Friday, July 29, 2011

all this activity

It's one week in and although I've not completely kept to schedule, I'm happy with the progress of the household projects.  The kitchen wall and shelves are finished.  The living room has been cleared out, the floor scrubbed and the walls repaired.  Tomorrow will have me priming the floor and walls and then painting.

I continue to be miffed about the shoddy workmanship in this house.  When we purchased it, we were assured that the wall studs for interior walls would be actual 2x4s 16" on center.  Lies.  We were told that the floor was plywood - specifically not OSB.  Lies.  We were told the carpet had padding beneath it. Lies.  One can only imagine the other things that were done incorrectly.  We've already had to rewire two light switches.  The front door was installed incorrectly and caused floor damage that we'd never have realized until too late had we not decided to remove the carpet in the living room.  The master bathtub was installed incorrectly, causing it to crack around the drain and resulting in an unsightly fiberglass patch.  Doors either don't stay shut or stick.  The house was to be set-up for either gas or electric stove use, but only has a standard electrical outlet (and the gas supply line is incorrect - and now crimped due to substandard employees of the propane company)... we have a breaker labeled "range" that does not appear to go to any installed outlet - who knows if wires were even attached and if they were, where they terminate.

Yet even with all the troubles, I love our house.  It is too big for my taste - allowing us to accumulate clutter and close it off in seldom-used rooms.  The kitchen has an awkward layout.  The closet is small.  But it is -our- house.  A huge purchase for us - people who buy used cars second and third-hand and who tend to struggle to make the budget work - but we found a way, with a lot of help from family and some excellent timing and a workable payment schedule.  We've been here almost ten years.  We've whelped puppies, baked holiday meals, fought mouse and ant invasions by the score, vanquished palmetto bugs, recovered from illnesses and celebrated birthdays in this house.  We've cried over the loss of loved ones and been consoled.  We've cheered over exam scores - and wept over exam scores.  We've screamed in frustration and in passion.  In short, we've lived here.  And in living here, we've given a part of ourselves to the house and made it into a home. 

So I'll continue to paint and patch walls and clean and find solutions for whatever disaster threatens on the horizon, and I'll continue to plan out imaginary remodels and various deck plans and toss around the idea of just building a Japanese style bath house in the yard and eliminating our tiny bathroom all together... but I won't begrudge a moment of the time we've spent here, and I hope we have many more years to share with this house.

This week we have finished 1/3 of the kitchen - all that we can do until we can finance an entire remodel of the room - and we have cleared the clutter of two years out of our living room.  In fact, we've cleared everything out of the living room in preparation for repainting.  This is not the first time we've painted the living room.  At the moment, the walls are a color I like to call "light adobe" which is to say they are about the shade of a seriously sun-bleached clay pot.  It was nice while it lasted.  It was also one of the first rooms I painted in the house and I wasn't all that smart when it came to picking paint.  I went with a flat, rather than semi-gloss or gloss, thinking it would be more muted.  I was partly correct.  While the flat paint is not shiny, it is somewhat chalky and tends to readily show scuffs and marks.  This time around we are using a semi-gloss.  We went that route in the kitchen and it looks quite nice - not too shiny, but more durable.

We knew we wanted a bright yellow for the kitchen.  And the guest bath that opens off the living room is a bright spring green (well, it's a somewhat dull green at the moment, but it will be a bright spring green soon enough).  Every room in the house with the exception of the master bath and closet open off of the living room - so a color that will work as a transition is important.  The master bedroom is slated for a lavender shade.  Guest bedroom - marine blue.  Library - burgundy.  And we liked the adobe living room... but opted to go with a somewhat tan color.  It has a hint of the adobe, without being pink, and a hint of the yellow in the kitchen without the brightness.  I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Today we scrubbed the floor.  Not an easy task when the floor is OSB.  Especially when it is neglected OSB that has had some rough wear-and-tear.  We started with a long-handled scrub brush, using a heavy solution of floor cleaner.  Peter toweled up the puddled water and used a smaller brush on stubborn spots.  It took some time.  It took some effort.  Ok, it wiped us both out.  But we powered on.  After the scrubbing, we let the floor dry while we went to town for a new mop head - ours is currently inaccessible in the guest bathtub, blocked in by some of the things we moved out of the living room.  Plus we required a few incidental supplies for the upcoming painting.  Once back home, I patched the damaged walls.  Steel wool in the mouse holes, followed by a generous application of drywall mud.  After this, I mopped the floor.  Again, not an easy task when the mop threads want to snag on the bits of wood, but it wasn't as bad as I expected.  The floor is remaining remarkably intact through all this abuse.  The mop solution this time was roughly 2 gallons of scalding hot water with about 2 cups of bleach.  Ok, maybe 3 cups of bleach.  Let's just say that, in my opinion, if a house smells like bleach it smells clean.  I want my house to smell clean.  The mopping went well and we set up two fans to speed the drying process.  I had hoped it would be dry in time for me to prime it before bed, but it is not, so you get this blog post instead.

And now the OCD is kicking in.  Did I clean the floor enough?  Couldn't I have scrubbed it a little more?  Do I need to sand down the rough spots? Should I have gone over it with another course of clear water?  Did I use too much water? I've gone to the bedroom door no less than a dozen times, intending to just pop out and check on the floor.  I've stopped myself - not because I realize it's silly (although I do) or because I know it is as clean as I can get it (or is it? yes. no. maybe.) but because if I touch that doorknob, six chihuahuas will wake up and voice their displeasure at being restricted to the kitchen. My OCD is being policed by a pack of small dogs. I don't know whether to be thankful or to be embarrassed.  After all, I should be able to control these impulses on my own.  I should be able to tell myself that it can wait until morning. 

Then again, I should be able to go to sleep without having to meticulously clean my fingernails and wash my hands.  I should be able to go to sleep without having to brush off the sheets and shake the pillowcase.  I should be able to get up in the morning without the overwhelming necessity of immediately going to brush my teeth.  So much of my life is in disarray.  My clothes are not organized by color or even by type.  Heck, at the moment my clothes are all mixed up with Peter's on one long rod across the end of our bedroom (see, I told you the closet was too small and poorly laid out)... and although I do match my socks, they are tossed into a drawer without thought to their orientation and my underthings are not neatly folded.  And that doesn't bug me.  (Though I know some people who are probably itching to come organize my dresser right now.) It seems that every flavor of OCD is a little different.  While I might agree with a friend that little paint specks on the arms and hands require immediate scrubbing, I doubt that most of my friends would be immobilized by the sight of spare change on the floor.  If I see a stray coin, I must pick it up.  It's ok if it is on a nightstand or dresser or counter, but if it is on the floor it must be picked up.  I can't stand to have shoes placed on a table - even if they are in a box or bag. I'm convinced that once they are set on a table they will never fit correctly again.  And my house is not clean unless it smells faintly of bleach.  Other people's houses don't have to smell like bleach to be clean... but if mine smells of anything other than bleach (or a specific combination of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves) it is not clean - even if it is spotless.

So, tonight, I will leave the door to the bedroom closed and I will brush off the sheets once more.  I will clean my nails and wash my hands.  I will shake the pillow.  And I will lie down to sleep, content that the whiff of bleach means all is right with the world.

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