Category Archives: House

Squalor

It’s been awhile since we’ve used a cleaning service here at the house. We had a good one a few years back, but they brought us fleas, so we fired them and then spent the next two years (and some) getting rid of the fleas. Life sucks when your cat, who does not go outside (not for lack of trying) is riddled with the tiny bloodsucking fiends.

So the house is maybe not in the cleanest shape it could be. It’s not that I don’t have time, it’s that I can’t be bothered, really. Every now and again I will go insane and clean the joint from top to bottom, but that doesn’t happen often enough to make the other people in the house happy.

We’ve tried a couple of cleaning services here and there, but none of them have been satisfactory. There was one that did a half-assed job, which annoyed me. I can do a half-assed job for free, thanks. Then there was the other one, who did a fine job but for whatever reason couldn’t put us on their regular schedule and so we had to call them every time we wanted them to come. That’s even more annoying than them doing a shitty job! PUT ME ON THE SCHEDULE, DAMMIT.

A lot of this ties into the ADHD thing that we’re all living with. We really do need things to just… happen around here sometimes. Things need to be automatic when they can be, because that frees up mental space and energy to tackle the anomalies of modern life, most of which involve dog barf. I’ve got a lot of my bills set up to be paid automatically, which has saved me an awful lot of aggravation. Jillian is on a schedule of sorts, which makes her life easier. Freddie… well, he’s kind of on his own because he’s a grown-ass adult and I can’t manage his life when I have a kid and three pets to wrangle.

But, you know, life goes on with or without a cleaning service. This year has been bad for the dog hair, however. Piper has decided that it is her purpose in life to cover every surface in the world with her hair. No amount of brushing or using the Furminator has made the tiniest difference in how much hair she sheds. It’s not even gross anymore – it just is. That’s just what our life is like now.

Freddie is a huge fan of Angie’s List. That’s a service you can use to get “trusted” reviews of services and businesses for home-related stuff. He used that to find what is going to be our new cleaning service, and the owner came over yesterday for a walkthrough and estimate.

Now… it’s been a LONG time since I’ve done any kind of major cleaning. I broke my foot a few weeks ago and have been trying to stay off of it as much as possible. So even the half-assed cleaning I would normally do isn’t really getting done. It’s not that bad, honestly, but it’s not… great.

So this lady comes in and looks around a bit and I could tell she was just kind of mildly horrified. You’d think that owning a house-cleaning service would make you immune to some things, but to be honest, there was A LOT of dog hair on the floor yesterday because I hadn’t gotten around to sweeping it yet. She just kept saying things like “oh… wow…” and I was pointing out the trouble spots (literally everywhere) for her while she just nodded her head and made notes.

I think it’s going to work out all right, though. Her company seems legit, they have a lot of good reviews, and best of all – we’re going to be on a regular schedule. I’m getting better at dealing with clutter (the File Pile is no more) and this can only help with that.

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YE GODS, The thing still works (or, my Sunday to-do list)

‚ÄčI love lists. I feel like there is so much chaos in my brain, if I don’t write it down in list form, I will lose/forget things. I have notepads and pens stashed all over the house.

Yesterday capped a very eventful week – the kid was off school a couple of days, both of our cars decided to shit themselves on the same day, and the weather was not super-great. Instead of being an actual adult and getting some shit done, I decided to hibernate on the couch with knitting and Gilmore Girls.

I feel better now, so it is time for a list, with commentary. Hey, it’s Sunday morning – how much entertainment do you really need?

1. H’ween lights down [If we don’t take them down now, they will stay up forever. We have lights up on the railing of our balcony (inside) that we put up for Hanukkah. Two years ago. They’re still there. So… outside lights need to come down.]

2. Backyard [general backyard maintenance. Pick up dog tows and what appears to be half a bag of mini-Starburst and Skittles that someone must have thrown over the fence. Why, people?]

3. Giant Closet of Mystery [exactly what it sounds like. Is the under-stairs catch-all for the house and it needs to be organized a bit.]

4. Finish work on bathroom [we tore out the gross ugly medicine cabinet, fixed the trim on the inside and outside of the door, and painted the walls a terrific shade of Tiffany blue. Have to touchups/cleanups, paint the trim and the door, find a new mirror, and price out a new sink. Then it will be pretty until I decide I hate the tile on the floor and tear it out.]

5. Laundry [self-explanatory.]

6. Sweep/mop [the bane of my existence. Main Dog is a German Shepherd/Husky/Border Collie mix, which is really just code for HAIR MACHINE. Emergency Backup Dog is a Pit/Lab mix and thus has very little hair to shed. Auxiliary Cat LOOKS like he weighs about 20 pounds, but he is really just a skinny thing underneath a giant ball of ginger hair. SO MUCH HAIR IN MY LIFE.]

7. Apple situation [our CSA has been totally insane with the apples this year. We have SO MANY. And I can eat quite a few, and turn some into pies and apple crips and whatever, but there are still So. Many. Apples. Today will be a slice & dice session with vacuum sealing. I would make applesauce or apple butter with them, but nobody here will eat that. Slice & dice!]

8. Costco [gotta have TP and coffee, man.]

9. Ceiling Fans [see item 6. The ceiling fans need to be shaved, basically.]

10. Linen closet [now that we’ve moved the audio/visual components to a completely different closet, I have more room for towels and sheets and junk. And, since we have 86’d the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, some of that stuff will have to live in the linen closet now. Which means I need to come up with some kind of storage situation.]

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Kitchen Ideas

So far, 2014 has been very, very good to us. A lot of things we’ve been working toward for YEARS have finally come to fruition, and we are very pleased with the results.

What that means is that I am MUCH closer to my kitchen renovation dream than I was a month ago. Which means it’s time to get ideas and start figuring out a ballpark budget so I can decide if what I want is going to fit in with reality.

First off, I’d like to change the layout of my kitchen. I do not like where things are situated. I want the refrigerator on the opposite corner and I’d like to move the sink to an island, if that’s possible. It might be. That would free up a shitload of cabinet space, for sure. Most of that is going to be me working with a builder, going “well, I want this HERE and that THERE and these OVER HERE, can I even do that?” Not quite ready to take that step, but the ideas are definitely percolating.

The major issue I’m bumping up against at the moment is style. Mainly, I don’t have any. Our house is a pretty reasonable reflection of who we are, because it’s colorful, messy, and covered in dog hair. The kitchen is the only part of the main room we didn’t drastically alter, and it’s obvious to me that it doesn’t belong.

I find myself drawn to the slick European lines, all steel and pale granite but I don’t think I’d like to live with that. It would be easy to clean, that’s for sure. The more “traditional” style cabinets we have now have a bunch of molding and design and they just gather dust and funk and are a pain in my ass to clean. They’re also the shittiest, cheapest bullshit available, and I hate them for that reason alone.

Also, black granite? I honestly think the previous owners of our house were high as kites when they designed this kitchen. Dark wood and dark countertops in a room with one small window? There is a reason why we called it “the cave” and my frustration with it is 99% of the reason why we knocked out that wall and made it one giant room with 15 windows. LET THERE BE LIGHT!

I have to start hanging out at the bookstore and leafing through the magazines, apparently.

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Never again. NEVER.

My house is a wonderful place, full of noise and dog hair and weird smells (most of which emanate from the cat). We bought it in October of 2007 and did a partial renovation in 2010. We should have included the kitchen. Alas.

The kitchen was supposedly renovated in 2004 by the previous owners. If that is indeed true, they did the shittiest renovation job IN THE HISTORY OF THE GODDAMNED WORLD and if I ever get my hands on either of them, I am going to choke them out, full stop. Sure, they likely DID put new appliances in but I’m absolutely certain they straight-up ignored them after that because the amount of dog hair and filth I cleaned off of these things after we moved in had to be seen to be believed. It was fucking disgusting and I spent a long time being mad at it. I’m still mad at it. It was THAT BAD.

Turns out, when you neglect your shit, IT BREAKS. I have had the fridge repaired twice and the oven repaired THREE TIMES and IT STILL DOESN’T FUCKING WORK CORRECTLY. The dishwasher caught on FIRE one time. My kitchen is definitely on the highway to the Danger Zone, if not the ACTUAL Danger Zone. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Over the past six years, these are all things I have learned to live with. A full kitchen renovation (DONE RIGHT) just isn’t in the budget at the moment so we make do. And I know we are far better off than a lot of people so I know that this sounds like a whole lot of Very Special Whining but if you ask, I will tell you exactly how many fucks I give about that.

(hint: Less than zero)

So earlier today I was either abducted by aliens or I had finally reached the end of my patience with this thing and I decided to clean the oven. It has a self-cleaning feature, but WOULDN’T YOU KNOW, the locking mechanism on both oven doors is busted. FUCK THAT SHIT. I spent about three seconds yelling at it before I hightailed it to Target and bought me some goddamned Easy-Off. CHEMICALS FOR THE WIN. That shit contains LYE. I’d avoided doing this before because I have been trying to natural-remedy this household but 9 times out of 10, “natural” cleaning products are more work than they are worth. Give me Big Corporate Cancer Chemicals any day, man.

I sprayed the insides of both ovens and waited 20 minutes. Then I strapped on my fancy-ass long kitchen glove situation and got down to scrubbing. HOLY FUCKING GROSSNESS, BATMAN. Never again. My hope is that I will be able to replace this bitch before it needs to be cleaned again because fuck that shit right in the face. I am never doing that again.

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A rant

Fuck you, oven. Who is the fucking drunk cokehead who invented this particular piece of shitty machinery? I'd like to find that guy (because YOU CAN TELL it was a dude) and kick him right in the dick.

WHY? Well, I'll tell you. We 'inherited' all the existing kitchen appliances when we moved into our house 5 years ago. They were all more or less in good working order so it didn't make sense to try to haggle with the sellers or get rid of them and buy new stuff.  LITTLE DID WE KNOW.

Anyway, this particular oven thing looks pretty cool but is functionally GODDAMNED USELESS.  Seriously, who designs a gas oven with the heat source on the bottom?  Oh, lots of them are like that?  THE FUCK IS UP WITH THAT.  Everything burns on the bottom.  EVERY. THING.  No matter what I try to do or how I try to do it, 99% of the time, I am scraping burnt shit off the bottom of whatever the fuck I'm trying to bake.  I hate this fucking oven with every fiber of my being. 

It's the Maytag Gemini. And it sucks.   I wouldn't recommend it and anyone who currently has one should get rid of it immediately. Take it out back and bash the shit out of it with a hammer, which is what I intend to do as soon as I can afford to replace the fucking thing. 

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I understand nothing

Okay, so. Yeah, we had a little hurricane and a small snowstorm (only not really because that was some weak-ass snow to a girl who grew up in Ohio). More on that later.

Anyway, last year around this time I had a small freakout about the mortgage (and by “small,” I mean to say that I yelled a lot, used every curse word I knew, made some up, and didn’t sleep for about a month). After we did our renovation in 2010, it took them a year to reassess our taxes and tell us what the new number would be. And it was twice as bad as my worst-case scenario, which threw me for a loop and did bad things to my psyche.

Mostly because we pay into an escrow account each month and then our insurance is paid yearly and the taxes are paid quarterly from that account. Okay, fine. That’s all just wonderful. I get that. So, since the taxes were raised, that created a shortage in our “required reserve balance” which had to be made up. This caused the mortgage payment to jump by almost $1000, which caused me to have a mild rage-stroke, from which I have not yet fully recovered.

BECAUSE, and this is just GREAT, I got the annual escrow disclosure statement today and it is telling me that I have AN ESCROW SURPLUS of NEARLY FIVE THOUSAND GODDAMNED DOLLARS.

[rage-stroke]

Esssscuze me mush, I am confuse.

Believe me, when this first came to my attention (after I’d recovered power of speech from my FLAMING RAGE-STROKE), I was on the phone with the mortgage company and those of you who know me well know that I never, ever talk on the phone with anyone if I can help it. The Deafness, you see. So for me to dial a phone number and talk to a person with my mouth, that’s a big deal. And I asked all the questions, starting with “what the fuck” and ending with “are you SURE this amount is REQUIRED?” And the answers were all “yes, you absolutely MUST pay this amount, we can’t do anything about that, the federales require it, blahbleeblingdeeblah.”

Maybe, just maybe, they were sitting on a VERY NICE PRESENT for me. For a year.

[/rage-stroke]

Soooooooo, I am given to understand that my mortgage company, who ASSURED ME that “yes, that amount is necessary to cover the escrow shortage” is going to cut my fine ass a check for 5 large? AND my total payment is going down by $600 each month?

OH. SNAP.

Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

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Management of the Domestic Sphere

I have gone on more than a few rants about how this house is My Workspace and in order for me to do my job efficiently and well (or… at all), the workspace should be run to my specifcations. Most of the time, it is. Certain people occasionally have to be reminded to Not Touch My Stuff (and god help you if you disturb a pile), but that’s becoming rarer.

The only thing that I really don’t like to do is deal with the trash. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Freddie to handle that, especially when you consider I have never once asked him to clean a toilet in 16 years and we have three of them now.

Yesterday, I took a bag of trash out to the cans (normally I would have waited and made him do it but it was smelly and gross) and I noticed that he’d emptied out a box of packing material directly into the big trash can. Sigh. If we lived anywhere else, I probably would have let it go, but we are On Record as having issues with the trash pickup in our town.

This is because our neighbors on one side are totally whackadoodle and their son is a garbageman. There’s a history.

Knowing this, I fired off an email to Freddie telling him that he would be responsible for getting that crap in a bag. I am certain that if I had just left it, the garbage collectors would have dumped that can into the truck and those packing peanut things would have flown out and made a huge mess. Which means they would come knocking on my door to give me shit about it and I am Not Having That.

So, Freddie got home from work last night and went out to inspect the trash can. He came back in saying something like “I think it will be fine. It’s all packed down.”

Erm. No. It needs to be in a bag.

A discussion was held, wherein I trotted out the classic “don’t make me think for you” and ended with “if you leave it like that and the garbage guys knock on the door to give me shit about it, I will stab you with this 12-inch chef’s knife.”

A few minutes later, he went out and bagged all that stuff up. He said later that he was thinking about calling my bluff and seeing if I would really stab him, but I just fixed him with a grey-eyed glare and he finally realized that I was quite serious, actually. Then he apologized.

Would I have actually followed through with the stabbing? Lucky for him, we’ll never know.

…until next time.

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A list

I was going to post a something about my favorite band director who died on Monday, but it’s not ready. Instead, you get A List.

Things I found in the sofa cushions:

1. Dog hair. Oddly enough, the majority of the dog hair was white – the dog is mostly black with a white belly. She is also NOT ALLOWED ON THE SOFA.

2. 1 M&M, green. This is astonishing, considering the number of M&Ms ingested by the kid. She’s very good at keeping track of her sweets, apparently.

3. 1 cough drop, mysteriously wrapper-free. No idea what’s going on there.

4. 2 drink coasters

5. Circular bamboo knitting needles, size 10 x 36″. I think these are the ones that are slightly jagged and thus need to be thrown away.

6. 1 battery-powered pink glow stick. Why I don’t have 500 of these for Phish shows, I do not know. Oh, wait – yes I do know. It’s because of drugs.

7. 1 Koosh ball. I recently bequeathed my 3 Koosh balls to Jillian.

8. 1 drumstick. Sweet fancy Moses, please let her play any instrument except drums, thank you and Amen.

8a. I would even accept the trumpet.

8b. Which is really saying something.

9. 1 toy sushi knife. I’m not sure if the kid is hiding weapons for later use or if she simply misplaced them. Either scenario is terrifying, which is why she’s not allowed to play with the actual knives. Yet.

10. 3 sets of nail clippers. I occasionally stash nail clippers in my knitting bag(s) and for some reason, they are never there when I’m looking for them. I could probably save a lot of time if I simply begin by looking in the sofa cushions.

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As It Turns Out

In the end, I didn’t go to the hospital. I feel like the past five days of my life have all been focused on my right ear, but come on, man! What the hell? I’ve never had that happen before and it was fucking uncomfortable and weird!

But I did not go to the hospital. I had finally made the decision to go, but then I bent over to dig my shoes out of the closet and a blister atop my ear burst and drained. The antibiotics kicked in, then. Finally.

Instead, I spent my day doing what I call Whirlwind of Power. That’s when I get a little manic and clean things. I cleaned three bathrooms, washed and dried (but have not yet folded) all the laundry, and I ran the vacuum upstairs. At the same time, I wrangled my husband and child and their various neuroses (that in itself is full-time work).

My house is clean. And now I’m wondering just what I was paying my cleaning ladies for. Oh, I was more than happy to pay them to clean so I wouldn’t have to, but… I just do a much better job than they do. I hate knowing that, because it means there’s not really a point to having them. Oh well.

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If You Want Something Done…

I have had to let my cleaning ladies go. The household budget could probably afford it, but we’d all live a lot better if that expense were eliminated, so away it went.

I’m slightly sad about this, because now it means that I have to do all the shitwork I’ve been outsourcing for the past year and change. I do not like housecleaning. I never have. Oh, once in awhile I’ll tackle some particularly grungy project and that’s a good time, but on the regular, housecleaning is not high on the list of things I look forward to.

This past weekend, I got up on a ladder and de-fuzzied my ceiling fans. They hadn’t been cleaned since their installation in the summer of 2010, so it was definitely time. Plus, one of the light bulbs had gone out and it was messing with my sense of symmetry. Ideally, I’d like to get at the fans twice a year but we all know that’s probably not going to happen.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had to do anything other than light housekeeping (I keep the kitchen relatively disease-free and I have been known to run a broom over the floor from time to time), I had to buy a vacuum cleaner. We had one, but it was called into service during the renovation and cheap vacuum cleaners + drywall dust = death. That poor vacuum didn’t stand a chance and basically committed suicide. Things kept falling off of it, including a set of wheels on the underside that are apparently very necessary in the act of vacuuming.

So I needed a new one. And I spent another $100 and got a fancy purple thing. It’s… purple.

In testing it out, I found that it was picking up alarming amounts of dust and dirt and dog/cat hair. ALARMING. The cleaning ladies were due this week, so it had been about a week-and-a-half since the last vacuuming, but DAMN. Either we are excessively dirty people or the cleaning ladies’ vacuum was a bigger piece of shit than even my old one was.

No, I didn’t vacuum in the two weeks between cleaning lady visits. I don’t have that kind of motivation.

Yes, it’s gross.

No, I don’t care.

Anyway, I apparently need to vacuum more often. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of days when I do the whole house again – if I pick up the same amount of crap that I did in this last go-round, then I’ll know for sure.

(eta fbtest)

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