Going to the Other Side

This blog was started to track my attempts at dehoarding. And, although I can’t say that I’ve completed that goal, in many ways, I have.

DH got sick in August this year. He seemed to be wasting away in front of me and I expected him to die this winter, if not before, as he seemed to be getting weaker, daily. It was awful. There appeared to be nothing I could do. In an attempt to flip the negative into a positive and because I had to do something, I started to clean the house. My idea was that whatever it was which was making him sick, it wouldn’t be the house.

So I started cleaning, daily. I vac’d, washed dishes and kept up with them, etc. The house started to emerge from the clutter and I didn’t panic — I couldn’t — I was already in full panic mode there was no room left! All the panicky energy went into cleaning and trying to cook tasty food he could eat. (He was having a hard time swallowing too.)

Okay, so things go better. I stopped cleaning compulsively. But something was still different — the clean spots stayed cleaner — and no panic.

The panic and panic attacks have been, for decades, what stopped me. It’s damned hard, maybe impossible, to stop yourself in the midst of a panic attack and get yourself to realize that it’s just nonsense.

After I stopped compulsively cleaning, nothing happened. I realized I was waiting, again, for the other shoe to drop. It didn’t. So, I’ve been cleaning again, because of the new wood stove — and more of the house is emerging.

Yesterday I worked on the living room, set up a bookcase, filled it, came up with a pile of stuff to go away, went through some papers. Started off the day energized and psyched ( l love the new hearth we built and the new stove) but I was bummed by last night.

Couldn’t figure out why? No energy to work on things at all. Looked at the clutter, stuff littering every surface from pulling things out to clean them and felt worse. Worse? The clutter makes me feel worse? I’ve lived with so much clutter for so long it has been NORMAL. So I tidied what I could. put things in boxes, straightened piles, etc. and realized I felt better again but I was tired.

The world sure is different these days!

I have been also noticing my OCD side starting to come out . After months of looking, I finally found a black metal small dust pan. No big deal you say? I couldn’t clean inside the wood box with the old aluminum one, so I wanted another. Found it. Got it home and waxed it. Use it, clean it out with a rag and every now and then (not daily) I wax it again. Apparently, my OCD at least at first is emerging as being a fiend for cleaning tools after they’re used. I’ll take that as a compulsion with no apologies! So, I’m already going to the other side, somewhat. DH and I have been laughing about my emerging OCD. Hopefully, it won’t ever get to where it’s truly a PITA, but we’ll see!

Hiring a Writer and What I Learned

I hired someone I did not know. It had to be someone I did not know because I felt like all the people I did know were being “easy” on me. I needed a pro. I needed someone who wasn’t going to shred my emotions although shredding the writing, if that was required was okay, and I needed someone who absolutely got the book connection and understood the kind of writing I’d intended to do.

I was extremely lucky. I found someone. This person, like me, has been a technical writer. They’ve also edited anthologies. They’re also a science fiction person. I’ve never met them, didn’t know them and didn’t know they existed. The recent insanity about the Hugo awards (don’t get me started on it, please!) caused me to read a lot of people in the science fiction field and a lot of people out of it. Somehow, some way, through a link from a link from a post, I wound up at this person’s blog.

Educated, thoughtful, and the opinions were superbly expressed. I was *impressed*. Long ago and far away, I had an ambition as a technical writer. It was to make my writing so clear, so consistent that the reader forgot they were reading. I did that with this blog. Intrigued, I read more. I researched them on facebook and elsewhere. We have a few mutual friends, including some people who suffer no fools and have high standards. Huh. I’d never heard of or met this person. I haven’t met a lot of people. I haven’t heard of a lot of people, but this person and I share a chunk of FB friends where I would expect to have met or have heard about them, several times — and I hadn’t.

More research indicated they freelanced.  I’ve found an editor who will help me finish the memoir, the way I want it to be. I am both amazed and grateful!

I just realized that I promised something in the title and didn’t deliver it. What did I learn? I learned a few things. One, every now and then the universe is really, really good to you. Two, that I’d been beating myself up because I don’t write in a literary style. Years ago and miles away, that choice was deliberate. I’d forgotten that, and I’d just been at an academic conference. I’m not an academic, in fact I’m not highly educated — by choice. Writing doesn’t have to be literary/academic to be exceedingly good — go read some Mark Twain. And highly educated writing doesn’t have to be literary in style to be good either — go read a speech or two of Churchill’s! (My two writing gods.)

I’d forgotten that I love Twain and Churchill’s writing because although both men were superb writers, they didn’t need multisyllabic words, complex constructions, and obscure references to grab your heart out of your chest with their words. They did it with simple language, superb mastery and with an uncanny knowledge of human beings.

After that workshop and seeing my academic relative 3 times in the same two weeks, I got caught up, again, in the idea that I had to be “educated” and write “literarily.” I can’t. I hate that kind of writing, it is like pulling my teeth out through the back of my skull when I try.

So, I learned two things: 1) I really should avoid my family at almost all costs, although I won’t. and 2)A good editor is worth their weight in gold if you’re a writer. All writers need to be reminded of what they do well and what needs work. And a good editor can make that happen.

Curiousities and History

I have a lot of old books, no surprise if you know me at all. One of them is Collier Cyclopedia of Social and Commerical Information (c) 1882 which I bought in part for the graphics, wingdings, etc. but also for its history.

The next time someone disparages woman’s lib, I’m going to remind them that the section entitled, “A Digest of the Laws Relating to the Rights of American Women” begins with this gem:

“Marriage may be entered into by any two persons, with the following exceptions: Idiots, lunatics, persons of unsound mind, persons related by blood of affinity, within certain degrees prohibited by law; infants under the age of consent, which in the State of New York, is 14 for males and 12 for females, and all persons already married and not legally divorced.”

On the other hand, I may just use it the next time someone says, “We didn’t used to let same sex couples marry; we had a God-faring land!” Because, please notice there’s nothing there about same sex couples at all.

What’s New?

We bought wood for the winter.

I’ve painted all but the last pantry shelf on the small side. The last shelf was both slanted and warped, so last night after a lot of debating what to do, it got removed. The remainder of these shelves will be painted. (And probably the wall too, although I make no promises regarding that.) The original idea was to use up the Potter & Ball primer and samples we’ve got. I’m still working on the primer, but I used up one or two of the samples (I had 8?).  Taking out the bottom shelf solved more than one problem. I needed a place to store 1/2 gallon bottles of stuff and didn’t have any. Right now they’ve been shoved onto the bookcase in the dining room. I forget the food is there and this creates a lot of waste. Not good.

So, the idea is that the dry stores in 1/2 gallon mason jars are stored on the “new” bottom shelf (actually the floor). I have a small crate I’ll use to take up some of the unused space. All good! The crate will be used and the out of place storage will be moved, etc.

I and the neighbor’s son have been working on the yard clean up. Yesterday he removed the racks from where they’d been last year. One of them fell over. I picked it up and restocked it in a slightly different location. It fell over again and knocked over the 2nd rack! At that point, fortunately, it was spring. And, disgusted, I just left it. He’d move the wood last week. My job today, well one of them, is to finish the clean up in that area.

There were 4 pieces of furniture and the table saw dolly in the way in the wood rack. Right now, 2 of the pieces of furniture have been moved. The other two should also probably be moved today. Then we get to figure out where we’ll store the table saw dolly. At that point, the oak logs which need the mawl to be split apart several times before they become actual firewood can be moved into the wood shed. If I’m lucky and there’s room, the wood splitter etc. can also move there too!

If all this happens, the yard will be much cleaner and we’ll be a lot more prepared for winter around here!

Re house organization? I’m working on it in dribs and drabs. I haven’t tackled a new area in a while, but in the past few I’ve tackled the cabinet under the sink, the bath closet and the pantry. I got the laundry caught up, but there’s a pile down there which needs to be put away, again.

And one of these days, I should write the piece I was thinking about yesterday, when your partner hands you “caulk” and . . . it will probably be good for a laugh (or I hope so!) but I haven’t time to write it now.

Have a great Thursday!

Been Thinking and Reading and Thinking Some More

This is about frugality, DIY, and cleaning.

Yesterday I was trying to find info regarding brooms and dustpans. I found this. And although I don’t know that I agree with them (I hate microfiber stuff!) I thought it was interesting that I’d spend an hour researching then reading about brooms and dustpans!

Today’s quest is slightly different. I have a note in a book I’m pulling data from about Zote soap. I had no idea what Zote was, so I looked. That lead me to read this rather lengthy thread about DIY “Super Laundry Sauce” made with Fels Naptha vs Zote. You can find that here.

I had another “Aha!” moment re house organization, and I’m working on it. And, obviously, I’m working on the cleaning portion of that.

I have a Labor Day tradition, well several. But the one that concerns us here is I buy myself a new broom (the replaced house broom becomes the “outside” broom, the replaced outside one is discarded or becomes the “shed” or “garage” broom.) This year I’m seriously thinking about buying a dustpan as I have a large aluminum shop dustpan and I don’t much like it. I think I’ll give it back to DH for the shop! (Or maybe that will go to the shed too?)

So between the annual ” buy myself a new broom” and the organizational efforts, I’ve been researching cleaning products and DIY soaps. At the moment, we don’t need laundry soap — I’ve been buying liquid from the coop in bulk. The buy bottle is empty, but the use bottle is still comfortably full, so I don’t need any! I think I’ll just keep the info on hand re the DIY soaps. Last time I made my own laundry soap it didn’t work all that well.

Happy Labor Day!

btw, in my researching brooms I found something else that is new to me. “Warehouse” and “Lobby” brooms are cheaper than many others. If you’re going to buy just a plain old broom and would consider buying it online (haven’t seen these otherwise) try looking for those!

On Matters of Domestic Economy: Spices, Cleaning, Using What you Have

Ah, the glamorous life of the self-employed . . . I just spent an hour on my hands & knees high suction vacuuming the landing carpet in a cross-hatch pattern.

It has been cleaned, but not deep cleaned for some time. Because it’s the main path to the bath, bedroom, attic and office, it is used, daily — but not cleaned often enough for such a high traffic location.

I should deep clean it at least monthly. I haven’t, for oh, to be generous, “It’s been some time.”

Been pecking away at the other cleaning and storage problems. One problem I’ve not had a solution for is platters, cookie sheets, that is, larger flat things. The cabinet where our spices are is underutilized. The spices and the shelves they’re on overfill it, but there’s a lot of  empty space there too. Last night I realized that this old retail bottle rack I had might fit my favorite spice bottles?

It does. So, if I move the spices into the rack atop the counter, then I can potentially move the platters, cookie sheets, etc. into the narrow cabinet instead of it being used as a spice rack. There’s extra spices stored elsewhere, so it doesn’t store everything. Adding the rack isn’t going to change that, but it might make something else work better.

We’ll see!


On Matters of Domestic Economy: Linens

One of my fascinations since my preteens has been housework manuals. This started at least in part with my Dad, who expected that (somehow) I’d magically (it  came with the female DNA?) acquire the skills and knowledge to “keep house.”

Which of course is nonsense. Women have no more innate capacity or knowledge of cleaning and housewifery than men do. However, I digress.

We’re going to be building a wall along one edge of our master bedroom. This will create a hall with 2 large storage closets. I intend to use one for  cleaning supplies and linens, out of season clothes storage will probably fill the other.

Another scheme we’ve hit on is to turn part of our sunroom into a mudroom. This depends on getting at least one new door first, but it too will answer a continual mess-maker: what happens when you walk in the door with groceries, mail, your coat, wallet, etc.

I have been looking for ideas or designs for linen closets, storage closets, and mudrooms accordingly. An obvious first place to look is my  “housewifery” books.

I found a”Linen List for the Home,” by Better Homes & Gardens. This is from My Better Homes & Gardens Home Guide, Holbrook (ed), Meredith Publishing, 1933. I list what they say you need first. How many we have and any comments are [bracketed].

  • Sheets: 6 to a bed [I have no idea how many we have. Interesting that there’s no provision for winter sheets!]
  • Pillow Cases: 3 to a pillow [Again, I have no idea how many we own. We use fewer pillows than we own as we have some for guests.]
  • Mattress Pad: 1 to a bed [1, although I’d love to find an old fashioned one with the elastic strips on the corners instead of the “fitted” type which seems to be all you can buy these days. Again, they solved a problem I didn’t have!]
  • Blankets: 2 of different weights for each bed [Let’s see, plastic blankets 2, wool blankets, 2 from Curts, 3 from church sales. Depending on the weather, we use a greater or lesser quantity of these.]
  • Comforter or Quilt: 1 for each bed [We have 3 comforters and 2 quilts, see comment for blankets.]
  • Bedspreads (if washable): 2 for each bed [1, it’s also used as a lightweight summer blanket]
  • Dresser “covers” {I think they mean dresser scarves?} 2 for each dresser [0, I use a length of fabric]
  • Bath Towels: 6 per person [We use terry towels: 2 per person, 2 are out at any one time, 2 in the laundry]
  • Hand Towels: 6 per person [0, we use the bath towels]
  • Wash Clothes: 4 per person [Also terrycloth, We own 4, we share one.]
  • Guest Towels: 6 hand towels for this use [0, see hand towels. If we had company, I’d give them their own towel and hook in the bathroom (our towels hang from an old-style luggage/coat rack; I got tired of folding towels on a bar!]
  • Bath Mats: 2 for each bathroom [2, they’re rugs and I made them. We only have 1 set]
  • Glass Towels for the kitchen: 6 [Flatwoven towels, not terrycloth. I have no idea how many dish towels we have?]
  • Rough Work Towels: 6 [There’s a basket of “cat towels” which are used for everything except greasy car stuff: mopping up spills, animal bedding when required, etc. When I get new terry bath towels, the old towels become “cat towels.”
  • Pot Holders: 6 [2, I use professional baker’s pads. They aren’t pretty after a while because they scorch and stain (and it doesn’t come out even when washed) but they work fine and I store them in a drawer.]
  • Hand Towels (for kitchen use): 6 per person [? see glass towels]
  • Linen-damask tablecloth set: 1 for small dinners [0]
  • Hem-stitched cotton or colored with napkins to match: 1 set [4]

Interestingly enough, the end of the article talks about how big towels, napkins, etc. should be, finished, so the expectation is that you’re making your own.

One of my favorite stores has sheeting material on sale. I intend to buy enough tomorrow to try the “great sheet experiment” I’ve been threatening for a while. The idea is to use only flat sheets. I hate fitted sheets, because they wear differently than flat sheets. I hate having two types of things when one will do, and as I’ve previously blogged, I hate being held hostage by the manufacturers and retailers so that I have to buy more stuff than I need in the form of a fitted sheet, top sheet, and two pillow cases at a time. Although I apparently am not the only one, as stores seem to be offering sheets singly, again.

I noted at Sears a little while ago that a major manufacturer had small packages with 1 top or 1 fitted sheet or I think 2 pillow cases. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any king flat sheets, so I didn’t buy one. I would have, just on general principle, if they’d had what I wanted.

So, I’m going to buy the sheeting and see if I can DIY flat sheet. No sides to hem as you use the selvage. That leaves 2 hems, top & bottom.  King flat sheets at Macy’s start at $65 or so. The fabric is about $40, plus shipping. We’ll see!