My rug-cleaning fiasco

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Once again, I jump in feet first and use my brain second. Mistakes and failures are great teachers, and I seem to repeatedly rely on them to make life interesting.

This one involves not writing, but rugs.

It started with Tornado Boy (age barely-4) who stayed at our house last weekend. After indulging in bowls of ice cream with Grampy, he suffered a sugar-crash, decided to go to bed, and then perked up with an ill-fated second wind – the kind that’s usually headed toward disaster. Tornado Boy left his clothes in the bedroom along with his brain and decided to enjoy the balmy outdoors in his birthday suit.

Grampy and I were on the lawn, and Tornado Boy was on the elevated deck being wild and silly. Amidst his antics, he picks up the garden hose and starts blasting the lawn and garden with water, waving it around like a lunatic and trying to spray us. We’re laughing at how cute he is until he aims the hose at the open window into our living room.

Grampy and I yell to stop, but Tonado Boy is in Crazy-Over-Tired-Land, and the water is spraying a jet stream into the house. From where we’re standing, there’s no access to the deck and, completely delirious, Tornado Boy is having the time of his life. With no end to the torrent in sight, I sprint around the house, take the steps three at a time, run the length of the deck, and grab the hose. Tornado Boy looks at me with a bewildered expression and explains that he was “washing the house.”

Grampy disappears for a walk with the dogs while Tornado Boy and I face the mess.

The living room is soaked: couches, chairs, rug, computers, tables, mail… the floor is a puddle. I drag the rug outside onto the deck, move the furniture around, and use every towel in the house to dry things off. We all take a deep breath and go to bed.

The next day, after Tornado Boy goes home, I decide that I might as well wash the rugs since they’re long overdue for a cleaning.

(This is where Grammy has her turn at making a mess.)

I drag the upstairs rug out to the deck too. I go down to the barn and get the rug-cleaning machine, bring it up to the house, and fill it with water and dish liquid because I don’t have any rug cleaner and I’m out of laundry soap. I tap the ON button and nothing happens. The Hoover is dead (unsurprising since it was in the barn during the last flood).

But that doesn’t stop the determined. I squirt dish liquid on the larger of the two carpets and get out the hubby’s power-washer. If it can blast moss off the deck, it can blast dirt out of the rug, right? So I spray the carpet and start scrubbing it with my bare feet. I water some more, add more soap, and lather it up. Works great!

Then, I try to spray the soap off.

Well, spraying soap off a flat, saturated rug doesn’t work, even with a power-washer. It creates bubbles, lots of bubbles, massive impenetrable mountains of bubbles. I need to drape the rug over the deck railings so I can hose off the soap, but full of water, it weighs about 400 pounds. It’s not budging until it dries – soap and bubbles intact.

Having learned from my mistakes, I march off to tackle the smaller carpet. I drape it over the rails first, skip the dish liquid, and just power-wash it. Easy peasy. It will dry in place.  A couple hours of blogging later, I find the large carpet dry enough to drag and heave over the tops of the deck chairs for a hose-down. I check the clock, and the rugs have 5 hours to dry before Grampy gets home from work.

By the time the Subaru climbs the mountain, all evidence of the crime is cleaned up. He’ll never know. And my carpets look clean!

Now, I guess you can see which side of the family Tornado Boy takes after. 😀

 

My Patio Failure

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I just put in a patio… for the second time.

That seems to be how I do things … twice. I try something with zero planning and no idea what the heck I’m doing. It’s pure adrenaline and inspiration, and usually, I have a lot of fun despite my first-time failures.

I wrote a book that way. Zipped through it, scribbling like a lunatic, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 30 days I wrote 189,000 words. I loved every single moment of it. Then I learned a thing or two (or 50) about writing and had to rewrite the whole book from start to finish. It took me two years.

It’s how I roll, apparently. I was raised believing I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it and applied a hefty dose of elbow grease. A good impetus for trying new things, even though my first efforts are often disasters.

Imagine the worst sheetrock job of the century, the crumbling stone wall, the warped floor, the divorce, the singing waitress job (yup, I did that).

I put in this patio a couple years ago without any preparation – no sand, no wire, no plastic, no concrete, no level. I just set everything on top of the dirt. Each rock was a different size and I dug individual holes so they would all be even. It was spectacular.

My friends out here in the rainforest asked me how I prepped the foundation. “Oh, I just lay everything on the dirt,” I said cluelessly. They exchanged wide-eyed glances and bit their lips but had the grace not to explode my happy-bubble.

Did I mention the rainforest? The place where green things grow 2 feet a day… all year round. Within a month, the weeds between the stones were waist high. The squirrel-sized moles had tunneled beneath the whole thing, pushing stones aside and heaping up knee-high piles of dirt. For two years my beautiful “patio” was a jungle of thistle, ferns, burdock, blackberries, and grass. Yeesh.

So, it was time to do it over again… completely. When my eyeballs dried up from editing, I went outside and pulled up rocks and bricks and pavers and piled them in the woods. I weeded from one end to the other and relaid every single stone … the right way.

The point? Don’t be afraid to try new things if you feel inspired. A little planning and preparation is probably a good idea. But even if you jump in with both feet, like I do, know that failure is a great teacher and nothing to be shy about. The end result is often worth it, and you might surprise yourself!

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