Monthly Archives: April 2019

Do NOT Keep Up with the Joneses

We have one neighbor who has 3 kids. The kids are grown and have left home, but show up periodically to help Mom and Dad do things around the house, build a deck and rebuilding their entry stairs most recently.

These people have a house which always looks great. Except that they spend all their spare time, both of them,  working on their home: weeding, mowing, planting, fertilizing, washing their cars. Their home is really nice.

At various times, I have adopted the attitude that I wanted our home to be as neat and tidy as theirs. Except I can’t. DH mows the lawn and occasionally helps me bag leaves, but the yard work is up to me. DH keeps his workshop up and will do day-to-day maintenance: dishwashing, laundry, catbox, etc. but the rest is up to me. I do not have 3 kids and their significant others or siblings or parents all of which my neatnik neighbors do. And all of whom come and help.

So there’s no way. As a pie in the sky standard? Yep, that’s fine. But I was doing yard work today and our yard is still largely unraked. The bulb bed is raked out, but only about 1/2 the leaves have made it to the dump. (The neatnik neighbors have a hill they can put leaves down; we don’t.) About 40% or less of our yard is raked. Less than 1/2 those leaves have been bagged up and taken to the dump. I had a cold, DH has one. It was pouring rain, etc. It will get done, but it gets done slowly here.

Makes me want to plant a lot more pine trees and get rid of some of the oaks! I have made the lawn smaller, put gravel in the walkways, so that it doesn’t have to be replaced so often. The bulb bed has mulch in it to help keep the weeds down, and I’m slowly but surely replacing the regular lawn with no mow grass.

But I am aging faster than the lower maintenance yard is taking hold. I need to do things more quickly. One thing we’ve talked about for a while and hopefully will do this year is gravel the driveway. That will make keeping the weeds out of it easier AND will help keep the dust down, which will keep the house cleaner.

We’ve already agreed we’ll paint the kitchen this year. It’s a lot of work, same process as painting the living room 3 years ago: lightly sand the wood walls, seal the knots, caulk, primer, sand, primer, sand, primer touch up, and paint.

We’ll probably paint the laundry room at the same time; it’s tiny and it’s wallboard, easy peasy compared to the varnished log walls!

The living room needs some touch up and the baseboards painted. We finally agreed on the baseboard paint last fall, and we’ll use it throughout the house.

scott-webb-120552-unsplash

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

My office needs to be cleared out and painted too. But that will be easier than the kitchen because that room isn’t used all the time.

The attic clean out needs to be finished. We’ve agreed we’re going to put in knee walls and finish the space. I imagine this will probably be the unfinished piece this year. We have to clear out a huge space to do this, because everything has to come out of the attic. There’s nowhere to put the stuff in the house now, so it can’t happen yet.

Advertisements

What To Cull?

It occurred to me that I need to do an experiment. I will. But the experiment is to answer this question:

How much/how often do I use the kitchen tools/implements in the “everyday zone”? How many of the items I store in premium, everyday usage space in my kitchen (and elsewhere) really need to be there?

It seems to me that there are these easy areas to cull excess tools:

  • Medium sized implement in a small, medium, large set.
  • Eliminating duplicates.
  • Eliminating items used for the same purpose.
  • The tools which take up space and are used because the tool of choice is already dirty.

We only run our dishwasher once daily. If I really want to reduce my kitchen stuff, I could get into the habit of immediately cleaning and replacing the tool. That isn’t all that much more practical. So, it’s a balancing act, like many things.


Medium Item Removal: Eliminating medium-sized items is something I did for the bookstore. I stopped buying medium size dust jacket protectors, paperback sleeves, and book mailers. If needed, you can fold down or cut the large ones. I eliminated 1/3 of the supplies I bought and stored by that simple strategy.

Duplicate Item Removal: We only run our dishwasher once daily. There aren’t enough dirty dishes to run it more often. This inevitably creates a need for duplicate dishes. An item is pulled from the clean pile, used, dirty, put in the dishwasher, is washed, removed, and returned to the clean pile to be used again. The time passed from the beginning to the end of that cycle and how much cooking/eating we do here will determine how many dishes we should have. Right now I have 4 large plates, 4 medium plates, 6 larger small plates and 6-8? very small plates. Also in regular usage 4 custard cups, 4 monkey dishes, 4 larger small bowls, 2 salad bowls, 2 pasta bowls. That’s the bottom shelf. The 2nd shelf contains 4 crocks and 2 cereal bowls, 2 casseroles, and insulated drinking glasses.

When I remove what I consider to be excess items from the cabinets, somehow DH uses less, reuses more, or washes plates, etc. between uses. Because he works at home and frequently only has a few minutes to grab a snack, he continually during the day will put some cereal in a custard cup say, to eat at his desk while working. At the end of the day, between the snacking, meal prep, and consumption, frequently all the little dishes have been used, and at least 4 plates have also been used. I keep thinking I should be able to eliminate some of the small dishes and I do periodically cut it back. Somehow, the quantity seems to increase, again after a while . . . .

Eliminating Items with Duplicate Functions: This is why there are no glasses (except DH’s insulated mugs/glasses) in our home. I got tired of buying glasses. We use mugs.

I also got tired of replacing china. At the time, we were buying new china sets about every 4 years from Conran’s (like Crate & Barrel or Target). This was about $40 at the time, not insanely expensive, but after a while I decided it was an unnecessary expense.

I had worked in a commercial kitchen during college and I knew that “dinerware,” commercial china, was more robust than what I was buying in sets, so I set out to find that for our every day. That’s what we’ve got. Mixed brands, mostly rolled rim, white or diner blue commercial china. When a plate breaks, I look for a replacement at thrift shops and antique stores and usually find one in a few months.

Rolled rim china is a classic commercial style. Easy to find asst. plates and bowls with it. Rolled rims break less often than flat or knife-edged rims, no surprise.

If I was set on decorated china, I’d use dinerware with 2 green lines, every commercial china manufacturer made a variation of that. I’ve had it and mixed and matched brands, looked fine. In one of my culling purges, I decided that I didn’t need a pattern at all, I already had 3 solid colors: green (stoneware and fine china) white (fine china and dinerware) and diner blue (dinerware). That was more than enough!

The fine china was mostly inherited, but yes, I did buy some years ago. I keep promising myself I will have a tea and cookies party or another party and use all the fawncy china and then sell it. Because I have no reason to keep it!

Eliminating the fancy china from here would probably get rid of about 2 shelves worth of stuff, but I’m not ready to do that just yet. There are people who advocate using the fine china as everyday, but the stuff I’ve got breaks in the dishwasher or at least the glazes craze and so what I’d be doing if I do that is literally trashing ? dollars of housewares Dad bought for my Mom. Somehow, that doesn’t seem sane.

My Stepmother broke most of the plates and bowls doing exactly that. It wasn’t her fine china, so they used it for everyday, mixed with plain white open stock china from Pier 1 and it all willy-nilly went in the dishwasher and the good stuff broke. Dad wouldn’t let me take it, but he let her break it.

Somehow, I’m not ready to do the same, or let go of what’s left. I should get rid of it, because it pokes that wound every time I think about it! I want to use it, at least once more, first.

Use Fewer Tools: My answer to this is I think trying to set up a place where we can put a bowl or plate when it has been used, but isn’t so filthy it can’t be used again, like the underplate I just had for my cereal. No food touched the plate, but it’s now “dirty.” There’s no particular reason it couldn’t be reused as an underplate or for something else. We don’t have such an area. I will talk to DH about this idea.

I have an experiment I will try to see what we actually do use in a given day or week. After that, I may do a major kitchen purge!

 

Two More Down

I realized a little while ago that my bucket list is almost entirely foods to make rather than places or events. I’m weird, no surprise!

sarah-boyle-90071-unsplash

Photo by Sarah Boyle on Unsplash

Yesterday I made noodles and a cheese rind broth. Both have been on my to do list for a long time. Both will work, both will be repeated. The noodles were cooked in the broth, making an almost Parmesan sauce. Interesting.

 

The Gamble

I’m hoping that we sell enough stuff at the flea market that we can either

  1. Downsize the storage unit (again!) or
  2. Eliminate it altogether. And it would be nice of course to pay for the venue, etc.

The limiting factor of course, is how much stuff we get outta here. And, since right now it’s in 2 places, the storage and the house, that’s not at all intuiative.

I think it’s unlikely because I stopped putting items for sale in the storage when I had no room AND I stopped pulling things here for sale when I had no place left to put them segregated from the things I’d like to keep.

And, since I’ve been struck down by both the PTSD-induced fog of nonproductiveness and a bad cold for the past 2 weeks, I haven’t done the reorganization I wanted. I can’t estimate what I have ready/how much space it takes up.

boxes

(Photo isn’t mine. It probably came from images.google.com. I’ve used it before.)

We’ll see!

Backslid

I had a fire in my belly. It’s gone, or dampened anyway.

A bad night coupled with speaking out loud where I was ? 

 I described that being able to write the memoir as well as I had changed things:

I had done it, survived, figured out what I did well and royally screwed up. I’d written it down for others to judge. I’d written my defense, vindication, apology, and the narrative of my healing (and not). It is time to move on.

The house cleaning has to be done before I can move on. I can’t do whatever else it is that I do, even if it’s just try to make pie crust or can veggies, or anything else. The excess stuff is in the way, and it’s a symptom that isn’t real any more. In many ways, I have no idea how to be whoever it is that lives without the camoflauge or need for it. I have no idea who this person is, but apparently I need room and less clutter to find out.

And DH who enabled 4 decades of growth and change? He needs and deserves a cleaner house. It’s not much of a thank you, but it’s something concrete and now I can do it, where I couldn’t before.


Well, there you go, stopped me cold.

The PTSD person is a total wimp. Anything which looks like it will make me more visible or actually is movement towards healing? — it’s suspect! (hissed)

Makes me really *MAD*. It’s damned near impossible to get anything finished. It’s hard to get anything even 1/2 way done without slamming into that wall.

I do what I just did. Have a bad night. Think Okay, that was terrible.

Then have an okay night. Think, Fine, we go on.

And somehow, for some reason, or many reasons, or I just forget or I have sudden onset ADD… time goes by and the project(s) are dropped and I’m doing other things.

More time goes on, and then one day I realize that the chart I had filled out religiously for 2 months hasn’t been touched for 30 days, and so on. It’s like I enter a cloud of “forgetfulness fog” and become an amoeba. Makes me nutty when I realize I’ve done this, again.

And I just did.

Believe me, I KNOW why vets with PTSD drink. Yes, what they went through was horrific and certainly should not to be diminished. But dealing with the demon which is PTSD is just not fun.

paper piles
The image isn’t mine, I’ve used it here before. But it is a great symbol for being overwhelmed, disorganized, and with a huge amount of work ahead before things are cleared out!
J

The New Entry?

This morning I had an epiphany about an entry. Talked to DH about it. It will displace the ironing board and the pantry overflow.

  1. We bought, some time ago, a vintage ironing board cupboard. This houses the ironing board and iron and hangs on the wall, no legs. We had one of these in my childhood home, most efficient! My idea was always that it was on one side of the new broom closet. DH said, “We’ll see.” I’m not sure if DH has to make me an ironing board to go on the cast iron piece in the cupboard, or not. We’ll look into it. In any case, it needs to be sanded, repainted before it’s put into place. Definitely a summer job!
  2. We get the Dutch bench out of the attic and put it back beneath the window on that wall. (Expense = $0) Or, we can move the beautiful bench I bought and put it there. Since we already own both, whichever one we choose would cost us $0 as well.
  3. That we put up 2 coat hooks, one on each side of the window. (We don’t own these. Although Gawd knows, I have lots of hooks!) Unknown expense.
  4. That we move the stray sock basket next to the wall next to the washer.
  5. That we move the 3 round wire bread baskets next to the table where they’e used.
  6. I paint the mullions on the laundry window the same color we’re painting the baseboards. (We will already have the paint. Extra cost $0)
  7. That we move one of the closet doors to hide the washer and dryer part of the room, making it possible to hide that mess. (We maybe able to use what we have for this already too!) This probably won’t work, the dimensions aren’t the same on the closet door I measured. . . .

At the moment, our entry is by the front door and always a mess. There’s a coat/hat rack which was taken from an old fire department. I love the history of the piece, but I hate the fact that there’s always a row of messy coats, hats, mufflers, etc. It has a narrow shelf above it we added, but the shelf isn’t big enough to take anything of size. There’s a bench below, but because of where it is, jammed up to the stairs, between the base of the stairs and the front wall, you can’t sit there without fighting the jungle of coats.

We do have another coat closet, but it’s full of motorcycle jackets and DH’s hobby equipment, mostly. The last time I looked I think I had one coat in it. He’s also filled the upstairs equivalent of this with hobby equipment. His hobby takes a lot of space and for a while it looked as if the necessary equipment and supplies were no longer going to be available. He’s culling it down a little at a time, but it takes reminders from me and tolerance. He’s not the person who filled the living room with boxes, 8 high — I am. Filling two closets, etc. isn’t anywhere near the same amount of stuff! And I still have 2 corners of the house and the storage unit full o’ my stuff. I have less than last year, yes, but still ….


We bought a new to us dining room table last night. I thought DH was set on it, he thought I was. It was cheap, but not quite what either of us thought (it looked better in the pic than it does in real life). We may buy another table I found yesterday instead and donate this one to Habitat, where we got it. We don’t mind donating to Habitat, but usually do it with a check and without hauling furniture around.

We’ve been together for > 40 years now and we still miscomminicate this way every now and then. Fortunately, this wasn’t all that expensive. . . .

However, the jury is still  out. We haven’t actually decided to do one thing or the other, yet.


The table has been salvaged. How? DH sanded and then waxed it. It looks MUCH better! We’ve used it a couple of times. This weekend we looked at other tables in antique shops, but decided not to buy anything else unless we love it. We now have 2 tables which are good, but not terrific. Need to replace those with something we both really like, or not buy anything else anyway.

The Missing F.B.I File . . .

(This was written at the beginning of March, 2019)

I wrote for my Mom’s FBI file. Yes, she had one. No, I’m not going to discuss why. The paperwork from any part of that inquiry has been missing for a long, long time. I found today my copy of the last correspondence with the FBI.

It seems like it was someone else who wrote for it. It’s certainly only a side-note now. Odd how we grow and change and the things which were vitally important can become only interesting side lights.

J