In this instance fantasy is much better than reality

October 18, 2011

So I’ve mentioned before that the Hubs and I live live in a 2.5 storey house.  Which is now 75 years old.  So it needs some work.  Ok, it needs a lot of work, mostly cosmetic.  But house work is house work.

Our bedroom is in the attic.  So it’s nice and big.  The attic was “finished” in the early 90s, either by the people we bought the house from or the people before them.  I’m not sure.  I suspect it was the previous owners though because of the stairs.

See, the previous owners had “interesting” decorating ideas.  We’ve painted over most of them, although the chicken wire wall in our kitchen won’t be replaced until we renovate.  The front porch had a god-awful ugly sunburst in purple, navy and yellow.  One bedroom was eggplant, navy, British racing green and burgundy.  So you see what we had to contend with.

The attic stair case though was appalling.  It was glossy kelly green with hundreds of silver frogs stenciled on.  The Hubs HATED it.  Which is kind of interesting since he doesn’t usually hate much of anything.  But he hated these stairs.

Last summer we bought brown paint to repaint them.  A nice milk chocolate that’s not too dark.  It’s the same colour as our porch, although this sample looks grey and it’s not grey.  But anyway.  We had plans to paint the stairs in the summer.  Which didn’t happen for various reasons mostly to do with the fact that I loathe painting and the Hubs “wasn’t in the mood”.

But the biggest reason they didn’t get done, stairs are a pain in the ass to paint.  Especially if you have to use oil paint.  Which we did.  As a primer.

Now, years ago I saw a staircase I fell in love with in a decorating magazine.  It kind of looked like this one.  I love the way the step colour contrasts so starkly with the riser.  And I knew that if I ever had to repaint/replace a staircase this is how I’d do it.

I lobbied hard for the main floor staircase but the Hubs wasn’t having any of it.  He has no art in his soul.  And besides, we agreed we wanted a runner so the two-toned stairs would be pretty much lost anyway.

But the attic.  Oh yes the attic was perfect for this.  It’s a very narrow, two flight staircase with a small narrow landing.  The bedroom is white and will pretty much always have to be white given that the windows are so small and there is no decent light in the fall/winter.  I figured that a white riser would lighten the heavy brown and since we don’t wear shoes in the house anyway, it would be easy to keep clean.  Well, ok, easy-ish.

So the Hubs agreed, even though he’s grumbled that it will “look retarded”.  And on Sunday he broke out the palm sander to scrap off the “texture” on the side of the stairs (no idea what that is called –  the moulding?) and after the green dust was cleaned up, he primed the entire thing.  It looked great white.  Really really great.  But white, even though I love love love it, is a “retarded” choice for a floor.  Even one that doesn’t get walked on in shoes.

So then I stepped in.  Since I want the stairs to be two colours, I agreed to paint them.  Holy Mother of God I must have been drinking when I agreed to this.  This is going to be a 47 step process.  I just finished painting the side mouldings.  I still have a second coat to go.  Then, on Thursday, I’ll paint the actual steps and the landing (twice) and likely on Sunday I’ll paint the risers white.  Twice.  Maybe three times depending on how they look.  And of course, during all of this I’ll have to plan ahead and shower/change clothes on the second floor because I am working from the top down and even though it’s latex paint it still takes a few hours to dry.  And I’ll have to keep the cat away.  She’s a big believer in Feline Supervision and I’m a big believer in not having small brown paw prints all over my hardwood.  And let’s NOT talk about how much painter’s tape I am using and how small I have to rip the strips and how picky it is to tape off risers.

So.  It will look amazing when it’s done.  But I think maybe, I should have let the fantasy remain a fantasy and just have painted the whole shebang one colour.  It would have taken two days, next to no taping and I could spend all my extra time knitting.



So that was Christmas

January 6, 2011

Christmas is not my best season.  I haven’t liked it for years.  I find it stressful and disappointing and far too busy for my liking.  I wish I could go to sleep November 30th and wake up on January 1.

Christmas lost its allure for me at a young age.  I think was 7 when I realized that my mom’s handwriting looked an awful lot like Santa’s.  And his boots, which left imprints in the ash of our fireplace, were exactly the same size as mine.  And had the same sole.  Also, Santa for some strange reason, liked to leave his presents for us in the linen cupboard…which was accessed regularly by us all and right between my room and my sister’s.  So yeah, Christmas lost a bit of sparkle when I was young.

It became further tarnished when it became obvious I never got what I wanted.  One year, I think I might have been 15, I fell in love with a floor-length black velvet skirt.  Emminently practical for a 15 year old right?  Not so much.  I pined for that skirt.  Never a day went by when I didn’t mention how I would die if I didn’t have that skirt.  I pictured myself floating down the 6 steps separating the bedrooms from the main floor and into the dining room in my fancy new skirt on Christmas Day.  Didn’t matter I didn’t have a top to wear with it.  Didn’t matter that we never dressed for dinner in my house.  And it totally didn’t matter that within seconds of sitting down half my dinner would be in my lap.  No, I wanted, nay I NEEDED that skirt.  Instead I got a gold necklace.  And likely that’s why I don’t wear yellow gold to this day.

I still don’t get great gifts for Christmas.  Mostly this is my fault as I don’t ask for much.  Out of consideration for other people’s finances, I try to keep my present requests under $50.  Which you would think would be plenty of money to buy a nice gift.  Sure, if you like getting towels and sheets every year like the MIL buys me.  This year I requested steak knives.  And lo and behold….eight steak knives.  The Hubs’ family is literal and unimaginative.  If you tell them you want something one year, you’re likely to get it for the next three or so.  I can’t imagine what I’ll do with 24 more steak knives.  Perhaps join a travelling circus or carnival as their new knife thrower?

The SIL enjoys buying us things she picks up on her travels.  I shouldn’t complain as I got a Gucci scarf one year…that’s white and beige.  I’m blonde and fair.  It makes me look dead whatever colour side I choose to wear.  Plus it’s scratchy.  I probably should sell it on eBay so that someone can get some enjoyment out of it.

This year was extra special though.  She brought us all back marble eggs from her trip to Morrocco.  Marble eggs.  I’ll let that one sink in for a bit.  Marble eggs.  I put it next to the sand rose she got us last year.  Sure it’s an interesting conversation piece, but it leaks sand all over my display case and I suspect one day it will just fall apart and I’ll have big mess to clean up. 

Other family members have bought me hideous serving dishes and knicknacks (glass purse anyone?), ugly picture frames and appallingly awful kitchen linens over the years.  Goodwill gets a lot of business from me in early January as you can no doubt imagine.

What kills me is that the Hub’s family knows what I enjoy doing….reading, cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening…yet they refuse to buy things that I will like or use.  I suspect like many people, they buy me gifts they’d like to get or they just buy stuff and don’t care one way or another if I like what I get, my name is checked off a list and they feel good about getting their Christmas shopping done early. 

And the Hubs is no better.  For our first Christmas together he bought me a space heater.  I think I’ve complained about mentioned this before.  He later told me he thought I’d like it because I’m always cold.  I can’t fault him for having a good heart but I can fault him for having poor judgement.  Like this year.  I told him for months I wanted something sparkly.  I even pointed out sparkly things I liked when I saw them. 

Granted I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but I do like it.  And he has ready access to my jewelry box so he can see what I do like and see what ring size I wear.  And, best of all, he knows I could care less if the sparkly stuff is fake.  In fact, I’d prefer fake so that when I lose it, it’s only $29 down the shower drain instead of $329.  Not that I speak from experience or anything.

So even though he was armed with some pretty explicit instructions for what I wanted, I unwrapped a 19 piece set of Pyrex this Christmas.  Under a certain light, yes it does sparkle, but it’s frigging hard to wear around my neck, in my ears or on my wrist.  Thank you my darling husband for giving me more casserole dishes, which I needed, but also thanks for an epic-ly disappointing Christmas gift.

For 2011 I’m taking charge though.  I’ve had it with craptastic gifts.  I’ve started my list early and I’m putting on it all manner of things I want and damn the price.  And unlike previous years, I’m not buying things off this list when I see them so that all I can offer as a gift suggestion is a set of steak knives.  No siree.  I want board games and Ravesburger puzzles and books and yarn (if someone else buys it it doesn’t affect my going cold sheep this year) and pretty, sparkly things that are not cookware.  Of course, I can’t make people buy what I want but a list should help minimize the chance of getting crap.

Same goes with the handmade presents.  This year I killed myself.  I made one pair of felted clogs, three pairs of socks, one shawl, seven Saroyans and two shrugs.  I was knitting since May 2010 for his family.  Not this year though.  Nope.  I will likely still make them something but it’s going to be sewn.  Probably placemats.  Maybe market bags.  Socks for the men, but out of worsted weight yarn so they go fast.  In fact I may dedicate February to making gifts for his family and then I’ll have the rest of the year to knit for me and my family and anyone else I care to make things for. 

And as for being too busy, especially visiting his family.  That will also end.  This past Christmas we started holiday visiting on Dec 21 and it didn’t end until New Year’s.  To be honest, the Hubs will still visit family well into February but I won’t be accompanying him to see those family members.  Don’t like them enough to give up my weekends sitting in their houses listening to them moan about how tough their lives are. 

There is a plan afoot in my family to move our celebration from Dec 24 to Dec 25.  Which will conflict with the Hubs’ family but I don’t care.  This Christmas was the first time in my ENTIRE life I did not see my parents and that really bothered (and still bothers) me.  It’s a new year, a new decade and new traditions are going to start.  Hubs and his family can suck it if they don’t like it. 

Also afoot is a plan for us all (on his side) to stop buying gifts for each other and instead take that money and have an “experience” like meeting up in Vegas in the fall.  This has many benefits.  Yes we’re still spending money but at least we’ll spend it on something we like….travel.  I will not have to feign delight over weird things my SIL brings back from her trips.  I will not have to find places to show off (but not really) said weird things.  We get to hang out together, for a few days, enjoy each other’s company and we’ll always have those memories to fall back on over the years.  Everyone seems to like the idea but now someone (that’d be me) has to organize it.  Sure it’s a lot of work but I’d rather spend my time organizing something fun than knitting the same damn scarf seven times.  Ahem.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens.  I’m hoping to have a more relaxed and restful Christmas season in 2011.  And if it doesn’t work out that way, well my mom always includes a bottle or two of wine in my “stocking” so I can at least self-medicate and blot out the parts of the season that didn’t live up to my expectations.

Sometimes it really is all about the little things

October 6, 2010

Now that it’s fall, seem to have more energy and motivation to do stuff around the house.  And I’ve made a few changes to how I do some things, specifically laundry.  As much as I’d love a main floor laundry room, that is NEVER going to happen.  We just don’t have the space, and without a massive wallet-breaking renovation and losing half our backyard in the process, we never will.  So I suck up trucking four or five or even six baskets of laundry up and down three flights of stairs every two weeks.  Sometimes every week depending on how dirty we are.

That’s not the bad part. 

The bad part is DH’s shirts and all our table linens that sit (and multiply in the dark of night) in the laundry basket in our bedroom (where I fold the laundry) until I haul it all back downstairs, iron and fold and then bring the shirts back upstairs.

I don’t mind ironing but I don’t like going up and down the stairs like a crazy woman carrying anywhere from five to 25 shirts.  Yes DH has a lot of shirts and I am a lazy wife.  And no, he’s not going to iron any more than I will and I enjoy doing it on a Sunday night while I listen to the opera show on the radio.

So, I finally had a flash of brilliance and brought the iron upstairs to the bedroom.  Genius I know.  Now the iron lives on top of the armoire when it’s not being used, the ironing board lives in the knee wall closet when it’s not being used, I don’t have to wrestle with carting a million shirts up and down the stairs and quite frankly the task is much more enjoyable as a result.  Sometimes a small change is all it takes to make an unpleasant task better.