The Things We Keep

Yesterday I tackled the garage, and although I’m far from being done, I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made.  It’s  a jumble of items you’d expect to find in a garage: a fairly recent deposit of my kitchen overflow;  remnants of our recent construction;  boxes expelled of Christmas decorations waiting for their return;  and my son’s truly unbelievable collection of crap.

Son's Crap

Not exactly a glamorous way to spend the first day after the holidays home alone, but pleasant.  I popped the garage door open to let in the light and brisk air realizing that if I had an attic or basement, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy either of those or my less than friendly neighbors as they passed by on their morning walk, furtively avoiding my gaze and the greeting perched on my tongue, just waiting for an opportunity to be human.   Ever the optimist am I.

I think the reason I avoid organizing our garage or anything else in my house that collects pieces of our lives over time, is that I’m forced to think about the memories attached to every item I handle.  It isn’t that I regret those memories — it’s more about having to accept the time it adds to the task, and the mood I’ll need to wallow in when I’m finished.

My thoughts wandered from annoyance with my son for keeping what resembles a rat’s nest wherever he goes, to flippant defiance:  What if I printed our address in craigslist in the “free” section and just left the garage door open to  the inevitable riot?  Instead, what I’m left with this morning are what lies between, like thoughts about boys growing up who were never interested in playing sports, but did to indulge us.

Old Trophies

 

 

Old Toys

Thoughts about school and career, and where all that knowledge and understanding goes when one is done with it.  Of an old house and all its poignant memories.   Of grandmothers and Martha, old friends I should call or write, and school kids I will never, ever forget.

Beauty lost to function and sentimentality to practicality on many counts during my purge. Copper pieces that have gleamed in the morning sun and cast sparks of light on my dining room wall for years are in the discard pile.  Decorations for Valentines Day and Easter that used to liven up the house when the boys were little also ended up in the pile along with a huge bag of stuffed animals I haven’t opened in years.  If I see them, I’ll have to think about who owned which and at what point in life.  It’s sort of leaning against the discard pile, not quite a part of it, and not quite separate.  Is there a child’s stuffed animal heaven somewhere I haven’t heard of?

Old Bunny

But there are things I’ve not quite decided to let go of, and If they’re any indication of who I am or what I’ve been, then I’m as odd as I’ve always thought I’ve been.  As odd as the stack of Martha Stewart Living magazines that seem to be about much more than the paper they’re printed on.  What does one do with that many magazines sitting, collecting spiders and bugs with too many legs to count?  Do I get one out each week, leaf through it, cut out what strikes my fancy and toss it to get on with the next?  There’s something about a sharp pair of scissors cutting along a perfectly straight line and thinking through one’s life.

Ferd, a giant bunny, sits in a corner on a stack of coolers.  It’s not a very dignified place for something that reminds me of how simple love can be if we allow it, and how easily life can be taken for granted, or lost if we’re not careful.

And these bottles?  I dug them up in the washed out area of an old dump near one of the last places my grandmother lived.  It was in the middle of nowhere — one of those places people used to go and then forgot about after the freeway was built.  The bottles aren’t valuable, but I like their varying shapes and embossed surfaces, each a slightly different tint than the next.  She was like that.

Junk Yard Bottles

Or a bag I packed the day I left my job, nearly two years ago.  It’s moved from one side of the garage to the other, but I haven’t unpacked it yet.  But I might blow the dust off the silver bar that used to sit on my desk to remind me that others see us quite differently than we see ourselves.

Career in a Bag

I’ve done quite a bit of thinking since finishing my work yesterday, and realize that as much as I got some exercise and fresh air, I’ve only moved everything from one side of the garage to the other.  It’s more organized than it was, but it’s all still sitting there.

It’s only been sifted.

Martha for a Few Hours, Almost

The visit from the “floor” man was interesting yesterday.  I found out he is a general contractor, and the floor sample and measurement plan quickly became secondary to the larger discussion around what to do about bathrooms, and closets, and fireplaces, and windows, and stair railings….

The list seems endless.

We’ve gone through a couple of remodels before, and the visit with this man was different from the start.  He wasn’t trying to sell me anything.  I didn’t feel like he was the one with the agenda.  He was thoughtful, and listened (which is quite challenging around me when I’ve been mulling over something for as long as I have this and finally get to talk about it with someone who gets it).

A quote — actually several — is due today by email and I’ve been told I can think about all of it, or parts.  Again, absolutely no pressure.  Refreshingly, he isn’t the one saying that, I’m just realizing it.

Giddy with possibilities, which as far as I’m concerned, is the secret to happiness…I went through the house and took photos of everything.  You know.  Just in case.

In case we like the quote and work begins.  It’s always fun to have before and after photos.

But I can also say that it was to document that the house was completely spotless and organized.

Well, except for the closet.

Clearly, I can only pretend to act like I’d maybe kind of wannabe Martha.

Parts is Parts

What does it say about me when I can admit that I spent most of my morning at work putting labels and stickers on file folders in preparation for this next year of business and L.O.V.E.D. it?

CONTROL. The woman craves CONTROL. (insert wicked and crazed laughter here and clasp your hands near your chin, making sure to rub them as if applying lotion) It’s an office supply problem. You know. Paper, and pencils, envelopes and white out? I’ve always had an issue with office supplies, and I’ve learned there’s no cure.

But wait! There’s more.

I worked a whole extra 90 minutos loving it. I could see a real live finished product that had dimension. And I could carefully pick up all the brightly colored folders, and click them on the desktop to make sure they were PERFECTLY lined up. So. Cool.

About half way through my time, someone brought up New Year’s Resolutions, and I was surprised that I hadn’t even thought of making one. Of course, now, it’s still on my mind. But not so much that it has kept my drawers in a knot or anything. Now that would be quite the conundrum. Call this practiced avoidance.

Why do you need a resolution when you have a list. I made one last night before going to bed so I could hit the ground running when I got home from my J.O.B. Guess what was first on the list? Okay, so you’ll never guess, and although I’m a complete pro at Twenty Questions, I’ll cut to the chase…

…my friends at Best Buy. Or better said if you’ve watched the show on Monday nights, Chuck, which is beyond surprisingly good for television and no, I’ve never watched Boston Legal, or 30 Rock, or…Okay, you get it. Buy More. That’s what the store is called on Chuck. Best Buy is Buy More. Whatever.

Anyway, I called like a gracious and tolerant consumer who has been screwed and dragged over the coals by the capitalist machine that will be the bane of our existence before we know it ahem…has been so patient with an obvious communication problem.

I was less than thrilled when Josh answered the phone after I dealt with the cheerful machine and sitting on hold for 10 minutes. It wasn’t that Josh wasn’t thrilling. He’s been well trained. “Let me verify that the television we’re talking about is at (***) 555-DORK.” I told him that was correct and that there were most likely red flags and unhappy faces stamped around my phone number along with a few Jolly Rogers and a Fickle Finger of Fate for good measure. After a professional pause, he stated that they did not deal with red flags and unhappy faces (bwahahahahahaha!) and then he read me the notes the supervisor wrote on 12-14 after I spoke with her about what could be done.

Poor Josh read, “General Electronics (authorized posers) is having difficulty ordering parts.” I could only gasp delicately and ask him to tell me if that meant the parts to fix our T.V. still had not been ordered before I collected myself to breathe scorching flames through the receiver. He politely responded that,” because I’m not a supervisor, ma’am (wince), I may not be able to access all the information regarding what has transpired.”

So yes I spoke to yet another supervisor whose name I was provided without a request and isn’t that stellar customer service? But after she said hello, she asked to put me on hold so she could review the service notes. Uhhh…what service?

And when she couldn’t tell me whether parts had or hadn’t been ordered, I told her I would take the T.V. to the closest Buy More Sucker Store and stay there until they gave me a new T.V.

And guess what?

She said in her well-trained and pleasant customer type service voice, ” I can submit an authorization for you, if you’d like.”

Huh? “An authorization for what?” I asked.

“An authorization for a replacement T.V. which will take three to five business days.”

Go figure. So I told her I’d prefer the quickest way to ensure the T.V. was totally functional and wasn’t this a lot of horse shit from me.  She said she’d pursue both avenues and ain’t that special. I was smiling, however. And I did NOT raise my voice ONE time. But my eyebrows were very angry.

So next Wednesday, I’ll bring this up again. You will be soooooo over it, but it will be so special to find out whether I’ve been granted a brand spanking new T.V. or parts. And you know what they say about parts.

Parts is parts…OR…the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

What’s that song that says something about being happy if you know it and clapping your hands?

Yah. Like that.

Now, on to the next thing on my list.

Making a list. (gasp!)

Lights Oh. My. GAWD.

I’m soooooooooooooooooo not ready. Are you? (Everyone but meleah can answer because I already know her answer. She’s a stud.)

I must be desperate because I have my notebook out for a list. Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I made a list for something other than possibilities for a dinner menu, recipe ingredients, or groceries? Hmmmmm?

Forever.

Like I said. Behind.

  1. I still have to get my car smogged so I can get a certificate to mail in with my license fees before the end of the month.
  2. I have to get a couple more gifts for the Middle Son. Fine. So I’m splitting hairs.
  3. I’m making piles of presents to sort out what’s traveling to VA and what’s not.
  4. I’m making Christmas dinner for 16 or so while we’re there, so I’m close to having the menu done. Oh, and breakfast, too, so those recipes are ready to go (have you ever heard of Fat Momma’s French Toast?)
  5. I have successfully completed my December Daring Baker’s Challenge that will be robotically (bwahahahahaha!) posted this coming Saturday at Sass & Veracity, so if you want to laugh your ass off, make sure you check in so you can snort your coffee through your nose. Everyone should be able to say they’ve done it at least once in their life. Suffice it to say, I’m donating the product to the middle school down the street. I’m sure the office staff will have inhaled it before I can make it out the door before they ask what it was.
  6. I bought Christmas cards and think I’ll get around to doing them tonight. The “authorized”service provider for our television and Best Buy will not be on my list. I did find a very cool box of Coal Candy at Restoration Hardware, however.
  7. I made an executive decision and am postponing baking cookies until after New Year’s (how’s that for being an ingenious slacker?)
  8. Most of the house is decked out for our house sitters (The Oldest Son & The Middle Son), so they can feel our holiday lerve and open their presents on Christmas day without us. Of course we’ll probably set up an iChat session so they can see how many of our faces can be crammed into the screen at one time and yell “Merry Christmas!” effectively eliminating any angst caused by our leaving them here because they had to work. Sprucin’ up the Place  More Decorations
  9. The RT has to clean his area (because he has managed to get it back to the condition it was before I painted and organized it.
  10. The MoH took care of the laundry yesterday (He’s well-trained. Okay, so actually, he’s just a nice guy.)
  11. Now, a final trip to the grocery store so the guys have enough junk to eat while we’re gone.

So, yah. I’m ready.

Soooooo not ready for Santa.

NOT.

But I’m smiling.

The End of NaBloPoMo: The Heidi Chronicles

So I’m officially a NaBloPoMo failure. I figured I would be when I never realized in the beginning that Thanksgiving was actually in November…whatever. But I was rolling along, and then when Wednesday hit and I was up until after midnight (looking longingly at the clock watching that minute hand creeping ever closer to the magic hour which would cast me into the ranks of blogging quitters and thinking that I could run upstairs and just squeeze out a fake post to keep in the game….)

But NO.

I let my faithful followers down. My NaBloPoMo compatriots. *heavy sigh*

I was too tired. I was whipped. I was everything but perky in the waning hours of the day, sitting in my chair, enjoying the wafting scent of spiced candles and final bottle glass of wine before retiring for the night. Staring at a chic flick I’ve seen a million times so I wouldn’t dream of scanning lists of ingredients in recipes, and filling small white porcelain dishes for mise en place or whatever the heck that’s called. Watching the time evaporate, ending my quest for NaBloPoMo fame.

It just wouldn’t be a class act to slam out a crappy post at 11:57pm.

But the dinner tables (yes, that’s an “s” on the end of tables) were set, the flowers arranged and the candles organized just so. The old linen napkins were lightly starched and softly folded.

The  Primo Seats

The  Not so Primo Seats

Nary a cat yack stain was visible. Well, maybe one because Freshness, Her Royal Butterballness Barf-o-rama on wheels in disguise did summarily regurgitate her afternoon snack upon my freshly cleaned carpet. Just. Once. To let me know she was still in control of my destiny.

Dumb ass cat. Lovely pet that she is.

Blackness & Presh-Ass, The Yack Star

But I digress.

We fell into bed for a night of tumultous passion exhausted sleep (we, because the MoH seriously pitches in during the holidays, lovely man unit that he is) with windows open (yes, in Paradise, we’ve still not shut our windows for the winter) and covers nicely fluffed.

Paradise:  Overcast, but warm.

Ready to begin again at seven-freaking-ay-em the next day.

But there was plenty of bubbly on hand throughout the day for mimosas and champagne cocktails, or just a plain glass o’ bubbly.

Thank. Goodness.

And thank Mr. and Mrs. Diestel who grow turkeys somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas for our lovely bird whom I immediately named Heidi when I saw her cozied up in that little box all tricked out with handles.

Heidi the Turkey

She performed well on the day most revered by this foodie — the super bowl of Food.

Oh. My.

If there was ever a question that a bird should be ordered by phone ahead of time, fresh-not-frozen, heavily discounted because your son works there WOOT!, artfully brined, and lovingly basted each half hour by the MoH, this was it.

Simply droolworthy.

And the guests were jolly, filled to the gills with the tasty fare.

The highlight of the evening was the iChat session with family in VA which broke into a bawdy session of, well, you’d have to know my family to understand. Suffice it to say that we all seem to have a fixation with the posterior portion of the human anatomy and it’s only a matter of time before a parade of buttocks fill the screen. I do think it must have something to do with not having a proper number of opportunities to share on Show ‘n’ Tell day in kindergarten. Thank goodness for the Internet and family members who are only a sign-in away. We aren’t for the faint of heart.

The VA iChat Visitors

They sort of resemble that Chumbawumba album cover, don’t they?

But the sink backed up, we ran out of counterspace, and I believe there was not a dish in my kitchen left unused. The stacks of dishes and pots, bowls and platters, wine glasses and utensils riveled Dr. Seuss’ buildings in Whoville.

But I survived.

Barely.

Sorry I haven’t been by to visit…I have serious catching up to do, and tagging to unleash on unsuspecting neighbors in Bloggsville. Be warned.

Life is grand, isn’t it?

Dear Peter Walsh, Organizational Guru…

I’m making progress here, although today, if it wasn’t for NaBloPoMo, I’d probably take the blogging day off. I’m in high gear on this house organizing frenzy, liking it, and noticing some interesting things about what exactly is organized and what isn’t in this house…and why. Like, the answer is Earth shattering, and everyone’s been waiting for it. For world peace. And stuff.

November 15, 2007

Dear Peter Walsh,

The other day, I actually sat down to watch Oprah. That may not seem to be anything special, but I’ve been a sort of lazy good for nothing but blogging domestic engineer for about a year now, and spend no time watching daytime television. I don’t even think about it. You’re wondering what in hell all this has to do with the price of tea in China, right? So anyway, I actually remembered Oprah, clicked on the television, and there was Celine Dion. I’m a closet Celine aficionado — well, not quite an expert, but still. So I grinned, turned up the volume and sang the entire hour. I just love “I Drove All Night,” don’t you? The Roy Orbison version the best, I mean, he’s incredible, but Celine is great, too. Did you see her show in Vegas? It was completely amazing. I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m less than balanced and I can see that wild look in your eye that lets me know you’re planning your escape route. But stay with me here.

So there was a commercial during the show that advertised another show coming later in the week. I think it’s airing today. It was about hoarders. I’ve been wondering about the idea of hoarding, and have been thinking of it while I’ve been going through my house. Sorry it takes me so long to get to what I’m talking about. My mind is full of clutter. Things go in and never come out, all up there waiting to be used. It’s a genetic problem. You just never know when someone may need to know what the botanical name for a Bird of Paradise is at the San Diego Zoo when you’re really there to see lions and tigers and bears. Fortunately, the problem isn’t so horrendous that I never get to my point, though, so that’s some relief. Isn’t it?

But good news! I’m only in the mild to minimal category on the Hoarding Severity Scale. And according to my Clutter Assessment Results, I am a clutter victim, who can blame a “busy life” (um…car pool four times a week and two blogs? No.), “disposable income” (he’s kidding, right? What? You didn’t know money grows on a tree on our patio? Feh.), “and a steady influx of purchases” (well, okay, but they’re mostly food related, so they don’t stay around long…), and “junk mail” (erm, no one’s going to complain if the post office outlaws that crap. Maybe they could get on that?) Like I was saying…

Here’s my progress to date. I have a handle on:

  • where all the bills go now (cool folders with LABELS *Woo Hoo!*) Okay so the folders aren’t cool; the labels are. And I will be getting cool folders. Some day after I get organized.
  • the office shelves are great, the closet isn’t too bad, and the stacks are down to a low roar. Of course every time I get my desk organized, someone leaves a tank on it. Sheesh.

It’s hard to get good help any more, yanno?

    • magazines are now sorted, organized by date, and either recycled or marked and stored (but I’m really lying on this one, because going through the saved issues will take time…and I do have time)

  • the cheese drawer in the fridge (I’m still working on the science experiment that is our veggie bin, but at least it’s not mushy any more)
  • the RT’s bedroom which is much, much cleaner and organized (almost minty fresh and clean) I said almost, okay?

IMG_0936.JPG IMG_4589.JPG

Before and After. Not bad, huh? Now to get rid of the bunk bed. Okay, where was I?

  • the laundry room upper cabinets (so I still have to dig into that stoopid lower cabinet that all those plastic grocery bags are stuffed in but it’s scary in there. Really.)

But I should get credit for some things never, ever being disorganized.

IMG_4707.JPG

They’re always perfect. Except when the MoH empties the dishwasher and just puts the wooden spoons on top of the steel utensils, or the measuring cups in this drawer instead of the one next to it. And the wire whips? You have to put them in a particular way. Because.

The rack below it is also organized by color: greens, reds, blues. So probably a little touch of OCD to add to the mild hoarding tendencies and clutter victim state.

You could come and help me out since Martha hasn’t accepted my offer yet. You know, maybe hook me up with a nice set of shelves for this lame coat closet that builders still insist on including around here, which is truly ridiculous considering we never have to wear coats. Ever. Shelves would be great. Could you get right on that, please? I need the space for my kitchen overflow.

And these built in cabinets? What are they for other than hiding things? My cats love to sleep in them, but that’s not the best idea considering everything in the cabinet gets hair all over it and then has to be washed. What would you use them for? Suggestions when you have time, please?

Well, after you’ve helped that lady who has 75 tons of trash in her house. Which is just plain weird.

Thanks for your time today. Maybe we can do lunch and discuss the possibilities. Yes?

Have your people call my people.

Sincerely,

Me.

p.s. Do you know anyone who does windows?

Dear House Fairies…

Okay, still going strong with NaBloPoMo. Lovely Sunday morning — coffee, magazines, a tasty hot bowl of steel cut oatmeal with green apples, pecans, brown sugar and cardamom. And the MoH and RT cozied up watching football. *sigh*

November 11, 2007

Dear House Fairies,

Yanno, I need to swing a deal with you guys. I’m totally not getting around to doing my housework and the place looks like, well…crap. There are piles everywhere from redoing the RT’s room, and from preliminary stages of organizing the office. My mom’s photos are also being gone through now and are in stacks of this and that and those. Jeez. I never quite perfected the art of finishing one thing before starting another. I am making some progress as I’ve given away more of the RT’s books from childhood, and two chests full of Legos. But it hasn’t put much of a dent in anything. It’s quite pathetic.

How about if you just find a way to sneak out of where ever you hide in the night to just spruce everything up. ‘Kay? Sort of Martha-ize the place? Because I just can’t seem to do everything I want and need to do in a 24-hour day and I’m perpetually behind.

Does fixing toilets fall under the category of Martha-izing? The luridness of the RT’s toilet isn’t something I can quite capture with mere words. The newly painted walls haven’t really done anything other than make it stand out even more. I’ve been thinking about whether I might be able to feed a power sprayer through the window from the spigot outside in the back. You know, sort of blast the thing into the next century?

And the laundry room is quite the wreck. I think the cats play in their catbox since there’s more sand on the floor than there is in the box and one of them insists upon leaving crap uncovered every single time, like it’s some little present. What is up with that?

Then there’s the RT’s pile by the garage door. It’s a wonder one of us hasn’t tripped over the backpack, the boxes of models, and textbooks. His shoes, and stinky bag of damp towel and swim trunks from PE. Everything is strung across the carpet.

Speaking of carpets, I need to have them cleaned. What? You don’t do carpets? So I guess I’ll have to call. But my roots are seriously beginning to show and if I get the carpets done for Thanksgiving, then our guests will have to try and figure out why I’ve parked a skunk on my head. It could distract them from their meal.

Do you guys do hair?

No?

Whatever.

Oh, but could you speak to the car fairies about getting my tune up taken care of? What? Your guys don’t talk to their guys?

Fine.

Forget the perfunctory missive concluding niceties…

Me.

p.s. And I don’t want to hear anything from anybody about what a completely stoopid letter this was. I have to write about nonsense once in a while, right?