Category Archives: behaviors

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 blow (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!

 

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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!

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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.

 

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.

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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 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

 

Getting Ready for Retirement: Food & Fuel

We have been, slowly, trying to change our eating habits and others, preparatory to DH’s retirement, at some unknown future date. We don’t want him to retire particularly, but it will happen, and because he works on contract 1 or contract 2, if the company loses the contracts, he’s likely to lose the job he has supporting them, then. It’s entirely out of our control.

To that end, I’ve been for years slowly but surely moving us along a pathway towards lower monthly expenses as much as possible, and of course the easiest, first way to do that is almost always food.

You can’t really control what the bank charges for a mortgage. You can’t control what the oil man wants for heating oil or propane. You can control the cost of the food you buy, so that’s almost always the first place people start to cut down, including us. The only problem with this is that for many people, food is only 10% of their total expenditures, so even cutting the cost in 1/2 isn’t a significant saving overall. Of course it counts, but don’t kid yourself you’ll suddenly be awash in available funds if you cut your food bill in 1/2.

For us, this is complicated by the fact that we’re food snobs, and like it that way. There are traditional cheap foods we could use.

  • MAC & CHEESE: I don’t like mac and cheese, even homemade. I’m fairly certain they gave it to me, with orange soda (which I also abhor) one time I had stomach flu. DH likes it. I like cheese on pasta, but not baked and BROWNED, and not cheese food.
  • BEETS: DH hates them on principle. They are an economical food to grow because you eat all of the plant: roots and leaves. I can take them or leave them. Yellow beets I can sneak into stews sometimes. The greens I can add to soups & stews, sometimes.
  • HAMBURGERS: Unfortunately, I grew up eating prime beef. I like beef that tastes like beef. Much of the “beef” out there doesn’t taste like anything! Form without substance. (Also see ground beef, below.)
  • STEAK: See above comment about prime beef. My reaction to the insane price of beef these days is to buy very small hunks of steak, when I can find them on sale at the co-op and freeze them. I only buy and keep one. Steaks this size aren’t very efficient foodstuffs, it’s an expensive piece o’ protein and usually only one meal. I try to use it as a condiment rather than as a plate filler when I serve it.
  • BREAD: We bake our own. When a decent loaf of bread is as much as about 2/3- 1 lb of beef? I’ll bake it. I also buy enough flour between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 to last until about April. Why? Staples are cheapest between the holiday sales, prethanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Because of that, the prices go up the MOST they do all year after New Year’s and during the month February. They level off by the end of March. Staples, like flour, go on sale again for Easter.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/FISH: I stopped eating fish long ago, because I heard something which indicated to me that we were overfishing. As someone who grew up on the Pacific Coast and dearly loves fish, this wasn’t easy. And, yes, I admit, I slip about once or twice a year. DH isn’t fond of fish, which helps.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/CHICKEN: We use bulk pack chicken thighs from the co-op, approx. $2.50 a lb. I buy a 5 lb bag and divvy it up into 3 piece portions, approx. 1 lb each. That’s 2 meals worth, a dinner and lunch the next day. This works for us. I no longer buy whole chickens, chicken breast in any form, etc. Chicken thighs are mostly white meat, some bone and for our household each piece is about 1 portion. It works and it’s cheap.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/GROUND BEEF: I’ve been known to buy meat from a friend who raises cattle, but mostly I buy a pound or two at the local natural food market. The stuff tastes great (see hamburgers, above) but it’s expensive. I get 2 meals from a pound of meat. We have friends who add black beans to ground beef and although this was yummy, I never remember that when it might be useful!
  • OTHER PROTEIN/VEGETABLE: I’ve been known to make lentil burgers. They weren’t bad, but not the success I’d hoped for. Let’s say this is a work in progress. My long-term notion for these is to combine lentils, black beans and ground beef, but it is, as I said, not finished. . . .

Other ideas:

Switch to wood heat, almost entirely. Why? Because we live on just under an acre of land. I can grow some of our fuel. Not enough to keep us warm all winter, but some of it. I can’t grow propane, fuel oil or pellets.

Along this line, we have registers to install between rooms to distribute the wood heat more evenly. We also will maybe buy an ecofan or other fans to help distribute the heat. We have one big fan on our staircase that in summer is used to pull the hot air up to the ceiling and in the winter to push down the hot air.

We’ve been concentrating on things we can do to stay warm and fed. That base layer of Maslow’s, right?

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Photo by Anna Popović on Unsplash

I’m Not a Feminist; and I Am. Or. . .

I was raised by a man who grew up in the Georgian Era, the 1900-1920s. His ideas about women were to say the least a bit dated in the 1960s when I was growing up. But he also had this thing about how I could do anything I set my mind to. It was confusing, but many of the “shoulds” I got at the time were conflicting: 1950s vs 1960s sensibilities.

I like the idea of my home being an extension of my love of my spouse, our relationship, and as a way of respecting myself. It’s a notion which appeals.

That said, we started as roommates, not lovers, and neither of us is set in the men only or women only patterns which were pervasive when we were very young. I will haul and split wood. He will wash dishes and laundry. We both cook.

I am not a rabid anything. I don’t want to be male. I DO want equal pay if I’m doing the same work as a man, with equal experience. I DO want to be seen as an individual, a person, rather than as a domestic worker or sex slave.

I am content to be female. It wasn’t always so. I was really angry about the assumption that of course I would clean, cook, and caretake for any man I lived with: father, brother, lover, or spouse. I remember when a woman’s inadequacies were judged by how well she appeared in public, how clean her house was, how well she entertained, etc.

That was who women were when I was a little girl. I was dismayed there was no one to teach me. And more dismayed that my family just assumed (the two males I lived with) that somehow I’d acquire those skills and accomplishments magically about the time I physically matured, it came with using a bra I guess? Except it didn’t.

The primary model I had for being female was someone I didn’t want to be: my Abuser. She was a lousy housekeeper and a nasty person. The secondary model was her daughter, who saw me as competition. We weren’t buddies. Then there was my actual sister, who was a Martha Stewart clone. Didn’t seem to have much in common with her, either.

They sent me places, some of which tried to help: boarding schools, camps, etc. Some of them tried to inject a cleaning routine in my life. It didn’t work, because of the PTSD and panic attacks.

So here I am, decades after this started, still trying to figure out where the roles of housekeeper, spouse, woman fit?

And I still don’t know.

If wanting equal pay and recognition as a person makes me a Feminist, then I am. If wanting to learn how to caretake and nurture, to create a home makes me an Anti-Feminist, then I’m that too.

More Panic & Stories of Us

Okay. I woke again last night (this was written Wednesday), three times. This was better (?) than Monday night because I omitted the adrenaline content. I just woke up with a cramped leg, twice and a cramped arm once. If the panic attacks stay limited to the physical side waking me and I don’t wake up with the emotional backwash of panic/pain, I can usually just go back to sleep. I’m not sure what it is I do with my arm, but I keep pushing/straining with my feet. It isn’t restless foot syndrome that I know of, because it seems to only happen on the nights when the PTSD has a reason to be “active.”

I yelp every now and then and I keep waiting for the day the scream I feel inside gets out.

Poor DH!

But I suppose a few things: 1) He loves me, bless him and knows I don’t do this on purpose. 2) We’ve talked about it. and 3) It’s probably a small price to pay to finally get a clean (or cleaner anyway) house? I don’t know that one, you’d have to ask him.


I met him at a supermarket to combine errands and our other agenda. We were saying good bye in the market. I was at the end of an aisle, he was at the other end. I called, he saw/heard me and came to me. I leaned into him when he got there; he kissed the top of my head. Some woman we don’t know said, “Ahhh.” I guess she thought it was nice.

Reminded us of a few other occasions:

  • We both worked as volunteers at a public radio station. Because we worked in different parts of town, we usually met at the station if we were both volunteering the same day. DH came in and walked over to me. The fellow I was working with started to introduce us and DH leaned over and kissed me. The fellow said, “I guess you two know each other?” Um, yeah. It was cute.
  • Years later, after we’d moved north, we were in the local shopping mall, holding hands. A teenaged (or younger) male person looked at us and went, “EWwww!” I suppose that to him holding hands is the purview of people < 20? Don’t know. We were amused!

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash