin sanding. I had my sanding block in hand, and began smoothing each patch with good old-fashioned elbow grease. I took my time because I really wanted this to turn out beautiful.

Yes, beautiful. This reminds me of a conversation I had a while ago with a resident of Selis Manor. I had mentioned that the lobby was going to be beautiful. She made a face and said forgive me but your idea of beautiful doesn’t mean much to me. Well, I hemmed and hawed and apologized; but after this weekend, I think I’m going to take back that apology, and here’s why:

As I was smoothing out my patches of spackle I realized that the only way to know that you’ve done your job is to run your palm across the area just sanded. To me it looked smooth, but running my hand over it I could feel the bumps and ridges, and so I would sand it some more, and it would still be a bit uneven, so I continued until I ran my hand over a perfectly smooth surface and I would say to myself, “that’s beautiful,” and then move on to the next patch. The dust that all this sanding kicked up prevented me from turning on my air-conditioner, so I opened the window like in the old days, and appreciated the fresh air and every little breeze on what the weatherman promised would be a beautiful day. And when I took a break, I had a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. My television was covered to protect it from the dust, so while I was working I was listening to a baseball game on the radio, and for me there’s nothing better than listening to baseball on the radio. (Although, it was the Mets, and I’ll be honest, this team ain’t that beautiful.)

So everything that contributed to this beautiful day had nothing to do with anything visual. And when I eventually finish my project, yes, I hope it will look good, but it will also feel cleaner and smell fresher and if I keep my promise to myself and throw out half the things I packed out of there, it will be roomier.

So I take back my apology. The new lobby will have a waiting area that will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and have comfortable chairs and have a luxurious feel to it. And it will be beautiful. And the courtyard will have shade trees and tables and chairs, and the roof garden will have plants and trees and (rumor has it) lounge chairs. And everything in the apartments will be brand new.

Beauty is not only what can be perceived visually; if it were the world would be a sad place. But the world is filled with all sorts of beautiful things and when all is said and done, Selis Manor will be a beautiful place to live.

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