Saturday, December 22, 2007

To Fix or Not to Fix

More disconnected snippets from an overworked brain:

My genius lies with destruction, unfortunately. It is a forgone conclusion that if I investigate why something is slightly askew, it will soon be completely askew, if it is even still recognizable. The backsplash on the kitchen sink is a good example… tear it off, decide I want tiles, realize I don’t have tiles, or even a plan for which I want! And suddenly a longterm decision becomes an emergency one. Fortunately, I managed to get to a tile outlet on my monthly trip back to the city… unfortunately, I can’t measure and am woefully short of tiles. Now I have several jars sitting hard against the backsplash, trying to wedge it in place rather than glue it and then tear it off a week later (which of course is homeowner slang for “next decade”).

Having my own home allows me to have more greenery -- but, sucker that I am, on my first attempt, I adopted two forlorn houseplants from Thriftway. How cruel of them to post a sign: “Help! We want to Live! Take us home!” and offer them at half price… I can never callously allow a plant to die… I am now auntie to an ornamental pepper and some tropical with corrugated leaves -- and my houseplant books are buried at least four boxes deep…

My hands look like I’ve been trying to grate them… but only one wound was the grater - the others were the broken toilet, the large hunks of wood I wrestle into the woodstove, the staples I’m trying to pull from the wood floors… I need tiny knuckle-pads like they have knee pads… I’ve tried using gloves but I’m enough of a klutz without them, and besides, the spears that emerge from these behemoth chunks of wood just laugh at my garden gloves. “Splinters” doesn’t even begin to cover it. These are toothpicks for Godzilla.

Despite my best efforts to slow down and plan rationally, my “I Love Lucy” imitations occur daily, especially in the cleaning department. Can’t tell if I used to be a vaudeville comic in a previous life, or if there’s a short-circuit between brain and limbs. Or possibly the Dual Processor gives out after age fifty. Anyway, a week before the move, after having torn up all the rugs (I’d made an honest effort to vacuum, but when you fill a bag on one 8x10 rug and it’s still dusty… time to rip up!!), I found oak floors that had obviously been lived on pre-rug -- by someone who believed that paint-can circles make a stylish statement on oak. Okay, I decided, I have three days to do something about that before the heavy furniture comes in… I remember about Murphy’s Oil soap, though I’m not sure it’s meant for semi-polished floors (if by “polished“ you mean covered by congealed resinous goop). I decide to try it… first one corner of the office floor, just so I can see what the difference is when dry -- none, though I know I’m removing dirt because the water instantaneously turns the color of slate. I then proceed to a portion of living room floor where the couch will be. I’m preparing the sections of floor in each room that will be covered by furniture, because I haven’t the strength or back-flex to do all of them in three days. I figure the rest of the flooring will be a winter project.

Within two shakes of the mop, I’ve knocked the whole bucket of water across the floor! I barely have time for the signature “Waaah!!”… it’s heading toward the Sunday papers I just bought (quick! Are they water-soppers or news?), and (of course) heading straight for the unfinished wood bathroom cabinet that I’m also trying to assemble on the living room floor -- like a mini tsunami, the water gushes toward disaster -- I shriek, grab up the papers (save the comics!!) and run for the bathroom towels! I only have one of each, bath and hand, and they are dropped down and swabbed around on a floor that resembles a NYC subway station floor! Now, any sensible person would have immediately reclassified them as “rags”, but I - quickly thinking, “I have my work clothes in the wash”, run and drop them in too… (fortunately the work clothes look like rags in any case). Anyway, I’m grabbing stuff out of the way, cursing and mopping… and grateful that the very hot woodstove may quickly dry up the mistake… and if it leaves a stain the size of Lake Erie, it will be one of a dozen on the floor… we’ll find out if Murphy’s oil soap is a preservative…

I finally got the bathroom cabinet up and into the bathroom -- by ignoring two screws that refused to go in, even when I drilled a small hole, and the slight gap between parts caused by a single person’s inability to hold together two large planks of wood. Due to the fact that the room itself is crooked, and especially the toilet is cockeyed from the wall, the little cabinet looks skewed… and it is leaning away from the wall dangerously… but if I bolt it to the wall, can I unbolt it when I want to paint the wall?? For about a day, I had it wedged upright by pieces of cardboard and by the Kleenex box… finally had to decide to bolt it in or risk being crushed as I sat on the toilet -- not the epitaph I want for the headstone!

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