I've been quiet on this blog, and I suppose everywhere; but I've been busy changing a very odd house into a quirky home for my kids.
When arriving in the row, the smell of cat and old carpet was so great it knocked me out when i unlocked the door. And as the stink got cut out and put out of the house, I uncovered other smells. Over and over I question the aromas and odors and last week I asked another's opinion. After long pause and a wrinkled nose he said, "Without a better explanation, it just smells like empty house."
But the smell is something more. It's layers of wallpaper glue and dust and grime left on the wood. It's the bleach to scrub the corners and the ghosts of the woman who lived there before. It's carpet tacks and ceiling tiles. It's quite the opposite of empty house. It's full of junk house.
Initially I was afraid to pull anything out. I just wanted to cover everything up. I wanted to seal it up in another layer. Put a mask on the ghost. It only took a crowbar and one wall to come down before I was tearing everything out. The kitchen was a layer of linoleum, goose wallpaper, floral wallpaper, faux wood paneling and formica - yes, all in layers on the same wall.
The more I pull down, the more I want down.
I'm down to brick on the one wall. (Real brick, not the faux tiles like the ones sandwiching the living and dining room, now covered in a layer of ultra pure white, no. 6705 .) Stripped down to the joists for the kitchen and bath. Scrapping adhesive from the hardwood floors and pulling staples from the stairs.
And it's hard! The pulling and pushing of materials to ready the house to become a home is exhausting. I reach out to friends who I know have done work for advice and family who have time and hands before they are broken from moving a cast iron tub into the back bedroom- which is where I have found to be the natural resting place for cast iron tubs, by the way. And at the end of the day, when my body aches from the work and tears are coming from my eyes overwhelmed by the constraints, I have to remind myself it's going to be home.
So I come back to the house that has my stuff. My current home. And my eyes and ears and nose have to be flushed of the black goo from dust and gross old air. It reminds me of the soot sprites in Totoro. The more I clean from the house, the less ghosties we have to live with when we move.
The history-lover in me wants the ghosts to stay until I hear their stories. But I feel like I'm carrying around my own ghosts and if there is going to be enough room for mine, I need to push some of them out from my home.