Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recovering from a Backslide, and A Tale of Woe

Bonus post here! Two posts in one! You can't get a deal like that anywhere else, now can you? :p

"Autumn is a season for big decisions -- like whether or not it's too late for spring cleaning."

So I'm back, after a few months' absence, and having backslid more than a bit. It's been a busy time for me -- a friend's daughter had her babysitter quit via Facebook the week before school started, and I fast talked one of Ally's friends into being the temporary babysitter while the mother applied for subsidized care for her two kids. After a few days of sitting at the mom's house, which was much, much messier than mine, it became apparent that the arrangement wasn't going to work. The babysitter was afraid to leave the house with the kids because a) she didn't have a key, and b) the area isn't the best. The mess meant that kids and sitter were confined in one small room (the living room), and the only thing to do was watch TV.

So one weekend, sitter and Ally transformed MY house into a daycare centre. Which made me immediately aware of the fact that mess isn't just unsightly. It can, with kids around, be downright dangerous. My living room got a thorough cleaning and childproofing, and the kiddy toys were moved in. Not too many toys -- just enough to keep the kiddies occupied when it was rainy outside. A whole lot more craft materials in a nifty storage bench, some wooden blocks, and some kids' books and CDs. The DVD player and TV were already on site, with a wide selection of appropriate videos, because my autistic son still likes to watch kids movies. (So do I, but I don't have to admit it, do I?)

Everything had a place -- a tote or box or shelf so that things didn't get totally disordered, and the last thing the kids did before heading home was put things back in their place. Between that single routine and a babysitter who took them to the park at least once every day, the place stayed in reasonable shape, and with a daily sweeping and mopping (and I'm now thanking God that my floors were re-done in laminate!), the living room and kitchen at least were kept livable.

The kitchen was rearranged so that dangerous stuff could be locked up, but we decided after all to block off the kitchen with a gate. The new arrangement has proven very inconvenient, so one of the things I'm going to have to do in the next few days is put everything back the way it was...

Because the kids were there daily, it did mean that the downstairs didn't get too messy, but the upstairs was another story. I'm a solitary person, and the arrival of two very outgoing little kids every day upset my routine a lot! I could hack it when I was younger, and none of my kids required the 24/7 one-on-one supervision that those two kids did (they're all introverts like me), but I'm fifty now, and entitled to a little peace once in a while, or so I believe.

Anyhow, my desk and office and hallway and bedroom are a disaster, and the bathroom is dirty again, so it's back to the old drawing room! Hopefully, though, in the next day or two I'll have at least the bathroom, bedroom and desk halfway decent again.

On a completely different note, there was a posting on one of the message boards I frequent a week or two ago that made me sad. A friend who followed her husband (who is in the navy, I think) to Japan says that when he was posted, they couldn't sell their house, and so they hired a management company and rented it out. They had just found out that the place had been trashed by their renters. The folks who replied to the posting related several similar experiences, and many of them vowed never, ever to rent out a house again.

Renters, if you're reading, please take note: This hurts us all! In the end, the only ones who are going to be willing to rent out to folks like us (the majority in North America, I believe) are large companies who a) will be extremely fussy about who they rent to, possibly leaving those of us with less than stellar credit histories or less than steady employment out in the cold (and if you have those two things, why are you renting?), and b) will extract humungous damage deposits, which they will then be very stingy about returning.

I don't get it. If I'm living in a place, I'd much rather live in a nice place than a trashed one, and that means taking good care of it, even if it's not mine.

One of the things I'm trying to demonstrate here is that you don't have to be rich or even moderately well off to have a nice place to live. I live in subsidized co-operative housing, and if I keep the place up, it will be a relaxing and wonderful place to call home. If I don't, I'll be living in a dump. How my neighbours live doesn't really affect me. How much money I have doesn't make all that much difference--a lot of the stuff I own was free or almost free, and none of it is "the best money can buy."

What matters is how well I can take care of what I have, and how well I take care of the walls (and windows and doors) that surround me.

So if you're poor, and if you're renting, don't believe that it's impossible for you to live in a nice-looking place. Don't think that it's okay to trash the house just because you don't own it, you'll be moving on soon, and it's easier and more fun to break down wall than to paint them. It's not okay, it really isn't all that fun (I get much more satisfaction out of cleaning something than I do out of breaking something!), and in the end, it hurts us all.

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