Last Time I Checked


April 13, 2013
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is almost here if I go by what’s coming up in my garden beds.  If I go by the weather it’s still winter.  I need to be outside.  I need to garden.  I need to dig in the dirt.  This year – and I mean it this time – I am going to garden my ass off.  I am going to rip out, or hire someone to rip out, what I don’t want, what’s taking up too much space, what doesn’t look good enough.

Two weeks from today we leave for California.  I hope we have even just a few days of nice weather so I can at least do some preemptive weeding before leaving for ten days.  Ten days!  It’s been a long time since we’ve been away from home that long.  For me, that’s too long right now.  Alita is only 18 months old and I see her several days a week.  And I’m really attached to my pooch and she to me, and I know she will miss me so much.  I am grateful that her former foster mom is going to watch her.

If the weather continues to be poor here, then I think I might not get that homesick in California.  At least not for several days.


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The worst thing

May 2, 2010
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about not having a good set of eyes at the moment is it makes it difficult to read.  I can manage typing and looking at the computer screen (although that is surely adding to my dry eyes) but with the left eye feeling again as though there’s a small pebble lodged in the upper inside corner, it feels like only my right eye is doing its job.

Notwithstanding my poor vision as I write this, I have an eye – literally – on a print-out of something interesting I found on the Internet last December.  It’s from SOMA, The Society of Mutual Autopsy.  I don’t remember what I was googling when I found their website, but the article is about boredom and its impact on society and individuals both historically and today.  The article, while not in-depth, mentions that some researchers and writers blame boredom on the brain, over-stimulation in modernity, feelings of emptiness and the inevitability of death, or not realizing our need for God, the ultimate source for all meaning.  The Buddhists would say be more mindful to assuage boredom.  

Here’s a link that, if you read it through, will help you figure out a lot of things to do that will prevent you from being bored (like blogging, protesting, conversing, thinking):

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Supposedly Clean

February 26, 2010
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That’s the name of the design I chose from WordPress.  I think I liked the name as much as its look.  I was probably also attracted to the implied state, the fact that something is supposedly this or supposedly that.  Actually, I’m thinking of my kitchen as I write this, which is also the reason I write this.  I am not pleased at the way it looks this morning.  Food dishes left out from the night before, stacks of mail, magazines, catalogs, and paper work on my table, and too many other hot spots.  I walked out in disgust and with no enthusiasm for cleaning.  

I have a small bag of tricks for getting motivated to clean, especially the kitchen or other large room.  I write a list of the specific targeted areas that need cleaning, organizing, or de-cluttering – left counter, middle counter, counter next to sink, etc..  I define cleaning as elbow grease work, like cleaning my glass top stainless steel stove.  Organizing is for the magazine basket or the small counter that holds pending paperwork but usually ends up attracting much more than that.  De-cluttering is reserved for serious purging that includes filing, shredding, recycling, and throwing away.  De-cluttering is time consuming and exhausting.  I’m not a hoard by any means, but I do have a tendency (my family would say a neurotic tendency) to save things.  I have figured out why I have this trait and have worked on reducing what I save.  Much of what I save is for sentimental reasons.  But as I grow older I realize I don’t or won’t have the time to look at or go through all this stuff.  I also know my family won’t know what to do with all my stuff after I die, and it bothers me that they just might toss it all in the garbage.  If I at least have it organized they might realize it has some intrinsic value and may thoughtfully decide who would want what I have left behind.  I know my ticket stub from the Chicago Cubs game that my brother Mike and I went to this past July might not mean anything to them, but it would to my brother.  That game, played at Wrigley Field (I refuse to use the corporate name), ended up going to the 13th inning with the bases loaded.  Alfonso Soriano hit a grand slam for a Cubs’ win 5 to 1.  Awesome game.  Mike is a huge Cubs fan, and it follows that he would appreciate knowing I’m saving my ticket stub for him.

Second in the bag is the use of a timer set anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour.  I find that shorter time periods make me more efficient and setting it no longer than 30 minutes means I won’t get distracted with something else, like sitting down and working on a Sudoku puzzle.  So for the kitchen I might allocate 10 minutes for loading the dishwasher and washing any dishes that need hand washing.  If darling husband hasn’t unloaded the clean dishes from the dishwasher I begrudgingly add another 5 minutes.  The time includes drying and putting away because I have a philosophy that it is pointless to have a dishwasher if you have either clean or dirty dishes sitting in the sink.  My husband and I have refined a system that usually works to our preferences; he seems to prefer putting away and I definitely prefer loading –  I guess that’s because it’s as close to cleaning without actually cleaning as one can get.  That could be why I like cleaning out the coffee maker and my husband seems to enjoy setting it up.  I say seem because I know in my heart of hearts he would rather I do it all, but since I am a proponent of shared responsibilities in the care of the home I would be violating those principles.

Third trick is to work in numbers.  It’s like the I Ching of decluttering.  It’s not as useful for cleaning or organizing.  You’re really just trying to get a bunch of stuff put away or, more to my point of this post, to make a room look supposedly clean.  It’s this implied state that is my downfall when I look around a room and see it needs some serious TLC.  If I know I don’t have enough time to do a phenomenal job, I lose about 75% of my interest before I even start.  I’m not sure if this is a philosophical problem, a psychological problem, or an understandable reaction to having to perform unpaid work.  So when I’m not feeling motivated for whatever reason, I work in nines times three.  I start picking up whatever nine things are lying where they shouldn’t.  I’m not selective about what I pick up.  I work in an area and move around quickly.  I try to pick up things that will be put away in the room I am working in.  Working in a set of nines one at a time is easier than working at putting away 27 things at one time.  This is a quick way to create some order in a room, but I don’t consider it true cleaning.  Even though some things do end up in their place, there’s too much stuff that ends up in a neat pile waiting for further action.  And right there is the reason I say this method makes a room look supposedly clean.  

The fourth trick in getting motivated to clean is to host company, as in hosting Thanksgiving or a party.  This is motivation for massive cleaning and always gets me going.  I used to be able to clean my entire house in a day or two.  That doesn’t work anymore.  For one thing, my house is bigger, I don’t rely on nicotine and caffeine anymore, and it’s too hard on these older bones.  What I do is plan the most important rooms to clean- where the company will be – which is the entire first floor.  Darling husband pitches in a lot, which is a big help, but he typically works in areas where he knows 1) he’s out of my way, 2) he knows it’s the last place I’ll worry about cleaning (like the basement storage areas), and 3) he can work unsupervised (read: he can throw away stuff). 

More and more often, I am planning well in advance so I don’t run into a deadline I can’t meet without resorting to making a room look supposedly clean.  The goals I’d really like to accomplish this year are to finish a couple of projects that really detract from the rooms they are in – i.e., projects involving furniture-  and once done will serve as inspiration to keeping these rooms clean.  Speaking of projects, daughter Tracy and I just talked about her efforts to put her yarn room back in order.  That’s where the semi-round chair I’m uphostering will go.  She’s full of excitement over what she has accomplished and it sure is great to hear her enthusiasm.  That brings me to my fifth trick.  Having someone you are close to share in your cleaning woes and hopes can be very motivating, especially if that person enjoys finding positive solutions.  Tracy has helped me find ways to get motivated by saying things like think how great it will look when you finish. 

Time to get back to that kitchen.  I’m thinking of having a party tomorrow night.  And the basement is already clean.

Weight Lifting

February 25, 2010
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I usually do this at the gym, though not as often as I should (shouldism= necessary for my well-being).  My legs press 135 pounds, which is what I am suppose to weigh but don’t.  I refuse to press more than I want to be.  Enough said about that.  I add and ab duct my legs on two machines that neighbor each other.  The add is the inside, the ab the outside.  I can barely remember this after I’ve googled it.  I do remember that it’s harder for me to push out than squeeze in on these machines.  Machine is probably not an accurate term.  I am the machine; they are not able to do anything without a specific energy source like me.  They are equipment, how’s that?

I’ve added two routines, one for my torso and one for my arms.  Both will help me to lift more weights and be nimble as in Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.  And speaking of him, we spent an hour outside on Tuesday lifting more weights than I do in a year.  As in tons, tons of wet snow.  Small passes with the shovel, using my legs, and twisting carefully made for little soreness and no injuries.  Jack grabbed chunks of snow and threw them on the driveway and eventually at me.  I tried to get him to roll the snow into a ball to start a snowman.  He wanted to sled.  But I was snowed in and hadn’t left the house since Sunday, so I kept telling him that I needed to shovel.  Complete honesty about that.  Gagi’s gotta get out of here!  His mom had to park in the street to drop him off.  He arrived with a smile on his face, as usual.  I was barely awake after my usual night of insomnia.  But it was a good start to my day.  Jack is almost always in a good mood.  He’s a lot wiser than his older brother was at this age, but that probably has to do with being second.  I can relate to that.

Jack never stopped trying to get me to take him sledding, but he also never stopped enjoying what we were doing – me picking up limited weights of snow, some making it to one side or the other of the driveway, some being thrown toward Jack – Jack grabbing chunks of snow, talking about what he was creating, and then running at me and laughing all the way.  It was warm enough for it to be enjoyable outside and cold enough to want to get the job done.

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Still Awake

February 17, 2010
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For some reason I think I feel like staying up.  It’s 5:35 am as of this writing and the coffee is brewing (set up by darling husband).  Hell no, I don’t really call him that.  If I had a name for him, when I’m in a good mood, it would probably would be the Marlboro man – just like the Pioneer Woman calls her man.  Even though he doesn’t smoke or ride a horse, he can act like one of those throw-backs, you know, those Neanderthal types.  He revels in this s#it.  It’s hilarious and we both know it.  A man’s gotta be . . . If you have read Robert Bly, you’ll get this.

Many of the antics he does would probably embarrass all of us if he did them in public.  For example, he was once known to shoot the moon on a dare (my dare).  That was a long time ago.  These days, he likes to break into song.  He would be good if he didn’t try so hard to throw his voice.  I hate to say it, but his Elvis imitation is the best.  Our grandsons think he is pretty funny when he sings.  He can remember a lot of lyrics, many of which are funny.  When we have the boys over, we like to play music or music videos that have fun lyrics, sounds, or scenes.  Jackson likes Who Let the Dogs Out.  Yesterday while I was visiting he got out a couple of his birthday cards and brought them over to me.  He had asked me to tell him some knock knock jokes and I reminded him I only know one knock knock joke (and with enough practice have finally gotten it right).   One of the cards was a knock knock joke birthday card.  Corny but cute.  From his other grandma.  The other one was a Who Let the Dogs Out singing birthday card from this grandma.  One day when both boys were over and Papa was at the gym, we googled this song and found a couple of hilarious videos to the music.  We learned there is a chorus and Jack hasn’t forgotten it.  One fun music video we’ve watched over and over together is Feist’s 1234.  Not only is the music upbeat but the dancing in circles with all the colored garments swirling around and then the disappearing of the dancers is really entertaining. 

I didn’t make it past 6 am.  I guess I liked the idea of staying awake but I needed more sleep.  I probably need to step up the dose of 5-HTP to two a day.   Today’s my day with Jackson and I need to be alert and rested.  I will be moving fast, twisting in my car seat to buckle him up, and perhaps dancing to some music.  It always proves to be a fun day, usually starting with lunch for me and ice cream for Jack.

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Bad coffee, good brother, snowed in

February 10, 2010
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A solid night’s sleep thanks again to 5-HTP.  This tme I took it at bed time and did not take it at all during the day.  No headache this morning.  If my insomnia is cured I will be a new woman.  I am drinking somewhat bad coffee made from one of those coffee bags.  They keep me in dark drink when my husband travels overnight.  I am very strict on coffee making gender roles.  I clean the bloody Cuisinart Grind and Brew but won’t make the coffee.  Same thing with the dishwasher.  I will load it.  In fact, I like to load it but hate putting the dishes away.  So when my husband is away overnight, I have no coffee waiting for me in the morning but will always have a clean mug.  I’ts really kind of pathethic.  I have to choose between driving to a nearby cafe for a cup of coffee or heating up a cup of water in the microwave.  Sometimes I luck out and there is enough leftover coffee in the carafe for me to reheat.  In fact this is preferable to the other choices.   

My very good brother Mike who lives out of state has broken off a two-year relationship with a woman who lives an hour away from me.  We, we being Mike’s family, had mixed feelings about this partnership.   We loved that we saw him much more often as he visited Michigan frequently to find out if this was going to be a life-long commitment.  We wanted that for him.  But none of us could say we really liked her.  Some of us could say we liked her.   But none of us could say we REALLY liked her.  Mike is a great guy; fun, even-tempered, loving, very active physically, healthy, self-employed, and besides being a good brother is a much loved brother-in-law and uncle.  He deserves an equally good mate.  Hopefully someone from Michigan.

I am looking out my office window at about 6 inces of snow on the yew.  The echinacea plants we left for the birds are standing upright with little snowcaps.  The smoke bush holds webs of snow in its v-shaped brances.  The solar lights are supporting snow towers.  It’s a winter wonderland and I think I am snowed in. Good thing I’m not out of coffee.

About author

These days, I am mostly happy. Not wildly happy. Happy as in feeling very content with my life. Happy with my darling husband and wonderful family. Happy I have a pooch to keep me company. Happy that I pretty much get to choose and do whatever I want. That kind of happy.