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Mr. Apron has already written Closet, part un, in which we tried to bite the bullet and pay some fancy franchised closet organizer company to make the maximum use out of our existing closets.  See, in 1929, they only had 3 dresses, or 2 suits, and 3 pairs of shoes.  If they happened to be clothes horses, and owned 6 dresses plus a fur coat and 7 blouses, they they probably bought an armoir.  We, however, are modern folk.  I also have a fear of large pieces of furniture, specifically entertainment centers and armoires.  We like our closets built in, to hold our 17 spring skirts, 17 summer skirts, and 17 fall/winter skirts.  My man, at least, has nearly 50 dress shirts, including button-collar oxfords and his dressier spead or point collars (and two eyelet collars), as well as some short sleeve dress shirts, many circa 1950-1970.  He owns one pair of jeans, from an ex-girlfriend whose lasting compliment was, “You’ll look handsome when you get some clothes that fit you”.  She made him shell out $68 for a pair of Structure jeans, which he has never worn, but keeps as a reminder of stupid choices he’s made.  He has pants, slacks, “trousers”, instead, in three tiers of fashion.  Tier I are the nicest pants.  They may have creases, pleats, and cuffs.  They’re suitable for all but the most formal affairs.  Tier II are the more casual pants: Dockers, knakis, vintage polyester trousers, linen pants I introduced him to on our honeymoon to Bali, and Tier I pants which may have met unfortunately with a too-hot iron or an overzealous dryer.  Tier III consists of paint pants, moving pants, gardening pants, and set-construction pants.  They usually started life as Tier II’s.  All of these, you understand, must be hung up.  And then we get to the ties.  Mr. Apron used to shell out $50 or more for new brand name, designer label ties.  Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hil, Calvin Klein.  When we met, he had about 30 or so ties, almost all of which fit on a rotating tie rack.  Then I introduced him to TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and the thrift stores, where he discovered he could get 4 or more ties for $50!  So the collection has, needless to say, grown quite a bit, and no longer fits even on the custom serpentine tie rack I made for him.  And while Mr. Apron has many tastes (British comedy, the 3 Stooges, Gilbert & Sullivan, Herbie the Love Bug, Banjo, Finley, me), my mother continues on her endless quest to buy him more and more and more clothing.  She considers it her personal mission to find each and every odd-sized piece of clothing and buy it, to prevent any other man Mr. Apron’s dimensions from buying clothing that fits.  See, he wears a 15″ collar, with 34/35 sleeves.  I learned about these things.  That means he has a skinny minny neck with go go gadget arms.  Hard to find.  And in trousers, he wears a 30/32, which, again, means he has no waist, and legs that stretch to China.  He’s not overall so grotesquely proportioned; there are many men taller and some men skinnier than he.  It’s just that his combination makes buying clothing challenging.  But not so challenging that my mother didn’t help us fill two suitcases and many several boxes with his oceans of clothing. 

I am guiltier than he.  It was I, afterall, who introduced him to discount shopping, encouraging his acquisition, supporting him to buy short-sleeve shirts when he had nothing but his plaid jersey knit polos from 10th grade to wear in the summer.  So it is my fault.  And, being a woman, I have a worse clothing obsession.  It’s difficult when you’re known for your unusual style, and you find yourself wearing the same half-dozen shirts through the late winter because everything else is in boxes.  When shoes go through a 3 pair rotation because I’ve run out of shoe racks and I still have two boxes of shoes unpacked.  My poor darlings.   I miss them so.

So these closet people came, see?  And the first one tried to convert our future nursery ito a 7’x11′ closet (to keep us from procreating?), as well as try to sell us on closet systems built into every other wall in the house except in our bedroom.  And then when she told us her systems ran from $1,000 to $10,000, we had written her off while she sketched measurements into her folio.  The second guy was on his way out at 5:15 after a 5:00pm appointment.  He fired us, stating simply, that he could spend our money, or we could.  He had no solutions for us, but at least was honest about it.  He told us to hire a handy man to “throw up some drywall and a closet rod.”

And so we did.  Well, we’re trying to.  The first guy we called gave us a estimate of $1600.  We cried all over again, resigning ourselves to curtaining off some garment racks from Bed, Bath, & Beijing.  Then we went looking for another guy.  We asked Mr. Apron’s parents.  “General contractor?  What’s that?”  You know, a handyman.  The guy who fixed your medicine cabinet and shower door.  “Oh.  No.  He asked us not to call him again.”  Dead end.  We asked our grown-up friends who live locally to give us a referral.  And it was then we found out that a friend we already know is a handyman.  Which we didn’t know, because Mr. Apron doesn’t do LinkedIn with him; he just does Gilbert & Sullivan with him.  He’s semi-retired, we think, so he has lots of time, we hope.  All I know is, he showed up on Sunday afternoon with 5 two-by-fours, immediately started, umm, pacing off, our closet space, sawing boards over our carpet with his “ginsu” knife, and screwing boards into the floor.  He quit when his screwdriver’s battery gave out, and we had to leave.  But I think we hired him?  I mean, I guess we did hire him.  He’s giving us the “thespian rate”, which will amount to about $500.  It’s a freaking bargain. 

One mystery he solved was the crackling bulging piece of wall in our bedroom.  He said it was  caused by the bathroom mirror.  Yes, you read that right.  When the previous owners installed a superwide three-way bathroom mirror with a built-in medicine chest, they had to saw through a stud, and remove it.  Meaning that the other side of that wall (our bedroom wall) is not anchored to anything at all.  They didn’t even do a half-ass job of securing it above and below the cabinet.  But our friend said it wasn’t anything structural, it wasn’t in danger of crumbling, and that it would be hidden in the new-to-be closet.  That it was just a bulge; and that’s okay.  Quoth he, rubbing his stomach: “I have a bulge, too.”

Mr. Apron and I have been homeowners since February 18th, when we handed over large amounts of money in exchange for keys and responsibility.  I heard someone joke that when you become a homeowner, you should take $1,000 in $1 bills and staple them to your house, just to get used to spending money on it.  Let me tell you what has required out attention in these short 3 months.

PECO, the gas company, has twice been out to investigate gas odors.  The first time was a legitimate gas leak from the dryer line.  I smelled it when I got home, but figured a) the dog wasn’t dead (heretofore my gauge for home odor strength), and b) I didn’t have a headache from being inside, so I waited for Mr. Apron to get home.  $500 latre,we feel safer.  The second time was a false alarm.  Again, I smelled an odor, and waited for Mr. Apron to come home since the dog was still alive.  PECO guy came, and told us it was just the paint fumes (so much for low-VOC paint) from our new downstairs paint job interacting with the burner in the basement when we activated the flame by turning on the hot water.  All these things about gas-heated homes we are learning.

The bathroom sink is slow.  Clogged perpetually.  Has been since we moved in.  Inspector theorized it’d be “no big deal”.  Well, after Mr.Apron and his father tried unsuccessfully with plungers, “The Bomb” (some product in a can), and regualar Liquid Plumber, Mr. Apron stuck a coat hanger down the pipes, and busted a hole in the J-bend.  Cost: $79, with a lesson not to stick anything else down there.  Plumber said the problem is most likely at the level of the sewer pipe, and that it would require ripping up the tile floor to fix when we’re ready.  Guess what?  We still dealing with a slow drain.  And an intact floor.

The oven, circa 1980, suddenly decided, during a double-batch of chocolate cupcakes, to forget how to maintain 300 degrees F, and instead, keep heating until the smoke alarm went off.  After I tossed 24 charred rocks in the garbage and ran out for more ingredients, I then babysat the oven, turning it off periodically to simulate the pilot light turning on and off in a normally functioning gas oven that knows how to maintain a temperature.  We are now looking at new ovens, and making do with our upper oven (this is old, folks), which works fine, but is quite small and can’t fit a full-size cookie sheet inside.  Cost: projected to be $500-$700.

And today, Mr. Apron was spending far too much time online looking at ebaymotors, so I send him/us out to buy hedgeclippers (cost: $18.95 + tax) and deal with a growing nuisance in the front yard.  It seems like only yesterday they were sweet little shoots promising spring was just around the corner, and now they’re threatening to attack neighbors innocently walking past.  Mr. Apron’s father has electric hedgeclippers, and kept warning us not to do it ourselves, not to exert ourselves, that he’d come over, that they’d do it together.  Well, he hasn’t come yet, and I wanted to prove we were manually strong and could save the environment while strengthening our upper arms and shoulders, so we clipped.  It was fun.  Satisfying, in some way, appealing to our sense of order.  While Mr. Apron clipped, I cleaned up after him (insert sexist husband-wife joke here), and vis-a-vis (insert reverse sexist wife-husband joke here).  While I was waiting for him to make some more refuse, I stepped into the “yard” of pachysandra, intent on pulling some weeds, and I found poison ivy.  Joy of all joys.  And I’m wearing shorts and flip-flops.  So this now requires action, either of a pesticidal variety, or of a manual weed-pulling variety, complete with toxic waste substance isolation gear.  I can’t wait.  We can go buy Round-Up and paint it on the leaves, so it won’t harm the pachysandra which saves us from that other fun chore — mowing the lawn — or we can don rubber gloves, long pants, and long sleeves and pull out the poison ivy all summer long, hoping to make a dent.  I swear, my legs are itching already.  The mind-body connection is a powerful one, eh?

What’s next, house?  Bring it on!  Water damage?  Another gas scare?  Crumbling retaining wall out back?  Basement stairs falling down? Oh, wait! I forgot my latest blunder.  I put the garage door opener in my pocket one day when we wrre running back and forth to the garage to install our china in our new china cabinet, and Friday night, as we were lamely celebrating the weekend, I washed it.  In the washing machine.  We now can’t get into the garage.  Awesome.  I am so cool.

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July 2020