Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have been spending a lot of time getting settled in to my new place.  I'm really trying to be organized here.  For one thing, I have to be.  Though I have great storage and a big apartment, I still have much less space than I did at the house.  Also, it is organized differently -- no garage, storage room, separate bar room, one less bedroom and bathroom, etc.  The other part, though, is that I really want to be more organized and neat.  I have to admit, we let things get cluttered and disorganized too much at the old house.

In an effort to be more organized, I'm making sure that while I unpack, I find not just a place for everything, but the best place for everything!  So this process is taking some time, as you might imagine.  So far, I'm impressed though -- my shoes, purses, jewelry, clothes, and my entire kitchen and laundry room/utility area are very well organized, as are my medicine cupboard and the cats' things.  My furniture is all in place and I even have a lot of things up on the walls.  In fact, I have more things framed and hung than we ever did at the house, and am finishing up on this fun task. 

I am making an effort to be more proactive about organization and keeping clutter down, as I don't think we were very good at that in our married life in Iowa.  I know there were things we were going to hang on the wall but just "never got around to it."  Well, no more!  I am not going to keep letting that kind of thing slide; I need to take more pride in my home and my surroundings, even if it is a rental unit for the first time in over five years.  I think this is one of the few areas where I can look back and say that Brian was lacking -- he was not very handy, nor did he particularly enjoy the house tasks on everyone's "honey-do" list.  When things didn't get hung up, or we never got around to picking out new window treatments, I never protested and I never pushed the issue.  I wish I had, or I wish I had just done some of those things myself.  It turns out I don't need him to hang something using drywall screws; I did that on my own down here.  It turns out I don't need him to rearrange furniture; I've done that by myself as well.  It's kind of nice to know that and prove that to myself, but I wish I'd known it sooner.

One of the things I've done -- and by far, this is the "manliest" job, though installing some dryer vent tubing comes in a close second -- is to hang chicken wire around the perimeter of my balcony so the cats can go outside without any danger of them stepping or falling between the railings.  I decided to do this before I had even allowed them onto the balcony, but one incident confirmed that this would be necessary and not just a nice precaution.  I was hanging up a large photo frame jewelry box and in the midst of my distraction, Picaboo and Mittons took advantage of a slightly askew screen by popping it out of place and hopping through the window onto the balcony!  When I saw this, they were doing fine exploring and were very timid; I thought that perhaps they could be trusted.  Very soon, however, Picaboo walked between the railings onto the neighbor's attached balcony and started exploring that!  I got the others inside and finally was able to lure Picaboo back with treats after she was two balconies away. 

Clearly, the chicken wire was required.  I went to Home Depot, bought a few rolls and some plastic zip ties.  I had to unroll and straighten out the chicken wire, then attach it to my metal railings with the zip ties.  I cut the wire where there are large wooden beams on the patio, so it doesn't look bad just rolled over that beam.  I also had to make cuts for the different corners of the patio.  It was very time consuming, using tin snips to cut so many little pieces of wire, then securing the wire into place with zip ties every couple of feet, then trimming the excess plastic zip tie.  My hands were certainly sore!  The hardest part was when I would run out of fencing and would have to overlap pieces of chicken wire.  Then I'd have to use wire pieces or the ends of the fencing itself or plastic ties to intertwine or attach the segments of fence.  I felt like a ranch hand!  And I definitely had sore hands!

Nevertheless, my balcony (which is approximately 20 ft long, mind you!) is lined with chicken wire up to the top of the hand railing and basically makes the perfect outdoor haven for my cats.  Now I can go in and out freely (my recycling is out there) without worrying that one of them will run out, and we can all sit outside and enjoy nature together.  My balcony faces the limbs of some fantastic old trees that line the back of the property, and there is an abundance of bird and squirrel activity just a few feet away from the balcony railing.  The cats are loving it!  They spend a good chunk of time outside and pretty much have free reign to go in and out.

I realized as I built this cat playground (which took me several hours, with the Home Depot trips and all the wire-cutting!) that I'm really working hard to make this place my home.  I'm "nesting."  Not for a baby, but for my new life.  Maybe soon there will be someone to join me in it...but that's a topic for another post!

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