The Things we Keep and the Things we Carry

It’s hot and muggy, we don’t have central air and there aren’t enough fans in this giant old house with it’s high ceilings and plaster walls. The stagnant heat makes us all a little cranky, that and everyone having consecutive days of various friends sleeping over. Everyone except me. I don’t get any friend sleepovers. (Sigh) The house is a mess, the kind of wild, uncontrollable mess that comes from six people being home all day. The piles are every where pressing in on me, mimicking the heat in their attempts to smother me.  Papers, laundry, shoes, dirty dishes, the debris of daily life in its natural state. Entropy in action. It’s surrounding me.

In the one small window of my dark bedroom there’s an air conditioner humming, the door stays shut to trap in the precious cooler air. It gives a momentary reprieve from the heat if not the mess. Here, too, the piles haunt me. Predominantly laundry that I haven’t found the time or space to put in its proper place. I’ve been lead to believe neither the “clean” basket nor the end of my bed is considered the proper spot, though my patterns of behavior especially of late beg to differ. Normally it doesn’t bother me but the heat and crabbiness of the day make me want this laundry to be somewhere other than the floor and furniture. In fact, I want all the mess to be somewhere else. I want it all gone. There’s just so much stuff. Why is there so much stuff?

A couple months ago I cleaned out part of my basement in the process of creating a work out area. My kids and I have been in this house for almost four years now, double the longest time we’ve lived anywhere else. As we were sorting through the stuff that had collected in the basement a theme emerged. Boxes. For some reason there were a lot of empty boxes in my basement, specifically the boxes that stuff came in. Packaging. There was so much empty packaging that I had held onto for some reason or another. There was a box from one of my daughter’s nicer dolls that was a birthday present when she was seven or eight, the packaging of a remote control helicopter I bought off Groupon three Christmases ago, even the box from my vacuum cleaner…and a few more. I have no idea why I kept them but there were So Many Empty Boxes. Occupying space with no known purpose.

I didn’t realize I was a collector of boxes until I saw it all compiled, it got me thinking: Why? Why did I keep all that empty packaging? Why bother storing it for years and years? Seriously, you could compose the history of my purchases with all the boxes thrown haphazardly in the corner of my dark, dank basement. It’s like I was never quite convinced that I wouldn’t be moving again soon. I might need to pack up all that stuff and transport it in a year or two like I had before. Or maybe I thought I’d be desperate at some point in the near future and have to sell stuff on Ebay, just to get by. I’ve done it before. Things are more valuable with their original packaging.

It wasn’t just the boxes that I was storing without awareness.

In the back of my closet there’s a dress. It’s a shorter black shirt style dress with bold, angry plaid trim and shiny metal loops and buckles reminiscent of punk rock fashions. Years ago I had a skirt that was similar, I’d wear it with a cut up t-shirt, ripped black tights, and my Doc Martens. But this dress, I’ve never even worn it. My former sister-in-law bought it for me at the salvation army maybe six or seven years ago. We used to be good friends and when she saw it she thought of me. Shortly after that the shit hit the fan and divorce ensued. We haven’t spoken in years, my once sister-in-law and I. I tried to reconnect with her after the dust settled but I guess blood really is thicker than water and she wanted nothing to do with rekindling our friendship. I still have the dress though. It’s survived many purges. I just can’t seem to let it go. I’m thirty-six now, it would be a little ridiculous for me to wear it but there it hangs in my closet.

There are other things too. Torn t-shirts and jeans with worn out knees that I meant to make into something useful and fun, a grocery bag of washed out tin cans that were supposed to become C3PO, my dad’s cross country jersey from college, a watercolor of me on my wedding day that was a gift from my ex husband on our first anniversary.

It always made me uncomfortable, this painting of me standing there in my elaborate wedding gown and fancy hair, but I still have it more than two years after the divorce. Partially because I’m not sure what to do with it, throwing it away doesn’t seem right. Partially because I forget it’s there (out of sight, out of mind) until I stumble upon it again while searching for something else. Then all those  feelings come back, the awkwardness and discomfort I felt when it was given to me, not knowing how or whether I should let on that I didn’t love this painting of myself for fear it would be perceived as personal rejection and scorn by my brand new husband. Even in the early years of marriage I knew I had to tiptoe around his unpredictable feelings. I knew that having a reaction that was less than he expected would be construed as total rejection of him as a person; I couldn’t not love the gift and still love him, not in his mind. So I danced around what his reaction to my reaction was going to be and adapted as I saw fit. That tailoring and filtering, the inability to be authentic, I’ve tried to get rid of it, to throw it out, but remnants of it hang on. Scraps of it are woven into the fabric of my being, something I keep and carry whether I like it or not. And I don’t. It’s there though, as real as the mess in my sweltering home. It’s just one of the things that holds on, gathering dust in the corners until it finds an opportunity to remind me of its presence. There are things I carry, without even realizing, that do not have a place in my newer life, the one where I don’t dance unless I want to. The one where I’m the king of my own castle, albeit a mess of a castle. But I can’t seem to let them go. I have trouble discerning between the things I should keep, the useful stuff, and the things I carry. The stuff that weighs me down, the stuff that should have been let go of long ago.

 

Dessert on the Brain

Clearly around here we’ve had food on the brain, especially dessert. I guess that’s what happens when we have a little time on our hands. I’ve been enjoying Pinterest and ran across a recipe for Pecan Pie Cheesecake. I HAD to make it. I mean who can resist that!?! I hadn’t baked in quite some time and had plans to see a bunch of my family over the weekend. Perfect plan bake cheesecake and force-feed everyone around me so I don’t eat the whole thing myself.

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The crust is made of Nilla wafers. Then a sticky delightful pecan pie layer is added.

 

 

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A well baked cheesecake layer.

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Topped with pecans and a tasty cinnamon, sugar, butter and pecan mix. It was a sicky tasty cheesecake. I think it may be one of my favorites. It was an involved process but not exceptionally difficult. I recommend giving it a shot.

On a side note progress is actually being made onthe guest room!! Walls are painted. The closet and trim still needs to be completed. Less than a week until school starts again so wish me luck!

The emails are coming

I’m a little less than half way through my much needed break from school. I’ve barely had a chance to enjoy it yet. After finals there was a work filled weekend and then a summer cold took me down!! It’s like my body knew I was on break and everything relaxed including my immune system. summer-vacation-chart-sick

I’ve basically recovered now and just getting ready to enjoy my time when the emails started flowing in. First from my psychiatric clinical instructor, then the nursing school itself and then my med/surg instructor. They all listed things due at random times during break! Ugh! No!

Work-vacation-bad-time

There’s paperwork for next semester’s hospitals, computerized evaluation tests to retake (yes! retake!), and textbooks to order. Don’t they all know, I’M ON VACATION. Is nothing sacred?

Even with things due I’m significantly less busy than normal. I’m trying to take this opportunity to finally finish my guest room. I  started it back in September 2015 before I started nursing school and it has been is disrepair since then. I’ve been too busy to have guests….ok, actually, I’ve just made my only guest stay in the basement. Hopefully after this week it will be complete.

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On that note, I need to go do some sanding!

Home Improvement: the plumbing edition (lite)

As I may have mentioned, a few times, the previous owners of my house did everything half-assed. The plumbing was no exception.

It all started with a new refrigerator. The fridge that came with the house has leaked water into the fridge area from the freezer since almost the first month. I’d clean out the freezer which would have a massive buildup of ice and things would be fine for a couple weeks. Then it would start leaking again and food would be wet. It was a huge pain. So after Thanksgiving we went and picked out a beautiful and very on sale French-door refrigerator. Unfortunately it was out of stock until after Christmas. But New Year’s Eve day our new fridge arrived and the leaky one was finally taken away.

The new fridge came with ice and water filter. Now, when we bought the fridge the guy made it sound like hooking it up wouldn’t be so bad but I called in backup anyway. My dad came down to help me out. Turns out it was a good thing he did. It’s easy to tap into a copper pipe or the plastic kind. We don’t have copper or plastic we have galvanized steel. Guess which is the hardest to work with? Yeah.

A few different attempts and at least three runs to Home Depot and we discover there was ALREADY A TAP ON A LINE! Yeah, hidden in our “Harry Potter” closet in the basement was a line that was already tapped and just below it was the emergency water cut-off for the house. To be on the safe side when attaching everything my dad turned off the water to the house. The valve broke. No water to the house.

He didn’t even really need to turn it off but did it just to be on the safe side. And, yeah, we were left without water.

 

So, I called the city so they could turn off the water at the street and we could fix the valve. The valve that actually required a real plumber, luckily my boyfriend has one of those in the family. By the time the valve was fixed we were 1/2 hour too late for the city to turn the water back on. Turns out city workers for water go home at 3pm!!

After a night without water (well, I was at work with water so there was that) we were back in service. Although since the water had been off it was full of sediment. It was worth it though and the family plumber gave a me a reasonable estimate on replacing all of the plumbing in our house. He strongly believes in converting to copper.

Our new fridge is wonderful and makes pretty little ice cubes. Whew!

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Painting Fever

Yup, I caught the fever. My co-blogger’s seemingly constant painting along with her attempts to use this last little bit of time before classes start to get shit done have rubbed off on me. My painting fever is closer to low grade than raging though; I didn’t even paint a whole room. Let me explain…

I bought & moved into my house three years ago (almost exactly). It needed and still needs a lot of work but I’m not that knowledgeable or skilled in home improvement stuff and just don’t have the time to learn everything right now. I do, however, know how to paint. This old house has plaster walls many of which are covered with layers and layers of wallpaper. A hundred years of wallpaper topped with a few layers of paint. Ugh!

A couple months after moving in I was ready to tackle a wallpaper pealing/painting project. Or so I thought. Armed with a spray bottle of vinegar & water, a ladder, and a scraper I dug into the excitement that is taking down wallpaper with the enthusiasm of a naive first time home owner. It was quite a process. I spent weeks cutting, scraping, and spraying just to scrape some more and then sand and wash and scrape again. Turns out that glue does not let go easily. To add to the fun bits of plaster came off with the paper especially around the door frame. That required patching and more sanding. After at least a couple months one wall was cleared of that obnoxious paper, a small wall at that. I adopted an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality and decided against scraping wallpaper from the remaining walls. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

This is where I drew the line on scraping wallpaper.

This is where I drew the line on scraping wallpaper.

Fast forward a couple years and I’ve done exactly nothing with that wall. Well, I did roll some leftover paint on it sometime in the spring of 2014.

That's home unimprovement right there.

That’s home unimprovement right there.

I’d feel worse about this if the rest of my room wasn’t so…interesting. It’s got a circus striped wall, a door to no where, and a tree. Yes, a tree.

striped wall door to nowhere tree wall

Real sexy right? There is one wall that is just plain white too. That’s boring and normal though so I didn’t bother with a picture. Plus I didn’t want to make my bed. In case you’re wondering, the one wall I scraped was blue like the tree wall and the circus tent stripes.

Now, two and a half years after starting this one-wall project, I found myself with a free day. Paint time!

hooks After some prep of course. I was very tempted to just paint around those hooks but then remembered my co-blogger’s frequent rants about her house’s previous owners (aka Those Lazy Bastards) and their poor paint jobs and I just couldn’t. Heck, when I was done painting I strongly considered leaving the hooks off. The pile of jackets, hats, and scarves on my bed talked some sense into me though.                       painted behind door

Despite the fact that I only painted a small section of my very awkward room I feel like I accomplished something and it’s still quite an improvement. As the new school year begins and the inevitable chaos takes hold I can look at that one corner of my room and know that eventually it can all be this good.

painted patch wall painted top of door

Maybe I should've prepped just a little more and tried to cover that there ridge.

Maybe I should’ve prepped just a little more and tried to cover that there ridge.

Chicken pox wall

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I’ve been spackling. There are sooo many holes, it’s crazy!

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To help with this I got a new toy!

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Yeah buddy! Sanding goes so much faster now. I love it. That’s right- the key to my heart = power tools.

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Clearly I still need to get a mask. The sanding creates insane amounts of dust. Those awesome goggles are from Chemistry lab! I’m kinda pumped to be using them again.

I need to wash the walls & ceiling again then it will finally be time for color. Woo woot!

Those Lazy Bastards

With whatever free time I can muster I’ve been working on home improvement projects. I ranted and raved about the previous paint job in my office. And now that I’m tackling the guest room I’m back to rant about those lazy bastards aka the previous owners. Do you want to see what those lazy bastards did this time?!?!

Yeah, they painted over plastic wall anchors! Those assholes!

Here’s another. If you look closely you can also see the terrible cutting in and the spot where they put the paint on a wee-bit thin.

Victory is mine!

Before painting I now get to go through and make bigger holes in the wall to patch. Good times!

After that, you know with all the free time I’ll have in nursing school, I want to paint and re-do this dresser.

I don’t know if you can tell but I’m wearing an awesome Dalek tee-shirt

All kinds of plans and so little time.

Home Improvement Bastards

After returning from vacation I had 3 whole days before school started with no work. I was looking around my office and decided that would be enough time to paint it. I now know this was extremely optimistic. I wanted to have a place while in school that would be pretty and mine and a sanctuary. Besides the previous owners did a terrible job painting. Terrible.

It’s like they just ran out of paint. They just stopped!

Painter’s tape is for losers.

Missed a spot but the curtains will cover it.

I don’t even have a comment for this.

So I started with the basics. Sanding, so much sanding, and patching, so much patching.

My faithful helper surveying the situation

Things were moved and covered.

Covering things = cat tent

And then three days were up and school started and I was back to work. My office was in worse shape than when I started and I was busy as could be again. Every chance I got I was plugging away at painting.

Got the ceiling and first color (gray) on the walls

Eleven days after I started I finally had all the color on the wall and the trim work done.

With a fresh looking office I went off to Ikea to get a new addition to my desk. That of course required assembling.

My helper doesn’t have a look of confidence!

The desk is put together and I replaced all the outlets and outlet covers to be a very crisp white instead of a painted over (bastards) cream. I’m waiting on the final reveal though. I have a plan of doing a Pintrest craft this weekend for one of the last touches on the office. Stay tuned…things could get interesting.

Doctor Who, Home Improvement and a Scrap of Knitting

Home Improvements

Let’s start with the home improvement bits. If you remember I bought a house back in March/April. It’s lovely. However now there are, like, house things to be done – some of which I haven’t the faintest idea about. I already mentioned my yard (or lack thereof). So I was looking around and got the bright idea to paint my interior doors. They really do need it. The door on my office was multiple colors and the bathroom door was covered in so many years of hairspray that it just look terrible and is never coming clean. I thought this would be a fairly uncomplicated project. I planned on popping the doors of the hinges, taking them to the garage and slapping some paint on them. Easy, right? Well little did I know they used terrible paint on my office door (the first one I went to paint). As soon as I started washing it off old paint started peeling.

Figure 1 Can you see the different paint colors?? What were they thinking?

Figure 2 The start of trying to get the old paint off

Figure 3 About the point where I gave up

Yeah, I think the pictures show pretty well how it went. Did you know you can get a whole new door for around $50. Apparently you can. So at some point after the last picture I decided I had enough. I just painted over what was left. Before I made that decision I did try some stuff that was suppose to help my peel the paint off. It helped a little but it was still fighting a losing battle. I figure sometime in the future I’ll invest in some new doors. It doesn’t look terrible in fact it looks far better the having two paint colors but it doesn’t exactly look good either. I’m still debating painting a Tardis on it!! Luckily two of the four doors I wanted to paint do not have this problem. They should be much easier to paint. Or so I think right now!! I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Knitting

At the beginning of summer my co-blogger and I decided to learn to knit. She just finished a really fun hat. I just started learning and my first go around didn’t quite work out.

I was attempting to do a ribbed pattern. Turns out I was not moving the yarn correctly back and forth so I ended up wrapping the yarn around the whole project. Oops. I frogged it. Now I’m starting over with a “sampler scarf.” Basically I’m practicing several different stitches and because it seems like a waste of yarn not to make something I’m going to make it into a scarf. I’ll post some pics when it’s long enough. I think I’ve finally got the idea now! You knitters – hats off – it’s tricky! J

 

And Finally DOCTOR WHO!!!

Yeah buddy! Saturday the new season of Doctor Who premieres on BBCA!

We are super excited around here! If you didn’t pick up on it both my co-blogger and I are fans of the show. Really it’s all her kids’ fault. If you’ve been reading our blog you might remember the Halloween costumes, the Dalek cupcakes, the incident with Scott Ian, the Tardis scarf, the bowties and seeing John Barrowman at ComicCon.

We both also follow, fellow WordPress blogger, Geekritique who is posting quite a lot right now about all things Doctor Who! It’s awesome!!!!

This is especially exciting because this is the first season that I’ll be watching as it’s playing as opposed to on Netflix or Amazon. Plus it’s a new Doctor! Aren’t you so excited?!?! You should be…fun filled geeky weekend is just a few days away!