Wires, Wires… Everywhere!


If you have been reading all my posts on this blog, you may remember a post on married life as Denny and I prepared for our first baby. Denny wanted that baby to hear music incessantly, so subsequently wired all the rooms in the house in order to broadcast his musical choices for his family. In our first house, Denny built a computer panel under a cupboard area in the kitchen. From that panel, he could control an attic fan to start up, drawing cool air in from the windows to fill our bedrooms on evenings after a hot day. But more importantly (to him!), he could turn on the music and select what room(s) should be filled with strains of gorgeous melodies from his teaching agenda. He hooked up that computer panel to link to “The Cabinet” – a huge project of his as a young man before our marriage in 1980, a project that consumed him the rest of his life and followed us wherever we moved until dismantled in 2023 when we had to sell our Laramie home.

THE CABINET – showing its final contents

Denny built The Cabinet allowing for future additions, incorporating extra shelving. The Cabinet housed all kinds of machines–CD players, DVD players, tuners, a record player (atop the unit), cassette tape players and recorders, radios and other machines–names and uses scrambled in my un-mechanical brain. Denny diligently tried to teach me how to use The Cabinet and its components, but his attempts were met with resistance, not to mention my blank stare and gulp as we opened the cabinet doors.

Denny had fancy holders for at least ten controllers, I think, if I remember correctly. You would point one controller for a specific unit at The Cabinet and another controller at another machine placed elsewhere in the area. Then volume was on another controller. He had some space-age contraptions that looked like Egyptian pyramids in a variety of places in the living room and dining areas to which we would point a controller, arousing the Pharoah with resulting sound.

Fireplace Repurposed as Wires Took Over
We never had the opportunity to enjoy the fireplace as an actual fireplace in our time in Denny’s dad’s home. Denny instead placed a huge speaker in the fireplace in lieu of customary logs. Wires connected to the speaker by trail from The Cabinet into the fireplace, and then out the other side of the fireplace to other standing speakers, then extending further to identical large speakers in the dining room. Also from The Cabinet, other wires extended the opposite direction, lining the floor all around our front floor-to-ceiling windows. Denny had carefully tied all the wires together and nailed them into the wall under the windowsills and baseboards and even PAINTED them to match the walls and baseboards. They curved all the way around the room, behind the couch to more speakers. We truly had “surround sound” thanks to Denny’s dogged determination.

Wires Descend to Basement
Directly behind The Cabinet, Denny had drilled a hole in the floor through which he stuffed a huge bundle of wires that flowed out from the back of The Cabinet. Those wires followed a direct route from the living room straight down and through the basement ceiling to what was once the family recreation room, repurposed and reapportioned in our time there to be the master bedroom as well as Denny’s office. My overzealous husband installed an ornamental molding around the circumference of the bedroom/office just below the ceiling (cornice area) to hide the new highway of wires. After travelling halfway around the room through their cornice tunnel, the wires re-emerged, speeding downward recklessly exposed until sneaking into a cupboard. From the innards of the cupboard, the cords snaked to a variety of places–to other bedrooms downstairs, to Denny’s computer area, and even somehow ended up traversing to the furnace room for some unbeknownst-to-me reason. Some cording was routed back up through the ceiling and upstairs floorboards to the other side of the house, where Denny piped music to upstairs bedrooms.

Wires Fed to Upstairs Speakers
Not only did wires go DOWN from The Cabinet, but wires came UP from his downstairs computer. Those wires reappeared under the side table in the dining room, the table to which we moved his downstairs computer UP for a season. But while the downstairs computer was DOWNSTAIRS, he fed music FROM THE COMPUTER upstairs to the speakers. Are you confused yet? Imagine my mind right now as I am trying to make sense of it all for you! I just took a break and went down for a nap, hoping things would look clearer afterwards, but I dreamed I was in a spider web with no escape!

Now that you have the picture of chaos…
In summer and fall of 2022, organized daughter Teresa gave me my marching orders as to what to dismantle, what to toss, and what to sell from our household. She and Byron and Emma urged me to prepare the house for showing by a realtor, since they wanted us to move to Colorado Springs in order to assist me in caring for their dad. We knew the wiring needed to GO and that the cabinet would have to be dismantled in order to sell the house. We knew that Denny would not approve, since just the year before I had approached him about removing the cabinet for another reason. My daughter Emma had come to live with us for a season. She was working as a paralegal for her Louisiana lawyer from our home in Wyoming. She had received a standing desk for Christmas, so we wanted to put it in the corner of the living room where The Cabinet currently stood. I approached Denny about that. He was livid that we would even think of moving that cabinet. In fact, he wanted me to take yet another picture of his favored cabinet so that he could admire it from his bathroom refuge.

First un-wiring project: Disabling The Cabinet
But by the year 2022, I noticed that Denny was not using The Cabinet for music or anything else. He just ADORED the cabinet and came up and took his own picture of it once early that year to add to the one he had ME take for him. But in his dementia, he began drawing his world into a smaller circumference and rarely entered the living room any longer. So, I boldly hired a lady who owned a home computer business to come and help disconnect wires emerging from the cabinet and to tell me which ones NOT to disconnect. It wouldn’t help anyone if I electrocuted myself, I imagined. She helped me fill a few large garbage bags with wires. She worked quickly and quietly, while all the time I was anxiously glancing toward the door leading downstairs, hoping Denny wouldn’t come up wondering what in the world we were doing. I felt like I was acting in a rerun of Mission Impossible, but not in any way as adept as were the cool characters in that TV show. My pulse was beating so fast!!!! Can you imagine the Mission Impossible theme song? It followed me everywhere…

Second un-wiring project: Removing wiring behind Denny’s basement desk
We were having internet issues at one point, so I needed to call our internet company to show up in person in order to problem solve. Readying for their arrival, I went to the basement to look at internet cording behind Denny’s desk. But to get to the cording, I needed to disassemble some book shelving Denny had built around his desk area. So I started packing away all the books from the bookshelves into boxes, then dragging them into a storage room to deal with later. After clearing out all the books, I then had to unscrew all the shelving that Denny had actually BOLTED to his desk. Once I removed the shelving and placed it in the garage, I uncovered a literal WEB of WIRES. I followed each wire to see what it hooked up with, wrapped the wire and labeled each, trying to make it look organized. Denny passed me several times on the way to and from his bathroom refuge, normally saying, “You sure are working hard!” to which I would give my pat answer, “Thanks for noticing!”

Just a Peek at Denny’s Desk Wires
(be glad I didn’t show you the floor
UNDER the desk!!)

The next day, I was up in the kitchen when Denny surfaced and said, “Could you come downstairs with me to see something?” I followed, and he led me to that desk area. He said, “Didn’t there used to be bookshelves back there?” I assured him there had been, and that I packed the notebooks and books and papers in boxes. He was hoping I would put things back together the way they had been. I told him we were trying to figure out the wiring problems so that we would have better internet, and he was glad about that. Without internet he couldn’t watch his shows on his phone, and that was his LIFE at this moment in time!

I finally felt that I had the wires and desk area organized enough to have the internet guy come through. Once we set the date for his service, the technician arrived, first looking at the cords upstairs by The Cabinet. Then I took a deep breath and led him down into the basement, showing him the wires behind Den’s desk, guiding his eyes up to the wires streaming into the wall cupboard, then pointing out the wires extending from the ceiling to the furnace room. He was in total awe of all the cords he saw traversing the ceilings. He had never seen so many cords in ceilings! He remarked with wonder, “I’m a wire man and thought I had seen everything!” He even spent time outside looking around the house, making sure he understood what was happening with the wiring. He was great. And fixed our internet. Whew.

Third project: Taking out the wires descending to the basement
Okay, it was time to try to get the wires out of the ceiling in our downstairs bedroom. I needed to do that when Denny was in the bathroom, making sure not to be pulling wires out of the ceiling when Denny returned to the bedroom. I knew he would be quite upset if he saw me removing all those wires. So I would wait upstairs until I heard his bathroom door close downstairs. Mission Impossible theme song starts up in my mind again.

Once I heard that familiar clunk of the closing bathroom door, I literally ran down the backstairs with the wire cutters and a ladder, positioning myself first in the area where all the wires were stuffed down from the upstairs cabinet. We had cut the cords that were “cuttable” from upstairs, so I could see which cords would be removable and safe to further cut if need be in the basement. Everything that travelled through the molding could be cut, I figured out. It took a few days to complete that project, due to hearing the toilet flush and having to dismantle myself and ladder from the premises. But I completed the project without upsetting Denny, and that was the important task. If I heard the toilet flush in his bathroom, I’d immediately pull out what I had cut, stuff it in a sack, dismantle the ladder and drag it with me to the back hallway, my heart beating fast to “MI” theme song!!! I felt like celebrating when I was done with that project, let me tell you!!

Fourth project: Taking out the wires in the living room/dining room area
The cords that came up from the basement computer piped sound from his computer to the upstairs speakers, emerging from a hole Denny had cut in the carpeted dining room floor under the side table in the dining room. He cut a hole IN the side table as well, from which some of the basement cords emerged and spidered out to connect to computer and speakers atop the side table. Other cords traveled on the reverse side of the table through special little loops Den had attached. So I once again started clipping wires, unweaving them from Denny’s tapestry of cords beneath the tabletop. Then I found some wood plug material that masked the holes, tidying up that table area.

Fifth project: Dismantling and selling speakers
The next project was to get speakers out in the garage. I would take pictures of each and Teresa would try to sell them on FB Marketplace for me. Some were so heavy! I had to bring a dolly in the house to pick them up and roll them out and down the steps to the garage area. And then I would drape sheets over the speakers, since Denny sometimes would go peek into the garage. I can’t imagine how he might feel to see his music project being dismantled and sold. I felt so deceptive, sneaky, and …. unfaithful, actually. This was a hard point in our marriage, dismantling something I knew Denny worked so hard on–for OUR sakes! He was the family’s entertainment committee and resident music history professor all wrapped up in one sweet and loving guy. I felt like I was dismantling his very identity.

Sixth projectDismantling and removing The Cabinet
I next had to remove each component from Denny’s precious pet, “The Cabinet,” unplugging the associated wiring, taking each component into a different location, staging it for a nice picture, then forwarding pictures and descriptions to Teresa for online posting. Then I would sneak each component out to the garage, where I had erected some tables on which to line up the components for easy retrieval as well as for customer viewing. Then I covered them with sheets in case Denny happened to peek into the garage. Once I had all the components removed, I had to deal with the wiring that had been BEHIND all the components.

The cabinet: revealed wiring in back

That wiring is something ELSE, right? All the wires draped along the back wall of the cabinet could not be pulled out. They were attached to something at the bottom that I couldn’t see. So I opened the bottom cupboard door, and this is what was revealed…see below…

Wiring inside bottom cupboard

Just one look made me decide I needed help. Teresa and Emma were going to be traveling up from the Springs and staying with us soon. They said they would help with that project. So let me try to paint the picture of “The Day we Fished out the Wires”… It deserves to be placed in ALL CAPS, so I’ve done so below. While you are reading about the event, be sure to rehearse the strains of the “Mission Impossible” theme song in your head, for it was BLARING in mine!


Imagine my two girls sitting on the piano bench, innocuously playing piano duets while Denny comes upstairs and peeks in to check on his daughters. “Good job!” he says, as they tackle a challenging duet, Teresa forcefully bringing out the bass part and Emma ripping through the treble. Then Denny heads back downstairs, and we hear the door close. The girls immediately jump up from their piano bench and join me at the cabinet, wire clippers and screw drivers in hand. I hold a trash sack while they free wire by wire by wire. We’re working quietly, since our location is directly above Denny’s bed. Any big noises will arouse his suspicions, and he is likely to come up to see what’s happening with his cabinet. Hopefully he doesn’t come up to see why the music stopped…

Several times we think we hear him coming, so the girls run back to the piano to resume their duet, while I close the cupboard doors, hide the sack of wires, and lounge innocently on the couch. Nope, it wasn’t Denny coming up after all. So we run back to our places and resume our project. We think we are almost done! But… wait… there are more cords going back somewhere. How do we get to them? Teresa finds a special trap door and opens it…AAACKKK! SO MANY WIRES!!! Oh, no! How do we get those out?!!!! You won’t find a picture of those here. We actually have a VIDEO of that frenzied activity, but the format does not work with this blog software. So imagine a new trap door with Emma and Teresa pulling and clipping and stuffing wires after wires after wires into our bulging trash bags. Then we hear Denny opening the door into the upstairs kitchen! We push everything back and try to run to our earlier posts at piano and couch lounge, but we get all mixed up and run into each other! Trying not to erupt in nervous giggles, the girls hit the piano and play wildly while I go meet Denny, hoping to divert him from the living room. Oh, our hearts were beating so fast.

Wiring… in the brain with dementia
All this talk of wiring made me remember one bright sunny morning when Denny came upstairs to the kitchen and announced, “Well, I’m heading to bed now. Good night!” I didn’t miss a beat and returned his good night wishes, but was a little jolted by his comment, in that the room was SO SUNNY that lovely morning. But I remembered Denny’s dad also got day and night mixed up, so I imagined Den’s dementia was progressing.

About 30 minutes later, Denny reappeared and asked, “It’s not night, is it?” I gently said, “No, it’s bright morning time!” He said, “I think I was having some TIA’s like my dad had. I felt something like electric impulses in my brain!” TIAs are “Transient Ischemic Attacks”, caused by a brief blockage of blood flow to the brain. A TIA, says Mayo Clinic, usually lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t cause long-term damage. But if you read my post about Denny’s dad and his dementia, the first sign we had in regard to Grandpa’s emerging dementia was the night Grandpa stayed up late because he didn’t know where to go to sleep. Denny had to show him where his bedroom was. The next day, Denny made an appointment for his dad with the doctor, who said Grandpa had been having TIAs. And from there, his dad did indeed continue into dementia despite medications administered following the TIAs.

Regardless of the cause or the timing, I can’t help thinking that while the kids and I were dismantling all that wiring in our house, Denny’s wiring in his brain seemed to be short-circuiting as well. Darn. What a wicked disease, zapping memories from such a beautiful brain.

Next week…
Return to this blog for the next post on lessons learned during my saga, “Mice, Mice, Everywhere! [or at least it seemed like it]”

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