Clean up Aisle 7!

May 3, 2012

This post piggy backs onto the previous one, It’s Gonna Get Worse Before it Gets Better, because after all of that tear down and resulting mess, someone has to clean up, right? Who knew it was going to be us? I sure didn’t. As my sister, Sue, noted, the home improvement TV shows don’t show this part. They start with an eager couple making plans for what they envision (been there) and then they pose for the camera with a hammer (yep, did that too.) Then they pick out their shiny stainless steel appliances, take a trip to Hawaii, and voila! Move that bus! I just didn’t know what happened during the commercials.

I actually didn’t know a lot of things a week ago that I know now. For instance, plaster walls aren’t like drywall. They don’t come down in relatively neat sheets. Rather, they crumble apart because they are filled with a sandy, cement-like substance mashed between and on top of strips of wood called lath. Now, I wasn’t born yesterday so I knew what plaster and lath was, but only in theory and never in actual torn apart, time-to-clean-it-up reality.

I also didn’t know HOW to clean up such enormous messes. Before we got the dumpster, we just wandered back and forth past the piles taking care of other business and thought, “Huh. I wonder how you begin picking this stuff up?” Well, you begin with a shovel. There has been a lot of shoveling this past week. We (meaning mostly Joel) shovel the crumbles up, toss them in a garbage bin filling it about a third of the way up so it doesn’t get too heavy, pile strips of lightweight lath on top, drag that bin out to the dumpster, and then dump it. When that’s been done about 50 times, then we (meaning mostly me) sweep up the remaining pounds of sandy cement. I just sweep and sweep from one room to the next and then I spiral back and start all over again. I am amazed at the level of false control this repetitive motion offers me. As I’m sweeping one room I hear the walls crashing down in the next and yet I think it will all be OK because soon I will sweep that up too. Please don’t bring me out of my reverie until this part of the process is over.

So here’s a photo of Joel in the dumpster during our first cleanup session.

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A couple of photos of us in clean up mode.

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After the first kitchen cleanup, I very proudly asked the contractors if they were happy that the piles were finally out of their way. They heartily agreed and then tentatively asked if I had seen the den yet. Nope, I had not. Two photos of the cozy den and one of Joel going back to work!

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This is one of about a dozen messes created and then cleaned up in the foyer.

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Thankfully Drew and his buddy, Bryce, came over to help clean up the heavy chunks of cement that had been knocked down from the upstairs bathroom (Cement in the upstairs bathroom?, you ask? This is a blog all its own, so please be patient.) A still photo of them below and a YouTube video of them here.

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Below are two photos that show just a hint of the messes at this writing. Up until now, we’ve been able to keep up with each area of deconstruction. Yesterday, however, we arrived to find every single room completely trashed. It was this shock that sent us into our separate, self-appointed, coping corners away from the zoo of people around. Joel said he had to have a talk with himself to stop thinking in day-to-day progressions, but rather where we’d be in one year. I had to envision the house itself breathing a thank-you sigh of relief for all of the attention she was getting after being neglected for all of these years. I kept murmuring, “You’re welcome” as each square of oak flooring resurfaced. In any event, we made it through that day and are moving onward to the next heap.

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Yes, I am sitting at home writing this blog while Joel is at the house cleaning up the most recent atrocities. He said my brow was getting too furrowed from these past couple of days and so he granted me a free pass for today to do something a little more creative in order to preserve my sanity for the long road ahead. Thank you, Joel.

And here is the current state of the dumpster. Almost full! We (meaning mostly Joel) has hauled out a LOT of 100-year-old plaster and lath, yes? (Joel would also like me to add that one thing he didn’t know before this week was that there is a proper way to load a dumpster. He received one quick tutorial from our deconstruction expert, Leith, who then later told him he had done it like a pro. High fives all around!)

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