My house is 90 years old. It is older than your grandma. Unless your grandma is older than 90. In which case, I'm sorry I lied. And disrespected your grandma.

Over the course of those 90 years, people have made a few very disappointing decisions regarding this house. Namely,

Guys. This is the UGLIEST fireplace stone that has ever fireplaced in the history of fireplacing. AND I DON'T EVEN SAY Y'ALL.

And I know what you're thinking: "What stone, Eli Whittlebottom? I only see plywood around that fireplace? I wish it was shiny stone so I could see that mane of yours. Bow chicka bow wow! I THINK I MIGHT FAINT!"

First of all, I wish it was shiny stone, too, so I could see YOUR mane.

And second, it is totally reasonable of you to think that that is actually plywood. Because it looks like plywood. Like horrid, disgusting, the ugliest material of all time, plywood.

But it's not plywood. That is granite. That is actual stone. Stone that someone, at some point, decided would be the perfect addition to this quaint, cute room in my 1925 house.

I can only assume that this person was color blind and hated beautiful things AND AMERICA. I don't know how else this choice could have been made.

For the year-plus since I bought this home, this fireplace has been an abominable eyesore for me. Thank heavens it isn't a focal point in the house!

That was sarcasm. You guys. I was being sarcastic. This is literally the most focal point of the home. It is the first thing people see when the walk in. Not my hair. Not my incredibly awesome coffee table that Adam made with his bare hands. Not Matt scavenging for food in the kitchen with his seductive green eyes.


I have procrastinated doing anything about it. Because lazy. And TV. And eating. And a general fear of manual labor.

Matt has repeatedly advised me on stone and tile options we could look into that would be a much better choice for this fireplace. He has tried to get me to go stone shopping with him. But I've procrastinated. For all of the reasons listed above.

Finally, last week, the Pantses and the Scrapses were all at my house for Survivor night when Adam finally told me that we were going to tear that plywood stone down that weekend and figure out what to do once and for all.

Matt and Adam showed up Friday evening, Mr. Pants and Mr. Scraps in tow, and carried enough tools into my living room to literally build Rome in one day.

Then we started working. And when I say "we" I mean "Matt and Adam." I was too busy telling them my hands were "full" and then holding up both puppies to show them that I wasn't lying whenever they asked me to hand them something.

They worked for a while. And almost instantly we realized that we were uncovering something beautiful.

Before we turn to the brick, I want to point out a number of things about this picture.

First, yes, we are using my Virgin Mary blanket to protect the floor. I don't know whether God is mad about this, but I really think he should just be proud of me for having a Virgin Mary blanket in the first place.

Second, this is the only picture I took that did not show Matt's plumber crack. NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT CRACK IS, CATHIE.

Third, I appreciate that Matt takes every opportunity possible to remind us that he is from Mississississississippi (his shirt).

Fourth, OMG I love Teddy Scraps with every fiber of my being.

But most importantly, we realized that there was actually some pretty amazingly beautiful red brick under that horrid plywood stone, which evoked two very dramatic competing emotions:

1. Oh my gosh this is wonderful, I love it like the Queen of Colors loves evil, and


You guys. WHY would someone cover this brick? This beautiful beautiful brick. And with that stone! That plywood stone! I don't understand the world! I don't understand humanity! I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THIS IS AMERICA ANYMORE!

Whoever did this to my home should be tried and executed for their crimes against humanity! Or at least be given a disapproving look by Cathie. I don't really care which it is. Just as long as there is some accountability.

We spent a long time trying to chip away the liquid nails that this wretched person plastered all over the face of the brick to secure that monstrosity. And by "we" . . . well, you know.

Although to be fair, I did the cleaning. Adam took this picture as proof that I was involved:

Eventually we called it a day after we got the fireplace to this point:

I noticed as we chipped away at the liquid nails that we were doing some inadvertent damage to the brick. And so I decided it might be a good idea to call a brick restoration company to see if I could get some professional help.

I explained my need.

Man: Sounds like quite the problem.

Eli: Yes. So could you come help me?

Man: I don't know what you want us to do about it.

Eli: Well, you're a brick restoration company. I just want you to come help me restore this. Because that's what you do.

Man: I suggest you just do it yourself.

Eli: You can't help me?

Man: Nah.

Ok, admittedly, I don't know how business works. This is exactly why I don't make any money from Stranger. Because business is like black magic and I truly don't understand how the human race has not starved to death by now.

BUT. My limited understanding of the world compels me to believe that turning down a customer without explanation is likely not the most effective business model.

And so, my fireplace currently sits in the state pictured above. A vast improvement on the plywood stone, but constantly beckoning me to perform manual labor without destroying history.

~It Just Gets Stranger