Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the old...

So far over Christmas break: 6 boxes donated to the thrift store. One of those I even managed to pick up, peek inside, and NOT rummage through to salvage anything. I tease the thrift shop manager, an old business acquaintance, that I try to leave the store with less than I brought. I've been practically angelic on that front lately, but I did acquire three "portable closet" units from my Grandma's basement. Those are earmarked for the dress-up clothes and costume items, although I may offer to the closetless kids first.
We're on a cleaning binge for the NYE party tonight. It's actually not so bad this time around; we've been doing a better job of normal, day-to-day maintenance and it shows. I did tackle a couple of side projects, like cleaning out the storage container drawer and a couple cupboards. I've also gutted my catch-all mud room. When we moved in here, we gushed over the rustic built-ins that would afford us so much storage, then proceeded to block them with various unused appliances and other obstacles so we couldn't use them. A bit of rearranging to block an unused door, and the cabinets now house all the small appliances, gadgets, and auxiliary cookware. I always feel compelled to hang a curtain so people can't look in from the kitchen; now it might be nice to have one for decor, but I don't need to hide anything.
One thing that baffles me is how filthy my open wooden staircase gets, even with (nearly) daily sweeping and dusting. Any hints?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


So, after years of illness and busyness and frustration making this house worthy of condemnation (the legal and official kind, not just the vocal kind), there is progress.

In fact, there is a house I'd be willing to have people enter without embarrassment.

It is not done, not by a long shot, but it's...livable. Best of all, I no longer want to drive past when I come home from work, unwilling to walk in and face the heaps o' crap, the moldy and mildewy basement (whose smell permeates everything), the cat-mess ruined den carpet in the den, a room I haven't willingly entered in over a year (the elder cat, Merlin, took it upon himself a few years ago to skip the whole going-to-the-basement step of bathrooming, choosing the den carpet instead, so we moved all the litterboxes there in an effort to meet him halfway, only to have him often miss the boxes anyway or refuse them).

What occasioned this massive change in household fortune, you may ask? Meet Della Mae and Lee, my husband's awesome parents.

They took two consecutive weekends this month to drive across the state, stay in our so-called "guest room" (aka storage room with a path to a bed you could almost see), and help us dig out. Well, actually, help Justin, my husband, dig out, as I had umpteen grad school papers to write.

In the last two weeks, the group of them accomplished the following:

  • Light fixture replaced in dining room.
  • Light fixtures either replaced or removed (awaiting electrician--seems we almost died in our sleep from some old, shorting wiring) in the kitchen.
  • Kitchen drawer fixed.
  • Plastic put on living room picture window, the one that leaks like a sieve.
  • New sub-pump motor replaced (again) and new cover put on (thanks to Justin's brilliant idea).
  • Refrigerator moved out and cleaned under and behind (removing a grocery plastic bag that had been sucked up into the motor).
  • Snowblower tinkered, mostly, now.
  • Downstairs toilet removed, awaiting a new one that works.
  • Light fixture in upstairs hallway replaced, with much chagrin.
  • Shower enclosure caulk and tape replaced, painstakingly, by Della Mae.
  • Master bedroom tidied...floor found.
  • Justin's closet in spare bedroom cleaned out of unwearable clothes and miscellaneous crap.
  • New shower curtain liner.
  • Many fresh towels washed, folder, and placed within reach. Likewise, drawers are full of clean underwear and socks. Bathrobes, long lost, found and washed and smelling like heaven.
  • And...the best thing ever...the basement not only emptied, tidied, rearranged, and bleached within an inch of its life, but all the hundreds (you think I'm kidding) of loads of dirty laundry that had stacked up put in bags or baskets and neatly stacked.

What does that mean? That means the house *smells* great. That means I can now go into the basement without dying of an asthma attack (the mold and mildew were not good for me). That means that Justin and I are fighting over who gets to do laundry!

Catboxes back in basement--cleaned daily--and we're in the process of re-training Merlin as best we can (the other three are fine with moving catboxes).

The den is nearly empty and carpet gone, awaiting new laminate flooring to be put in, professionally, this week (whereupon Merlin had better find the catboxes, or there will be much renting of clothes and tearing of hair). (I must mention here that while my own parents, neatfreaks both, are too elderly or too sick--my mother has Alzheimer's and walks uneasily and my father, aged 86, is her sole caretaker in another town--to help physically, it's thanks to these lovely folk that I'm getting the new floor. They're also paying for the dumpster.)

Oh, did I mention this dumpster? A 12-yard dumpster. Overfull. It's gone now...and there's still stuff to throw, but not even close to what was there before.

The house is lighter. I feel lighter. My mood is lighter. The world is fresh again. I have hope for the future.

Things SMELL good!

Oh, and it's like going shopping every day. Clothes that the Basement Monster had abducted months and years (no, not kidding) ago are showing up, and most are just fine after a washing. It's like a shopping spree that I don't have to pay for! Yippee!

We still have to rearrange rooms, paint, and find places for many things. The garage is jam packed--mostly with furniture from the den until after floor replacement, but not completely--and closets are, well, frightening, most of them.

And we won't talk about the outside. I still have lawn furniture and a trellis out, under inches of snow.

But, seriously...we're past the nadir, here.

Last weekend, after my terrific in-laws had left and Justin and I were in the basement, doing laundry (which we'll be doing daily for the next six months, hauling most of it to goodwill, smelling fresh), we were giggling and listening to Christmas music and darn near dancing.

In the basement.

And me without my asthma inhaler...