My house and I are going through menopause together, and neither of us is aging gracefully or without complaint.
Oh, sure at first glance we both appear to be holding up pretty well. But then, if you linger you’ll notice that we’re slightly crumpled, rather creaky and totally cracked.
The house is a mess of bits that fall off, sag and stick. For me it’s all about stiff joints, arthritic toes and hot flashes and frankly it’s making me more than a little grumpy. I mean over the years I’ve struggled through the usual selection of depressive episodes – post-partum, post-weekend, post-that-comes-with-all-bills-and-no-cheques, but this is a new type.
When I’m tempted to wallow I usually find that the only things that get me out of a slump are gardening and decorating. At least decorating does, but here in Calgary, gardening can go either way. With our 3 week growing season and extraordinary combination of sudden, extreme temperature swings and bizarre precipitative anomalies like snow in July, trying to get anything to grow can be more likely to cause than help depression.
Fortunately there is always something to decorate. We don’t rebuild or replace anything, I’m just holding it all together with layers of paint.
A while ago I painted my chipped, stained, white kitchen cupboard doors a rather cheery shade of green. It was just a temporary fix because the entire kitchen was only about two years from needing to be completely replaced; and yet here we are seven years later, no closer to the new kitchen, but with a set of very distressed doors. Not the good kind that you pay a fortune for, but the unfortunate kind that visitors pretend not to notice.
Now, I know that Summer doesn’t immediately suggest itself as the ideal time to start decorating. But we’re stuck in an extended spell of such excruciatingly hot weather that I daren’t take my hot flashes outside for more than five minutes at a time, so it’s actually quite a good way to keep myself occupied. Plus, the added benefit that hiding inside during all this hot weather and wasting the glorious sunshine gives me something else to beat myself up about. Yay me!
It’s funny how an idle thought like “I should repaint the kitchen cupboards” has a ripple effect. Having painted the cupboards a nice shade of cream, I now have to repaint the kitchen/sitting room walls in something brighter to avoid half the main floor of my house disappearing into a vast sea of bland. Then, as I want to redo the bannisters using the same cream colour, that means I have to repaint the dining room, and all the way up the stairs to the landing.
There … in one fell swoop I have created for myself a full roster of ‘keep-busy and stay-distracted’ projects for when Roxy leaves for school in Vancouver in September. After all, keeping my mind off my emptying nest is what this is all about.