It's not about the house.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Linens 'N' Crap

When we first moved into this house it was still full of the old owners crap. And I do mean crap. Well, not literally crap – I’d like to think I wouldn’t have bought it if that were the case, but with my judgment you never know. Anyway, what I mean was, you know, crappy stuff.

So we had to shove our crap (and yeah, I mean crappy stuff here, too) in with her crap and, to make a long story short, we’re still – three years later – finding things we’d forgotten that we owned.

My project over the past few months has been to make our closets work in the manner that they were intended, as in: put stuff in them; take stuff out; repeat. Not as in: cram them full and slam the door and never open it again for fear of all the crap.

The front closet went first. I emptied it out and scrubbed it down and only put things in it that belonged in there. Ahhh... This was the first winter since we moved here that I had a place to put my wet boots when I took them off. A hook to hang my scarf on. Hangers for my coats. It was exciting. I still had to go around the house everyday picking coats and mittens up and putting them away, but at least I had a place where I could put them. And the linen closet has proved even more satisfying...

See, as long as we couldn’t use the front closet, all the coats and hats and sweaters were shoved into the linen closet – which really wasn’t big enough for all of them, so we basically took out the two or three we used and left them strewn about the house for the best part of three years. The rest stayed in the linen closet, forgotten, until now.

The linens, meanwhile – which we actually used – lived for a year or so in the spare fridge in the dining room, until we got around to setting that up. Then they got shoved into this odd little cubby-space we have under the stairs. There were these sort-of shelves in there already that someone not-us had put in, and it was right across the little hallway from the bathroom. I dipped the shelves alternately in bleach and Teflon for about a week and a half, spread an old towel down on each of them, and put my linens and things in that odd little cubby-space under the stairs.

The funny thing about odd little cubby-spaces under the stairs, though, aside from the boy magicians playing with their wands, is that they’re shaped like the under of the stairs. Ours doesn’t have an inverted staircase on the ceiling or anything, but it is deeper than it is wide, each shelf according to its altitude. On the deepest shelves, which of course are on the bottom, you can’t reach all the way to the back. And the top, most depth-convenient, shelves you can’t reach without a step ladder. I tossed extra curtains up there I knew I’d never use.

Meantime one shelf – one of the middle ones – was designated the medicine cabinet because oh, yeah, we don’t have one of those yet, either. Well, actually we do, but it’s so hands-down disgusting that all we keep in there is Lysol, and even that we wash before we use. Anyway the odd part about the medicine-chest shelf is that it has one corner cut away, which you tend to forget about when looking for the Solpadeine, and then the medicine-chest contents wind up on the floor of the odd cubby space under the stairs. And you don’t want to know about the floors of odd cubby spaces under stairs in houses that weren’t cleaned out before you bought them. Suffice it to say we asked every Irish visitor to bring us more Solpadeine so we could maintain our schedule of sacrifices to the stair-cubby-space spirits.

But anyway once I’d gotten all the sweaters, hats and shoes out to the front hall where they belonged, Johnny washed the linen closet down and painted it, cut shelves to fit it (because of course there weren’t shelves) and painted them, pulled up the linoleum and washed the painted hardwood underneath, and voila! It sat empty for three weeks until I got around to transferring the linens…

Well, come on. Cleaning out that cubby meant cleaning out that sacrificial floor.

Eventually I did it, and it turns out we have less stuff than I thought. Sheets, tablecloths and pillowcases on the top shelf (I threw out the unused curtains); towels, face cloths and spare bathmats on the next; medicine-chest doo-dads on the third (three boxes of Solpadeine: two of them full); and the entire bottom shelf for toilet paper, which we buy in the Y2K-sized economy pack and have occasionally been known to store in the trunk of the car. On the floor? Get this: a first aid kit. A first aid kit! Me! Who woulda thunk it?

I’ll need it, too, if I ever broach the closet in my office…

4 comments:

jm@houseinprogress said...

I really think we're going to need some photos soon. This story is too good NOT to have illustrations. :)

Georgetown House said...

If I wasn't having to keep my composure in front of my students (night class) I'd be howling with laughter. Mostly from recognition - we have NO idea where half the things we own are because so much stuff is stuffed into places where they don't really go, leaving no place to create places for it all to go. Make sense?!?

But some of your specifics were priceless: Linens in the unused spare refridgerator? And for reasons you can probably guess, your comment about "boy magicians playing with their wands" made me chuckle with remembering when a friends 4yo son became obsessed with Harry Potter and something much more personal at the same time...

Thanks for such an enjoyable read!

LadyScot said...

I love it! Sounds like my place - can't put anything anywhere because of all the "other" stuff that's there. And the thought of cleaning it out....

EGE said...

Thanks JM - you're the whole reason I'm doing this! The blog, I mean. The house was my own stupid idea.

I'm working on the photos. I don't have a digital camera - or a cell phone if you can believe that, because I'm really just visiting from the turn of the last century - but I am working on it. I'll post photos as soon as I can, and when I do I'll put them on all the old stories that need them, so please bear with me...

In the meantime, thanks for just plain old reading!