Wednesday, April 30, 2008

View E--Recap.

We were quiet. We didn't bother anybody. We just sat here silently, waiting to be needed. We knew she would come for us eventually. We were patient.

But it was a bit uncomfortable. We were, well, not to complain, but we were a bit cramped in there. So we were happy she came down and started picking some of us up, holding us, putting some of us down in other places. We thought we might see each other again--she's shuffled us around before.

But then, we were told, no, some of us were leaving for good. I heard it from the lampshade, who said she got it from the box of books, who got it from the box of fabric, who got it from the blinds. Where were the blinds? I couldn't see them anywhere. Maybe it was true.

It was only a week later when the bench moved in and I started to get scared. Was nothing special anymore? Didn't we mean anything to her anymore? What happened to everyone? I took some comfort in the hope that she might pile some things on the bench, and she did; but never for long. Most of the stuff that went on the bench went into great big blue bags, up the stairs and then who knows where? Stuff that left in a bag never came back. I was very scared.

There's hardly any of us left, now, after the Great Purge of the Spring Cure 2008. There are very, very few of us left to remember.

I survived, though I was moved to a new corner. There are some nice things over here, and we've all agreed we can breathe better and it's nice not to be so squished.

I've changed though. I talk more now, ask more questions. You never know who might leave next and then you'd always be wondering about them. I ask them: what was their life like upstairs? Why did they get put down here? What was their best moment, stuff like that. Sometimes, I don't get an answer. They say, we may be leaving someday, so why make the effort? But I have a feeling we may be here for a bit. She's putting up curtains and vacuuming, sort of taking care of us again. I like that.

She says most of us went to better places where we could be useful and live upstairs again.

I hope that's true.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cord Tidy

They said it would be simple.

They lied.

First the husband had to drill a hole. He went through thin wood and it splintered.

(Perhaps I ought to explain: our computer desk has a pull out shelf. On it, I keep the router along with the keyboard and mouse. That's five cords which had had no chance to be tidy.)

I had to go through solid oak four times to attach the thingy.

I learned:

1) drilling upwards is hard.

2) If something measures out 3 cm larger than the space you have for it, there will be problems. (I had to drill those d*mn holes for the supports a total of eight times.)

3) Tidying cords merely transfers the mess from one place

(the floor) to another (the thingy).

4) You really can finesse a partially stripped screw head with a hand held screwdriver, but you probably shouldn't. (And not with a bum arm through oak.)

But at least the dog can't chew through the computer cords when my mom isn't looking.

The Laundry Tub--recap

On March 19th we went from this:

To this:

It was my organizing centre, actually. I kept the boxes of garbage bags and blue bags here, notepaper and pen for jotting down the stuff weighed on its way up the stairs and out the door, twist ties, and the box where I'd put books good enough to sell. It was the guts of the whole operation and so it couldn't be until this weekend, that we could even begin to have this:

and then this, as of yesterday:

It's still nasty, but better.

Given our trip happens in about 2 1/2 weeks (see this post), it's highly doubtful we'll have taps in by then. Nonetheless, I just wanted to show you the transformation.

Outstanding To-Do List

We are leaving for our vacation to visit family in about 2 and a half weeks.

(All the time I was writing this post, I'd thought it was a week and a 1/2! That's what you get for putting nebulous symbols on your calendar without explanation. I mistook the asterix for the date our library cards expire for our date of departure. Phew. However, as I was about to hit full scale panic when I hit "publish post," I think I'll just accept the extra week and not try to cram more into the "extra" time.)

So, except for a few things I really want to get done before we leave, I'll be leaving most of this list undone. But I wanted to get them down so I can toss the paper lists!

  • *Wash stairs
  • *Wash (and paint?) shoe shelf
  • Sort kids' artwork
  • Take stuff to eco-centre (done)
  • *Put up curtains over wall of shelves
  • sell Crop'n'Style
  • move clothesline
  • Sand chairs and paint
  • Cover new table for laundry tub (done)
  • Find and install taps for laundry tub.
  • *Tidy up cords at computer desk.
  • Cut and install wood facing for faux fireplace facelift. Paint.
  • Construct and paint "skirt" for trunk.
  • Remove paint from silver bits on trunk.

  • In preparation for leaving, I need to

  • *clean the house (my Mom will be staying here with the dog while we're away)
  • *figure out what to pack (which may involve a few shopping trips)
  • *plan what we'll be doing--what to see and where to go when.

  • If that isn't enough, I plan to continue with school this week.


    If I have time, I'd like to post an area a day this week--a re-cap--from the beginning to now. I also want to do up a slideshow for you (and me!) but don't count on it!

    *items have priority.

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Different Decluttering Styles...

    You'll have to talk me back from the edge.

    When I started clearing out the basement, some of you may remember, I tackled it 15 minutes at a time. I started with one 15 minute session, then two, then I just stayed down there as long as I had the energy and the time to do the job I'd set for the day (and sometimes getting distracted and doing a different job). This is my way. This is my style. It keeps the impact of the project low, and allows for frequent breaks when one is overwhelmed with the decisions that need to be made .

    The husband is quite different. Impressed with the work I've done down in the basement, he's motivated to clear out his workshop. It truly needs to be done. Specifically, he needs room to use his router table and he wants to leave the collapsible "Workmate" workbench up so he has an extra surface to saw upon.

    I'm all for it, actually.

    He has a wall of shelves, 24" deep. He wants to cut them in half (so they are 12" deep) and clear them off--not my way--slowly and in small bits of time, hauling out 75 lbs of crap or so a week--no, he wants to do it his way--which means dumping everything into my freshly cleaned and cleared area--and then putting back what will "fit."


    I can see this taking months!
    Months where no one can use the dartboard again, months where the punching bag will be inaccessible again.

    Should I bite the bullet and just let him do it "his way" or should I encourage him to do it the way I did?

    Maybe you could suggest how it might be done his way--and not take months. That would make me happy.

    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    Weekend far


    My energy is back.

    After being thoroughly disgusted with yesterday's "Progress Report," I got to work on the North-East Corner of the basement.

    I want to go waaaay back and show you the corner as it was on March 8th:

    On March 25th, about 2 1/2 weeks later, I had this:

    I pretty much ignored this area until I rearranged the stuff along that wall and took down the "canopy" last weekend.

    Then, last night, screwdrivers in hand, I tackled those shelves. I had thought to remove them all and free up the whole corner, but I really needed a spot for my "house box"--a 1" to 12" scale model of a "townhouse" partially constructed and packed away since I moved out west almost 12 years ago. It has been on the floor for the past year...and I'm worried about I wanted it in a "safe" place. The basement has never flooded along this wall, ever.

    About 40 minutes later:

    That is actually a different lime green fabric! It's an old vinyl table cloth. The "canopy" fabric is in the outbox.

    Today, I ventured downstairs to tackle the art work. I stacked it all on the bench and realised that now with the house box and the stack of art work removed, I could re-configure the two tables down there so that the boys would have access the punching bag. I neglected to take a proper "before" picture as it was one of those organic things where I just moved from one thing to another, but here's a picture of the area from March:

    The brown lamp is resting on the old undercounter fridge, the small worktable is under the paint can, and the old kitchen table is under the picture frames and fake flowers.

    The fridge was hauled to my Mom's, the yellow lamp tossed, the picture frames's a shot of the work table in action, April 8th. (The kitchen table is under the "coax cable" kettle box.)

    And so we come to today. Here's the before picture of the art work to be sorted (still).

    As I said, though, once it was out of the way, I just started moving things around.

    Hmmm. Nasty. So, stealing an idea from Yvestown, I got out one of my other vinyl tablecloths (handily accessible in it's plastic roll out box) and stapled a lovely blue one to the top.

    I decided it was too nice to be mucked up with painting and staining and such...and I'd been wondering about how to get a work surface over by the laundry tub (for when it is eventually converted into a place to do laundry, I'll need one), so after measuring (the table is 18" wide and 42" long) I wrestled it in under the stairs, beside the laundry tub.

    The husband says he'll fashion a small table for the left hand side of the laundry tub. (Hooray!)

    And the table area?
    This is what we have as of today:

    Boom da da boom.

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Week 7: Progress Report

    Short Version:

    Tossed: 40 lbs
    Donations: 35 lbs (see below)
    Cardboard Boxes: 5lbs
    (Didn't weigh the recyclables or garbage.)

    Toss Total to Date: 535lbs

    Long Version:
    There is no long version this week.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Snowy Day

    It was not the sort of day to cut wood. It was not the sort of day to sand and paint. No, it was this sort of day:

    So, there was nothing for it. I just wanted to rearrange the furniture on the North wall a little. Stack the Ancient Ikea pine units, get the dresser out from under the dartboard. And so I did.
    This is how the area looked when I started this project, 7 weeks ago:

    And this is how it looked this afternoon, when I went downstairs to work on it:

    Four (or so) hours later, we now have this:

    Here's a close-up of the wall o' pine.

    Before: (taken a few weeks ago. The dresser is out of the frame to the right).

    And today:

    When I was all done I looked at it: there's a lot of wasted space, there are a lot of things which could be weeded out (and this is the edited scrap supplies!), and I have no idea why I have all this stuff.

    It is ready to be gone through again: sort and purge. But I think you'll understand if I say, "No, not right now." Another day, perhaps. (But hopefully not a snowy one!)

    Week 6: Progress Report

    Short Version
    Basically, a week with no energy for the Cure. My right arm and hand is bothering me a lot which makes even typing at the keyboard problematic.

    No donations
    No garbage
    --not that there isn't any of this stuff, I just didn't deal with it.

    Long Version:


  • Got up before the family and washed the kitchen floor.
  • Put a second coat of paint on the lamp base.
  • Puttered for 15 minutes on a couple of shelves. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, just the usual sort and purge. I put some of the files into the newly emptied filing cabinet.

  • Tuesday

    Have I mentioned we hoard things? I'm sure I've mentioned it before...but just in case you were wondering; here's a picture.

    What you don't see is that that box is 12" deep. Yes, take out a ruler, it's that deep. An entire box of paper plates, disposable cups and plastic cutlery. I have so much, I could take paper plates (and packs of cutlery from the kitchen drawers) on our trip with us and not even make a dint. (Which I recommend heartily, by the way. Buying a whole cooked chicken, fruit and pre-made salad at the grocery store and bringing it back to the hotel room gave us two meals we didn't have to eat out.) The plates are great for painting and kids' art projects as well. But, even so, we have, pretty much, a life-time supply. We also have enough cutlery for everyone at an Amish barn raising.

    The box which houses the paper plates and stuff is falling apart. I decided to go through it. I'd been dithering about whether to replace the carboard box with plastic, but when a spider scuttled out, the decision was made. All loose cups and cutlery were tossed, cutlery in bags was rebagged into closeable baggies.

    I bought a plastic bin this afternoon. The whole thing feels cleaner. The small exposed plates will be used for paints.

    I merged two "party" boxes into one--we still have streamers left over from those we bought for our wedding reception; we have party hats, little birthday blowers, medals and a cheesy "Happy Birthday" sign.

    So, I sorted and purged. Did you know that balloons don't keep? After about five years the latex is shot. I brought up the Spiderman napkins to use, but threw out the few Winnie-the Pooh paper plates and hats we had left. (Though I did keep the generic "Happy Birthday" hats. Gotta wear a silly hat on birthdays!)


  • I finally put a third coat of paint on that little table lamp. I'm hoping it is the last. (It was.)
  • Pinned and hemmed second to last curtain panel for the basement window.
  • Trimmed and inserted the picture for the oval mirrored frame.

  • So, that's all done.

    I have no energy today at all. We did do a full day of school, though I felt like quitting several times. I just want to make dinner (meatloaf, mashed potatoes and beans), eat and go to bed. I've been getting up at 6:30 and seeing the husband out the door in the mornings. That way I get a couple of hours of quiet before the kids get up and I love it. But it is a huge transition for me!


  • Pinned and hemmed the last curtain panel. Each one had to be taken up 18". It involved lots of measuring and ironing.
    Then, some of you may remember the machine was out of commission there for a little bit; but the machine lost its ability to sew in reverse years ago, so I hand tie all the beginning and ends of every seam. I just may have to get that fixed someday!

  • Cut the plastic away from the wall and hung it up.

    Here's what the "excercise area" looks like now:

  • missed garbage pick-up.

  • Friday

    Already? Where did this week go?

  • Used iron-on hemming tape to put that napkin on the pillow. Lesson learned: You really can't iron velvet-type fabrics, even through a damp cloth.
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?

    Or rather, the door?

    We'd like a new screen door.

    Something in wood please.

    Yes, we'd like to have the screen just in the top half.

    Well, it's the dog, you see. He jumps up on our screen door and then drags his nails down the door when he wants to be let in. I don't dare raise the window over the screen. He'd tear it to shreds in a second.

    Yes, well, that's the thing. It'd be really great if he had his own door. We're so cramped in the kitchen. It's awkward to let him in and out and it's quite the interruption. And I'm not going to be able to keep the screen door propped open much longer. The bugs are coming.

    We need, oh, about 16" at least, preferably more, on the bottom. Oh, I know it doesn't really need to be as large as 2 feet or anything, but there's that problem with his nails.

    You have something?

    Really? Every where else we've been, well, there's nothing. We're not asking for anything complicated or special. In fact, the simpler, the better.

    Let's see what you've got.

    Oh, that's lovely. I just love that! And you can put in extra strong mesh for the screening for $30.00? Yes, that would be an excellent idea.

    Oh, the dog door is extra?

    Well, he's a big beagle, so, well, I guess we'd better get the medium sized one. 9"x11"? Yes, that would do.

    An extra $130.00?


    How much is the door, itself then?

    Oh. $559. Plus tax. Plus shipping from New York. Oh.

    Well, this one is nice. It'll do. How much is it?

    $299. Oh. Well, thank you very much for your time.

    The moral of the story?

    What you are looking for exists, really it does. Whether you can ever afford it, though, is quite another matter!

    A basic screen door cannot be hard to build. Honestly. So, I'll be going to the library tomorrow and looking through the DIY section. Again. Wonder whether the husband will feel like it's something he can do?

    (Images and prices from Vintage Doors).

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Week 6: The "Bathroom": Goals

    or, in my case, the laundry room. That works, doesn't it?

    This area is actually in pretty good shape, right now. It has curtains on both windows and the area just feels lighter and airier. Moving out the extra dresser and shifting a few things around really helped. (Someone came and took the black dresser! It was gone when we got home. I was so thrilled.) I'd take and post some pics, but I've misplaced the digital camera.

    Really, the only things that need to be done down here are:
    1) research the feasibility of attaching taps to the existing pipes by the "laundry" sink. (And boy, will that be a nasty job to clean out to use!)
    2) move the clothesline
    3) add a few hooks

    As for projects which need to be completed:
    1) The Faux Fireplace Facelift. Today was the husband's last day off--and he took it--he read a novel all day! To be fair, it was sort of raining/sleeting for a while there, but even if it hadn't been, he probably would have taken the day off. All I need is the wood cut and hammered into the plaster on the fireplace.
    Oh well. I guess he's entitled. He did do all the driving on the trip.

    2) Finish painting wooden lamp base white.

    3) Sand and paint two chairs white.

    4) Figure out how to attach the hardware for my wall of curtains.

    5) Sort kids' artwork.

    6) Sort scrap supplies.

    7) Build apron or "stand" or whatchamacallit for the trunk.

    8) Find and purchase smaller speakers

    9) Install a new screen door at the back door. The husband made calls today to find one in the proper quirky size. We want one in wood with the screen at the top so we can install a dog door in the bottom.

    10) Hem and install last set of curtains for the basement windows. (As I said, I'm not doing the workshop, so if the husband wants a set of curtains in there, he's going to have to wait a bit).

    Hey, how can my list be longer than it was last week--and we got so much accomplished? (I've a nagging suspicion I've forgotten something, too.)
    Aren't I supposed to be winding down?
    (Don't answer that!)

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    We're Home!

    and feeling refreshed and revitalised by the conference.

    It was a beautiful day today, too, so while I was off getting groceries and picking up our Guinea Pig, the husband put up the screens. He even washed the outside panes of the inside windows. I was shocked,
    and pleased!

    We go back to school tomorrow, so I'm going to have to think about the house, the basement and all that stuff later.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    Week 5: Progress Report (daily version)


    I got up before the family and washed the living room and kitchen floors.

    If your shoes sort of stick to the floor after you've washed it, (and it's dry) what should you do?
    Does it mean it needs rinsing, maybe?
    It's only that bit of floor. Maybe it isn't quite clean?

    Does anyone else try to clean their home before leaving on a trip so it is spotless when you get home? That's the compulsion I'm under today. My mom does it too. I think you want to be able to come home to everything done--no nagging loose ends to confront when you walk in the door. Is that it? I don't know.

    Today I want to measure and mark the plywood for cutting the wood for the faux fireplace facelift. I made scale drawings once upon a time--and in spite of having FOUR binders dedicated to home improvement, housekeeping and maintenance, I can't find them. As you can tell from the previous post today, I've re-done them. If you haven't given me your opinion yet, please do. I won't be getting the trim on until we get back from the conference.

    This is the vision:

    Someone did this mock-up for me eons ago. Of course, instead of that beautiful screen, we will have the table.

    Hung another set of curtains in the basement. These are old, old, Martha Stewart (yes, again. I loved her line in the early days--in fact my kitchen was painted according to one of her "coordinated colour chips." Anybody remember those?) Anyway, they used to hang in the bedroom and they always made me smile. Here, I look at them and instead of feeling joyful about seeing my lovely curtains again, I look at them and feel depressed about the wall.

    But then, I broke a fingernail putting up the hardware for the rod, so maybe I'm disgruntled because of that. The husband looked at that wall and declared he ought to sand it. Indeed he ought, but it probably won't happen any time soon.

    Taken on an overcast day at noon. I just noticed that sticker when I uploaded the picture. It is now soaking in Goo-Gone. I sure miss that fingernail.)

    We're having a disagreement over the trunk. I think it is much TOO RED. The husband says I've made my decision and should stick with it. But I can't help thinking that if I had gone with Maxwell's recommendation, sight unseen, I wouldn't have this garish mess on my hands.

    (I took this photo with the flash. I don't usually. Look Zooza--the purple base! And WHAT am I going to do with those boxy STEFAN chairs?)

    Oh well. He did re-attach the slidey thingys on the little round table for me this morning and we've marked the plywood for cutting. He says we'll have to buy a new jigsaw if we want to cut it--or he'll have to do it by hand. I don't know why the skill saw won't do the job, but apparently, it won't.

    Look what we have here!

    (I took this late last night. No flash.)

    No, not the freshly stained slidey thingys (though they are part of the story) but a useable little work table. Look at that. I've never been able to take small slidey thingys, or, say, a lamp, and do something messy to it in a place far, far away from our main living area. I suppose this is why people actually have basements.

    Drat, Colleen, I know I promised, and I believe the dog house roof is absolutely, finally done (it was done earlier, but the husband decided to re-do the top bit) and now I have the batteries for the camera re-charging.

    So, tomorrow, before we leave, I promise.

    I've got all of that sticker up off the top of the dryer and the first coat of white paint on the little table lamp. It's only noteworthy because I decided to use some of the oil paint we had left over from the bathroom project--and I had to hack my way through a 1" crust. My hands now smell like goo-gone, oil paint, mineral spirits and "fragrance free" lotion.

    The rest of the evening, I'm afraid, must be devoted to folding laundry.
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