| I had my teeth cleaned last Saturday. I went to my normal appointment two weeks before, only to discover it was their first week of reopening and they had canceled my appointment without telling me. They were booking late October or Saturdays in August. I took a Saturday. Turned out it was not even my dentist, but his new partner who saw me. OK, I don't mind. It's really the hygienist I go to see. The dentist told me that this was an attempt by many people to go back to normal-getting the teeth cleaned or getting a haircut. I just wanted my teeth cleaned because I care about the care of my gums and teeth. It wasn't about feeling "normal".
As far as the haircut is concerned, I'm four months overdue, and don't plan to go to the hairdresser, at least until fall. I have so much yard work to do that I need to keep my hair out of my face and off my neck. That's easier to do with longer hair. Also, I've been highlighting for years trying to hide my sprinkling of gray. I expected a lot more gray to be showing in my roots. It actually doesn't look any worse than it did years ago. Another plan was to figure out my natural shade of gray, and do the highlights in gray instead of blond. I could do a perky new hair cut at the same time. But since I can't figure out what shade, I might just let it go the natural colors. It's time I looked like I'm aging gracefully and not trying to hide my age. I know so many women in their 70's and 80's and still doing that blond hair. We all know they're not blond any longer. They're trying too hard. I don't want to belong to that group, even if brown is my base color. So the whole hair thing is still up for thought.
What is normal? There's only a few things a retired person like myself is not doing. Church attendance, for one. We have a "virtual tabernacle", but I don't have the means to do ZOOM for meetings. I just watch a service on YouTube. Another one is volunteer work. I'm old and have health issues and I live with my 92 year old father. Too many strikes against going out in public when not necessary, even with precautions. I might go shopping if any department stores are still open when we reach "normal" or go to a movie.
It was a big issue for us this weekend when one of the kids in the extended family was hurt and taken to ER. I was going to keep the other kids (the young father passed away). The concern came about how the mother and child who had been in ER were going to pick up the boys afterwards without giving potential ER germs to old me and my elderly dad. We worked it out, but then my dad couldn't understand why she couldn't come into our house or why he can't go visit the child and check on her. I'll take him next week. We decided a one week quarantine would probably be okay.
Some sort of new "normal" will emerge. It's been too long to go back to the old one.
| Mother Nature is a very strong woman and not very nice, no matter how pretty. The woodchucks ate every bloom in my small garden patch last night. The deer have grazed all the hostas down to the ground, but won't eat the voodoo plant. I can't get rid of the voodoo plant which spreads its roots underground and pops up elsewhere. I picked 55 the other day and 10 more today. It's been a two year battle.
My blackberries are picked clean, not even red ones remain. The leaves are still intact, so I think the birds got those. I have lots of plants in pots as well. The roma tomatoes on my deck stairs were just turning red and appeared to be safe. Yesterday when I was carrying water from the rain barrel to dry plants, I noticed two of the three in a bunch were missing. No one had been in my yard. The deer will go up the wheel chair ramp on the other side, but not these steps. A few hours later, the third one was gone. I checked the ground underneath, nothing. Birds would beck at them, not carry off a rather sizeable roma. However, I have had a lot of black birds, even a few crows lately. They may be big enough to pluck a whole tomato and abscond with it. No other animal would have climbed that high and gotten the tomato off the cage in daytime with two humans running nearby.
Then there's the ants. They're everywhere. We fight the ones inside with constant cleaning and bait to attack the colonies. Outside, they're on the brick wall, the outdoor benches, the rocks around the flower beds. I have to get rid of them before I can kneel to do the weeding. The sprays and the powders don't seem to affect them.
I will say that I have particularly enjoyed the petunias this year. They take a lot of attention, but they are rewarding.
I resolved the missing tomato problem. Squirrels. A green one was on my railing half eaten. It finally hit me, the squirrels run down the railing when I come out to chase them away from the bird feeder (squirrel proof). This roma tomato plant was on the platform in the stairs and leaned against the railing. Squirrels can hang upside down to eat. I am confident the tree rats have stolen my tomatoes. I have moved the plant a little, and am going to go shopping for netting. Aug. 4
| I took my boss's place at a meeting he could not attend. People from many departments were there to figure out why we kept manufacturing the wrong item and sending it to this one customer. I kept telling them why but no one paid any attention to me. After the meeting, I went to my office and took out my engineering drawings and numbered notices. I copied the right ones, took them to my boss, and the light went on for him. They were all calling the desired item by the wrong name, so it was made to computer specifications. It was easier to settle it by changing our official papers than to change the customer's orders. Who could make people change their attitudes?
So he took the copies to the Engineering Dept. They issued new drawings with the wrong name (the one used on the orders) and I changed the descriptions in the computer to match the new Design notice and drawing. No more problem with that customer.
The bottom line is that I was the only one in a large company who knew what was wrong, but no one would listen to a peon.
| So many things in the garden take a lot of effort. You have to plant them properly, each one requiring a different depth or different spacing from each other. Then there's the weeds! The deer! The rabbits and groundhogs! The leaf eating bugs! Finally, the bloom.
You revel in its beauty and maybe take a photo. You know what's going to happen. Too soon the petals fall off. The leaves wither. The ground is littered with browning partial blooms. All you have left is a mess and a photo.
You deadhead petunias, but you also deadhead irises, peonies, and roses. It becomes as time-consuming as weeding. Petunias may come back again this year, but the big plants won't be back until next spring. You have to leave as much of the greenery above ground as possible, so that the roots will get the nutrients they need and reproduce.
If you can't be satisfied with a brief moment of beauty, then don't plant. That moment of flowering has to be worth all the effort to you, or you'd be better off with a green shrub instead.
Just a reminder. I know I've written about this before. NEVER put a voodoo plant in the ground. It proliferates and is non-destructible. I dug up over 200 last year before I lost count. They went into the trash, because I couldn't risk letting them end up in the compost. I thought I had them all by the end of the summer. So far this year, I have dug up 59, and I see them growing in the yard along with the vines and what's left of the grass. The flower beds are well worked and mulched, so I can dig those up easily if I have to dig at all. But the yard is hard. Unfortunately, they grow underground, so you think because you have the root, you have it all. No, it's already put out new roots with nothing showing yet. It will take me years, if I ever succeed in getting rid of this stuff. It started with one ugly plant.
| There are three points of view at work in America, according to a Rutgers magazine article. Mind you, I read it summarized by someone else, not the original. This writer claims that all three points of view are needed to balance out each other. It also explains the various reactions to current events.
The first view is utilitarian. It upholds the most good for the most people. It is the drive behind democracy and majority rule. It has its pitfalls in that sometimes minority groups get left out. It requires protesting, voting, etc., to adjust the laws to be more inclusive. It does not allow one group's or individual's rights to be lost to another; compromise may be necessary.
The second view is commontarian. I didn't know that was a word, but I promise "common" was in it. (It's not the same as communitarian.) This one pushes the idea of the common good or greater good for the most possible people. If change is necessary, then the loss of property or life of a few is necessary and permissible. If the loss or destruction leads to change, a constructive purpose has been accomplished.
The third is libertarian. Occasionally, you hear of a libertarian running for office. He holds individual freedom to be of utmost importance. The writer claims that in a true libertarian society, you end up with more homeless, cities become centers of sleaze, and rich people get richer by gambling with other people's money. I guess since you can't regulate people's hearts, the evil can prey upon the weak with ease in this scenario.
All three have great ideals, but all three have weaknesses. Knowing this doesn't solve anything or relieve our minds. But it does shed some light on what's happening.
| I'm trying to form some new personal habits. But they seem so trivial considering what's going on around us.
So many of my thoughts or opinions might be controversial, and who needs a confrontation? No matter what you say someone will find fault with it. We live in a time and a culture when many are afraid to express themselves.
I am a Christian and believe in living by the Golden Rule. Think how different our world would be if everyone did that. No man would ever slap around a woman just because he could. No one would mistreat children. Blacks wouldn't harass whites, and whites wouldn't intimidate blacks or browns. We could disagree with each other without being afraid for our families or fear of having our vehicles "keyed". We could actually have an opinion out loud without fear of retribution.
I admit I'm still scared of a killer disease. I'm not willing to get my hair cut yet. I don't want to dine in a restaurant, but will do pick-up. Fortunately, they're discovering that surface contact is not as important as they first believed, so fewer people are wearing gloves. People are still wearing masks, not so much to keep from breathing in the virus, but to protect others from our sneezes, coughing, and unseen spit when we talk. The vulnerable groups are still vulnerable, and it's tempting when we see the healthy 30 and 40 year-olds going out. So I'm a little afraid for the protesters who are not wearing masks.
I grew up in a time of civil disobedience. We protested the Vietnam War and civil rights. I remember discussions in church youth group. Civil disobedience in the form of sit-ins and marches, were acceptable forms of protest as long as you were willing to pay the price. If the police asked you to move, you moved over. If they arrested you, you didn't resist. You crossed your fingers you wouldn't get tear-gassed. Our adult leaders tried to prepare us before we got involved in things. The bottom line was voice your beliefs peacefully.
I guess most of us are amazed that after all these years/decades of talking about police brutality that the bullies are still out there being bullies. How can they continue to draw attention to themselves, with cruelty and outrageous behavior when so many have been fired and publicly humiliated over their actions? Haven't they learned anything? I know the actions of the few are not the actions or standard for the majority. I have encountered some helpful and kind officers. But I have encountered some major jerks, including female cops.
I haven't mentioned half the things that confound me and depress me. I can't stand to watch the news. And that's getting more biased all the time. You can switch from channel to channel or website to website and see how the same news is reported from different points of view. It's very rare to find a news source without bias. I also know that change can't be legislated; laws don't change people's hearts.
| My home doesn't look perfect. Neither does the yard, the garage or the shed. But my attitude is so much better. It doesn't have to be perfect, and I don't have to be embarrassed by it. I'm making small improvements. I can forgive myself if I forget to do something or don't give it a 100% on a given day. I'll have another chance.
I'm separating myself from some things that only have sentimental value. I plan to go through some boxes in the shed that were my things when I moved in. At this point, if I ever live somewhere else, I will use what is now in the house. I don't need my old things from the past any longer. I didn't know that when I moved in, but I know it now. Goodwill is going to receive a lot of pots and pans next week.
One reason, I think, that I have accumulated and held on to so much stuff is a fear of being homeless. Like having a ton of old, out of style clothes, jigsaw puzzles, and cookware is going to make up for no roof over my head. I've always worked, sometimes at two jobs, but despite my education, it's been at the low end of the income scale. Which means I didn't put that much into social security through the years, so I don't get much out. I worked overnight in a homeless shelter once as a volunteer, and it made an indelible impact on me. I have struggled all my life financially, so I guess being homeless is my worse possible scenario. Well, maybe I will be homeless someday, but I can't carry all those belongings with me. Time to get rid of them.
I also hold onto things because they were my mother's or some other family member's. But I have no children to pass them to, so I might as well get rid of them. I looked at some mugs from my college today, and realized no one sees them in that room. They have no usefulness. I know I went to that college; I don't need mugs to remind me. They can be donated. For the time being I don't need to save packs of sugar or ketchup, etc., so I can let those go. I'm decluttering a little at a time. It doesn't have to be all overnight.
Meanwhile, I have shiny sinks every day. The toilets are sparkly, and at least for a few minutes, germ-free. The floors around the toilets are washed daily. For now, I'm still changing the sheets bi-weekly, instead of every week, but there is a set day. I regularly clean out my purse and wallet (they get cluttered, too). I haven't worked through all 5 zones yet, so I know I'll get another chance to work on a problem area. Baby steps. That's the way to get out of the Chaos and into a peaceful home. I'm taking baby steps.
| For stay-at-home moms and days, there is hope for a tidy organized home. I recommend The Secret Slob on YouTube. She follows the FLY system and philosophy, but she doesn't just talk about it or demonstrate products for sale. She demonstrates how it works for her.
She has two preschoolers and a baby. She goes by all the FLY Principles. She talks a little, but then demonstrates her routine for that particular day. She follows the same outline and checklist as the FLY lady. What she calls a "power tidy", the FLY lady calls blessing your family. In this case, it involves picking up the toys and clothes that kids shed and straightening up while they take an afternoon nap. She then gets a few minutes to herself.
Even if you don't have preschoolers, it might help to see The Secret Slob in action. The concepts begin to fall in place. Others may have different challenges: adults with physical or mental challenges or elderly people. Even arthritis in the hands can cause a lot of crumbs on the floor or trash that misses the wastebasket.
After you have tried this a week or two, you will find that you may want to switch some days around, like clean sheets on Saturday instead of Monday. But get a feel for it, adapting a few things at a time before you decide if it works for you.
| FLY baby here. I think it's mostly attitude adjustment, but the habits are coming up slowly. If I have put in the time and have checked everything on my list, I deserve a guilt-free break. I don't have to weighted down by the unending list of things to do or the fact that they all have to be done again.
A very close parallel is my yard. It will never be weed-free, and even if I come close in some parts of it, it will all have to be done again next week (or sooner). Should I give up and let it all go to ruin? Do I want to have the red neck yard of the week? Or do I just keep plugging away and take pride in the nicely mowed grass and the pretty flower beds? When I get too hot and tired, I brush myself off, go inside and drink a lot of liquids. I hate being wet with sweat, but I know I'm building muscles pushing the mower up all those hills.
The house is the same way. It's never ready once and for all. Even those magazines had people running around arranging things before the photos were shot. When a house is lived in, it will continuously need cleaning. With that in mind I come to the second habit.
The first is a shiny sink. I've been at it less than two weeks, and the sink is easier to clean and maintain. The second daily habit is the toilet. You can do it according to your work schedule, but, yes, toilets need to be cleaned daily, not just when they appear to be soiled. You can skip bathrooms that are never or hardly ever used, or at least until you focus on that area once a month.
You don't need expensive cleaners. You do need a brush that is easy for you to use. You don't need a store bought container. The FLY lady recommends a wide vase. If it doesn't look dirty, swish with the brush anyway. If you can see any bacteria at all, use soap-leftover shampoo, bubble bath, dish detergent, cheap cleaner from the "dime" store. Bacteria is in all water. It will form a ring around the toilet. It will pile up in the drain holes in the bottom or under the rim. So you really have to push that brush in there and apply elbow grease. Hard water will also cause calcium to build up under the rim. This is why you have to swish every day, to get the bacteria and calcium out. If the bowl is soiled, you may want to apply cleanser or scouring powder.
The inside of the bowl is not the only part that gets dirty. (They really emphasize at the hospital not to use the brush outside the bowl.) For the outside, you can use disinfectant wipes, but that's overkill if no one in the house is sick. You can use a rag or paper towel. Apply soap (I like a cheap pine scented disinfectant) Do the tank first, especially the handle. Then the lid, both sides, both sides of the seat, around the hinges and the rim top. Rinse if you like and reapply soap. Wipe down the outside to the floor all around. If you have children, young boys or old men, wipe the floor around the toilet, too. If you use a lot of soap, you will have to rinse and wipe dry. You don't want to sit on the residue.
After the first couple of days, swish and swipe gets faster and easier. You don't have a dust or fingerprint buildup. And you'll feel great, knowing that your bathrooms are company ready. You'll want everything else to line up with your shiny sinks and sparkly toilets.
| I'm only a FLY baby, as newbies are called by the FLY lady. But I still want to talk about it and share the excitement.
She tells us it all starts with a shiny sink. Yes. Shiny. Clean I understand, but shiny? I read the directions and followed them. I'm hooked. Here's how it works. There's a major first step, then a minor daily one. First, empty the sink and clear the drain of all debris. Scrub the sink (start with the kitchen) with scouring powder or baking soda or whatever you like. Scrub all over and down into the drain. Include the faucets and handles. I usually fail to take out the stopper and clean it inside and out, but now that it's been pointed out to me, pay a lot of attention to it. I've seen people put the stoppers in the dishwasher, along with scouring pads, and sponges. I don't believe that will be necessary from now on.
The FLY lady recommends using a knife to go around the edges of the sink, the fixtures, and the drain. I prefer a toothpick, which I've always used to get that discoloration up. Rinse the sink thoroughly, not leaving any cleaner behind. Now fill up the sink with water and add bleach. ( bleach mixes with a lot of cleaners to create toxic fumes which could hurt you.) Leave this for 15 minutes or longer. Drain and rinse. Now wipe with a paper towel or a rag of your choice until all surfaces are dry. The faucets should show no finger prints or water marks. The bottom and sides of the sink should be dry. Final step: Spray the sink and fixtures with window cleaner. Dry until sparkly. Repeat in bathrooms.
You will not have to repeat that first step very often. In fact, you won't have to scour much except for big messes or denture paste. When that zone comes up each month, you will pay a little extra attention. But for now, every day, the last thing in your routine is to make sure the sink is clean and dry. Any dirty dishes you can wash and dry and put away OR hide in the dishwasher. (Always put the clean dishes away as soon as they are done, so that the dishwasher remains available for hiding dirty dishes.)
I find myself washing dishes as soon as I dirty them, like before dinner. I empty the drain stopper several times a day. Every night, I dry the whole sink, handles, and the drain. Seeing the clean sparkly sink does have a psychological affect. I feel like the kitchen is cleaner, the bathrooms are more inviting. And it's beginning to affect my desire for clean counters and stove top. I've always wanted those, but didn't work on them on a daily basis By doing these small things on a daily basis, the dirty job doesn't get so big. When I concentrate on those zones, sanitizing the sinks really is not that big a job because I kept it clean daily.