Basement Doors and Back Yard Overhauls

OK, so where were we…

The new basement doors got installed several weeks ago. They look great, plus they actually close without having to shove your shoulder into them, kick them, and then wedge a piece of metal under the knob before crack dealers and homeleess people can slip inside. Since we’ve started the landscaping work, it’s been especially nice to enter and exit through the basement, without having to track any dirt through the upper floors.  In fact, after getting completely filthy in the back yard, this weekend, we drew all the living room blinds, stripped naked in the basement, and the hustled upstairs to shower.  Pretty great!

Something I didn’t know is that the door automatically locks behind you when you leave. Fortunately, I learned this lesson in tandem with the lesson on how to break in through the back screen door.  I was not naked at the time, in case that was your next question.

After an outrageous fight with Sears, who proved completely incapable of delivering a dishwasher, we finally cancelled our order and got one through Best Buy. If you ever think to yourself, “Hm! I’d really like to spend an inordinate amount of cash on an expensive Aga dishwasher,” let me save you some time and money: DON’T. It will break down within a few years, and Aga will be completely disinterested in fixing it or even acknowledging that the dishwasher exists.

Granted, our circumstances are unusual, but we will never spend any money on anything bearing the Aga name.

The Electrician did a good job on everything he was supposed to do, and he even recommended his brother, who gave us a quote on installing drop-down attic stairs. This ties in with another recent home improvement: the Bat Guy finally came back to remove the little one-way traps, and our attic is (we believe) finally bat free.

The neighbor’s attic? Not so much.  We can still hear them scratching about, just not on our half of the the house, and their back patio is littered with bat shit.  I keep determinedly sweeping it back over onto their side, when it makes its way through the fence.  As far as I’m concerned, this is now their problem, not ours, and they are responsible for every gross, infectious aspect of it.

Part of the reason we’re installing stairs is to make absolutely sure the bats are gone, as well as to seal up the firewall between our two houses. It will also give us some extra overhead storage, something that always makes me squishy and happy inside.

Around this same time we also found a contractor willing to redo our tub!  After being able to get several people to either respond to inquiries, or give us a complete proposal, we went with a guy who initially came to look at it back in 2007,  shortly after we moved in.  We bought the tub, tile and fixtures, and he provided us with the labor and the new window.  It took a little longer than anticipated, but all in all he did a fantastic job, both gutting the old tub down to the studs, and giving us a new sheetrocked ceiling, to boot.

It ended up being cheaper than our best estimate.  Not only that, but the estimate we’d received from the no-call contractor involved no tub work at all; he was going to leave in the original tub, and we would have been responsible for refinishing or replacing it later.  It turns out that the existing tub was nothing more than a cheap fiberglass shell, and we probably would have been in deep

Finally taking advantage of the summer weather, and in anticipation of a backyard party in a few weeks, Marc and I set about doing the fastest backyard renovation known to man.

For one, I staked and strung off a 20′ x 13′ section of the back yard, about three feet from the edge of our patio and about the same distance from the (twin) neighbor’s fence. My employers were good enough to donate a shitload of sand, brick and brick edging towards the project, which saved us a huge chunk of change. Sunday and Monday we devoted ourselves to digging out the patio area (2″ for the brick base, then another 2″ for the weed blocker, sand, and gravel.)

We finished late Monday afternoon, achey and exhausted and with one ear sunburnt (that would be mine), and as of this afternoon I should come home to a huge delivery of red tipple gravel waiting for me in the side yard.  Now we need to fill in the patio, level it out as best we can, and figure out what the fuck we’re going to do with the four cubic feet of earth that we dug up in the process.  So much dirt…

The project so far:

  

There are some miscellaneous other improvements that went along with all this, and I’ll do my best to photodocument them tonight. It’s been a ton of work, but we’re both greatly looking forward to finally having a nice place to park our lounge chairs as we watch the shed and the feral cats.

Nockamixon & Quakertown, PA

I restarted the blog — well, a blog — with the intention of documenting some of our ongoing adventures. My husband and I are not world travelers (yet), but we take great pleasure in going on both planned and spontaneous road trips through out area, wherever the GPS and a few hours of time can take us. Call it one of the many benefits of not having kids.

Our adventures are not carefully thought-out week-long holidays (although those are adventures of a kind), but usually shorter, smaller trips into the great unknown, or the only-somewhat-known. Many times we’ll be out somewhere — the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, for instance — and, feeling the itch to explore, we’ll see what our GPS says is nearby.

Sometimes it is The Cup: The Building Shaped Like a Cup, or Amos, the Barefoot Amish Giant. Sometimes we look around, take a couple pictures, and come home. Sometimes we end up randomly trading in our car for a new one. You just never know, is what I’m saying.

We had a busy three-day weekend planned around the fourth, so we opted to make the most of our Saturday and head up to Nockamixon State Park. I took Marc’s alter-ego, Nature Marc, through 1/3 of the Old Mill trail, subjecting him to all manner of horrific terrain, plants and other despicable evidence of nature before we opted to backtrack. We did see a couple neat things, though, and not all of them made my husband writhe around going, “Ehn! Mn’eh! Uhn!”

    

We had a picnic lunch at one of the sheltered table areas near the pool, and while eating we were treated to a nearby child singing the most bizarre thing, over and over: “If Santa Claus came to life, that would be craaa-aaazy!”

We discovered later that she was actually singing the wrong words to this song, which didn’t really help alleviate the WTF factor. The balance of the weekend was therefore filled with conversations like:

“You know what would be crazy?”
“If Santa Claus came to life?”
“RIGHT?  That would be crazy.”

After lunch we stripped down to our bathing suits and lounged in and around the pool, once again vowing to ourselves that we are totally going to install a pool in the back. We’ll probably change opinions once we determine the cost of maintenance and insurance, but right now I’m still basking in the imagery of floating serenely on a giant inflatable alligator-shaped lounger, so SHUT UP REALITY.

The pool was evacuated TWICE while we were there, both times because parents apparently couldn’t keep tabs on their kids. Seriously — they had to page the parents of a six year old child two times before physically dragging him around by the hand to look for them. Top notch parenting, folks. I’m sure they later left him in the back of a locked car for four hours.

It was too late to hit any of the local wineries by the time we dried off, changed and left, but a roadside sign promised us that the Quakertown Farmer’s Market was open all day until 9 PM.

The Farmer’s Market was not really what we were expecting. There were no Amish families doling out helpings of macaroni and cheese and fried chicken into styrofoam containers, but there were two great little Chinese shops where I picked up some trinkets, and a sizeable pet store with a giant live tortoise inside.

 

There was also a small leather shop whose main attraction was a live alligator kept in a small, depressing enclosure in the back. Signs all over promised that feeding time was just a few short minutes away, but considering there was no one actually manning the store, we had our doubts. There was also a highly suspect little room behind a beaded curtain where Marc spied a bunch of pot-smoking paraphanalia. So clearly this was a classy establishment.

We stopped at the garden center before heading out and snagged a potted highbush blueberry plant for the back yard, promised to do well in our often sodden back yard. We shall see if it can survive my mutant ability to kill all plants.

We were starving, post-adventure, and before heading back stopped for dinner and dessert at a little Perkasie restaurant called The Country Place. Marc got steak and crab cakes, I got crab-stuffed shrimp, both delicious. Also, what is it with rural restaurants being unable to serve apple pie that is hot?

Anyway, that was our most recent adventure. Next weekend we’re taking Marc’s Mom out for a birthday dinner, but I’m hoping to score some time walking around Chinatown beforehand. Because clearly I need more junk.

When God Closes a (Rotten) Door…

This one is better, I promise.

Aside from chocolate chip pancakes a la Marc, we got one major thing done before his allergies sent him into a full meltdown of misery (seriously, are the trees trying to kill my husband?): we got a quote to replace the two doors in the basement.

The basement level of our house has two exits — one at grade in the front, which empties out into the driveway, and one below grade in the back, which opens under the back porch. It would be extraordinarily kind to say that they are in bad shape. The rear door is… decent. The front door could seriously be knocked in with a girly, half-hearted kick.

When we bought the house, we envisioned turning the alcove, where the driveway door opens, into a mud room. There’s insulation overhead, and it’s not exactly welcoming, but with a little work it would be a great way for us to enter the house in the fall and winter, or whenever the weather was really wet and shitty. Unfortunately, this door could not be accessed from the outside (no key) and it was so weak and rickety that we had to jam one of those wedgy doorstoppery things under the inside knob to keep it from becoming a way for robbers and rapists to access our home at all hours.

Because the jamb was so rotted, in fact, we couldn’t even buy a new wooden door and cut it down to size — there was literally nothing to screw it into that wouldn’t fall apart.

We had Home Depot come out to measure the doors when they redid the first floor windows, but they told us that the front door was too small. That’s right: according to them, it was physically impossible to have a door crafted to fit the opening into our house. Our mutant house.

Like… seriously.  GMAFB.

ANYway. A gentleman from Castle Windows came out early on Sunday and measured both doors for us. He was so nice, we even had him measure the remaining second-floor windows for a quote (something we hadn’t counted on tackling for a few years).

To make a long story marginally shorter, we signed on to have the basement doors replaced with two 20 gauge steel doors. This is going to make a HUGE difference in the basement, not only in allowing us to actually enter and exit the house without hassle, but in saving on our heating bills come next winter. I don’t have to describe the gusts of cold air that used to blow in through the old ones.

OH!  And also, they’re putting a peephole in the front door, in case we need to check and see if the coast is clear for zombies.  Our house will finally be zombie proof! (Why our house is the perfect zombie invasion house will be another post altogether).

The bathroom, basement and front yard are our major projects for the year, so it will feel pretty amazing to have such a major thing out of the way.

Our electrician should be (God, I hope) at the house right now, performing the following updates (from the basement up):

1. Adding a utility light to the general “mud room” area of the basement.
2. Adding a fifth can light to the four currently above the living room.
3. Replacing the crappy light at the top of the stairs with a can light.
4. Adding a can light to the dark end of the upstairs hall.
5. Replacing the old, hanging light in the Geek Room closet.
6. Adding a light in the Master Bedroom closet.
7. Permanantly wiring the plug-in vanity light in the wardrobe.

We have the world’s greatest electrician… when he shows up. We seriously and totally love the guy and the work that he does, but any time you hire him you need to understand that it may take a day or two to actually show up and begin the work… and probably a day or two longer to finish it than he estimated. NICEST GUY, fantastic pricing, impeccable, almost anal attention to detail, but you need to be super flexible in your expectations of when he will actually saunter in.

I fully expect to come home to find that he never even came by. I’m OK with this. I left an extremely specific note to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful going in and out of the Master Bedroom, because Maggie and Cleo are both in there, and under no circumstances can they be allowed to slip out. Maggie especially. This is the thing that is stressing me out the most. I had to explain that she would literally kill the other cats if she was allowed out, which is not so far from the truth. He can take as long as he needs to do the work, just please mind the door.

We are also supposed to have someone come by to pick up some construction trash that’s been sitting alongside the house for awhile. One of our neighbors (we’re pretty sure it was Nosy McNoserson) called the township on us.  We suspect it’s her, as she’s been EXTRA SUPER chatty and friendly with us lately, and normally she won’t do any more than give our property the stink eye as she walks by.  I like her dog, so I’ll give her a pass, but she seriously needs a better hobby.

This weekend we are taking a break from all social obligations, rolling up our sleeves, and taking care of a bunch of dirty jobs around the house:

1. Lawn and landscaping
2. Powerwash the back porch (so much bird poop…)
3. Empty the mud room and scrub the shit out of it (would also like to get some of those rubber mats for the floor)
4. Possibly paint the kitchen

Basically, as much gross, smelly, back-breaking work as we can fit into one weekend. Also, we will break in the new Coleman grill, rain or shine, which I am especially looking forward to.

I swear to God I’m going to take before and after pictures of all our work, this time…

Mother’s Day 2011

Had a bit of a depressing Mother’s Day, although I can reason now that it could have been much worse. I used to be very angry with my Mom, but any more I feel like I’m standing at the edge of a great water while she bobs further and further away on a boat carrying her towards the horizon. I can swim part way to see her, but nothing in the world is going to drag her any closer to the shore.

We spent four and a half hours together on Saturday. I picked her up from work, we went out to lunch, walked around a nearby mall for awhile so that she could pick up some new outfits for work, and then I took her home again. For four and a half hours she talked about the following, which now seem to define the limits of what she’s capable of discussing:

1.  Work (subtopics include how much she hates it, how her boss is out to get her, conversations with coworkers, and things that the shop sells).

2.  Her teeth (how they are continuing to fall apart, how her doctor is fixing them, and — frequently — how he is incapable of doing so, despite repeated attempts).

3.  Pharmaceuticals (arguments she continues to have with pharmacies about refilling prescriptions, justifications for why she should continue to be on painkillers).

She can’t seem to talk about anything else. At one point in the conversation I had to tell her that we cannot — we cannot ever — talk about drugs, because it’s simply an explosive argument waiting to happen. Her sulky reply was that she is proud of herself for weaning herself off of drugs (but only things like antacids… the opiates don’t appear to be going anywhere) and how I should be too. I almost let myself step into it, but managed to remind myself, not ten seconds after these exact words left my mouth: we are not going to talk about drugs.

Some time during the day I realized that we were not having actual conversations. She simply started talking, and didn’t stop, until it was time to drop her off at home. I made a few half-hearted attempts to engage her, but she kept returning to subjects 1 through 3, and I had nothing to contribute.  At one point she told me every single thing that a coworker ate throughout the day — from breakfast through dinner — but never once asked how the race last weekend.  I don’t even think she cared if I said anything, so long as she could revisit those same topics over and over, ad nauseum.

At one point, as we were driving through the mall parking lot, she said to herself that I could do what my stepfather always does, and park as far away from the entrance as possible. At that moment a spot directly in front of the entrance — the very first spot — opened up, and I pulled into it. It was good timing, and for a moment there was a glimmer of hope that we might have a joke to share, some funny but mundane little moment.

I looked over to her and smiled, “Well, how’s that?”

And she smiled at me and said, “Did I ever tell you that?”

And I’m like, “…what?”

“How your stepfather always parks as far away from the store entrance as possible…” and she was off again, complaining about him as she got out of the car. It was the first moment that was really clear to me that I was barely there, like an actor assigned to read lines of dialogue. All she needed was the prompts and she could breeze from one scene to the next.

Imagine having a tape recording of one side of a conversation in front of you, complete with the breaks where you’re supposed to speak. Regardless of what you say in those breaks, the conversation is going to go on precisely as it is recorded, with or without input from you. If you hear it enough, you can start to guess what you should say, but either way it doesn’t matter.  It’s exactly like that.

I took her into Macy’s and dutifully followed her around while she picked out clothes to buy, then tried them on. She didn’t notice when I tried on a blouse and wore it directly in front of her. Once she’d bought a new work outfit she no longer had any interest in walking around, so I took her back, and then headed back home. Marc was kind enough to ply me with alcohol and reassurance that I am not, as I suspected, wholly transparent.

On Sunday, the cats were dubious of this whole “Mother’s Day” thing, and uninclined to help me celebrate, but they also didn’t pee or poop on anything they shouldn’t have.  I was entirely satisfied with that.

Next I get to talk about home improvement stuff, and I swear to God that’s a lot more cheerful.

A Different Sort of Home Improvement

I am not pretty.

This is one of those statements that’s going to make my husband sigh and purse his lips and give me his best “To the moon, Alice!” sidelong look, but the fact that I’m saying it will not really be a surprise to him. I have never thought of myself as pretty, though I certainly appreciate his insistence to the contrary, and it’s a belief that has nagged at me for most of my life.

I don’t even remember exactly when I started to even worry about it, but probably around sixth grade. In fifth grade I had my first boyfriend (we even went so far as to hold hands while rollerskating! I mean, imagine!) and was the picture of just terrible, awkward nerdyness: bobbed brown hair, the beginnings of what was to become a lifetime battle with acne, and thick glasses. Even then, whenever one of my friends wanted to watch Revenge of the Nerds I quickly made myself scarce, terrified that someone would point to me with a stiffened arm, eyelids peeled back to the whites, and declare, ‘NNNNNNEERRD!”

Two experiences of my late childhood molded much of my adult personality. The first was being one of maybe five white students in a predominantly black Philadelphia elementary school, and being utterly reviled (and even physically attacked) for what I was. The second was being one of maybe five very poor students in a predominantly wealthy Main Line middle school, and being utterly reviled (and even physically attacked) for what I was.

Don’t get me wrong: I definitely had friends, it’s not like I was the school-wide pariah, but at Bala Cynwyd Middle School I was lost in a sea of pampered, well-heeled Jewish kids who always had the nicest clothes, the nicest things, and probably had dermatologists on call to battle their scarce, pre-teen blemishes. As much as I was a target as the only white girl in my class at Shawmont Elementary, I was doubly so as the only 11-year-old in my class at Bala Cynwyd with crooked teeth, bad skin, thick glasses, and hand-me-down clothes from a 35-year-old mother.

Unless you were yourself a pampered, well-heeled middle-schooler, I probably don’t need to tell you that children that age are cruel. Beyond cruel. They are vicious little hellbeasts, frenzying like piranhas at the first suggestion of weakness, cutting their teeth on the bones of the nerdy. And oh, was I nerdy.

I don’t want to get into the long and the short of what my overall experience at Bala Cynwyd was like, but I’ll summarize by saying that in two and a half years it took me from energetic, outgoing, and largely unselfconscious to quiet, introverted and morbidly self-loathing. It has been a long, arduous journey from the bleak precipice of my early teen years, and I don’t know that I’ll ever really forget everything that I learned during that period, either about myself or other people.

For a long time I worked with the hand I was dealt. I wore hand-me-downs until I was too humiliated to keep dressing like a middle-aged woman who spent too much time in bars, and started dressing a little more like a normal teenager (if a teenager with no real fashion sense at all). Until my senior year of high school, when I finally made enough to buy myself a school wardrobe, I was at the mercy of what my parents were willing to buy for me, which was not much. All throughout high school I was embarrassed to undress with the other girls in gym class, not just because I was so overweight but because most of my underwear had holes in it. All throughout high school, everyone treated me and had the same expectations of me as an adult, because that’s undoubtedly how I looked to them. I never had the bright, polished, glowing look of a teenager.

When I came into my own as a young adult, I still had a low enough opinion of myself (and a history of being dirt poor) that I couldn’t bring myself to buy real clothes. My wardrobe was thrift shops and Value City, rummaging until I found things that were cheap and of a decent fit to match the shitty opinion I had of myself. My parents never took me to the dentist, so the moment I had dental insurance of my own, I waged an epic battle on my mouth, getting cleanings, filling cavities and having root canals, finally vanquishing the bad breath I’d been battling for years. I even went to a dermatologist, learning the best ways to care for my still-fickle skin.

It wasn’t until my late 20s when — with the help of my partner and future husband — I shed more than thirty pounds, getting down to a svelt 108 for our wedding in 2005. There were (and are) still stumbling blocks I can’t get past… I find it very difficult to shop in regular clothing stores, even when I have the money, because it seems so exorbitantly expensive. I’ve never really learned to do my hair, so I’ve struggled for years trying to figure out how to style it (word to the wise: a good curling iron is worth its weight in gold).

I look and feel better than I have at any other time in my life, which makes it especially hard when I catch a glimpse of the natural consequence of aging in myself. I see the gentle softening of the skin beneath my eyes, or the furrow between my brows when I first stare at my squinting reflection in the morning, and cannot help but be anxious and sad. I’m not ready to be old enough to read the age in my face just yet. Worse yet, there are still so many faults I see in myself, and I’m afraid that I’ll never have the opportunity to correct them.

I’m afraid I’ll always feel like an ugly girl.

I hate having my picture taken. No, scratch that: I love having my picture taken, I just hate seeing how the actual picture diverges from the image I hope to see of myself. It helps that I’m a photographer, and therefore it usually falls on me to photo-document any given event, conveniently giving me an excuse to be on the flattering end of the camera. When someone does take my picture, there is always a chest-clenching moment of worry when I have to actually look and see how it came out.

Will it be a good picture, or will it really look like me? Will I have to face that terrible reminder of just how unattractive I am? The hook nose, the deep parenthetical creases to either side, the misaligned jaw, the slight unevenness of my eyes, my high forehead, my teeth — Jesus Christ, how I hate my fucking teeth. I’ve learned that I come out better if I keep my face lifted and don’t tuck my chin down too much, but nothing can hide my teeth. My two central incisors grew in sideways and at a slight forward angle, and the result is crooked and fang-like. I shudder when I see a picture of myself taken from too close up, or in a way that reveals too much of my teeth. It’s one of the most enduringly ugly things about me, and so frustrating because I can’t fix it.

Sometimes I think that maybe I’d like to have cute pictures taken of myself, something to celebrate my transformation and hard work, something a little pretty and flirty. And then something happens, like yesterday, where I’m struck by a particularly unflattering shot of myself, highlighting all the things I hate, and I’m once again that eleven or twelve year old girl, except this time the frenzying piranhas tearing me apart are in my own head. And then I have to think that not only am I not pretty enough, but that I don’t deserve it… that I am inherently flawed, that I am not as good as the girls in pictures, and I need to remember my place and keep my head down rather than imagine myself as something other than simply lacking.

I don’t think there’s anything that anyone else can do to drag me out of that place, because I’m the one that puts myself there. For every person like my husband, who loves me unconditionally and tells me how beautiful that I am, there will always be that guy in the Dollar Store who makes a comment about my fangs, or my own mother who — despite meaning well — will always be there to brush my hair back over my hideous forehead to cover it when the wind happens to blow it back. For every knot that gets undone, there will always be hands tying more, and sometimes they will be mine.

I’ve spent the past four years or so pouring money into the house, and we’re now finally — gradually — getting it in show-ready shape. I’ve made a few half-hearted stabs at it, and never with any real success, but I need to start getting myself in show-ready shape as well. Before there are any more wrinkles under my eyes or furrows between my brows, I need to feel that I’ve done the best for myself that I can.

When the camera flash goes off, I want to feel excitement and hope, and not dread at the picture that will develop.

Wardrobe: Final Stretch, Phase I

No photographic evidence exists of my weekend.

I intended to take pictures of the work I did on Sunday, but there are two more major components to be completed in the affected room — window replacement and repainting — and I want to at least get the painting done before I take any pretty pictures.

We had our electrician over on Saturday, and got an awesome quote for much of the “final stages” wiring work that needs to be done: wire the wardrobe vanity light into the wall, fix the light in the Superman room closet, add a light to the Master Bedroom closet, add a can light in the upstairs hall, add a fifth can light to the living room, and add some kind of overhead light to the front portion of the basement.  We hope to get the work done by the end of the month.

Another estimate being performed this week is buy our Bathroom Guy, who will soon be delivering us from the unholy mess that is our tub and shower surround.  It’s been almost a year since he gave us the initial quote, so this will hopefully just be a minor adjustment based upon some minor modifications to the design (adding a band of accent tiles, and possibly resurfacing the ceiling.)

On Sunday, while Marc slogged through another 8 hours of weekend work, I hit the wardrobe in full declutter mode.  I’m surprised it took me as long as it did, but the end result is satisfying: got rid of a ton of old clothes, completely reorganized all my drawers, the entire corner unit, and the inset shelves.  I put down a new runner to match the (soon to be) new color scheme, bought a new vanity bench, and got crafty with some iron-in sewing adhesive and velcro strips, and added little curtains to two of the corner shelves, a runner on the radiator, and a cover for the little bench.  It looks super cute, but it will look even better once the curtain and walls match everything else.

Marc was inspired, and cleaned out his little man-space on his side of the wardrobe, as well.  Go team Lombardi!

I ran out of steam (and time) after all that, so I didn’t get quite as into the kitchen cleanout as I would have liked.  It might not be until next weekend that I have the opportunity to go through it, but I’ll see what I can accomplish throughout the week as well.

I realize the blog isn’t particularly inspiring or interesting, so far, but give me some time… I’ve got a lot of cleaning out to do before I’ll be ready to build up.

Plans for the Road Ahead

I’m on a mad cleaning / organizing / repairing spree. I think my spring-fever fitfulness is manifesting in a rabid desire to finally get things done… or, at least, to feel like I’m facilitating said doneness.

Last Saturday, while Marc was trapped in the dungeon that is Having to Work on the Weekend, I tore apart the frontmost of our three bedrooms, what we call the “Superman Room”. I don’t really want to get into what this experience was like, mostly because it’s an eight-hour blur of dust and sobbing, but let me tell you: it was not enjoyable. Satisfying, yes. Enjoyable, haha……no.

Since then, I haven’t been able to get out of my head the number of things that need to be done. Cleaning, organizing, repairing, renovating. 2010 was a huge year for us in terms of accomplishing things: new washer and dryer, living room repainted and trimmed out, new car, paid off Marc’s last credit card, house refinanced, and I finally got every last shred of housekeeping and financial paperwork organized. It’s now April, and I’m antsy to get back to that.

We’re almost 100% at our budget for the tub retile project, so pretty soon I’ll go back to one of my favorite hobbies from when we first bought the house: steaming layers and layers and layers of wallpaper off the walls. Thrilling. The color scheme for both the bathroom and wardrobe will be jadite green, brown and pewter. Like so.

Coincidentally, our new bathroom will also have both a window and a cat.

The wardrobe cabinetry is already the right color, so we’ll go from the infuriatingly blue walls (seriously, how can I possibly hate a color so much?) to the soft jade green, replace that window, and get some new curtains in there. We have a corner unit with open shelves, so one of my weekend projects (hopefully this weekend) will be to clear out all the crap hiding in them and sew some little Velcro curtains to attach to the outside. Marc and I both need to go through our wardrobes to empty out the (hopefully voluminous quantity of) clothes that we no longer wear. I’m eager to hit the thrift shop for some new light, airy summer duds, and will be glad to have a minimum of winter stuff to store in the off season.

I also need to find something to better organize Marc’s shoes. Seriously, they are everywhere, and to someone my size they are like big huge Frankenstein shoes that I have to take mammoth, far-reaching steps over as I go in and out. That shit needs to get cleaned up, for reals.

The other stuff is more minor. Renovating the back yard simply isn’t in the budget this year, but I may take a stab at clearing out a small patch of yard for a bistro set and an umbrella, just so the yard can be used for something other than standing there and going, “…yep. That’s a mighty big space.”

Another small project near and dear to my heart is to convert the tiny dormer closet in the master bedroom to a little craft area. I used to have a spot in the basement, but the basement is not really habitable in the winter, and Cleo really enjoyed peeing on my carpeting, which doesn’t really make me want to hang around down there. I culled a huge amount of craft stuff last year (and will probably go through it once more for a purge, maybe paring it down to just painting supplies and basics), and have everything shoved into the closet for right now. My goal is to have a light installed inside (electrician is coming this weekend), beadboard the entire interior, and dress it up with some nice organizational stuff. Just look how totally cute it could be!

It’s a lot to get done, and before we do anything we need to get rid of all the shit in the basement and the closets and everywhere else. We’ve been in the house four years now, and I’ve spent four years alternately getting rid of crap or swearing that I couldn’t possibly do without the crap I was saving because I would someday use it. Someday has arrived, and if it still hasn’t been used it’s getting tossed. I want space much more than I want unrealized potential.

Anyway, I knew I should write a blog post so… here it was. ;p

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