Tag Archives: learning

Philosophy of Clean

It seems to me that there are “truisms” about cleaning. Some of these I’ve discussed:

  1. Clutter is usually made of “stuff.”
  2. “Stuff” is frequently made up of pieces you can pick up with your hand.
  3. Hard surfaces are easier to clean than soft ones.
  4. The only way to get an area clean and keep it that way is to keep cleaning.

My new one is related to #4. That people who manage to get and keep areas clean don’t see cluttered or untidy as acceptable.

For someone in their 60s who’s trying to learn to live differently, that last piece is not easy. Even when I clean regularly, I just don’t have that muscle. I’m so used to mess and clutter that I often just don’t see it.

This creates an all-too familiar situation for me: that I clean/cull an area and within a week or so, it’s a mess again.

I noticed this because of yard work. I’ve been working on raking out the beds, specifically, the bulb bed. For weeks I’ve had piles of leaves in the yard. I’ve been pulling them up and taking them to the dump, when I can get to the dump, at a rate of about 8 bags a trip. The piles aren’t there forever, and I finally have one more trip and that’s it to finish picking up those leaves. (It will be 4 trips when I finish.)

I’ve restricted myself. I’ve been slowly, but surely cleaning out the leaves in the other areas, and piling the leaves into neat piles. If I keep it up, it will still be another month or so before I manage to clean up most of the yard. This is an acre and I’ve never done this before; we’ve lived here 20+ years. Lots of dried leaves!

My neighbor’s yard always looks neat. Both of them work on it, instead of one person. And, whatever yard work they do is entirely cleaned up, before they quit. It occurred to me that there are some reasons for this: they have more storage than I do (a garage and a basement) also, they ALWAYS clean up and put away whatever accumulated mess and tools before they quit.

Also, in this neighborhood, we almost all have wood piles. There’s a neighbor who has a wood-fired, exterior furnace, with large wood sheds, as you might imagine. His wood piles, even when it’s a grapple load, are rarely messy. The wood is almost always cut to size and stacked in the sheds. The neighbors with a garage and basement have a small pile of wood for power outages, it’s tidy. Us? We have the end of two cords in a pile in front of the porch — which just looks messy.

The difference is that the large pile and the mess is something we live with, and the others won’t, for whatever reason.

I’ve been pecking away at that pile, a log or two here or there. I’m very aware of my weakened elbow and the potential for permanent injury if I’m not careful. Otherwise, I would have tackled it long since . . . .

But my observations are what got me to item #5.

5.  Keeping an area clean requires the attitude that a hodge podge isn’t visually acceptable.

J

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Vocabulary Lesson

I found another label for my decorating style which appeals.

lagom

It’s a Swedish term, meaning not too much, not too little. Perfect!

Hygge, Cwtch, & Lagom

[Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?]

I came up with this:


 

Hygge, Cwtch, & Lagom:

Home decorating for the confused or those who just won’t do it like everyone else!


 

I printed it in an elaborate script. I may frame it? Cross stitch? Dunno — we’ll see.

But then serendipity and happenstance got involved. . . when I found lagom, I wrote it down incorrectly, as “lagon.”

Which, according to the urban dictionary, is:

The mythical beast you must slay to get anything done online.

Which resonates of course.
No test; I promise!
J

It’s Monday!

Beginning of a brand-new work week.

I’ve read a story, deleted unneeded emails, figured out a seed order and cleaned the bathroom counter and part of the kitchen counter.

Have a friend coming for breakfast in a couple of hours and want to do a bit more before that. I cancelled, as I’ve been sniffling and sneezed a few times since I got up too, sigh. I do NOT need to get or be sick!

Got the wood stove started making coals at the moment, still just small stuff, I’ll add the bigger stuff in a bit. Building fires is a lot like culling this house. You have to be content with the small, slow steps in order to get where you want to go. Learning to just walk away from a cold started wood stove fire was difficult for me. In my childhood home, the way you started a fire in the fireplace was to put in wood, turn on the gas, add a lit match and a little while later turn off the gas. Absolutely foolproof  and easy. Doesn’t teach you to watch the fire for where it is; doesn’t teach you to build coals starting with really small stuff and lots of paper, first. Didn’t teach or show any of that. I was spoiled, yes, and ignorant too. I learned better.

But cleaning the house or any other really big change for me is very like my experiences with building fires. I expect to see a problem, turn on the change, say “Go!” and I’m on my way. Um — no. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. It requires learning what the small steps are, nurturing those small steps, walking away and letting them seep in/work, (because if you mess with it too much frequently you undo the fire/change). Then slowly doing the next steps, one after another.

I’m in the waiting mode for the stove. The flue temp is 127 right now. It needs to be around 150 before I add anything of size.

I won’t keep flogging the build a fire/make a change analogy, but I’m sure you see what I was after. I have no patience, unless I have had it shoved down my throat again and again, that the only way that works is to go slowly. I want things to happen

Now!

or with little effort; it works far better if I use patience and let it build on its own.

The stove is at 129 now. I’m going to go get the broom and sweep the stairs. The routine I’ve gotten for sweeping the house starts with the stairs, to the entry, to the living room, the hearth and then the hallway. The kitchen is done separately. The sweeping routine is one of the small steps towards cleaning and clearing this place. Frustratingly small sometimes, but of a piece.


Got through my appt. and other needed stuff, finally got home around 5:15. I feel like crap; I’m going to bed!

Herbal Zero Waste

I grow herbs and spices here: parsley, sage, mint, oregano, chives, etc. I dry some every year. I do this because if you look at the price per lb. of spices at your local market, you’ll discover that they are among the most expensive, if not THE most expensive foods by weight.

The way I dry them is mostly in lunch bags, plain old brown paper lunch bags. I write on the bottom: the herb, date, and source. (The CSA grows herbs/spices too!) and hang them with rubber bands around the bag’s neck and a peg rack.

After about 2 months, I have dried leaves of whatever: parsley, sage, oregano, basil, etc.

I took down all but the last two of these today.

The spices/herb leaves were added to the appropriate containers, the stems were added to the kindling box, and the rubber bands were returned to the appropriate container as well. The bags? The bags got filled with the “trash” that sits in the bottom of the wood or kindling box (leaves, small twigs, dirt from the logs, pieces of bark, etc.). The bag’s neck was retwisted and

Shazaam! 

You get instant, free, zero waste all-natural fire starters and a clean wood or kindling box!

It makes the messy business of cleaning the wood box kind of fun.

I felt the same years ago: we put corn out for squirrels and I used the dried cobs as fire starters. I thought that idea was original! My MIL told me that one of her jobs on the farm, when she was growing up, was to get the cookstove’s fire going, with dried corn cobs saved for that. [I didn’t grow up on a farm in the midwest, but in L.A.; it was new to me!]

This idea, of stuffing the kindling “trash” into lunch bags will probably also be old to many, but it was a new idea for me again. I’m glad I thought of it, whether it’s a new, or not.

My Rose by Any Other Name is a Cacti

Came up with a name for my personal style, not that it will help me find things!

I guess it’s not supposed to? Newer decorating books talk about people’s decorating styles as “raspberry coolatta meets Bullwinkle,” well, no not that, but you get the idea!

If the name doesn’t actually have to be *useful* in telling others what you’re looking for? Well, mine could be:

Funky industrial/retail meets modern, or functional & simple lines are best!

( If you put that into google? You get a bunch of pinterest hits for industrial decorating, which is nice, but . . . .)

An example could be our hearth: the wood box is an old crate we bought at auction: on one side it has a label which reads “American Consulate.” On another it says “Mrs. (somebody) and “silverware.” Who the woman was, what kind of silverware, which consulate? There’s history and an untold story in that crate.

We use it for firewood, 2 wine crates for kindling, an old leaky pressure cooker holds fire starters, and a counter display for carborundum blades holds matches. Oh — and two steel US Quartermaster’s bins hold paper.

The club chairs were bought used at an antique store, the table between is a small library catalog, with a step stool behind it with a plastic cube on that we got as a wedding present, lo those many years ago. The end tables are picnic baskets, also from an antique store.

That’s my style — whatever it is!

Maybe?

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/frugal/industrial — or functional & simple lines are best

Almost none of the stuff in the room was new when we got it. Exceptions: the plastic cube, the ash bucket, the hearth materials and the stove.

So, another revision:

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/industrial/frugal —

or used & functional: simple lines are best

The last bit is the reality, really, I don’t go looking for the industrial or military or retail things. When I find one? It’s a plus, but not a requirement. That makes it:

Used & functional: simple lines are best

Put that into google? You get info about linear regression. NOT helpful!

Sigh.

(You can find the first description of this problem here.)

Monday’s Six, no Seven

I have one item outstanding from last week (#1), and today’s six:

  1. Work on the wood piles, also on the to do list.
  2. Straighten/tidy the wardrobe, no attic. Changed because of back up items waiting to go into the attic. 9:15 a.m.
  3. Do more work to catch up on my filing.6:30 p.m.
  4. Tidy and cull craft equipment.3:20 p.m.
  5. Desmudge the phones. 7:30 a.m.
  6. Straighten 2 dresser drawers. 8:30 a.m.
  7. Go through the vegetable bin, clean and cull. 2:30 p.m.

I also owe a friend who I’m writing an article with a draft or a piece of the article, so I’ll be busy today!

Partly because of the veggie bin clean out/cull effort, I went looking for food waste info. I found this link, which was new to me and thought it might interest you too!

(link)

What else I’ve done today?

Swept the steps, and from the entry to the hall. Vac’d the landing and office. Cleaned the bathroom, done the dishes, two loads of laundry, packed items to be sold into my car, organized the things pulled from the dresser which need to be sorted through.

Just lounging around all day ‘eh?

Been Working on the Paperwork

My first tax appt. is this week, so I’ve been going thru paperwork.

file-folder-tax-image

This morning I’ve culled/filed coupons.

Culled/filed misc. paperwork.

Culled/filed receipts.

I’m not sure exactly how many papers I’ve tossed, filed, or put in the shred tub, but it’s an hour+ of sorting things. I’m going to count it as 30 papers out. I’m sure it was likely more than that, but as I said, I didn’t count so I don’t have an accurate number.

Other agenda related to the tax appt. is to clear my desk and the area around it. The old computer needs to be plugged in so I can get some data off of it.

I ran out of the envelopes I use to file receipts. One thing I learned long ago is that I purely hate the mess that misc. piles of small bits of paper create. My first solution was to tape the receipts to college ruled notebook paper and file the stuff in notebooks. Works, as long as you keep it up. I did (and didn’t). Last year, when I shut off the old computer (it had completely died doing the 2014 taxes, then started to again doing the 2015 taxes!) I had the first quarter’s worth of data in the data base. I figured when we got the new computer, I’d just upgrade the data base, and I’d be good. Something we’ve done before. No, the company has gone to a monthly subscription fee rather than expensive upgrades. Okay, in our old age I am working really, really hard at REMOVING monthly fees and autodebits — so I decided that after 20 years or so with the data base, I’d stop using it. (Also, I’d finally (!) zeroed out the book stock, so didn’t need to use the same medium any more.)

Okay. I started filing receipts and tracking what I was doing in a different way. Like all things, it has its pluses and minuses.

However, I’m still using that system. But I need to get the 1st quarter ‘s data from the old data base . . . .

After that? I have 20 years worth of research for the kitchen book (mostly) in a few data bases to convert to some other system. Now you know why I haven’t tackled this already; it’s daunting!