Today I am in serious housewife mode in an attempt to make sure our humble abode doesn’t scare my in-laws when they arrive this evening. I was planning to do the usual tidying — putting away the shoes littering our main level, hanging up my husband’s discarded suit jackets which are currently on the backs of a number of our chairs and making sure the dining room table was cleared off — however Mother Nature offered me a chance to do some additional cleaning.
It’s been raining like mad all morning. Add a few strong gusts of wind and welcome to my wet living room and bedroom. While I realize it is kind of my fault for not closing the windows this morning, that doesn’t make it any less annoying! Having puddles of water behind my love seat and across my bedroom floor is definitely never ideal. However now that I have the windows shut and the water wiped up, I am realizing the cleaning bonus. Not only is the hardwood floor free of puddles, it is also free of dust, dirt and hair!
There is still a lot on today’s agenda. I have to do a few loads of laundry and make sure the living room and dining room look presentable. At the moment both rooms look like very large (and very unorganized) sorting piles for mail, newspapers and discarded socks. Thankfully I still have all afternoon and things are surprisingly quiet on the project front today for the first time in weeks. Now it’s time to get back to the chores.
There are many wonderful things about owning a house. It’s a blessing to have a place my husband and I can call our own and have the space to host friends and family. However, having a house isn’t always the relaxing refuge that I’d like it to be. It seems that no matter what our intentions are each weekend, we always spend a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday doing a million things around and for the house.
This is apparently one of the great joys of home ownership — that there is always something to be done. Last weekend we tried to keep the household projects to a minimum, just cleaning the floors, taking out the trash and tidying up the kitchen, but the long “to do” list kept playing over and over in my mind, even though I desperately wanted to just read travel books and hang out with my husband.
Along with all the traditional household issues that everyone has to take care of, we wanted a house that we could fix up. Considering the condition of many of the places we saw when we were house hunting, we did end up with a great situation. The house is totally livable, so it wasn’t like we were under a lot of pressure to do massive home renovations right away, but there are so many changes — both large and small — that we’d like to get to eventually.
However, it is hard to find the motivation for undertaking these tasks after working all week, combined with my husband’s early morning rowing habit and our numerous evening commitments. We tend to take good strides forward with our list when my in-laws visit (since they are doing the majority of the work, thanks guys!). Luckily for us, they are returning at the end of September. And yes, an updated list of projects is already underway.
I keep thinking “Oh, I can’t wait until we are done and everything is just the way we’d like it to be,” but I know that such a time is unlikely to ever come. At least not any during the next decade. At the very least I can certainly say that owning a house makes every day an adventure, even if it isn’t exactly the kind you were hoping for like finding ants making the trek from the porch window into the garbage can or uncovering a fungus growing in the front yard that looks like a lobster claw. Not even kidding.
Mulch. If one word could sum up our weekend, it’s mulch. Last year we made a vain attempt to tame the front yard in May after the weeds had had a chance to really dig in. It took days. In fact, I believe the struggle with the weeds lasted over three weekends. This year we decided to get at them early.
After an early morning struggle to determine whether it made more sense to go to our local hardware store or Home Depot, our inability to access either stores phone number (thanks to non-functioning internet service) led us to the local store even if it was likely to cost more. Our local hardware store is pretty awesome. It’s packed into three old row houses, with a garden area in a neighboring empty lot. The aisles are about two feet wide and are crammed from floor to ceiling with nuts and bolts and gadgets galore. I found some child-size gardening gloves that actually fit my hands (the cute ducks and alligators didn’t hurt either), a foam kneeling pad and some potting soil. My husband wandered around “aimfully” (while we know where most of the areas are now, we always end up asking for help, usually to be directed right back to where we had been looking in the first place and just couldn’t see it), picking up various odds and ends to complete some projects back at home. And on the way out, we stocked up on, you guessed it, mulch!
Once we returned home, my husband went to work on the front yard straight away. The soil (and I use that term loosely) is mostly clay and not conducive to many plants, so we’re trying to amend it. Mulch is a key part of the process, but it’s really just the last of many steps. First he set to weeding out dandelions and what oddly appeared to be spring onions, then turning over the soil around our plants to mix in the decomposing mulch from last year and finally laid down a thick cover of new mulch to deter any new weeds (we hope).
At first I was putzing around out front with our seedlings, but then I went to check on our internet service. When I found that it still wasn’t working, I decided it was a better use of my time to sit upstairs (where it was decidedly warmer than out front) on the phone with our internet provider’s customer assistance for 40 minutes, explaining which light was blinking—it was quite exhilarating, let me tell you! Eventually when the internet problem had been solved, I figured I should head back out to the chilly outdoors. I set to work relocating our seedlings that had grown like wild in their tiny starter pods, into larger containers. Hopefully their new, larger homes will help the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes grow sturdier and ready for the actual garden plot. Even though they are taking off, it isn’t nearly warm enough for them to be planted in the ground just yet.
While I am looking forward to the chance to start gardening and spend more time outdoors, my allergies have done their best to keep that vision foggy and interrupted with sneezes. I have resorted to actually taking allergy medicine and switching to my glasses when my eyes can’t seem to take any more from my contacts. The fact that my contacts bother me in the spring is a bit of a conundrum to me, too, because they seem to block out the onion vapors that cause my husband to tear up. You’d think the same would apply to the stuff blowing around in the wind. I’m not a fan, but I digress.
After spreading the mulch and re-potting the seedlings, we set our sights on the inside, my husband tackled a few projects while I cleaned up the kitchen and did the laundry. The highlight of the day was finally hanging a photo collage in our dining room. The long wall in there had been awfully lonely for the past year, but we were having trouble finding something big enough to fill the space. Also there is now an old four panel window that’s been turned into a full-length mirror hanging in the stairwell and hooks are adorning the inside of closet doors.
But that was yesterday’s fun. Today we targeted our efforts on an area of the house we hadn’t really been in all winter: our back porch. Of course, having not been in the room for a number of months meant that I had to confront continued irritation from my allergies. Before, it pretty much looked like a tornado had come through and not bothered to pick up after itself (naughty tornado). After a few hours of sorting things to be trashed, recycled or stored someplace else, the room has been vacuumed and the pantry area looks neat and well-stocked.
I think it is fair to say we’ve had a productive, house-project-completing weekend. And it’s only 2 p.m. I think it is safe to say that we are going to take the rest of the weekend off…
3. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the home just before your husband arrives, gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too.)
Oh, making our home a “haven of rest and order” seems like an insurmountable task. I mean, coming home and seeing our gutter dangling off our porch (thanks Snowmageddon) doesn’t exactly broadcast “haven,” but I am not about to hop out on our roof (which is still covered in more than a foot of snow) and fix it. And I can’t really help the fact that we’ve got eight pairs of shoes in the hallway (yes, there are only two of us here) when they’re all too wet to go anywhere else.
Although I do get a head start on at least one aspect of this tip, we really only have one table, our dining room table. And it is nearly always covered by a table cloth so it doesn’t need to be dusted! Sure, we have a couple side tables in the living room, but we’re rarely in there anyway.
Therefore, I am going to base my ability to meet the needs of tip #3 on one single marker: is there enough room at the dining room table that we can both sit down and fit plates in front of us?
The fact that we are often joined at dinner by library books, last week’s Washington Post and coupons that needed to be sorted, doesn’t seem to bother him. Looking at the table last night, I realized that, beside a few pushpins, some Christmas lights that hadn’t been put away, and our cell phone chargers, it was actually pretty clear. This left plenty of room for the two of us and our table settings. Check plus for me. I imagine that the near-neatness of the table must give my husband the sense of rest and order he needs. And, sad as it sounds, it does kind of give me a lift too when I see the space relatively uncluttered.
On the wider war on dust, however, I never seem to be able to take up any ground. The amount of dust in our house on any given day is unfathomable. Walking up the stairs the previous weekend I noticed dust bunnies as big as real bunnies on nearly every step. My husband and I tackled the terrifying problem (think ferocious bunnies like the one in Monty Python’s Holy Grail), but it is only a week later and the stairs (and everything else) are covered in dust again. I am doubtful that even the usage of a “holy hand grenade” would help solve the problem of these killer bunnies.
I really can’t wrap my mind around how this is possible. It’s February and Snowmageddon is raging outside. Understandably then, there are no open windows in the house and we have radiator heat, so there is no forced air … it is a mystery I wish I could answer. Perhaps the Dust Fairy comes for regular visits. If only I could get the Dusting Fairy to follow behind her.