| 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.
| I have always clung to the motto "Dull women have immaculate homes." I have the cluttered closets and cabinets to prove I'm a slob. I have lots of excuses for why at various stages of my life, unexpected company was an embarrassment to me. I adore Martha Stewart, but aside from a recipe here and there, I am not her disciple. I admired Marie Kondo for a moment, then decided she is just another person to make the average person, more specifically, woman, feel like a failure. Now I have discovered the FLY lady just from reading one of the thousands of articles on clutter.
The FLY lady has been around for years, but I only discovered her a few weeks ago. FLY stands for finally loving yourself. The words that really grabbed me and pulled me in went something like this: Your house/garage/ body/whatever didn't get this way overnight. You aren't going to change it overnight. All you can do is a little bit at a time. We must take baby steps, and we forgive ourselves when we mess up.
Basically, it's behavior modification, but it's an attitude adjustment, too. You don't get it all at once. You start with a few tiny daily habits. You "declutter" 15 minutes at a time. Drinking water and any kind of exercising are part of the daily habits. The house is divided into 5 zones. I haven't been through zone 1 or 5 yet, so I don't know how that will work out, since the month isn't long enough to do 5 whole weeks. Zone 5 will always be a little short on days, zone 1 may or may not, depending on the calendar. I have noticed a difference in less than two weeks.
Heavy duty chemicals or special cleaners are not important. The most important ingredient is elbow grease. She sells mops, rags, and dusters, but they are not essential. You can use anything you like. She even suggests using shampoo left from traveling, or bubble bath someone gave you that you don't like, or other soaps you don't intend to use can be used to clean your bathroom. Another example of this soap is cleaning the kitchen counters. (She says soap is soap.) Use one rag in your soapy water to wipe down your empty counters. Use another plain wet rag to wipe up the soap. Use a third dry rag to wipe up the residue and dry the counter.
The FLYing system includes cleaning out your purse every Friday (it's easy when done weekly), getting the trash out of your car on Friday and doing a light dusting. This does not mean dumping your purse or washing your car or vacuuming it weekly. It means getting out receipts, notes, dirty tissues, and for right now, disposable gloves and masks. On Tuesday you pay bills and plan your weekly menus. I haven't gotten through a whole week yet. but I have done 3 days in advance. That allows me to thaw meat out and plan leftovers.
I don't know how people who work get through all this, but I'm finding I have more guilt-free time to read or do a crossword. I've mentally checked off my to do list. The house is not perfect. I'm plagued with thoughts of the garage and the shed and the yard. But when I've followed the schedule, I give myself permission to take a break. I was never a perfectionist in action, but most of us are in our minds. If we couldn't fix the whole problem immediately, we got frustrated and gave in. This system allows us to be methodical and make small improvements. We reward ourselves mentally (loving ourselves). Instead of obsessing or complaining to our families, we are more relaxed and can bless them with an organized, comfortable home.
|DAY 2737 May 15, 2020
Places are opening back up as the restrictions are lifted. How do you feel about this? Do you think we'll be able to return to the way things are?
I have mixed feelings. I want people to work again and earn a paycheck. Not everyone had the option to work at home. I want to visit more businesses, but I'm afraid. That leads to why I don't think we'll ever go back completely to the way things were a few months ago.
The grocery store seems to have it under control. Both customers and employees are wearing masks and gloves. People are waiting courteously for others to get through the entryway before pushing their own way in or out. But the home and garden stores are just masses of crazy people. No masks, no gloves, brushing up against you. I'm afraid that people will think everything is okay and they won't practice precautions. They will get reckless. And this is pollen season, so people are sneezing and coughing a lot.
My next door neighbor is a doctor. She's self-quarantined herself from her family. She's living downstairs, and they live upstairs. They don't eat together or stand in the same room. They meet outside at night around the fire pit so that she can see them and talk to them. She doesn't want to risk their health, especially since her husband is past retirement age. She is exercising caution, so I think we should, too, not to that extreme if we don't work in a medical practice.
When the vaccine is available, and there are no new reports of illness or deaths from it, we can begin to relax. But we will have this little fear inside us forever. We can never regain the carefree attitude we once had.
I've developed some new attitudes, too. I don't want to play hand bells any longer. I'm going to let my hair grow long again and let the gray come in naturally. I may color it gray once I figure out what my natural gray shade is. I'm rather pleased with my yard work and want to maintain it. And a "company ready" clean house isn't a bad idea either.
| I don't usually review books . But this one is so bad, I have to get it off my chest. I met the author, at a gathering of older actors. He and his wife were both quite lovely. He had announced plans to write the book, so I promised that I would read it when it came out. I never saw any announcements, but recently tried looking up books by Don Quine. Mind you he's an extremely nice person, and I felt obligated to fulfill my promise to read it.
It's called The Dream Virgin, and is available from Amazon. I'm not recommending you read it unless you have particular tastes. It's quite graphic from the very beginning. I barely made it through the prologue, except I remembered my promise to someone I would never see again. The characters were disgusting, ugly, abusive to children, and sick.
The first chapter was totally different and introduced the teenager who led dream sessions that the advertisement and book cover led you to believe was the protagonist. It was hard to tell, Not a lot of time was spent on her, but I got the feeling from that chapter that this was going to be about spiritual warfare. I have read some of that before, and it did involve children, and unicorns, and dreaming. So I kept reading.
But I was wrong. No spiritual warfare. In fact, the dreaming part wasn't well developed. There were so many characters that I felt I needed a list with names and descriptions to keep track of who was who and how they fit in. There wasn't a lot of character development, except maybe the grandfather, and unseen by the reader, he made some changes and went from almost empathetic to unlikable again. The truth is I never felt any empathy to any of the characters. Too much happened too fast and was sometimes confusing. Even if the gross stuff weren't there, it was simply poorly written.
The gross stuff just kept coming. Cannibalism, violence, drugs, nudity, etc. If you like a series of events like that, this might be your book. There was certainly no one working for right or morality, no real heroes. There weren't any direct sex scenes, unless you call mutilating a naked body sex; it doesn't count in my book. There was lots of profanity.
This was obviously self-published. Although four people were acknowledged as proofreaders, professional proofreaders would have known the difference between quite and quiet, which form of a pronoun to use, and the rules of objects of prepositions. They'd know how to use commas, too.
I suppose every writer needs to read a bad book occasionally. I learned that characters need to be more in depth. There shouldn't be too many story lines to follow, unless you're doing a James Michener style epic. Regardless of the genre, this one wasn't mine, the story should be cohesive and have a satisfying ending. This one left things dangling, so another could follow in a sequel. I won't be reading it.
| No matter what else I do, I have to stop and prepare a decent dinner for my 91 year old dad. He fends for himself for breakfast and lunch. He is a retired butcher, and wants meat at dinner. He also likes fresh vegetables. He gets his fruit at breakfast. It's too bad he's had to give up gardening, but I can't plow the raised vegetable bed. I can pull the weeds, but I can't prepare the soil.
One night recently, I opened a can of Julienne beets. It was a well balanced meal, but the beets brought to mind stories I've never heard him tell before. I knew he liked all kinds of beets. He explained, piecemeal, that during rationing, his mother kept all the canned vegetables under her bed. One night she opened two cans of Julienne beets. He didn't tell me if that was all they had, or where Grandpa was. He just said that he, his little sister-maybe 11 or 12, little brother-maybe six or seven went outside thinking they had just had Christmas dinner!
My dad is quite hard of hearing, nerve deafness so hearing aids don't help. I have to yell at him to have a conversation. I finally got him to say it was rationing during or before the war. He was only a baby in the depression. They received coupons, not like food stamps, but actual coupons for specific items. Milk, cheese, eggs, cans of fruit or vegetables, meat, booze, etc., they all required coupons. Every citizen regardless of financial status had to get coupons or they couldn't shop. Grandma traded with the neighbors for things they preferred over things they didn't. He didn't know why she kept them under the bed. I think maybe she was afraid someone would steal them. No one locked their doors in those days.
It brought up a few other little memories that he shared. I've heard lots of his stories repeatedly, but these were new to me. It's funny that one little vegetable could open up a closed corner of your memory.
I was in awe of the idea. I thought of going to the store the previous week and finding the shelves bare of flour and cornmeal. Who knew that many people still exist who know how to cook from scratch? Then it hit me, there aren't that many, but the ones who do know, are hoarding these products. We all know the shortage of toilet paper, paper towels, Ramen noodles, and certain cleaners. If we had rationing early in this process, no one would be hoarding anything, rich or poor. You'd still have to pay the normal price, but you'd only get what was allowed for your household.
Everyone who lived through rationing now would be old men like my dad or they would have been babies and have been unaware of what was going on. In those days they didn't ration to prevent hoarding or to ensure that everyone ate. The war effort was the priority. Metal had to be used for aircraft and ammunition. Food had to go to the military first. It's hard for us to imagine rationing when we've lived through such times of prosperity and choice.
| My story would be more about things gone wrong.
My dad planted butterfly bushes, which we have always loved because they really do draw butterflies. The bushes have been full and spreading. At least until the last few years. I've been trimming away many dead branches. Last year I was checking for the parasitic vines that wrap around your shrubs and trees and peonies and choke them out. I untwined a lot from one butterfly bush and traced the pieces to the ground. Some very large pieces of wood broke off. The second one, on the other side of the house, had dead branches, but no vines.
This year, I have trimmed away a whole trash can of dead pieces from just one bush, and broke off more to the ground. I pulled all the weeds from around the bottom, but put fresh mulch around the bottom. I looked it up, and I believe both bushes have root rot. Don't know what to do for it.
He also planted a hedge of Japanese hollies along the street, which he keeps trimmed. I noticed yellow spots on them while I was weeding. I looked that up. We have an iron deficiency which is easily remedied. I'm just afraid to go to that kind of store during the semi-quarantine to get what I need. We also have a huge holly tree on one side of the garage, and a compact holly hedge on the other side of the garage. They are beginning to look the same. The acid soil we have needs some doctoring.
We can't grow rosemary. It smells great for a while, but won't last all year. I have pots of sage and chives which grow back every year on their own. I planted a long narrow box of flower seeds and placed it on my deck railing. Some of them were beginning to grow. Tonight during dinner we watched two doves in the box pecking away. They were cheap seeds, so they probably cost less than bird seed.
Deer eat the tulips, hostas, and blackberries. Also, cypress shrubs-mine look like topiary, but only to the height of a deer's head.
One year my dad planted a voodoo plant in the flower bed. Last year, I went on the warpath against these invasive plants. I pulled at least 200 and put them in the trash. Dad would have thrown them in the compost, but I know they would have survived and multiplied. I think I won. I have not seen a single voodoo plant this year, and have weeded that bed several times already.
At a different location, I planted mint. Do not plant mint, bamboo, or voodoo, unless you are prepared for them to take over everything. They're like kudzu, or dandelions, very invasive and very sturdy.
I do pretty well with irises and marigolds.
| My very kind neighbor just gave me a big box of organic kale from her garden. I trimmed it up, washed off the bugs and dirt, picked off the flower buds and cooked it until it was about 1/4 the size. I only used a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, it was beginning to get old, therefore the flowers, and some of the stems, even though small, remained very tough. It's still delicious. You just have to pull the pieces that look as stiff as uncooked spaghetti off your plate.
I always worry that I missed a bug or two, but then again, they cook apart. That might be added protein.
I'll fix some Southern spoon bread to go with it. I was shocked at the grocery store last week to discover the shelves of flour, all kinds, were bare. All the yellow cornmeal was gone, too, which is what I wanted. They had white cornmeal, so I got one. My spoon bread will be light colored, but will still be good.
Thanks, neighbor, for sharing your garden with me.