Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stockholm syndrome

Dear sisters, 

Last week there were invariably six to eight men in our house, welding, painting or hanging around, picking up their tools, because it seems we are coming to the end of a long chapter; the chapter of the "house in progress". Unfortunately, we will have to stop a little sooner than completion, as the money tap drips and sputters, but we are just about where we want to be. Things work, generally.

Due to a major leakage in the washing room a few weeks back, (that was a little set-back in living comfort), we have been carrying boxes piled high in the storage; boxes you might put away for years without touching, to the living room, to make room for the drying, carrying them back in, to host a birthday lunch, and carrying them all back out again, for the laying of the new floor. Each session motivated us a little more to look into the boxes we were carrying to and fro. Eighteen boxes of books, kept in storage for seven years,  were put out on the street for pick-up, amongst others.
It feels so wrong to do that, but, really, nobody wanted them. It also feels so good to be lighter, although we  still cannot be called minimalists.

This Monday there are only five men; two electricians, two painting men and Franklin, our cleaning man who sings while he works, trying to clean the house with the power turned off. He has not been singing for a while, due to all the commotion. This is the last spasm of activity, before it will fall silent, just in time for Christmas.
Is there an equivalent of the Stockholm syndrome for renovation situations? I may just suffer from it. What will I do when nobody turns up to drink my coffee and ask me for the sugar? I won’t have to move from room to room to make place for the next job or make decisions about heights of planks (“am I sure?”) in relation to ceilings, taps and cupboards, or whether I want the square or rounded doorsteps. I will not have to keep the dog out of the paint pots or from chewing the cord of the sanding machine. The beloved animal might just find peace and stop peeing on the carpet. I will not have to keep smiling in my own house.
Days of silence,  solitude and concentration, I can’t wait for them, but there is some dread, too. From the moment they leave, the household will officially be open for everyday living and therefore need to run smoothly and efficiently, as we had intended before we started.
Yes, my wildest fantasies involve efficiency.
Has everything got its own permanent, dedicated spot yet? To which it can easily return? That, we (-my husband and I -) believe, is the secret to sustained success in tidy living, to which we aspire. For now, it is merely pillow talk, yet to be tested.
(And what other aspirations did I have with my life again?  I can’t recall just now. )

Luckily, the festive season has snuck upon us. The windows glow and flicker, as I pull the reluctant dog through whipping winds or mucky snow. Sinterklaas came and left for Spain again. It is the year the last believer in the family was robbed of her illusions; she now demands to know all our other secrets, but we are not telling.

The Christmas tree is up. So, there is something to fill the looming crater, until January at least.
Due to necessary cost cutting, the Christmas gifts could very well be handmade this year, probably from recycled building materials, but I am sure you won’t mind. I know you want “the two-screws-on-a-found-wooden-background brooch” or what about a “linoleum-cut-out-hanging ornament”? All will be revealed on Christmas day.

Another good thing about the removal of boxes, is that I now have a sleeping place for you all. If all goes to plan, but that is still a dangerous contention, S3’s room will have doors by the time you all get here.
And now, for something completely different:

In my ongoing series on potatoes in and around the house: a photograph of a potato found at the bottom of my vegetable bin.
And sisters, we have one loyal reader who has been complaining about our updating frequency. Two months  since the last post?! Well. 

So S2, and S3, what’s going on in Antwerp and Prague?

Love, S1