Friday, June 19, 2009

Let there be -- TEA!

Many years ago, when Hubby was young and strong, he built a stereo cabinet for our house. Remember stereos? Record players, tuners, speakers -- we even had a reel-to-reel. He built the cabinet to contain all his "equipment" which, after five years of living together, he decided was safe to bring into "our" house.

Many people feel we have the best of all worlds -- Hubby kept his own house after we bought the little bungalow we share. For a while his adopted mother lived there. Then it stood empty after she died. Eventually he rented the house. Then a tenant who was on the wrong side of the law got in trouble with his drug-running buddies and they tried to burn the house down in retaliation. Actually, only the garage and back part of the house burned but because of water and smoke damage, the entire house had to be rehabbed. So we gave up on tenants and turned the house into an office . . . and Hubby, who must always be busy, keeps his tools and workshop there and runs little business ventures out of it. Actually, the current venture isn't so little, but that's another story for another time.

Anyway, back to the stereo cabinet. Hubby built a floor to ceiling (10 feet?) wood cabinet with spaces measured to fill all his equipment AND records. This cabinet is SO huge and heavy that it takes up half a wall and requires a team of men to move (it's made of wood, remember?). But then stereo equipment began to shrink. The reel-to-reel was the first to go. Then the cassette players. Finally we boxed up the records and sent them to Hubby's house along with the record player. Now we have the CD that plays multiple discs, a tuner, and hundreds of CDs which need racks to hold them, not shelves.

I began to turn the huge wooden stereo cabinet into display shelves. I collected those Christmas houses for a while. The top three shelves held them. I collected tea pots and the bottom two shelves held them.

And then I quit keeping house. Hubby, who had never kept house, didn't seem to notice. Clearly the dogs didn't care. The dishwasher broke and we didn't replace it for seven long years and during that time, I just didn't go into the living room. Well, I dusted it maybe once a year. And then I kind of stopped even doing that. The room was filled with blue glass and flowers and art work and winter houses and tea pots - and the job just became too massive to tackle without a dishwasher for the glass. Oh - did I say there was a baby grand piano in the room, loaded with art glass and expensive statuary?

Only Fritzy ever really visited the living room. And his purposes were less than altruistic. He made it his job to water the tea pots and tea cups on the bottom shelving. Whenever I'd actually go into the living room, I had to clear off the bottom shelf and empty the tea cups of his pee. You might want to re-think if I ever invite you over and offer you a fine porcelain cup filled with fresh brewed tea. I didn't clear off the shelves to stop him because I actually had no place to store the things displayed there. This house is crammed full to the rafters. Just when I'd think I finally had Fritzy trained not to pee on the bottom shelf of the cabinet, I'd find that he has sneakily discovered a new way to hide his activity.

Getting the CD player working this past weekend made me re-evaluate the stereo cabinet. Hubby has offered to remove it. I've thought about it, but he made it -- for us. It was a labor of love -- and trust (Hubby loves his music probably better than anything in his life, even now, when he no longer makes music -- I imagine he would trade me in to get his voice back - and I don't begrudge him that thought - if I had a talent like that I'd do anything in my power to keep it -- time and age are ugly masters). Anyway, I'm keeping the stereo cabinet.

My grad course this summer is about UDL -- Universal Design Learning -- which means making everything, including learning, accessible to EVERY one. This got me thinking about making our living room, once again, accessible to the family. The one thing I would like to do and can't, is replace the wall-t0-wall carpeting with that fake wood flooring you can wipe down in a jiffy. Old dogs, sick dogs -- we've had them. And frankly, carpeting with incontinent dogs is less than attractive. You just never get rid of the smell, especially to new dogs, when the sick dogs have gone on to better rewards. The guests might not know, but the new dog can tell immediately where the favorite pee spot was for the old dog. Consequently, under the baby grand is where every sick dog (young or old) goes to have accidents. And this old body of mine is less than agile in getting under there now. But the piano and the wood stereo cabinet are simply too big for us to move out if carpet is to be replaced. Hubby, not yet ready to concede that he can't fix this problem for us himself, has at least had the seed planted. The carpeting must go -- if not this year, in the near future.

The piano will probably go first. It was his piano; he acquired it for $50 and kept it in his living room during his bachelor days. When I first saw it, he had dirty underwear and a handgun laying inside the lid. We had it restored, refinished, and for 25 years it has been our prize possession, but now no one plays it. Hubby doesn't play and twelve years of piano lessons only gave me the ability to read sheet music - not to really MAKE music. My back is so destroyed with arthritis now that I can't sit at the backless bench for more than ten minutes or so at a time -- and consequently, the automatic knowledge that once made my fingers play specific notes is pretty well lost. We've talked about selling the piano -- but can't bring ourselves to advertise it. Lately we've talked about giving it to someone who will love it as we once did. Now, it sits in grand, dusty splendor, taking up most of our living room, untouched, untuned, and only the dogs visit it for nefarious purposes.

So . . . the winter houses are going to be mostly put away. The stereo shelves are so deep that I can leave a few for height interest. I found that the ugly plastic CD holders, if turned sideways, will fit in the spaces originally intended for the reel-t0-reel and cassette players. The cabinet is once again holding music as it was intended.

That leaves the tea pots. I found the last saucer yesterday that was still yellow from Fritzy's pee. It made me sad when I put it in the dishwasher. Poor little, stubborn Fritzy who died so young (okay, he was 10 -- but that's young now-a-days) from kidney failure. He had spent all eight years of his time with us filling up those tea cups. The new dogs don't water the tea cups anymore. They sniff them inquiringly (because clearly I hadn't cleaned up all that pee from last summer) but they don't add their own scent. Luie only visits the living room to leave a little something under the piano. Gus only visits if he's sick.

I'm putting the tea pots back on the shelves, only this time higher up. They will now go where the winter houses have sat. No dogs will get to pee on them. Holding each tea pot brought me a measure of joy I haven't felt in household things in some time which is why I'm leaving them out. The ones that didn't (only two, actually) were stored away with the houses (I found a couple of boxes -- Hubby can figure out where to put them in the garage after I have them filled.

Slowly, the stereo cabinet is cleaning up. The dust has been wiped away. The CDs are organized. The player works. The tea pots are slowly being washed, dried, and admired. At least one corner of the living room will be clean come July. Another era of our lives has passed, though. It's all bitter - sweet.

A picture from several years ago (not the stereo cabinet) showing how packed out little house is with stuff. The blue glass was mostly stored away ten years ago.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I hate dusting! I can see from the picture how overwhelming a job it would be. When we recarpeted our family room (complete with huge entertainment system) we used little pad things that my husband bought. They allowed us to slide the furniture across the carpet and onto pads in the kitchen. I won't say it was totally easy, but it was doable. I also hired a local high school football player to help out. I would offer the piano to whomever was motivated enough to come move it out of your house. Moving a piano is NOT easy, so they would have to really want it.