Housecleaning anticlimax

Living room 2011.01.17.0143AMI have more anxiety over the housekeeping service I’ll be getting tomorrow than I do about the surgery I’m having in three days to remove a major organ.

The two procedures are analogous in a couple of ways. Both represent dramatic attempts to deal with what have been weighty burdens for many years. Both sound like they could offer me improvements in my overall state of being. But neither actually accomplishes what they may seem to offer at face-value. The nephrectomy still leaves me with one gigantic, diseased kidney and will make me even more dependent on dialysis. The cleaning service will still leave me numerous messes, and I will still lack the ability and energy to to manage the day-to-day tasks of keeping a living space livable.

Maybe the analogy is a little shaky, and I don’t mean to write about my surgery right now, so I’ll focus on the housekeeping problem.

The housekeeping service is only going to clean surfaces where they’re already exposed. Anywhere where there’s stuff on the floor is likely to be ignored. So I have to pile stuff up. I’ve thrown plenty out, but I don’t have time and energy to go through everything.

I do not need a professional organizer who tells me to put things into three piles, or at least I am wary of the professional organizer given my past experience. In my one brief experience with such a person, I was left with the three piles–I didn’t know what to do with the “keep” stuff; the “giveaway” stuff was just transferred to another location within the house; the “throw-out” stuff was tossed out the back-door by the organizer, and I had no means to clean up the new outdoor junk-pile for several weeks. This organizer, who actually worked for a cleaning service and was there to consult as a precursor to having cleaning arranged, came right after I had had one of my arm surgeries. I think she was put-off that I was not a typical suburban female client who just happened to shop and hoard too much. Single guys are just supposed to stew in their bachelor filth, I guess. She never contacted me again after the initial consultation, and it was a huge letdown.

So I am anticipating a letdown tomorrow. In order for them to clean the whole house, I’d have to have organized the whole house first. And if I were able to do that, I think I’d actually be able to muster the energy to vacuum and mop the floors…or maybe not. I’m not quite sure that I’d care. When the housecleaning consultant spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and described the services that would be rendered, I found myself not dreaming about how wonderful it would be to have clean baseboards. There are 126 other things that are priorities before the baseboards are clean and the bookcases are dusted. But I’m going to get help with those latter two things, not the 126 other things.

In other words…as I realize this difficult to understand without better descriptions or actual visuals…the service I’m getting, that I’ve been looking forward to getting for quite a long time…is not actually what I most need.

It’s not all as bad as I make it seem. The living room is quite livable right now; it’s all ready for them. The “study” room had all the junk picked up off the floor. There’s stuff piled high in the corners and my desk, but the room is totally “cleanable”.

“Bedroom #3” aka “cat’s feeding room” aka “junk room” is problematic.

The kitchen is problematic.

The back-room is problematic.

The bedroom is problematic.

And yet, I spent most of the weekend on this problem, trying to clean the house in preparation for the housecleaners. It’s a catch-22. I need the cleaning service because I can’t clean my house. But I need to clean the house before they come. But if I could truly clean my house, I wouldn’t spend the money to have them come.

And then there’s looming judgement…no matter what I do and what the cleaning service does, this house will be a failure in the eyes of anyway who has traditional standards of how a home should be maintained. No one needs to say a word; I know what people are thinking. And this is so debilitating…the idea that I will fail no matter what I do.

THIS is what worries me right now. Back to my introduction, it is not that a surgeon will be cutting a hole in my stomach and pulling a 30-cm kidney through it, and I will be in great discomfort for several days. No…I’m upset because I am a failure as a caretaker of my living space. I always have been, and I don’t see myself improving.

Oh, and if I somehow cease to worry about the condition of my house…my mind is immediately going to latch on to something else, as there is so much that demands deep and unrelenting worry.


Unnecessary remodeling

This was perfectly fine (when it was kept clean and orderly):

Living room (with Aremid) (2)
(March 2007)

Of course, it wasn’t kept clean and orderly. Three months after I moved in was the peak of cleanliness and organization for the bungalow. A lifetime propensity towards disorder and a little kidney failure will present some home maintenance challenges.

I eventually rearranged stuff, particularly when I got a Wii and a Wii Fit that I thought necessitated some more open floor space in front of the television. Unfortunately, after a few months of Wii Fit playing, I had an arm surgery or two and never got back in the habit. I eventually sold the Wii.

I decided I was tired of my bulky coffee table and had always wanted an ottoman, so I bought a nice leather storage bench from Costco.

Herman Zellouisa and living room 2010.03.07
(March 2010)

Then my Russian neighbor split town and insisted that I take/buy (it’s complicated) her black leather couch, which clashes with the brown leather ottoman.

Herman and Aremid 2010.04.10
(April 2010)

I sold the old couch and loveseat for a bargain price to someone on Craigslist.

Aremid - new chair - 1

A few months ago, I added an IKEA chair and footrest. I could have chosen one of many wood and cushion combinations, but I chose a chair and footrest with black wood frames and brown leather cushions, as an attempt to bridge the brown and black I had in my living room. It kinda worked.

But then I was back at IKEA last week, and I decided I was done with the ottoman experiment. I found a black coffee table. And a matching black bookcase. And a matching black sofa table. And I will incorporate all of those into the latest living room revision, ideally, this weekend.

The brown ottoman and the coffee table are now on Craigslist.

But, really, how everything looked 3 ½ years ago was perfectly fine.

Spring: Scotch Broom

Scotch BroomAs promised to HL-S, photos of my Scotch Broom from three weeks of weeks ago. These bloom fragrant, tiny flowers for about three weeks, and then they look like brooms for the other 49 weeks of the year. I wish I could bottle the sweet fragrance in a Yankee candle. (That’s rhetorical; I’m sure Martha Stewart could help me there but I’m not going to investigate.) The Scotch Room is one random gardening decision I made a couple of years ago; it didn’t exist when I moved in.

More info on the Scotch Broom here.

Scotch Broom in Bloom (zoom)

Scotch Broom (zoom)

Scotch broom and stuff and car

Spring: Rhododendron?

These came with the bungalow. I don’t trim them munch. I didn’t really know what they were until a few minutes ago, when I came to the conclusion that they are rhododendron. Someone please verify. And, then, what are the white flowers that are coming through onto the porch?

Taken about two weeks ago. It’s sad that they blooms will be off pretty soon, because there’s not much color in my yard over the summer, except for those spiders.


Porch Rhododendron

Rhododendron (2)

Home decor inquiries

If you’ve seen my pet pictures, you know what my living room furniture looks like.

I’ve got a couch and loveseat, both generous hand-me-downs from when my friend J got married. The pets obviously love the furniture. I, at the age of 34, have still never bought a new couch. Given that my pets spend half their waking hours on my couches, that may have been a smart thing.
Zellouisa Cat Napping - 09-07-08

I have a neighbor who is about to leave town. She has a nice black leather couch. I agreed to help her sell this couch, but then she offered to sell it to me at a very reasonable price.

Question 1. Would it be absolutely appalling to have both the black leather sofa and my old loveseat in the same room? My sister thinks so. I can see her point.

Question 2. Would it be absolutely appalling to have both the black leather sofa and my only-one-year-old brown leather ottoman in the same room? My sister thinks so. I can see her point, here, too.
Herman, broken laptop, ottoman
The obvious solution is not to keep this black leather couch that I don’t really need, but it is somewhat of an upgrade, and some change would be nice.

Since I just about never have anyone over, should I ever care if my furniture clashes? I mean, given the other problems I’ve got, is this worth stressing about? Then again, since it’s something within my control, should I try to get it right?

UPDATE Oh, so here’s a picture of the neighbor’s couch, which is still in her apartment, because we could not figure out how to get it out her front door. This little problem may make this all moot.

Live-blogging housework

(Not really live-blogging, since I’m not publishing this until I feel like I’ve accomplished anything…or I’ve given up.)

2:44pm Just trying something different. Every weekend goes pretty much the same. High ambition for housework. Very little accomplished. If I document my activities, perhaps I’ll be motivated to get something done.

3:01pm Well, I’m watching tv, and Aremid is curled up next to me, and Herman and sleeping on the other side…when there’s so much is disarray, it’s very difficult to do work that’s going to result in just a speck of the disarray going away…even though I know that’s the only way to get started…

3:56pm Still nothing…

4:08pm Start with living room. The little demi-table has had the junk removed from it. Small steps…


4:21pm Cleaned up under the ottoman. Dog-hair. Bills and stuff I was supposed to attend to on the internet, before the stuff fell on the floor, and under the ottoman, to be forgotten forever, or, at least, until today. Will attend to a couple of these things now…

4:54pm Stuff cleared off of ottoman.

Herman, broken laptop, ottoman

5:10pm Small amount of stuff cleared off of loveseat. Pledge pet-hair removal roller applied; not sure it does much good.

Pledge pet-hair remover

5:38pm Picked some stuff off of the floor, including Home Depot purchases from about a month ago, home stuff I figured I could use, but, as usually, I basically wind up storing away. I did pull out one of those Mr. Clean “magic erasers”. I gave it a try on some stubborn icky stuff in the bathtub. Didn’t work. I tried.

Living room is passable, at least by my very low standards. Anyone used to true clean would find about 39 things still wrong with the room.

Herman Zellouisa and living room 2010.03.07

6:17pm Tried to do some small outdoor work, bagging up leaves that I had already raked into rough piles. Unfortunately, the neighbor kids wanted to come over. And they brought their new cap guns. And they harassed my dog. And I can’t watch my dog and these kids and bag leaves simultaneously. I feel like I ought to be a more patient with the kids, so I let them get away with their antics. I feel like the alternative is yelling at them so they’re afraid of “Mr. David” for the rest of their childhoods. So, minor outdoor work done, but now I’m really not feeling like doing anything else. And starting to sneeze because I’m allergic to the outdoors.

6:36pm Cleared out the minor pile-up in the kitchen sink. It had seen much worse. I never did blog about my wonderful kitchen sink, that I bought last year to replace the standard shallow renter’s sink that the previous owner had put in. I had hoped that having a deep sink (8 or 9 inches, compared to 6) would encourage me to cook more, since cleaning up would be easier with more room to maneuver (with my kitchen, overall, being quite a tight space). However, it’s mostly just given me a lot more room for stuff to pile up. (Oh, I had also been excited to get a sprayer. I don’t have a dishwasher, but a sprayer would solve everything). Anyway, so the sink is clear for now. I’m frustrated that I don’t even know how to get these certain smudges out. Do I need stuff specific for stainless steel? I figured 409 would work. It didn’t.

The kitchen sink

So it’s getting close to 7. I’m going to relax and watch the Oscars in a little more than a hour. I probably won’t do anymore housework tonight.

I barely did anything, really, but it’s probably more than I would have done if I weren’t recording it. So that’s the purpose of this entry. I know it’s not exactly riveting.

Suckitude for 1800

Leave it to me to muddy a four-day weekend by inviting an expensive plumbing disaster upon myself. The obvious inconveniences like very limited access to water and emergency plumbing expenses aside, this unpleasant episode epitomizes my lack of basic adult life-skills.

“Did you turn off the emergency water valve?” I was asked by those I started telling this story to.

NOW I know where it is, after I paid $150 for a plumber to come by after hours to turn it off for me.

I had been annoyed by a slight leak out of the bathtub faucet. I couldn’t get water to stop trickling out. I figured there must be something obvious that needs tightening. I removed the shower valve plate and was left with the handle and ball valves attached to the pipes. Here’s where I should’ve given up because I had no idea what to do now. There are websites that tell you how to fix this stuff, but I didn’t feel like bothering. I got it in my head that I need to take the handle off.

“There’s this spot right here that you take a hex wrench to,” the plumber told me later after the damage was already done.

Instead, I had gotten frustrated and just applied force to the handle to try to get it off.

Before I realized how idiotic my actions were, I had gotten the handle and ball valves off, and water was gushing out of the shower valve, with nothing left to turn it off.

As water gushed, I knew I’d have a flood if I did nothing. I called a plumbing service, and I was told someone could be out in a half-hour. For the next half-hour, I filled a 5-gallon bucket with bathtub water and dumped it out the window. I got soaked. The bathroom got soaked.

Forty minutes later, the plumber arrived, and we located my emergency valve outside. Water to my house was cut off.

To actually fix the valve (or put in a new one, I don’t know exactly how much needs to be done), they’ll also have to detach my bathroom vanity from the wall (and reattach it after the plumbing work is done). This will add up to a very unpleasant amount of dollars.

And all because, as a homeowner, I really have no clue what I am doing and am not particularly interested in learning whatever it is I need to know.

This disaster is directly attributable to what was essentially my vandalism of my own plumbing. Meanwhile, the sorry state of my abode probably puts me at risk for several other disasters that will probably happen if I just wait and do nothing.

Two years ago, at 31-years-old, I figured that homeownership would at least give the appearance that I was doing a satisfactory job of being an adult. But the blunt truth is, from the plumbing to the electricity to the insulation to the foundation to the landscaping, I don’t have an f*in clue. I bought this as-is. Whenever I get rid of it, it’ll still be an as-is.

In hindsight, it makes absolutely no sense that I would take on the challenge of dilapidated bungalow. I think anyone who knows me would have told me it was mistake had I asked point-blank. But I don’t think any of those who would have said that could understand how little I tend to think of myself. Owning a house gave me some feeling of accomplishment, even if I’ve had no idea how to actually accomplish anything with the house.

Yeah, I know, this is not following the Thanksgiving blog template, where I gush about what I’m thankful for. Anyone who really knows me knows I am thankful for some things. (For instance, I’m extremely thankful for friends who let me take a shower at their house today). But this post is not about those things. This is essentially one of those “I suck because _____________” posts. I’d tag this post “why I suck” but I think that would be redundant. Really, even when I’m posting pet pics, I’m really saying, “I’m posting these pet pics so, for now, I forget, and maybe you forget, just how much I suck”.

Roof of All Evil

My home got a new roof today, for reasons I won’t care to get into. Despite the title of this post, I don’t really want to write about the roof right now.

I have some general questions. I know about as much about maintaining a house as Sarah Palin knows about credit default swaps.

I have now had contractors to do two sudden one-day projects on my property in the past couple of months. While their primary tasks seem to have been done adequately, I am left feeling that crews are not particularly respectful of customers.

Are the following side-effects of having work done on one’s property common?

– plant-life maimed or destroyed without acknowledgement
– personal yard tools disappeared
– food wrappers and cigarette butts left behind

Are there contractors well-known for having crews leave things they’re not supposed to touch untouched and others who aren’t so good at the supervision thing?

Anyway, I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’m heading away to an disclosed location…

The overall monetary damages in both cases was fairly minor compared to the cost of the jobs done.

I do expect I have the right to voice my concerns to the business owner, but I wonder if it is worth it. I am about to head out of town for a few days. When I return, I probably will not care anymore, needing this roof saga behind me. I suppose one could argue it might be considerate of me to tell the business owner that a crew he used might be inadvertently souring customers; maybe others don’t tell him, or maybe he needs one more customer to tell him to field comfortable dealing with it.

Truth to be told, I’d really prefer NOT to have things to complain about. In both cases, I’ve looked forward to the possibility of sharing a positive recommendation of a service.