As I sit here writing this, the dog and I are hunkered down in the kitchen trying to stay out of everyone’s way. I have no idea where the cats are and don’t care. The reason for this seige mentality is because at my house there are four mowers mowing, three painters painting, two installers drilling and a paaartriiiidge in a peaaaar treeeeee.
In the beginning, in April, I was a little kid, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and excited for all the coming changes. But five months of living like a refugee in my own home have morphed me into a cranky old lady. (Turning 60 a few weeks ago didn’t help, either.) My mantra, It’s an adventure! fizzled out a long time ago. Now, I’d just like to go into a state of suspended animation and have someone wake me when it’s done.
The work goes in phases. This is necessary for my mental health because having workers on the premises for days on end gets stressful, so we cram in downtime to give me a chance to decompress and rev up for the next project. (Richard gets to escape to the office, so his sanity is not at stake.) I said earlier that we live like refugees and it’s true. We move from one part of the house to another, keeping just ahead of the workers with their cans and brushes and saws and drills. We are currently in Phase 349. It feels like it, anyway.
The kitchen was the first thing we tackled. After weeks of eating out, we finally moved back in and now I don’t want to cook because I don’t want to dirty my new appliances, they are so shiny and pretty. They are also evil. The microwave and both ovens will condescend to work, but only after giving me a digital version of the third degree: what do I plan to do? and with what? and when? and for how long? The fridge, thankfully, is mute, but it’s sly and will happily disgorge the latest batch of newly minted ice all over the floor. The gas stovetop takes eons to boil a small pan of water, but two nanoseconds to burn the butter. And the faucet? Let’s face it, the faucet is racist. We bought the kind that has a sensor. Wear white clothing, it’ll give you water all day long. Wear dark clothing and you don’t exist. The dishwasher is the best behaved of the bunch, but you know what people always say about the neighbor who makes the 10 o’clock news, “Gee, he was quiet and seemed like such a nice guy.”
Picking out the furnishings has been a kind of purgatory because neither of us has any design sense. Despite spending every weekend scouring furniture stores, roughly half of our new things were found and purchased online. Online furniture shopping is tricky because there is no way to test drive anything. And once you’ve got it out of the box (and rendered the box and packing materials useless in the process), the chance that you’ll return it — even if you don’t like it or it has minor damage — is remote because just the thought of trying to ship the thing back is exhausting, so you find a way to live with it. People actually say this in online reviews: “It’s more pink than red, but I can live with it.” “Some scratches, but I can live with it.” “Arrived broken in a million pieces, but I can live with it.” That being said, we’ve had good luck with our online purchases — so far — but that has come at a cost: hours and hours that I will never get back surfing the Internet and then, once I’ve found something, a day or two screwing up the courage to buy it. I took a leap of faith on a large — actually, oversized — piece of art for the living room wall. It’s 54 inches square (the ceiling is 11 feet high) and because it’s so big, I have to stretch the canvas myself, something I have never done in my life but the website assured me an idiot could do it.
As with the new kitchen appliances, I want to keep our new furniture looking nice, too. This is impossible with two cats in the picture. Ranger knows he’s not allowed on the furniture unless invited, but the cats do not understand the word “NO!!!” and, unlike the dog, cannot be shamed. So, all of the new chairs are covered with plastic and the new couch sports a lovely swath of aluminum foil. Phoebe is wearing plastic caps on her claws (hot pink, so help me) to keep her from scratching stuff, and Penny will meet the same fate as soon as we find the liquid courage to tackle her; she’s 15 lbs. and freakishly strong. Speaking of Penny, getting rid of the old living room couch was the best thing we could have done for her. She spent her days hiding under it, coming out only at night to eat and potty. Once the couch was sold in the estate sale, she had nowhere to hide and was forced to become a part of the family, whether she wanted to or not. I never thought I’d see the day, but Penny will actually curl up and sleep near the dog. Here’s a photo documenting this miracle:
Needin’ a pedicure and some downtime,
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