Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The dream of home ownership.

I knew I had somewhat, err, aggressive visions for cleaning and painting our new house. In my mental utopia, we'd do a quick clean and then begin painting and transforming the house from a dump into something suitable for the Vanderbilts.

I didn't imagine that I would spend all of last night and all of today cleaning the bathroom.

Yes. One bathroom. Twenty-four hours.

I've gone through an entire canister of antibacterial wipes. A big canister - 70 wipes.

Again: One bathroom.

And I've bleached and scoured and scrubbed and cursed the guy who literally a) didn't aim; and b) never cleaned. So, I've cleaned up shit all day.

I took a break and ran to my house to let the four pups outside. Remember when I said I was impressed that Lady Doodle hadn't had an accident in the house?

Umm, yeah. About that. Poor girl had explosive diarrhea in my laundry room.

I stood in the garage and could smell something foul. When I opened the door to the laundry room, I was frozen. Two dogs. Poo everywhere. The dogs had to walk through the poo-ridden room to get outside. I had to walk through the poo-ridden room to get to the cleaning supplies. And somewhere in the distance, Lil' Frank was in his kennel, barking his head off.

Welcome home.

I spent an hour scraping poo off the sisel rug, then lugging the rug outside, then draping it over my deck railing, then hooking up the hose, then spraying the rug. Then? The rug fell off the deck with a splash into a mud puddle.

I drug the wet and poopy rug back onto the deck and hoisted it back onto the railing - getting myself somewhat wet and poopy in the process. All of the dogs were really interested in this new decorating scheme. I ran into the house to get some Resolve, and I realized that there was poop in the kitchen. Someone had tracked it in ... and that someone was me. I'd stepped in doo-doo in the yard and had it all over my shoe. And of course, when I sprayed my shoe off, I managed to get my shoe, sock, and pants soaking wet.

Then? Then, it was time to wipe Lady Doodle's posterior with baby wipes. She wasn't happy about it, but her litter mate Big Doodle was really interested. So interested that he licked my head as I leaned down to get a visual on her butt.

And? My house smells like shit.

And I've literally been cleaning shit all day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why God invented rubber gloves.

After getting home from a snowy and festive Christmas in Iowa, My Guy and I consolidated canine households. All four dogs are currently staying at my house. The labradoodles are surprisingly mellow, although they keep sliding around on the wood floors.

There is one slight issue, however. Lady Doodle has a bit of a nervous digestive system. She has, umm, diarrhea. But! Because she's such a smart and good dog? She hasn't had any accidents in the house.

She has, however, had the worst gas imaginable. Like, the entire house smells like farts. Toxic dog farts.

I've sprayed organic oils throughout the house. Candles are burning. But, if we're honest? My house smells like shit.

So, it was only reasonable that this afternoon, the poo stink was so bad that I walked around looking for the doo. And then I realized that somebody had tracked clumps of dirt onto the couch. And then I realized that those clumps weren't dirt.


Foxie Doxie had stepped squarely in a big ol' pile in the yard, then tracked it throughout the house.

We had an emergency bath. I washed three pillow covers and scoured the couch. I washed the floor. I cleaned the kitchen since the emergency bath was in the kitchen sink. And then I threw myself into the car and ran out ... to close on our new house!

Yes. My guy signed our lives away today. And they gave us keys! To our house!

We took pictures of every room.

We decided we're morons because just now - on my third trip to the house, My Guy's fourth - we realized the former usage of the shelf unit in the basement.
Hmm. How useful that each shelf has its own lights!

And then My Guy was all street-smart. "Uh, maybe it was used for ... growing."

So, yeah. We have a pot farm in our basement. Great!

Once we got over that, My Guy commenced replacing the 27 broken lightbulbs around the house, and I commenced cleaning one of the bathrooms.

You know how there's dirty, and then there's willful destruction?

So, yeah. If I'm wiping random brown and yellow stains from walls, window sills, and basically every surface? And if I was at it for more than two hours and still didn't get done? That's willful destruction. And if you're a grown damned man, like the man who lived in the house before it was owned by the bank? You should be able to aim. Just sayin'.

So, basically, I have been dealing with shit all day. Huzzah!

But I did get teary-eyed when we walked into our house for the first time. Our house.
Yes, it warranted a filthy bathroom mirror self portrait. Life is good.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In which I represent my old hag peoples.

I don't know if you know this, but Christmas is four days away.

I know!

This means that I'm finally really in the mood for Christmas music. My fancy cable offers many holiday music channels, including my favorite, Holiday Traditions. Perry Como? Bing Crosby? Twelve different renditions of "Baby, It's Cold Outside?" Yes, please!

One of the holiday channels is called Holiday Remix. Its description? "Today's hottest DJ's give tired tracks a new spin. Featuring some of the biggest acts on the turntables, this is the coolest Holiday mix tape around."

Where to begin?

First of all, I, personally, know that "DJ's" should be plural, not possessive. And I know that "Holiday" is not a proper noun. So, as long as we have that out of the way.

But "tired tracks?"

Dude. Nat King Cole might be dead, but he ain't tired.

I know I sound like I'm 35 going on 70 and wear puff-painted sweatshirts and Easy Spirit sneakers. But Christmas music is serious business. The only Christmas song from the last 30 years that I like is Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas." And it took me about 15 years to come around to that one.

I like to embody "careful consideration."

Now, before you go thinking I'm a close-minded ol' biddy, give me a minute. If you're totally jonesing for a new take on a classic, there's but one that has earned a Cha Cha Seal of Approval this holiday season.

I submit for your consideration ... Carol of the Bells. By The Muppets.

Do you have any new favorites that I should consider considering for The List of Cha Cha's Officially Sanctioned Holiday Music? Much like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's a waiting period. But it's so worth it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Somebody's chestnuts roasted.

I'd like to apologize for an important omission in my recent post about the feces and dead mice in our rental house.

My sweet mama was kind enough to fill in the gaps in my memory.

To: Cha Cha
From: Cha Cha's Mama
Subject: Clarification
Dear Cha Cha -

While the whole mice issue did have me teetering on the brink, discovery of the [live] garter snake in the basement prompted me to announce that they'd better make sure the plumbing was functioning cuz we were moving the next day. And we did.

xxoo Mom

Because the mice weren't bad enough? There was a snake?

Wow. Merry Christmas, one and all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'll be home for Christmas.

This has been sort of an odd holiday season. I didn’t put up my tree, since it just seemed like something else I’ll have to pack and move soon. The only decorating I did was draping the pink and turquoise funky Christmas quilt my mom made me over the back of the couch.

And the shopping? Well, it’s been minimal. In less than two weeks, My Guy and I will own a grand total of three houses. The new house is our gift to each other. And most other folks? Well, the gifts are mostly from our hearts, not from our wallets. Which makes me feel a teensy bit guilty.

All in all, it just seems to be a holiday season in flux. But it makes me think of one of my favorite Christmases ever.

When I was 3, my parents built the home they still occupy. All spring and summer were filled with wonderful adventures. When the cement guys had sand down as a base for the concrete garage floor? I walked across it with my sandals, leaving ice cream cone imprints. Yes, I’ve always had an eye for d├ęcor. And all of the cabinets for the new house? Well, they came in the most wonderful boxes. I had multiple houses, and my tricycle had a garage. Don’t even get me started on my Shangri-La in what would become the kitchen sink cabinet.

My folks sold their old house, and the closing was before the new house was ready. So, we moved into a rental, and all of our stuff moved into storage. I remember that the rental house had brown shag carpet, and I remember that was the Halloween I dressed as an artist. My mom’s memories differ a bit.

According to my sweet mama, the house had been empty, and so it was overrun with mice. She and I would sit on the couch and watch the mice run across the floor, and I was not allowed to play on the floor. One day, my dad came home and asked innocently, “Honey? Why is your snow boot in the front yard?” And my mom answered, “There was a mouse in it. And don’t even bother bringing it back in, because I’m never wearing it ever again.”

You get the picture.

There were traps. And mice were captured. But we’re talking a lot of freakin’ mice. And my mom wanted nothing to do with the mice removal. So, my dad devised an easy system – he flushed the dead mice. All of them.

The new house was coming along, and I got to play on the carpet there, even though carpet time was strictly forbidden in the rental. We were going to move in to the new house around the first of the year. Well, until The Incident.

Evidently, flushing mice is not a plumbing maintenance best practice.

The sewer backed up into the basement of the rental house. Raw sewage and hundreds – nay, thousands – of bloated mice corpses covered the floor.

If she wouldn’t wear a snow boot that had contained a live mouse, you can bet my mama wasn’t going to stay in a house with our own version of The River Styx in the basement.

We moved into our new house two days before Christmas. I don’t remember any furniture, but I remember we had a tree. And lots of snow.

I remember sitting in my mom’s lap on the floor of our new living room, admiring the tree and looking out the window onto our new yard. And I felt so content.

That Christmas, Santa brought me a coloring book, a box of 64 Crayolas, a baby doll, and a boat.

Well, I thought it was a boat. It was a red plastic sled. In the photos, I look so completely satisfied in my orange footie pajamas – almost smug. All was right with my world, even if we didn’t have furniture or front steps or a kitchen counter.

I’m trying to take that memory with me into this season, and into the adventure of imperfect home ownership that My Guy and I are about to enjoy. Because later? All of the imperfections will seem perfect.

Case in point? After Christmas, my dad took the Christmas tree and just threw it off the front porch, where the steps should have been. And left it there until April, proudly announcing that The Clampetts had moved into the neighborhood.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our love is true.

What the very ticklish My Guy said to me as I was oh-so-innocently counting his ribs with my index finger:

You are the devil! You would've turned in Anne Frank!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gettin' ready to get all married.

My wedding dress came in. Six weeks early. Crazy, huh?

So, Saturday morning, my friend A. and I trekked to the bridal salon, where I put on The Dress. Since I ordered it in August, I'd started to have ... not second thoughts, but doubts. Was it really the right dress? Did I really look OK in it?

Well, rest assured - all is well. I look good.

My veil was in, too, so I tried on the whole ensemble, and we played a bit with jewelry. I feel confident that I'm going to look like me, but me on a really, really good hair day.

My entire look will be pretty, umm, classic, even with my own funky touches. Of course, I'm basing this "classic" judgment on my most recent addiction: Married to Rock.

Yeah, they're married to rock stars. Yeah, one of 'em just had a fancy wedding, where she entered the ceremony via a giant tulle-swathed swing from the roof of a nearby building. And yeah, her bridesmaids did wear large, Hello Kitty pendant necklaces.

Like I said? My wedding will be soooo booooooring.

But Married to Rock? Well, I've been a little disappointed in Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It. His kids are just too messed up for me to fully lose myself in the show. But Married to Rock? It's nothing but sweet, sweet collagen lips and pretty decent - if disproportionate - boob jobs. And I don't feel a need to find any of the families portrayed a good child psychologist.

Thanks to Married to Rock, I've learned about rocker post-tour depression, and the special burdens of being a rock wife. I've also learned that a proactive way to keep groupies at bay is to FedEx your husband a life-sized doll in your likeness.

Well, it would have worked had FedEx not lost the doll. But it's still a valuable pointer that I'll carry with me in my marriage.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cha Cha goes to the movies. Or sits on the couch.

When I was in junior high and high school, I babysat the crap out of my hometown.

Seriously. I don't mean to brag, but I was in high demand. I babysat a lot. I like kids, kids seem to like me, and I was careful to clean the kitchen before the parents got home.

One particular Saturday night, after my young charges had gone to bed and I'd tidied the kitchen, I made a gruesome discovery. My otherwise hip and awesome employers ... didn't have cable.


But I found myself entertained by an old movie on public television. If you've never seen it, rush out right now and rent, buy, or steal Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine.

Marty is a lovely little movie - and I hadn't seen it since until it was on TCM this week. Watching it again was like slowly savoring creme brulee.

But here's the deal: it's a movie about lonely people, people who are scared of not being needed, people who are on the verge of giving up. There are old women who are unsure of their role when their children don't need them anymore. And there's an old maid and a lonely bachelor who are both on the cusp of accepting their fates as duds.

As a teenager, I could appreciate feeling left behind. But as a woman who is about to be married for the first time at 35?

Well, when the woman daringly tells her potential suitor that she's 29 - outing herself as a spinster - and half expects the man to reject her immediately?

I could taste her apprehension.

I have been that woman.

I have toyed with the idea that I was deficient, an ill fit, destined to be alone - but not wanting any of that solitude. I've been bitter, but managed to pull myself back from that abyss a few times. I chose to pursue my happiness even though I was terrified - and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

The great thing about Marty? It's all about good, decent people and the decision to pursue or settle in.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The best of times, the worst of times.

It's been a quiet Sunday. I haven't left the house, and didn't feel the need to put on a bra. The doxies are wearing sweaters for the first time this season, and the extra warmth is making them sleepy. Sweaters! They're like blankets that you take with you!

I've worked. I've read. I've done laundry.

And now? Now, I'm freaking out just a tiny bit.

My Facebook wall is alive with the question: Cha Cha! What will you do Dec. 28? Who will you root for - your life-long loves, the Iowa Hawkeyes, or your beloved alma mater, the Mizzou Tigers?

Ohhh, crap.

Yes. My two teams are playing in the Insight Bowl.

Well, I know I'll wear black and gold. But other than that?

The first time I cried over sports was when Chuck Long lost the closest Heisman race in history to Bo Jackson. I was in fifth grade, and not sure what to make of my anger and hurt. Evidently, I channeled it into a healthy grudge: I still hate Bo Jackson.

The first time I attended I football game at Missouri, I laughed at the crappy stadium. I was a college sophomore and just learning the joys of a pleasant buzz at sporting events. It was like riding a bike without the training wheels for the first time.

I grew up in Iowa. But I blossomed at Missouri.

Maybe I won't watch the game. That's the day My Guy and I close on our house, and we will probably be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Or, if I do watch the game, maybe I'll watch it with my hands over my eyes, like how I watch horror flicks. Because that's how I've watched many Iowa games this season - lots of times, they played like doo-doo.

Or maybe I'll multitask, doing stuff around the house while the game is on. Because that's how I watched many Mizzou games this season. Let's face it - many of their games were like watching paint dry. Not hatin', just sayin'.

At any rate? As if the nervous anticipation of Christmas wasn't enough, we're closing on our house three days after Jesus' birthday. And now, I can firmly plan my fangirl mental breakdown for the same day. How convenient.