no more HGTV for you

19 10 2009

chipsWhat was I thinking?  During these months of hauling out junk from Billy’s basement, my guilty little pleasure has been wrestling the remote from the Mrs.’ hand and moving as far away from the Weather Channel and Fox News as I could.  Naturally, I’d land on HGTV.  She can watch all the Dr. Phil she wants when she is alone.  Truthfully, I have no idea what she spends her time watching when I’m not there.  She waited a long time to control her own remote and she can do as she pleases.

We would chat about the shows but I never really entertained the thought that she was taking in much information for her own personal use.  Last week, I walked into her house to find that she had decided that the mug rack on the kitchen wall was terribly outdated and no longer useful.  It was all taken down and she had rearranged some decorative plates to take over that space.  Nicely done, I might add.

On a rare trip to Kmart together a few months back, the Mrs. and I wandered through the bedding department and picked out a new bedspread.  With her full sized bed and bedroom furniture (given to her by her dad when she was still in high school) all back in her bedroom, it was time for a little pick-me-up.  I need to take down some balloon curtains she has had up since forever and replace them with something different.  She’s dreaming of a “soft dovey gray with blue undertones” for that room.  Maybe an early spring project for me will be getting some new paint up on those walls.

The long and short of this…I was delusional to think that the only thing I was doing there was cleaning out the basement.  I remember Billy being frustrated and vocal toward the end about her never ending project list.  It really isn’t much different than my list for our 100 plus year old Money Pit.  Truth be told, she couldn’t lift a finger around there in the last couple of years without him putting up a huge fuss about it so she stuffed it all down and waited.

I have opened Pandora’s Box.

On my current list of things to get accomplished in her space is spraying the basement walls with a bleach solution once a week for the next couple of weeks to try to put an end to the years of mold and mildew.  I realize though that I am like the Hoover Dam trying to hold back her rushing creative waters.  She wonders out loud what the re-cooped space would look like with a bright coat of paint on the walls.  Then we’ll get new shelving units for the walls…then…

I manage to control my voice to avert the guttural scream I feel building and tell her that first we’ll have to paint the new stair treads that Charlie & Co. replaced last Thursday.  Even before those three got damaged in the fun of the last months, she’d told me that she wanted to “spiff up” the stairs with new paint.  I have begged and begged her to not touch brushes till I am there for a few days.  Once I unleash that monster – there is no telling where we’ll end up.

Last week I took my shop vac along to start the process of cleaning the basement floor in a way that didn’t just re-locate all the cement dust left behind from all the jack hammering that went on.  I happened to look up at the ceiling of the basement only to see years and years of accumulated cobwebs and spider eggs that needed to find a new home.  She wanted to watch.  I was annoyed…until I remembered that young kids like watching adults do things that they can’t yet do.  I just needed to reverse the process in my mind and realize that she was watching NOT to be critical but with longing.  She wished I’d let her do the job but I didn’t want her craning her stenosis narrowed neck with arms over her head for about an hour.  It was a year ago this next week that she landed in the hospital for three days after a seemingly harmless trip to the dentist. Just having her head tilted back so the Dr. could see what he was doing, put her system in a nasty downward spiral for weeks and weeks.

But yesterday’s phone call just floored me.  “I was down in the basement and I know where the shower will go!” she excitedly exclaimed.  “EXCUSE ME?“, exploded the voice in my head just short of a rant of Tourettte’s.  Rationally and calmly, I agreed with her that it was an excellent idea and a good use of space but we might want to think about updating the bathroom on the first floor before we go there.  Built in 1958, there has been very little updating of the original bathroom with its gray plastic tiles and a nasty, carpeted floor which was THE update when I was in high school.  I’ve been secretly thinking about that space and even had a discussion with Charlie & Co. about a great Kohler tub and surround that he loves to install.

I felt Billy lose his cool.  The earth shook ever so slightly as he turned over in his grave.  Maybe there was a method to his madness keeping the basement wet all those years so he’d never have to tackle the next thing on the list.

As frustrated as I might get with all this,  she’s still on her own and I am supremely grateful.  We are lucky.  She is still mobile, thinking and dreaming.  She still gets more cleaning done on a weekly basis than I do in months.  It exhibits pride which signals a great sense self-awareness.  Any therapist would tell you that is a sure fire signal that some things are still working.  When she stops getting dressed in the morning because there is nothing to get dressed for – we’ll have a whole ‘nother set of issues to deal with.

So with punch list in hand…we face the winter months with projects to keep us busy.   She saw a new mail box she loved that was on sale so I picked that up along with the huge 4×4 post all waiting in the garage for when I can bamboozle some kind soul from her church to do an act of kindness for one of their widows.

And in my parallel universe, I need to clean out my basement so that I can have glass brick windows installed before the dead of winter.  When the estimator told me that they work from inside and outside, my heart sank.  I now HAVE to face my own demons to clear the way.  My goal this week is 10 bags of junk for the Salvation Army pick-up next Saturday.

Next, I’ll probably be hiring a painter to do my living room, entry, stairwell, upstairs hallway, kitchen, bathroom, etc. while I’m down at the Mrs.’ place painting the stairs, basement and bedroom for starters.  I have gone so far as to purchase my own Benjamin Moore color chip fans so that I don’t have to stand in the hardware store guessing at what I’m looking for.  This is serious business.

“Hello.  My name is Monkee and I’m a project-a-holic.”  Some addictions are hereditary.

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One response

28 10 2009
Holyoke Home

I am totally bowled over by your incredible writing. How lucky I am to have found you.

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