Living in the Big House

13 08 2011

I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been crazy. (I certainly was for the duration.) Several weeks ago, I arranged for hardwood floors to be put in two rooms of our house, not realizing that the date I agreed to was the first week back at school for teachers. Not the best planning, since that first week is always a hectic one trying to get the classroom and my head ready for a brand new bunch of students.

The weekend before, my husband and I, along with a strong friend, moved all the furniture and other paraphernalia out of the master bedroom and our family room. Although I am certainly not a hoarder, I am, as many of my friends and co-workers can attest, somewhat of a packrat. My house is full of a lot of “stuff” valuable only to me: family photos, mementoes of past vacations, rocks…you get the picture. Each has a story behind it that makes it hard for me to give up. A piece of slate came from the roof of an old whiskey distillery beside the bed and breakfast that we stayed at in the Orkney Islands, the area of Scotland from which my grandfather immigrated. The Bavarian hat I purchased for only a couple Euros in Salzburg, where we happened across a yard sale (I know, right?!). The huge black travel trunk used to belong to Dr. Harnsberger, my neighbor growing up who traveled all over the world. The point is, there was a lot to move and very little space in which to move it. Somehow, we managed to clear out the two rooms. However, if someone had walked into one of the other rooms unawares, we certainly would have been contacted to be on a reality show.

All during this past week, I slept in our “Outhouse” (for background on this, read my post titled “Genius”) maneuvering my way between the sofa, recliner, and various other items that we had temporarily stored out there. My husband slept in College Daughter’s room, which likewise was stuffed full of dressers, trunks, and file cabinets. Even High School Daughter’s room was not safe from tubs of miscellaneous belongings, chests of drawers, and clothes from our closet. Although her eyes got wider and wider with each piece of furniture we brought into her room, I must say that High School Daughter bore it all well, considering. As long as she had a laptop and her bed, she was content.

There is a certain amount of sawdust involved in getting hardwood floors. The installers kept a broom handy and tried to keep everything swept up, but it wasn’t long before a thickish layer covered everything. And flies! Because the workers were constantly going in and out of the house, hoards of flies decided that inside was infinitely more comfortable than being in the heat outdoors. Every evening, when we came back from wherever we had hidden during the day, we would go on Fly Safari, armed only with fly swatter, keen eyesight, and fast reflexes. We made a huge dent in the fly population over the course of the week, a feat that should be recognized somewhere. Unfortunately, not all the flies and their innards made their way to the trashcan. It’s hard to be motivated to wipe fly guts off windows when you are crunching on a thick layer of grime.

Each day, however, progress was made, and by Thursday evening the installers swept up their mess, packed up, and pulled out of the driveway. After waiting for the floor to dry, we started putting our house back in order. Each item and piece of furniture, however, needed to be dusted and cleaned. I even cleaned out my dresser drawers, pulling out at least 20 tee shirts and other articles of clothing. All of a sudden, the drawers close all the way! Incredible! We worked late into the night, but finally had everything back in place, organized, and clean.

We used to have a picture book that I would read to the girls when they were little. It was a folktale about a man with a large family who lived in a very small house. He complained to a wise man about his dilemma and the wise man told him to bring various farm animals into the house with him. However, living with cows, goats, pigs, and chickens caused him to feel even more cramped and crabby, so he went back to the wise man. The wise man told him to take all the animals out of the house. The man did, and was surprised with how big his once small house now felt. I bring this up because, once we had all the furniture back in place in our own modest-sized house, High School Daughter looked up from her laptop and commented on how big our house now looked.

By the time I could find the camera, this was all the mess that was left.

I have no doubt that before too long, the house will fall back into its usual state of disorder, but it sure is a great feeling to have everything neat and clean. My only regret is that I don’t have any company coming to gaze upon this great event. And so, I’m issuing an invitation for all my friends to come see my beautiful, organized, dust-free house with the brand-new flooring. For the next 15 minutes.



3 responses

13 08 2011
Kathryn Fenner

We refinished the floors on our first floor in May–I am quite a minimalist, and we only have a table and 4 chairs in the eating area, a sofa, two chairs, a coffee table, a side table, 3 floor lamps and a piano w/bench in the living area, plus three file boxes of music and objets. The piano and bench were taken away by the piano guy, to be swapped for the grand piano. We put everything else, plus the stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave in our single car garage–and it was quite full then (we park our car in it normally). Despite taping the kitchen cabinets shut, I still had to clean sticky dust off them, and the walls and and and, even though the floor guy cleaned thoroughly. I cannot imagine trying to live with all that stuff in the rest of the living spaces –I stayed with my folks in Aiken and Steve went to a conference in Madrid.

We used Waterlox, which is a penetrating oil that never has to be resanded, so I guess I’m set downstairs for so long as we live here–but even if I weren’t, I’m not sure I’d ever resand again. Oy!

My sympathies! How about some beauty shots of the new floors?

13 08 2011

It was quite an ordeal. I just remembered I hadn’t dusted the ceiling fans–what a mess. A couple of years ago we had hardwood put down in the dining room, living room, two bedrooms, and the hall. However, I planned much better, making sure I was in Honduras at the time, so I missed all the discomfort! I think I appreciate it a bit more this time, though.
Kathy, for you, I’ll extend my 15 minute invitation. Pictures wouldn’t do it justice!

13 08 2011
Kathryn Fenner

We are off to Norway in a week–when we get back! You should come over here when you’re in town, too.

That sticky floor sanding dust is awful. I still keep wiping it off the back of the powder room toilet (I would never put hardwood floors in a powder room, entry way or kitchen, but since we have ’em….) If I ever build my dream house, it will have terrazzo floors downstairs and oil-finished hardwoods if there’s a second floor. Since old dogs are not keen on stairs, nor old people, and I will likely be very old before I vacate this one, my dream house will likely be a cottage with terrazzo floors, with radiant heat. Lots of glass block. Sort of like a cross between the old Augusta library and a vet’s office or 80s salon….

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