Gliding through open house

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

When the friend who babysits your guinea pigs on a regular basis ó feeds them, plays with them, cleans their cage, even gives them funny nicknames ó asks for a favor, you must, of course, say yes.
So it happened that our house appeared last weekend on the Fulton Heights Spring Home Tour Open House Extravaganza.
I’m not sure exactly what this annual event is called. The sign in our front yard announced a “Spring Gathering,” which fits our close-knit neighborhood perfectly.
When my friend Theresa asked me to put our house on this tour, my immediate reaction was, “No.”
In fact, it was, “Expletive no.”
We love our home, built in 1920. And, as my husband says, we live in it.
We really live in it.
So the thought of getting our house and porches and yard, the domicile of two busy adults, three active children, one dog who digs and those two slightly smelly guinea pigs, whipped into the kind of shape necessary to show it to people expecting something from the pages of House Beautiful made me shudder.
Then I thought about Cuddles and Slinky, aka “Bubbles” and “Stinky,” and the many times Theresa has taken them at a moment’s notice, often keeping them well past the date that I promised to pick them up.
And I said yes.
I convinced my husband that the tour would serve as an incentive to finally tackle the home improvement and redecorating projects that we (I) have been avoiding for years.
Come on, I’m a reporter. I need a deadline.
So I embarked on an interesting and stressful but ultimately rewarding journey to update and beautify our home.
I purged without mercy.
If it was stained, soiled, worn out or broken and not actually attached to the house, I trashed it.
Pillows, rugs, a comforter, kitchen cupboard knobs, the old couch. The upstairs carpet where Nellie had left a faint memento of the time she raced down the hallway to the bathroom but didn’t quite make it, and Clara’s reminder to me, once again, to never, ever give her cough syrup.
The light yellow kitchen floor that has been the bane of my existence.
Good riddance.
I did feel one pang of remorse. I happened to see the Habitat for Humanity ReStore truck hauling away a gliding rocker that I had left outside for them.
I had nursed all three babies in that glider.
But stash it in the attic for 20 years? Who knows if any of our kids will want it?
Who knows if any of our kids will even have kids?
I decided that someone could use it now to nurse a baby or comfort a child.
So I rocked in it one last time, had a good cry and called Habitat.
The glider sold within an hour.
The tour was a success. Our house was ready, although I secretly prayed that no one would open a closet door and die in an avalanche of items that I frantically stashed 15 minutes before the event started.
It remained perfectly pristine for exactly 2.5 hours, when the girls arrived home from ballet pictures and a soccer tournament and left a trail of shinguards, muddy cleats, tap shoes and tutus from the front yard to the back porch.
Home sweet home.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.