IMG_4366_copyAfter the letdown of the holidays, I decided to beat the blues with a little home improvement. Nothing kicks winter doldrums like a change in décor. With a bee in my bonnet (British expression) in manic mode, I insisted, “Let’s rearrange the living room.”

A half day later, we were still on our hands and knees, snapping at each other.

Moving furniture meant revealing a decade’s worth of grime. In the past, my mess was limited by frequent relocations. We’ve lived in our present home for a record length of time, so now I’m busted. Loopholes in my if-you- can’t-see-it, it-ain’t-dirty, dysfunctional cleaning policy are exposed.

What a revelation! I never realized that dust could inhabit so many places- ledges of drawers, behind chair legs, under the coffee table. Like trapeze artists, spiders swung from lamp fixtures, bookshelves, and window ledges.

A women’s prerogative can be so annoying. I couldn’t visualize the new furniture arrangement; I needed a trial run. Ze Frenchman pushed, pulled, and turned tables, couches, chairs for my viewing pleasure. In the end I didn’t like the new look, so we started over again.

Our writing desk/armoire, too heavy to lift, had to be emptied first. Sorting through drawers was like strolling down memory lane of my children’s life. I discovered souvenirs from every adventure– badges from the Grand Canyon, Kandersteg camp in the Alps, and Jim Peck’s Wildlife Park in Wisconsin. I journeyed across Europe sifting through mementos from school trips to the Camargue, Venice, Strasbourg, Florence, Paris, and Barcelona. I relived games when I uncovered certificates and medals from each of their teams. Like a kid on a scavenger hunt, I found silly putty, magic pens, a set of acrylics, a stack of cards, five kinds of tape and coins from fifteen different countries.IMG_4367_copy

What bliss filling the recycling bins! I pitched a phone book collection, dating back to 2005, and papers galore: college applications, chemistry exams, history notes, math graphs, and English essays. I discarded broken flashlights, old cassettes, sticker books, yoyos, Legos and marbles.

While my husband moved furniture half a dozen times, I remained glued to my desk drawer, lost in the past until he interrupted my reverie, shouting,


Aspi is short for aspirateur (French for vacuum cleaner.) Don’t you love the image – aspirating, sucking up a decade of dirt.

Naturally “remodeling” included relocating the TV/VCR/Home Video System to the opposite corner of the room, which meant rewiring a beehive of cables. As Gerald raged, shouting expletives, I thought, ‘oh goodie another French lesson for me.’

Finally I stopped cold when ze Frenchman threatened to bring home his new, young secretary and solicit her advice because he insisted, “SHE is also an interior designer.”

“Not in my house! Nooo, way.”

His ploy worked; I quit nagging in time for him to collapse into his chair to enjoy his favorite sports program. Well, I’ll be darned! Where did I relocate the remote control? Frantically, I repeated my clean sweep in reverse to see where I had inadvertently misplaced ze Frenchman’s favorite toy.

Now I am settled in my nice, clean salle de sejour (notice I did not say house) so from my living room to yours best wishes for 2014.IMG_4365_copy

Thanks for following my exploits. Stay with me… the New Year promises more adventures from X-pat.