Handy Tips for the New Homeowner

1) Get exercise while practicing your French!
Come home from work, tired and cold, put a kettle on for tea and check your mail. Change from your work clothes to jeans and a light sweatshirt for puttering around the house. When your kettle whistles, pour yourself a cup of steamy tea and place your cold fingers around the mug to warm them. Dump the teabag in the compost bucket on the counter and decide that you really should run out quickly and take out the compost. Don't even think about a jacket, because you're only going to be out for a second, grab the compost bucket, and step outside. Realize that the door clicked a little too loudly when it closed. Grapple with the handle, but recognize that it won't turn because you've locked yourself out. Shout "Shit!" Get on your knees, unhinge the swinging cat door, and try to reach up to unlock the doorknob. Curse your long arms that aren't long enough. Realize that you are very chilly lying against the concrete floor and the only warm part of you is reaching, unsuccessfully, through the cat door. Rehinge the cat door. Sigh. Shout "Shit!" again. Run in place while watching the sun set. Try to vigorously complete outdoor chores in the dark. Wait for your husband to get home.

2) Get a good cry and kill aphids at the same time!
On the last weekend of vacation, when you're already beginning to feel the back-to-work blues, recognize the tell-tale, sticky-shine sign of aphids amongst the overwintering chili peppers on the patio. Put on your steely grin and tell the buggers they won't win. Go inside the house and make your potent anti-aphid mixture: toss a small onion, two cloves of garlic, and one teaspoon of ground cayenne in the food processer, process until it is a liquidy muck, then pour in a bowl; add 1 quart of water and let the mixture sit for a while; strain the mixture into a large spray bottle, add a teaspoon of mild detergent, swirl to mix, and attack the attackers. Thoroughly douse the leaves of the peppers with the spray. Make sure to lean low and spray the undersides of the leaves. Look closely. Spray upwards, getting the little meanies on the bottom of the leaves. Spray yourself in the eyes. Cry.

3) Take a break from housework and read a good book!
Spend a good part of your vacation working with your husband to get the house organized. After much unpacking and discussion, realize what you really need isn't too much to ask for, just two tall bookcases. Figure that you can fit in a trip to Ikea before dinner. You know you'll have to lug stuff home, so fold down the seats in the back of your little car. (You're proud of your little car. It may be small, but boy, with those seats folded down, you can fit so much in there. You tell everyone, "It's my little pickup that gets 40 mpg.") At Ikea, wander happily with your husband through the showrooms, discussing your options, considering the pros and cons of each possibility. Make a decision together, a nice one about which you're both excited. Talk about how hungry the both of you are, and how you're looking forward to the amazing leftovers of spaghetti and meatballs. Go to the warehouse and find the packages of the units. Turn to your husband and say "They look a little big." He will say, "Yeah, but we can fit them in there. We'll just lay them on top of each other, down the middle." Think to yourself, "Of course we can fit them in there—it's my little pickup that gets 40mpg." Purchase the shelves. Cart them out to the car, open the hatch, and say, "Oh shit." Try to fit them in the car anyway. Try for a long time. Recognize that they will fit in the car but you won't. Kiss your husband goodbye before he drives away with only the shelves for company. Walk to the bookstore across the street to read while waiting for him to go home and come back. Try to find a corner where no one can hear your growling stomach. Torture yourself by reading only cookbooks.


Wendy said…
Tell me all this didn't happen to you in one week!

I've had something similar to each of these happen to me too:

*Locked myself out of the holiday cottage in Ardnamurchan last year - I had to walk barefooted up a dirt track to the nearest neighbour with Marco in my arms.

*Got a chilli seed lodged in my eye.

*And I too bought shelves which we couldn't fit in the car though we just returned them and I didn't have to put up with hungerpangs!

But these all happened in different years. Not sure if I'd laugh or cry if they happened in one week...
I love this entry, but was sorry to see that you locked yourself out. Boo hiss!

Anyway, Happy New Year, and see you soon!
pam said…
LOL! The reaching up through the cat door is priceless. I've done that before, unfortunately. Also, with less than successful results.
I've never locked myself out (yet) but we seem to do the shelves thing about once a month with: wood, compost bins, pallets for the allotment, trees that people have dug out of their gardens and will burn if we don't take them, pond liners and once - bizzarely - a lost Great Dane. It was a big dog and I have a very small car ...
I'm not laughing with you, Christina. I'm laughing at... Oh, shit. I screwed that up. I'm reminded of a friend who was assembling his first ever power mower. His wife walked by when he was wrestling with some part. Fifteen minutes later, she walked by again, and he was still wrestling with the same part. She very supportively said, "How's it going, Shemp?"
Christina said…
Wendy: Yes, yes it did. OUCH! How did you survive the pepper seed in your eye?

E and J: Happy New Year to you too, friend!

Pam: Doncha just wish we had Inspector Gadget arms?

The Allotment Blogger: A Great Dane? That is a story you have to tell . . ..

Terry B.: Shemp I is. Oh well. I may be a clutz, but at least I'm good at collecting stories about my clutziness!
AJK said…
Happy New Year! Oh boy, what a week! I'm so sorry those things happened.

My Mom had a similar experience of locking herself out, in the early evening, she was cooking, and just running out to the back to get some green onions for her dish she was making. She had the fire going, since she thought she'd be back in a second... she had short sleeves on, but it was Sept already and the nights were getting pretty chilly. She keeps her cat outdoors and didn't want the sneaky kitty to swish past her leg to get in(kitty wants to be warm in the house too) so she quickly closed the sliding glass door, and locked herself out! But no one lives with her(except now we'll be moving in). She tried all the windows and doors with no luck, and decided she needed to borrow her neighbors' phone to call me,but her gate to get to the front yard was locked as well. So she climbed the wrought iron gate, which has sharp points on the tips, and she falls and jabbed her arm on one of those....and a trip to the ER!...She's fine now, thank goodness.
sarahww said…
loved this post. it made me laugh (though since no aphid juice was handy, no crying).

i am happy to learn that i also speak french -- and just when I was about to buy rosetta stone!
Anonymous said…
All three things happened to us since we became homeowners too, as long as you sub aphids for turkeys in Number 2. But yes, 1 & 3 happened *exactly* like that, except that we managed to fit both of us in the car, just barely, b/c there's no where to hide in Brooklyn where our Ikea is. Too funny. Two completely opposite coasts, but life is exactly the same :-)

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