Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting ready for the renters

Yes, it's that time of year. A glorious time to enjoy good weather (should and if we be blessed with it). A time to be with friends, and...

Oh yes, a time to prepare the house for renters, badger the kids to go through their stuff, clean from top to toe, behind, beneath, between and beyond. A time to go mildly insane (not helped by the fierce and chilly gusts of the unseasonal Mistral winds). A time to work till I drop, break finger nails, turn my hands into sand paper, and drop weight without noticing.

The first step is to remove things - from the bed rooms, from the walls, from the kitchen shelves, from the bathroom, from all over the house -- to render the house both more neutral, but also more open for its summer occupants.

So, out go all the winter things, into boxes all the fragile and personal objects/dishes/etc., streamline the kids' toys, re-align the books, purge the old, the used, the not necessary, sift through the sheets leaving only the presentable ones (perfectly folded). And then, when the surfaces are clear, the spaces nearly bare, begin to clean and clean and clean. Cobwebs off the ceiling, dust off the shelves, grease and baked on things in the oven, crumbs and spills from the fridge. A once a year scrubbing with bleach in the shower (with a septic tank, t'is not recommended)...

As I rent my house from the day after the end of school, it is all particularly stressful as here I am trying to put order into a space fully lived in. Never a pleasant nor easy task.

The change from last year is that rather than heading off to the winery with simply my summer clothes, necessary papers, and a couple of favorite cooking utensils in my car, I'm moving into a tiny camping car on the grounds of my nearest neighbor. Thus, I'm not moving far away (this is a bonus), allowing me to take care of my garden and pool for the renters rather than pay another person to do so. But, nor am I moving into a furnished space. I'm camping. Thus, what do I need? What will I use? Spices? Pots and pans? Linens? My rice cooker? Italian coffee maker? dishes, salad bowl(s), wine glasses... and food, olive oil, wine? What will I eat? Will I serve anyone in my more restrained circumstances?

And what about my wardrobe? I've already pared it down, but... it certainly seems to visually take up about 4 times more space than the tiny closet in the camping car. Dear dear... what's a girl to do? Five weeks of summer, future tango balls, hiking, biking, outings and more ahead of me... A girl needs her things, no?

Each day I go through more, sift out more, remove and pack up more. And, thank goodness, my neighbor has space in his garage to store all my things. But as the pile grows higher and broader, he says to me rather nervously, "you will be removing these things after the summer, right?" And I reassure him that of course I will, as promptly as I can.

Did I mention that there isn't a garage or an attic or a spare room in my house? I rent it all, and thus I do what I can to stash things under the stairwell, in handsome antique suit cases (which double as side tables), in trunks (that decorate the walls), etc., even under beds. But...

I remember that huge hanger/garage at the winery where so many things could lie forgotten from various past lives, children, etc., Here, this is not possible. We are all obliged to do a full Feng Shui (Fu Sui in Japanese) yearly. Do you no longer play with these? out they go. Do you no longer wear this? out it goes. Is it broken? damaged? out it goes. Make room, clear a space, relinquish, and banish.

Though this week is brutal, I know I'll be peaceful and content slowly and selectively moving back in at the end of August. I just need to get through this week, and then... The adventure of camping begins. This should prove to be a very interesting summer.

1 comment:

Sara Louise said...

Wow! What a clean out. It must be nice in a way to have a deadline each year where you absolutely have to do a deep clean and clear out. I'm moving to a new home soon and I'm determined that some things will not make it there and will instead find a home with someone else or in the recycling bin.
Bonne chance!

I saw you on the Provence Post blog list and wanted to pop by and say hi :-)