27 March 2015

A Memory Hoarder

Okay, I have a plan for Monica's Closet.  I'm on Day Two of said plan and so far, so good.

As mentioned, it is fairly organized in there but a few totes have been filled with randomness that has to be dealt with.

I started yesterday with the non-memorabilia ones.  I took two boxes of picture frames, stuff intended for projects "someday", and items leftover from the old house to Goodwill today.

Now I've gone through a tote that was filled with items from my childhood. Stuffies, jewelry, notes to/from friends, and just junk that one collects when you're a kid. An actual coin purse, with coins included, is a perfect example.  I managed to make two totes fit into one and I have another box ready for Goodwill now.

Sidebar: I found a letter from my high school guidance counselor assigning me to one day of in-school-suspension for skipping trigonometry.  I really don't remember that happening at all. So, it was kind of fun to see it and it provides a good example of the stuff I've kept.

Another fun thing is a small box that I have kept since I was in the seventh grade.  My best friend moved away that year.  She gave me a small box of her keepsakes because she knew that she wouldn't be able to keep them safe. (they were traveling in a converted school bus and lived in poverty for years)  I was meant to return them to her someday.  Well, someday is apparently thirty years later. 

When I unearthed it, I immediately texted her.  "Address please!" and attached a photo of the box.  Almost immediately, I received a text back with her address.  I will put it in the mail tomorrow.  Hooray me for finally returning it and hooray her for having a piece of her childhood finally returned.  I'm super excited about it.

I've taken some things and placed them in one of our china cupboards.  I have a set of ceramic animals that my paternal grandma gave me when I was very young, 4,5,6 years old.  She died when I was six.  It's nice to have them in view instead of tucked into a box in the back of a closet.

So, this brings me to tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be a little more intense.  I have taken out two totes full of stuff.  Newspaper clippings, graduation announcements, photos, ticket stubs, and the list goes on.  These boxes represent the last twenty-five years.

The goal is to pare it down to one tote only.  Once I accomplish that monumental task, the next goal is to make scrapbooks of the remaining stuff.  I think culling through these boxes is going to take a few days of on-and-off work; which means it will take at least a week.  The scrapbooks will take significantly longer and that's why I've planned to fit everything into one tote.  Because that's where this stuff will probably live for quite a while.

I set my goal as A Box A Day.  The intention is to finally get this project done and more importantly: not get overwhelmed. Thus resulting in stuffing it all back into the closet; which is perhaps, probably, how we have found ourselves in this situation now.

I told Kevin's mom what I was doing and she said "You're always so good at doing that stuff."  It was nice to hear that she has that perception because while in the midst of this mess, I feel like a hoarder. A memory hoarder.

26 March 2015

Culling Memories

When we had the week from hell I had to empty Monica's Closet.  As I did it, I superficially cleaned it out as I went.  Superficially being defined as putting things into proper totes or making a goodwill pile or piling random items into a box. A better definition might be "Organizing it so I'm less embarrassed upon emptying it."

As we were putting it all back, Kevin mentioned (a few times) that there sure was a lot of stuff and what exactly was it all and why were we keeping it.  At one point, he was holding an album of cards and mementos from our wedding. "Like, this! What is this?"  This gave me a chance to redirect and say "Well, that's from our wedding. Thanks though!"

But really...he's right.  Although confined to Monica's closet, there is a lot of stuff in there. It's probably about three feet wide and ten feet long.  That's a lot of big totes full of stuff.

On one side is Christmas stuff, neatly stacked.  This is also something Kevin commented about but I could again deflect with "Half of this is your mothers. So...Nanner."

Right now I'm going through a box of greeting cards.  I really do struggle with throwing these kind of things away. This is not the first time I have culled through them but I've also added to them. 

I try to keep ones with written sentiment or that caused an immediate reaction.  So lots were kept from my bff's, or Kevin (although SWEET BABY JESUS, there are a lot of cards exchanged in this relationship), or if they're from someone who has since passed.

What I've found culling through these:

Sweet cards from Kevin's parents...for our anniversary, our birthdays, etc.  She writes sweet stuff in the margin.  Sometimes random stuff like "this card followed by an air mattress, when I find one."  Or "I better make Santa some cookies soon or I'm afraid he's going to pass us all by this year." (she was in her seventies at the time of writing it, so her kids are in their fifties)

I kept a few get well cards from when Kevin was sick.  I had kind of forgotten about that and the thoughtfulness of the cards were touching to read.

There were a few thank you's from my job at the school.  I kept those too because it's easy to forget those moments sometimes.

A thank you note from my then 100-year-old grandma.  It was startling to see her handwriting, she's been gone twenty years now.  She was blind and if anyone ever wonders where my bluntness comes from, it's genetic.  "Dear Surely and Kevin, Thank you for the picture. I'm glad it's big enough to see it.  You both look well and healthy."  We enjoyed Brother's visit and I really like his lady friend. ((I have no knowledge of who she was. It could have been a stripper for all I know))  I hope you have a great new year."
Her birthday and party was in April so I'm mildly confused with the new year wishes. But: 100 years old.

I found an anniversary card that Kevin had tried to give to me for our anniversary. In his Kevin-like way, it ended up being a Happy 50th Anniversary to Our Parents card.  He had scanned past the title of it, as it were, and just liked the sentiment.

Or the happy birthday card for Kevin from The Nephew signed "Dude, that's funny. Love, Nephew"
And the one to me where there are stick-on numbers for the age so he randomly chose an age then noted it on the inside.

I just found another gem from Kevin's mom: For Christmas: "Hi kids, I am trying real hard to get my cards done (and mailed) I don't know why I never seem to have time for everything. Maybe it's the season of my life if you know what I mean (getting old) Love you both!!"

I like watching the kids signatures change from their parents signing their names to the scrawly handwriting to grown up signatures. Or cards where there weren't kids yet, then one name is added then another. In some cases, five names! :)

Along those same lines, I've a few cards where the spouses have changed. It's funny how that changes over the years.  For example, I was expecting to read Joe and Stephanie and it was Joe and Jennifer instead.  Then I giggled because omg, that was one hundred years ago.

So, I've culled these down to one large zip-lock bag, with the intention of putting them into some sort of a scrapbook.  But this is what is going to recycling:

(glasses added to show scale...so you know it's not a small box and to prove I've not only thrown out, like, ten cards)

Next step to is cull through the actual boxes of memorabilia and make scrapbooks or memory boxes.  

22 March 2015

What Would You Look At?

Kevin and I have had an ongoing debate since we've moved into this house.  So, that's been ten years and clearly we're mature adults.

The way the house is designed, the main entrance is to be via the living room. This is lovely in theory but the way the house is physically situated, it makes using that entrance inconvenient.  Also, we would be tracking dirt into the house across the carpet.

We use the back door which opens into the laundry/mud room.  I have issues (yeah buddy) with the fact that the first thing a person sees is the washer and dryer.  Not very welcoming.  Especially since for years we had an old set from the old house that wasn't even a little attractive.

I hung a curtain tension rod to hide the machines.  For the longest time, I repurposed a queen size flat sheet as a curtain and it hung from the ceiling to the floor.  It looked okay but it was inconvenient and made the cubby space dark.  Now I've bought new curtains and have significantly lowered the rod, which solved some problems but now looks (to me) exactly what it is: covering up a problem.

One solution I'm going to try is to find a valance and buy another tension rod to heighten it a little and to cover up the handles of the broom, etc. that are hanging on the wall.  They weren't visible with the giant curtain but they are now. It's always something.  I've been surfing Pinterest to find a solution but the placement of the water shut-offs and my lack of height automatically eliminates many of the solutions I've found.

Here's where the disagreement comes into play.  Kevin agrees that the view of the washer and dryer aren't optimum.  However, his issue is that you see a toilet as you walk in.  He would prefer to keep that door closed. 

I am not offended by the toilet.  It's rarely used, always clean, and the light is always off in that room. It's not as if it has a disco ball and strobe lights announcing its presence.  Also, I think that people probably don't notice it upon entering because they turn immediately left into the kitchen.  At most, they will notice upon leaving and at that point they've seen the rest of the house so the sight of a toilet shouldn't be the take-away from their visit.  "Gosh, they have a nice house but did you see they have a TOILET in plain view!?!"  It's not as if it's in the middle of the living room for gosh sakes.

By keeping the door closed, it makes our hallway very dark.  I loathe overhead lighting so there is a lamp in the hall.  I want a skylight there but because we live in the Pacific Northwest, skylights are a hassle. (tree needles & leaves, moss, algae, lots of rain) So, in lieu of skylight, the bathroom door remains open and the toilet remains visible. 

You see, these are the life-altering issues that we're currently having.  Very important (to no one) to contemplate and solve.

20 March 2015

The Worse Part

The house is finished now.  It only took less than a week but it feels like it took forever.  The day the carpet went in was rough.  Kevin took the day off and his dad came to help.  By pure luck, Kevin's cousin stopped by and ended up helping as well.

The packing and moving up all the belongings just to put it back while people were waiting for us to finish was brutal.  Add to it that it was supposed to rain so we were trying to do all this without putting anything outside.  This entailed disassembling the living room and storing it in the kitchen and laundry room.  Then once the carpet was finished in there, reassembling everything in the living room then taking everything out of our bedroom and put it into the living room. Then doing all that again to empty the office.

The worse part was moving the World War II era oak desk and the 1980's former waterbed frame. Actually, the worse part was having the entire house turned inside out.  Kevin and I aren't wired to live in clutter.  Having the refrigerator and stove in the living room was actually making me anxious. Two days of that and it nearly drove me mad.

We really tried to be methodical about how we did this. When the kitchen floor was being done, I packed up the two china cupboards full of antiques.  I used every reusable grocery bag that I own to pack up my books.  There was at least twelve bags full of books stacked in our office.  There were also three large totes of stuff from the china cupboards stored in there. Plus I emptied the desk into file boxes because there just wasn't enough boxes in the room.  At one point, there was only a path through the office.

Or the worse part was that Kevin caught a cold a few days prior to this adventure and then thoughtfully shared it with me.  Nothing makes packing and moving furniture more fun than a head cold.

The other worse part is that the new washer and dryer wouldn't be here for another week. The boys didn't put the old ones back into the house for fear of damaging the new floor.  This meant I had to walk next door to do our laundry.  It could be so much worse but I'm still a little peevish about it. (Oh, wait, it is worse. In the time it has taken to write this, their washer has sprung a leak)

Kevin gets an honorable mention here because he bought the washer and dryer for me two days after my surgery, while I was still on the couch.  Unfortunately due to the West Coast longshoreman contract disagreement, we're just now getting them.

Oh, and then there was the time that my father-in-law flooded our kitchen and pantry twice.  Twice.  "Luckily" this was prior to the new flooring. But this meant using a pile of towels to mop everything up.  Remember, I don't have a washer and dryer at this point.  Super happy.

The reason for the flooded kitchen (twice!) is that we bought a new dishwasher.  Even though it was installed before the new flooring, I didn't get to use it until two days after the carpeting went in.  It was just lost in the shuffle of everything.  

Because we're an all-or-nothing pair, we decided that this was the perfect time to replace some of our furniture and buy a new truck.  We bought the new truck from a dealership three hours away, because: of course. We picked it up the day before we were scheduled to pack up the house then we used it to pick up some of the furniture we bought. Because we're multi-taskers!

I didn't spend much on this new furniture so there was some assembly required. Kevin was pretty good about putting everything together and in place.  Right up until the last night when he was surrounded by parts of a four drawer dresser on the floor at 8:00 p.m. the day the carpet was installed.  Sadly, it wasn't a choice to not finish it as we had already loaded the old old console style dresser into the back of the truck and his clothing was all over the closet floor.  Lucky him.

Now it's done.  Our house feels brand-new now but significantly nicer.  We're so happy with how everything has come together that we've almost forgotten about all the hurdles. Almost.

11 March 2015

Breaking Up, Again.

While I was high, I received a friend request from a former boyfriend.  Maybe it was good that I was high at the time, I'm not sure.  I didn't respond immediately, I wanted to wait until I wasn't just out of surgery.

Kevin and I have a "No exes on the facebook" agreement so my response was a no-brainer.  But, because: human, a person wonders "Well, what could it hurt?" or "But it would be nice to see what's happened."

Then a person thinks about the horror stories of past loves reconnecting via social media and No Thank You.  That is a whole lot of drama that I don't want.

But it's sad too.  It was sweet of him to ask and I hope it means that he's in a good place and not the opposite.   It was kind of like breaking up again, having to say "I'm sorry but you can't be a part of my life anymore", even on a superficial level like social media.

Post-Bionic State

So, the surgery recovery. Yikes, I haven't updated since I've become non-bionic.  I just can't believe how much stuff has been going on during the last few weeks.

I am two weeks away from being able to run, jump, and fall.  This makes Kevin laugh every time I say it.  Running and jumping are unlikely, falling is very likely.  But it's fun to say.  It's fun to think about.  I like this kind of deadline.

The bottom line is that I should have done this two years ago.  I'm trying not to be super-frustrated with myself about this but it's difficult.  I just should have insisted after the first year that things weren't right and they needed to fix it.

But when all you hear is that it takes time, that I'm not twenty anymore, yadda yadda yadda; you get tired of talking about it.  You start to feel like a whiner.

Now, I think I could happily punch the surgeon in the head.  Even on the day of the surgery, he was nonchalant.  Like I was being sensitive about wanting the bionics removed.  I really thought Kevin was going to take his head off.  I guess there was a bit of terse conversation post-surgery.

So, while I'm not 100% back to the original state, I am really close.  The improvement was nearly immediate.  The numbness is gone, I have more flexibility, and significantly less pain.  Now if I have pain, it's because I've overdone it and not just because.

What I believe happened, using my Grey's Anatomy medical degree, is that the plate was binding.  Thus restricting the movement.  I'm trying not to be graphic but I kind of have to.  If I crossed that leg over my knee, the plate pinched.  If I tried to sit cross-legged, the plate moved/bound.  Now I can do all of these things and the only complaint is the muscles saying "Hey, we haven't done this in three years! Ease up."

The surgical nurse was a Roller Betty, which is the local roller derby team.  She was all "Oh totally, you're going to feel so much better!  All my buddies get their plates and screws taken out!"  I loved that she said that.  It made us feel so much better. 

So, in two weeks, I am in the No Excuses world.  I gotta move it, move it.  I don't think I'll ever be a runner (and I still dream that I am, which is weird) but at least I know I won't have any restrictions.  I'm super happy about that.

And finally, if you ever find yourself in a situation like that, speak up until something happens to improve it.  I wasted years feeling like crap and I don't want anyone else to do the same.

Next up: Purple Converse Sneakers! 

08 March 2015

I Need A Cookie

I've been a little bit stuck in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie lately.

We are getting new carpet and wood flooring.  But like always happens when someone is remodeling, a person notices that new paint or new furniture or new curtains or new whatever is needed.

We have had our television about two years.  At the time, we borrowed one of those ugly black, pressed board television stands from Kevin's brother. "Until we find what we want."  Two years later and it's still here, being all ugly and stuff.

Our end tables are mismatched.  One of them I've had forever and the other, well.  I didn't choose it.  Kevin's mom gave it to us because her sister "made" it and she loves it and we needed to have it.

(those are seashells)
I kept it covered with a silk pashmina so the ugliness wasn't very noticeable. But it didn't match.  Also, it is odd shaped so took up a lot of space in a small room.

With all this time on my hands lately, I've been surfing craigslist for end tables.  I kept finding single tables with no mates, ugly cast-offs, or expensive tables. I couldn't find a simple pair of nice end tables.  So frustrating.

I went to a consignment shop to look around the other day.  They post their inventory on craigslist so I was curious.  It was a strange mix of cheap, ugly couches to really high-end furniture.  But even there, I couldn't find two matching end tables that I liked.  I blame Oprah and her "everything doesn't have to match" proclamation.*shaking of my fists*

I did find an old-school console hi-fi stereo like your grandparents/parents probably had.  Oak and complete with AM/FM stereo, turntable, and record storage hutch.  I loved it SO.  It wasn't very expensive and I really had to make myself leave without it.

Fast forward a few days.  Kevin and I went to wally-world to look at cell phones.  We walked past the furniture aisle and there are two night stands the exact color I've been looking for.  For $59.99.  It made a total liar out of me, who kept telling Kevin I couldn't find anything.

This is where I say that Kevin hates the night stands I made when we moved into this house.  I don't mind them but he hates that "Everything is covered up."  Well, yes, because I used television trays and put cloth over them, like a decorator table.  It's not perfect but it's worked.  I like that I can hide things under them and no one knows.

I digress.  Of course there weren't any night stands like we wanted in stock just then.  Because: Wally World.  But I really liked them so I figured I could order them online when we got home. I was happy just to have found something.

Kevin wanted to go to an actual furniture store so we went to Ashley Furniture.  They have a nice inventory but the way the store is "organized" was making me crazy. It's as if they dumped out the inventory and assembled it where it fell.

They didn't have end tables that I really dug or wanted to afford.  But they did have a television stand that Kevin liked.  It was $400, so not cheap but not super-expensive anyway.  I told him we should think on it and not be impulsive.

We went home and I went online to order the night stands.  Go figure that for half the price, I found a television stand that was very similar to the one we found.  I ordered it and the night stands for less than the price of the single stand we found at the furniture store.

I understand that the furniture quality will be different.  But I am okay with it because neither of them are high traffic items.  They just have to sit there and look pretty.

The next night I checked out the craigslist just one more time. I told Kevin that I was giving up and choosing my battles. I was going to be happy with the night stands and television table. We have lots of changes coming and they sell end tables every day so I should just wait.

Until!  Finally!  There was a matching pair of tables just like I wanted.  I emailed them and said I'd buy them the very next day if they were still available.  I had to wait until almost noon the next day for a response.  Ugh. So. Not. Patient.

They were still for sale.  They were in a town 45 minutes away and I didn't even care.  It's all back roads, farmland driving so I was up for the adventure.

$45 EACH.  I know, right?  They appear to be brand-new.  The glass is perfect, there are no scratches anywhere and they're 100% oak.  They match our other furniture, including the soon-to-arrive television stand.  I was so happy and excited that I actually clapped my hands when I saw them.

So, let's tally up, shall we?  For two night stands, one television stand, and two end tables, I've spent the same amount I would have on just the television stand at the real furniture store.

Did I mention new appliances?  Oh yes, new washer and dryer that Kevin bought when I was still bed-ridden will arrive next week.  I bought a new dishwasher yesterday and that will be installed today (fingers crossed, KEVIN)  After next week, our house will be shiny and new again; except the damn painting.

We do need to paint.  It's been ten years after all.  Wear and tear is showing.  I was banned from painting in the new house (I'm horribly messy) but I've learned that the ban has recently been lifted.  Now I have to think about that next challenge. 

Of course, where I want to paint the mostest is the place that needs it the leastest.  I would love to paint the kitchen a soft yellow color.  But what needs it the most is the master bath, the laundry room, and a wall in the living room.

This is my plan: next week I will probably paint the kitchen in an attempt to get excited about painting elsewhere.  I fear that this will just remind me how much I hate painting.  But I'm going to try. Because I have time on my hands these days.

It would, of course, make more sense to paint before the new flooring but I didn't think of this in time and I'm still absolutely freaking out over having to pack everything up in order to do the flooring.  It's not to say that I might not lose my mind and attempt it anyway but probably not.

So, yeah, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.  That's my life right now. Oh, you don't know that book? It starts something like "If you give a mouse a cookie, then he is going to want a glass of milk. Once he has a glass of milk, then he's going to want a napkin.  Once you give him the napkin, he'll want to..."  I don't remember the rest but you get the gist of it.

It started with appliances, then flooring, then furniture and now paint. Now I need a cookie.

03 March 2015

It's A Small World

I blew up my Facebook newsfeed last night and this morning.  It started innocently enough.  A childhood friend mentioned her Girl Scout uniform in a status update.  I remembered that I posted a class photo a few years ago and she was wearing it.  So, I reposted the photo.

An online class/school reunion ensued.  It was kind of awesome.

Then I offered to post the rest of the class photos that I have.  I did it this morning, tagged everyone I could, and invited others to tag also.  Holy crackers.  Approximately eleventy billion notifications later, it is as if the entire school has reconnected.  I found and friended three classmates and can facebook stalk a few others. 

The downside is that tagged people's friends can comment or like.  I have to double-check to make sure it's not someone I know.  Fourth, fifth, and sixth grades were combined so there are older and younger kids in the photos as well. Also, two different elementary schools are involved. It's my own Six Degrees of Separation.

One of my friends (a guy) was teased about the oh so attractive 1980's haircut.  He was one of the cutest boys in our class for forever.  So, I commented "I can attest on behalf of the girls, chicks dug that haircut back in the day."  That was kind of fun.  I was teased about having perfectly feathered hair in one photo.  So, essentially, it was sixth grade all over again. But in a good, happy way.

I did have some hesitation that someone might not appreciate being tagged but I figure they can go back and untag themselves. I wouldn't be offended.  Also, they were already my facebook friends so it probably wasn't going to be an issue.  But one never knows.

Also, I think nearly everyone was named and updated in the photos.  There were a few kids that we only had a first name and collectively we were all "That's so-and-so and they live in Texas now."   The names that some of us remember are nicknames that no longer used.  Ron was Ronnie back in the day or I only remember him as "DJ" and someone else says "Oh, that's David..."

It's been a fun experience, all in all.  Right now many folks are at work so I imagine the fun will begin again this evening as people settle in and realize they have time traveled via the facebook.

I highly recommend that you do it if you have access to your classroom photos!  I just thought if nothing else, some of the people either don't have theirs anymore or couldn't get them back in the day and now they can have them.