Choosing my battles

If you are keeping tabs on me, you already know I have been slashing and parrying with my trim-challenged windows for some time. (You also probably need to get out more, but if you insist on continuing, I am thrilled to have you).  Anyway, last weekend my attempt to adjust for the uneven and unforgiving window frames was driven back by tendonitis and a smoking reciprocating saw.  I retreated to lick my wounds, vowing to return to the fight for a finished living space in my home.

I say “home”, but lately the term applies very loosely. Really, it is a storage area surrounded by a construction zone. The entry has rolled rugs, a tool caddy, and boxed items I didn’t want to put in the garage. The living room is a dusty expanse of bare fir floors. In one corner is the place exercise equipment goes to die.  The dining room, already too narrow for the round table I brought with me, is reduced to a narrow isle by the bookcases which are pushed under the window.

I am not a slob: the kitchen sink and counters are clean, and the bathroom fairly sparkles (except for the places where the tub’s finish has recently begun to bubble off). But once you exit that little haven, the back hallway frightens with a giant pile of unlaundered clothes and bedding. Shelves hold random pairings: a fabric flower and borax, peat moss and winter scarves. There are dust masks every where, it seems, dangling off cabinet knobs and tossed in with keys that may or may not fit a lock I can access.

The worst was my bedroom. I had shoved two living room chairs into the space. That worked okay until I added my unpacked luggage from business trips, a plastic bin of summer clothes, a deflated pilates ball, and topped the dresser with laundry, refugees from the side of the closet whose door was off the tracks. Saturday morning I looked around and thought: ENOUGH!

My mind has been cluttered lately, and I realized it is partly a result of my space. In college, the first step to writing a big term paper was to clean my desk. Similarly, the answer to peace of mind in this midlife lull seemed to be one clear spot in this crooked little dwelling.

After four or five hours of vacuuming, moving, folding, and scrubbing, the closet doors are functional, the dresser is mostly clear, and the space where the chairs were crammed awaits assembly of a new desk. The bed is moved to allow for exercise space, and it feels like a new room.

Next week I have four days in a row off.  The living room is demanding attention, taunting me with its bare windows and splintery floor. But when it is time to apply the band-aids and declare the battle at an end, I will retreat to my newly arranged bedroom, close the door, and forget that just outside is a tub that needs resurfaced.

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Mission Impossible 4: DIY Protocol

My project list was nothing fresh this weekend: Finish the Window Trim, the weekend project that has become a saga of blog posts and may yet expand to include therapy sessions.

My mission was to compensate  for the fact that the oldest (of three) window frames isn’t plumb, and at the top extends past the wallboard.  I can’t easily explain the idea I was attempting: it would take a labeled picture at least. And it wouldn’t matter, because it didn’t work.

The first setback was the realization that the rasp I purchased to grate away some wood was still in the trunk of The Guy’s car. And The Guy was in Las Vegas. Unwilling to spend another $16 on a second rasp, I figured the cutting wheel on my Dremel might suffice. A few passes into the job I smelled something. Was the Dremel getting hot? A thin curl of smoke alerted me that what I smelled was, in fact the ancient dry wood scorching. So much for the Dremel.

Also, so much for my idea: besides the very eminent danger of catching my house on fire, a little more exploration showed a new problem for which my fix didn’t account. Foiled!

A couple hours later I had burned through two reciprocating saw blades, my arms ached, and I was just under 1/2 way finished with the wood removal on the first window. It was past dinnertime.  Defeated, I followed in the footsteps of such adventurous notables as Hemmingway and James Bond and headed for a bar, where I soothed my stone-tight shoulders with a Sazerac and pretended to read while eavesdropping on drunken hipsters.

Maybe next weekend.