Category Archives: self-interest

New Ideas About Cleaning

Aside from the PTSD, bad habits and panic attacks, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had one other major problem about cleaning up the house. No one ever taught me how! This means that no one ever showed me the “right” order to do things. I was taught at boarding school how to make a bed, clean a toilet or trash can, but not how to make a schedule or plan to cover the basics, regularly.

And, I admit, that doing anything regularly wouldn’t have happened anyway, because of the panic attacks. Cleaning is like writing a novel or any other longer piece, you have to keep slogging away at it I’ve found. Difficult for me, if not impossible for much of my life.

That said, I have discovered a few things:

  1. Always clean more than you have to. That is, if the dishes are done and you have 1 item in the sink, find a candlestick or decorative something to clean too. This also applies to sweeping the kitchen, putting clothes away, whatever. Especially if the chores aren’t involved or big, add something minor. Cleaning the bath counter? Wipe down the box on the shelf, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Hard surfaces, impervious to water are the easiest to clean; where soft surfaces, which absorb water are the hardest.
  3. Clean the areas used the most more than others.
  4. Clean the most obvious areas first. (I have [had?] a tendency to clean closets and drawers when the urge to clean hit me. Before I realized the clutter was what I needed to feel safe, it was dumbfounding to me that I could spend a whole day cleaning and you couldn’t tell. This is, of course, backwards from the way most people work. And that’s the reason why those “toss this” lists really didn’t work for me.
  5. Find whatever works for you and run with it. I spent DECADES trying to use flylady or other cleaning plans, and couldn’t.  This caused more of the internal I’m stupid, flawed, and just screwed up mantra.  I figured “Of course this doesn’t work for me and it does for Mary or Jo. It’s me after all.” I finally accepted that I couldn’t adopt someone else’s plans, I had to come up with my own — in my 60s!
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Monday’s 6 & Last Week’s Backlog

It’s nice to see that I managed to get one day’s worth of chores done (Tuesday) finally, but there are still 10 more items which are undone! It’s raining as I type this, and that will further put off outdoor chores.

  1. Clean the cat food bin.10:30
  2. Inventory the filters, make sure there’s the needed amount of the right type.12:30
  3. Clean the drawer with rolling pin, etc. 11:00
  4. Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing! 
  5. Inventory/examine/clean the items in the umbrella basket. Move seasonal items no longer needed to attic or other secondary storage.11:10
  6. Work on maintenance: desk/bath counter and new cleaning: laundry.

Friday:

  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.
  • Clear off the dining room table again. In process. More work done Sun., but not complete!
  • Do the last gather of flea market materials, last market is a week from tomorrow.
  • Work on the household journal.

Thurday:

  • Put ice scrapers in the cars, examine and see if they need replacement?
  • Ship the box to the BIL, make up more boxes of things which should be shipped and get them sent!

Wednesday:

  • Organize/Cull the cleaning products

Monday’s Backlog:

  • Clear stuff from my car and run a vac through at least part of it!
  • Work on the fabric storage again: cull and neaten.
  • Move the paint as DH and I discussed.

 

 

I Do This — Do You?

I buy used durable goods, like blankets.  We have quite a few blankets, almost none of which were bought new. A few were, one’s an heirloom, but more were bought used, especially the wool ones. I love wool blankets, and even used they’re rarely cheap!

So, buying a blanket with moth holes, or missing its binding, is not new for me. I’d rather pile them on the bed and just enjoy the warmth, than be bent out of shape because I can’t find the perfect piece.

I was thinking about this because I’d just looked at a few sites pushing the idea of buying something only once. That by buying quality items, then the inevitable replacement isn’t necessary. I like the idea, and as I was going through the blankets today I was thinking about it:

  • Two of the blankets I bought new in 1984. They were replacements of two blankets I’d bought the year before and had taken to the dry cleaners, which burned down before I got them back. The plastic carrier for one of them has split and was put into the trash today. I can store both of them in the other carrier when I put them away next spring.
  • Two LL Bean Polartec blankets we bought shortly after we got here. They’re over 20 years old. The used-to-be-feral kitty loves Polartec, all happy claw kneading and deafening purrs, so whichever one we aren’t using is her current bed.
  • We have a hand-quilted matelese piece which is literally falling apart. This is one of those supremely comfortable pieces you fight the guy to get rid of. We got it at auction about 10 years ago.
  • We have another hand-quilted blanket which DH’s grandmother made. (She made enough quilts for all the grandchildren.) It’s starting to wear, but we’ve had it 30+ years now.
  • There are 3 wool blankets, (white, pink, green) with moth holes. I got these at a church sale on the seacoast 6 years ago. I intend to actually felt these this year, somehow that just hasn’t gotten done.
  • Finally, there’s a plaid wool blanket I got last year from an antique store. It’s nearly the same colors as the 3 wool blankets from the church sale. I felted it right after I got it. Works fine.

The first blankets weren’t cheap, but we’ve had them 30 years, so how much is that? I don’t remember how much the Polartec blankets were, but they’re weren’t cheap either. The others were all cheaper and bought second hand.

Buying used stuff makes it harder to get matchy-matchy if that’s what you want (not my thing).

I have 4 duvet covers, which is quite a lot for just one bed, ‘eh?

We bought one this year and it wasn’t cheap, but we’ve been looking at buying linen sheets. We want to stop buying sheets for at least 5 years. [Buying used sheets is a crapshoot. You get something wonderful which lasts every now and then, or you get a sheet you put your feet through the second time you use it.]

Sheets are insanely expensive for what they are. Okay. If I’m going to have to spend premium money, I want premium goods which won’t need to be replaced in two years! So, we got a duvet with linen content, as a test. Without a quilt in it, we used it as a top sheet this summer to see if we hated the feel of the fabric (No.) We plan to use it as a regular duvet cover this winter.

Two of the duvet covers are home made (not by me) from sheets. I got these used, somewhere, don’t know when. I don’t use them as duvet covers, but heavy pieces of cloth over veggies in the car on the way back from the farm, to haul laundry, etc.

The last duvet cover is a fancy Umbra one we got at BB& B, on last markdown, about 9 years ago. It’s spring green and I break it out mid-winter when I’m completely sick of white, mud brown, black, gray, drab and other grim wintery colors. Combating those winter blues!

So I buy a few premium new pieces and keep them for decades, or buy good used things — and keep them for decades. I’d love to have the $ to just go out and buy premium stuff if I wanted to, but I’d miss the hunt and satisfaction I get from knowing I’ve paid little for something which will help me be a happy non-consumer.

One reason I went through the linen collection this week was to determine WHEN I need to start worrying about buying sheets? When we do, I’ll go looking for linen content, but in the meantime, what we have should last another year or more. The same is true of duvet covers and blankets.

We have one bedspread. I will probably sell it. The duvet covers work just fine.

 

I May Hex Myself

But I have to say this: the PTSD hasn’t gotten up in arms about what I’ve been doing. I’m amazed, really I am. For DECADES I couldn’t do this, make a list of 5 things and then do them without feeling vulnerable, targeted, panicked, and weepy.

Not there this time!

As I said, the tacit acknowledgement of what I’m doing may be the thing which ends this, Gawd knows it has 100s of times before. But, it doesn’t feel that way this time.

Maybe that’s why I’ve felt compelled to write this post? It’s a sort of emotional running your tongue over the hole where your tooth used to be.

We’ll see!

J

Been Working on the “Temporary” Drains

from the construction site. They and the rough grading of the land around the new patio are done. Supposedly we’re getting a new batch of soil from the contractor. Thought that would arrive today, it didn’t. It did get here and was used. The “temporary” drains became possibly permanent — we’ll see next spring!

Not sure what’s up with the contractor? He was going to come by with a load for the dump today too and add some stuff here to it. Haven’t seen him, dump closes in 15 minutes or so, so obviously, if he was going to add our stuff, he isn’t now. We had a sort of “fight” this morning, no one raised their voice or even disagreed, but things got tense and DH sent an email which essentially said, “finish these pieces and we’re done.” Before that the contractor and I had talked and exchanged texts about the soil and dump. So I have no idea wtf will happen. We’ll get the soil/not? He’ll show up Sat. to take the stuff to the dump/not? He’ll finish the pieces DH asked for/not?

I have no idea.

There was a piece of the work which we’d all talked about, in detail. How to do it, when to do it, etc. We bought all the materials for it, weeks ago. He’s been running on money we gave him 2 week ago, so we knew he’d used it up and expected something like, “Look, this is taking longer than I expected, can you give me $$$ more?” What I got told this morning was that “it wasn’t in the contract.”

Hm. No, but if you couldn’t do it and if you asked for more money instead of being defensive about it, I probably would have dug into the money market or retirement or deep savings to pay you. I’m reasonable. But to leave a chunk o’ work to the end then say, “it isn’t in my contract,” just annoyed us. It wasn’t that you needed more $ to do the work. It wasn’t that at all, it was the way you handled it. And, if you knew that you couldn’t do it, why not say something two weeks ago or more? Additionally, there are things which got done which we didn’t need or even necessarily want done, and there’s some pieces which are just unfinished.

This person is also a neighbor of ours, which makes the entire mess a whole lot more complicated.

Sigh. I wish we’d just gotten the back roof done, period. The first roof, with the same person running the show was easy. And that’s the only reason we let ourselves get involved in this much more complex and expensive venture. Never again.

We will in the future use Angie’s List, ask for complete estimates and get everything written. And no, we won’t work with friends, again. I learned that lesson years ago, I  just learned it again.

(The “cat snarl” tag is because it’s how this feels: like a snarl of yarn a cat’s been into!)

Favorite Foods

We have a new favorite yogurt, and, knowing us, that means it won’t last, alas.

DH bought two Yoplait yogurts this week, packaged in glass. The flavor is vanilla, the stuff is expensive, because of the packaging and no doubt because of the lack of preservatives. The ingredients are very simple, something like: milk, sugar, yogurt strain bacteria, and vanilla extract — that’s all.

It’s called “French style” yogurt and their website doesn’t even have a picture of it. We have decided we love it and need to buy a lot of it ASAP, because it no doubt won’t last. Simple foods which taste good, with no crap added to them tend to be short-lived.

Remember Haagen-Dazs Five ice creams? They were around for what, a year? Ice cream with 5 ingredients, milk, cream, sugar, flavoring. It was wonderful stuff — and it’s gone.

The other ice cream we fell in love with is almost impossible to find in New England, although it CAN be found, again it’s pricey. It’s Three Twins, organic ice creams.

vanila 3 twins image

Sigh. I long for the days when simpler meant cheaper and easier to find rather than the opposite. Ah well, we are food snobs and swimming upstream is something I’m used to, ‘eh?

J

Stuff Reduction

What I’ve done this morning:

  • I waxed the edges of the new desk with beeswax to help the piece run smoothly.
  • I washed down two exterior walls which because of the way the roof was originally built were really dirty. These two walls now have a concrete floor, in the patio, so there should be a lot less asst. dirt, leaves, etc. to crud them up.
  • I decided to sell my espionage paperbacks as a lot. I like them, I even every now and then look through or read a book or two, but not enough to justify the nearly 4 linear feet the collection needs. I can use the $20 more than the nearly 40 books.
  • Then I got a new container for and culled the vegetable seed collection.
  • I ate breakfast.

It’s about 11:45 a.m. and I haven’t done anything this morning at all ‘eh?