December 22, 2009

Where's Wendy?

True to form, I've been having various and sundry adventures. None of them were adventures of my own choosing.  Had they been of my own choosing I would be reporting back that I have been sitting at a beachside cafe with a hot cup of tea and a book or some knitting and copious amounts of exotic fingerfoods and nothing but the roar of the ocean coming at me as the tide rolls in.

But no.

The reality of my adventures involve, first, a road trip of necessity with my mother (and as you know any trip with my mother never fails to deliver on material). This was quickly followed by my living room disappearing and simultaneously my family of four being unable to use the one tiny little bathroom that we value so much. And neither of those have anything to do with one another except that they are both making me crazy. For some reason I am taking it very personal which has the side effect of annoying my husband who keeps asking me, "What is wrong with you?"

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The road trip story will come later because the urgent matter is the fact that my living room has gone AWOL.

It all started about ten years ago when we first remodeled a house I have owned since I was 18. (The benefits of having a nagging mom who was a Realtor and understood and imparted the wisdom that owning is better than renting.)  Said house is quaint and old and had been pretty much destroyed by renters while I was gone for a few years. In an effort to encourage us to move back my mom said, "little bit of wiring, little bit of sheetrock and you've got a brand new house." About $40,000 later, we did have a nearly-new house except for the fact that we all pretended there was nothing wrong with our floors because we didn't want to deal with it at the time.

And at that time being kid-free, we chose a nice off-white wall-to-wall carpet. At the time it was a reasonable thing to do as we figured we'd be childfree humans for all eternity. Two babies and one puking dog later our carpet is hideous and we've decided to pull it out and put down some hardwood flooring.

Have I mentioned that my husband is a perfectionist? He absolutely cannot do anything merely "adequately". It must be done absolutely the best proper way, high quality and for long-lasting benefit. I simultaneously admire and loathe him for this quality. I can say this about him now because he is nowhere near a computer as he's currently somewhere under our house and has been for days.

The first day I came home it wasn't too alarming. There was nothing in the living room and the carpet was gone. We did a joyful carpet-free dance and the kids spent the evening in the living room running up and down and shouting "Hoooo Hoooo Hoooooo" so they could hear the echo off the empty room.

The second day I came home and there was particle board blocking the two doors to the living room and the entire house smelled like chemical outgassing from the glue. We were now officially living in about 600 square feet with no place to hang out except our bedroom. Four of us spent the evening piled up in our bed playing and watching television. It was cool.

The third day our living room floor went away. Underneath that were support beams, some good, some not. In some places there was a building mystery -- walls that were held up by nothing but air or a miracle of God. Our contractor puzzled over that one for quite a while. Again that night we played in our bedroom, laid out blankets on the floor to have picnic dinners. After dinner, we piled up in the bed again and made balloon animals. All these things we'd never have done had our lives been normal. It was cool.

The next day not only was our floor still gone, but the joists and all the support beams were gone. I stood in my driveway peering in through the living room window and sighed. They promise our floor will be done by Christmas when company is coming over. We are supposed to be making a turkey. We've not bought it yet and started thawing it. Our furniture is on our back porch. We have little trails going through the kitchen because there's no place to put all the stuff that was in our living room. We've run out of restaurants to eat at because there's so much stuff in the kitchen now that we don't want to cook.

While in the kitchen I kept seeing a workman go by with a wheelbarrow.  The first few times I didn't think much of it.  The kids were running amuck with all the excitement.  I spent most of my time taking big deep breathes of chemical outgassing and trying to calm my nerves. After about the 50th time the wheelbarrow passed by I put on my shoes and went around the house to the living room and discovered my husband standing in what used to be our living room with a shovel.

"We're excavating, honey!"

Apparently it would be beneficial to have 16 inches of clearance between the dirt and the beginning of the living room floor so there was my husband digging it up and putting the dirt into five-gallon buckets that were being hauled away by the gangly teenage sons of our contractor. What remained of my living room hung out in a surreal vision of normality (sheetrock, trim, curtain rods, ceiling fans, light switches) suspended several feet in the air above nothing. I breathed in the loamy scent of earth, smiled grimly and said, "I never did mind about the little things."

That same day our bathtub stopped draining in a hostile act that said to me that our house is really pissed off about being violated. And the toilet won't flush. And the plumber won't return my call and it looks like I will have to start dropping my mother's name because he always will make a house call for Kitty.

That night there was less cuddling on the bed, the children found some noisy alien laser blasters and like an idiot I actually replaced the batteries for them which necessitated me having to hide the guns from them while they weren't looking. From under a pillow my husband muttered, "I don't know what you were thinking putting batteries in those." I explained that, for once, I was trying to be a nice. He asked me to stop, so I did.

Which brings us to where we are now. I came to work in the clothes I wore yesterday and showered here. The boys go to the bathroom in the bushes behind our house and we're still no thawing a turkey. Tonight is the cub scout Christmas party potluck for which I must cook something in a kitchen that has every surface covered with stuff from the living room, books, electronics, pictures, too much of everything. My office has a kitchen but the oven element is not working and so I'm just sitting here rocking back and forth moaning in a modified fetal position so I can still type.

If I made new year's resolutions, my resolution for 2010 would definitely be "fix or get rid of all things that are broken" and in conjunction with that "get rid of stuff". My new rule will be that I should be able to reasonably fit two rooms of stuff in one room and still function. This is vital to my sanity because when the living room is done, I have heard rumors that a certain person wants to start on the kitchen...


  1. Ack! This whole post stressed me out! Here's to Santa bringing you a floor and a functioning bathroom for Christmas!

  2. I'm amazed that anyone would start a project like this anytime AFTER Halloween if they were planning a Christmas get-together! What were you thinking? This is a summer project! Unless you're a stress seeking, frustration-aholic?

  3. What a horrible time to have all this happen!

  4. My kitchen is off limits. LoL! I like it just the way it is . . . Even if someone does want to install French doors. We'll see . . . I hope everything comes together soon! Please keep us posted.

  5. OMGosh Wendy.

    I hate change and put it off as long as possible...a kitchen redo..oh no, not until you have had at least a year of enjoying the new living room....when it happens...sometime...around....mid Jan...:(

    Nah u will be fine...Have a Blessed your moms..cause u will need to use her oven and bathroom and stuff...LOL

  6. Use the laser guns on husband.

  7. Having lived to tell about our own remodel/addition, I CAN tell you that, while it's stressful right now (we, too, lost our bathroom, and floor, and lots of walls - the cabinet maker disappeared on his yacht in Mexico, putting the project on hold while we lived in the mess, etc.) IT'LL TOTALLY BE WORTH IT!

    Hang in there and enjoy this special, creative, cuddle time. And lose the batteries in the laser pointers. This might be a good time to let the kids dig holes "under the livingroom." ;)

  8. Oh, no, husbands should never be allowed to do their own remodling.

  9. I wondered where you were! Take a deep breath, let it out and then say, "This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass." That was what my mom always did.

    As stressful as it is, just concentrate on having a merry Christmas with your family. (And occasionally close your eyes and chant "Let it go, I'm just letting it go." That's what I do.)

    Those of us with intact living rooms and usable kitchens will be thinking of you this holiday, thinking to ourselves, "It could be worse. I could have a giant hole in my living room like Wendy does."

    Merry Christmas!

  10. "In an effort to encourage us to move back my mom said, 'little bit of wiring, little bit of sheetrock and you've got a brand new house.'"

    Isn't it great having a mom visionary!

  11. my pet rock wants to excavate the living room and replace everything...including the recalcitrant Christmas tree, igniting the argument anew:

    Seymour: "Can too!"
    Tree: "Can not!"

    Merry Christmas, floorless or not ;)

  12. Have you considered asking Tori to help with this project?

  13. No livingroom, no bathroom, kids shooting laser guns and one puking dog....should I even ask how Christmas went??? I hope it was nice even with all the problems... I love ya Wendy ♥ Hang in there!!

  14. So, don't leave us in suspense - did it get done???

    Or did your connection go out when the house fell down?

    One can only hope not!

  15. Wow - talk about stress! A project ALWAYS takes longer and costs more than originally planned. And it sure is taxing on the marriage! Hope your house AND marriage survives this! :) And may it be done SOON!

  16. Wow - It's stories like this that make me happy that my Hubby is not a 'project' person. Hope it all comes together soon and that your holiday was 'special' -

  17. Oh nooooo. Right this moment I am very happy to be renting. Yikes. I hope it all gets sorted shortly!

  18. Just wanted to say HAPPY NEW YEAR and thanks for sharing your world

  19. Oh wow... no living room... that's not what I imagine you'd want for Christmas. I've learnt from eavesdropping on my parents never to listen to a man on the subject of DIY timescales. Or any other 'project' ones for that matter. Our decorators were meant to be in and out in a week. Three weeks later we get a reduced fee but what with all the cups of tea we made them I'm thinking it didn't make much difference to the overall payment.

  20. Where IS Wendy????

  21. Dude! I totally did the same thing to us this Christmas!
    Every-stinking-thing from all 3 bedrooms was stuffed into the living room and kitchen.
    The bedrooms were no refuge because they had no carpet, an infestation of lady bugs and reeked of paint fumes.
    Our porch was piled 4 feet high with the debris of rotten old carpet, old kitchen counters & sink, and just plain garbage. Then it snowed so you couldn't see it, so it was cool.
    We kept waiting and waiting to get the Christmas tree. Then it was Eve and we decided that the 2 foot plastic tree from the dollar store was plenty good enough. And throughout we only had one irrational screaming battle, so, success, I say.

    You have my sympathies! It's gonna be awesome when it's done!

    "We're excavating!" lol!

  22. Gift for you on my blog Wendy xx


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