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Spo-fans (the brazen ones) are asking about ‘The Blue Room”. Oh the embarrassment.  I wonder why on earth anybody would be interested reading about a room of rubbish but I don’t have any better idea at the moment so here it is.

Few homes in Phoenix have an upstairs and almost none have a basement. This makes it hard to store things Christmas decorations and precious heirlooms you keep out of guilt.  Most garages have room for two or three cars but drive by any open garage and you will see inside heaps of hoardings.  Our garage is no exception yet it is not capacious enough for storage.
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One of the rooms is called The Blue Room,  a precise if not too imaginable name for the walls are painted blue. It was originally Someone’s office. Over the years The Blue Room has slowly accumulated things I can’t get Someone to throw out. Earlier this year when we got the kingsize bed from The Lovely Neighbor Someone disassembled the old bed and put it all into the Blue Room. This is not the first time the Blue Room has accepted something because Someone is not willing to toss it or we never seem to get it hauled to the dump. By now The Blue Room resembles King Tut’s tomb but no prettier. Oh the pain. I keep the door closed as it is an eyesore as well as an embarrassment.

The Blue Room has drawn to it all the old books, which are piled up in corners and overflowing the closet shelves. As it is nearly impossible to enter the Blue Room (let alone find anything) I am tempted to buy another copy of a book than try to find the original.

Nagging Someone to call “We-haul-it-away” or somebody like them has been a feckless endeavor.  I’ve volunteered to haul away the books myself Grinch-like to the top of Mount Krumpet to dump-it but he wants to take inventory for a possible sale at a used book store. Ha. Fat chance of that. I’ve learned not to throw out his things even if they haven’t been used in ages. All I can do is nibble away at ‘my things’ and hope he follows by example.

I think I will have to do something drastic in the new year for I can’t stand the thought of another year of material atherosclerosis. Perhaps I can have it hauled way without his noticing anything. Maybe it’s finally time to fulfill my fantasy to set fire to a public building.  I may have myself a mammoth garage sale. The dog isn’t for sale but everything else is.

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house-cleaning-11688-570x403My life has more loose ends than a macramé class.

The office finally has its new walls and door, but they remain unpainted; I feel I shouldn’t put the place back together until this is done. I love The Boss-man, but getting him to finish things quick and timely is near impossible (he is Cuban and takes the ‘manana manana’ approach while my Swiss-German genetics wants things done in a timely way. Oh the pain.)

Home is worse.  Last weekend I started a list of things about the place that want finishing  but I stopped became I grew despondent around the tenth item.  I won’t bore you with the list. They fall into three broad categories:

These need to be done.

These would be nice to be done.

These must be done right now I can’t wait or I will go into hysterics.

Someone is a little like The Boss-man he doesn’t feels angst-ridden to repair things right away. He is at ease (and content) to sit and watch Law & Order while I go bouncing about the place looking for things in disarray to fix and tidy. Alas, he is better at repairs than I, so if I do anything (especially in #3 category) it won’t as good as if he had done it.
Asking said spouse to call the termite inspector while said spouse is content at sitting still is a ticklish and politic maneuver. Sometimes my indirect speech acts fall on deaf ears and I have to move into place cat-like in front of the screen to inquire when are we going to get the AC repair addressed etc. We haven’t had guests over in ages but I am scheming to ask a few over which usually gets our lead-butts moving lest there is talk.
I have sent an email to The Boss-man inquiring when will the walls be painted and if the answer is ‘in another two years’ or something I may get it painted myself. I was thinking of Prussian Blue.

house-cleaning-11688-570x403I am in a pensive mood. This is probably the result of being ‘post-holiday’ and it is the end of August. Spo-fans know I often get a bit of SAD (seasonal affective depression) about now, so there may be some of that as well.  I think I am mostly depressed by matters of the nation, which I won’t go into right now, as it just makes my mood worse. My “Cancer” traits are showing: I want some reliable parental figure to assure me everything will be OK.

I am a bit cheered by my industry for I’ve cleaned the luggage.

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MCR: cleaned        DAW: not cleaned

The suitcases are over a decade old (if not more). They came back from Georgia looking quite schumtig. I was ready to take them to a luggage/shoe store and have someone clean them at any cost. Someone (always the rationalist) suggested I try cleaning them myself. A simple solution of warm soapy water applied with a Doby sponge looks to have done some good – and at no cost and the quiet satisfaction of an autodidact.  The two sets have three pieces each, so I have five more to do.

Other than the laundry I’ve done precious little on this lackluster Saturday.  I’m presently putting all my torn-out recipes into some sort of taxonomy. They now cover the dining room table in discrete piles labeled with green post-its. If I live to be one hundred I could not make all I’ve gathered – and there are more to do!  The pile labeled ‘Chicken” is the highest stack, closely followed by “Pasta”, so you know what floats my boat.  I suspect I have torn out the same recipe several times, so that will help narrow them down a bit. When they are edited they all go into brown accordion files.

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Putting things in order (and throwing out some in the process) is something I do when I am feeling down or helpless or angry.  There is no lack of things to do around the Spo-house, so I should have a rather purging Saturday night today.

There’s work to be done and it starts in the kitchen. Would I could call me woodland friends to come to help me tidy up. Alas, I probably would reenact that scene in “Enchanted” and conjure forth only roof rats, scorpions, and a useless javelina or two. I must do it all myself.

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No cleaning is complete without a Dobie, and I don’t mean the co-dependent elf from the Harry Potter books. They are probably not ‘green’ but sometimes it is just not humanely possible, especially is one is tackling intransigent black morass under the sink.

The spuds bin is in desperate need of disposal. I like my vegetable gardens to grow outdoors, not inside. 2.jpg

Every time Blue Apron sends us a meal with garlic as an ingredient, they send an entire head from which we only need one or two cloves. I am now up to my ears in garlic. Anyone know of a recipe that needs two dozen cloves?

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The Lovely Neighbor is moving so she gave us all her booze. This is being combined with our own stash – and everyone else’s donations we’ve received whenever someone moves away. I got them all out today to take inventory.

Oh the embarrassment.  It is particularly poignant as neither one of us is imbibing at the moment.

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As a consequence of being the neighborhood drop-box for unwanted liquors we now have four bottles of Kahlua.  Neither one of us drinks Kahlua. I wonder if it makes good substitute for fabric softener.

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Finally, I have this handsome fellow. It was the teapot of the The Lovely Neighbor’s late mother.  Her mother Merle was married to a foreign diplomat; they lived all over the world. She had a mysterious collection of the most exotic of items. I thought I was getting some faraway teapot only to discover it comes from Pier 1.  Page 71 !!

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Despite having multiple goals and tasks my hummingbird brain decided to flit about more than usual this week. As a consequence I’ve been less focused than usual, which is saying something.  Little has been accomplished. Today I am determined to ‘stay on task’ and get things done – although I am taking time off to write this entry.

“Can I make a suggestion?” Someone says whenever I am not too well organized or am doing something half-baked. His expurgated expression always makes me smile, for he is advice is always sensible and I always take it. I’ve told him many times he needn’t be some polite and roundabout – just tell me what to do. He doesn’t want to sound too bossy so he never does.

Whenever I have too many bats in my belfry it helps me to make a list. I find this ritual quite beneficial viz. extract all the tasks from my mind and get them down on paper. There they become more clear and manageable. Sometimes I lose the list which is both ironical and feckless. Today’s eutrepismus is as long as a winter’s night in Moscow and no prettier. I don’t think today there are any evening concerts or tickets to the theatre, so I should tackle most of my list if I stay focused. There is nothing so satisfactory as drawing a line through a task and marking it complete.*

I’ve often wondered how people go through Saturdays just sitting still or doing leisure activities. I suppose I am unique having charts to do but don’t the mere mortals have (as I do) laundry and ironing and household projects etc.?

All this task-doing is counterpointed by Harper, who spends her Saturdays between sleeping on the bed or in her house. It’s a dog’s life. Sometimes if I am tired I lie down next to her around 2PM for a half-hour reboot. ** There is nothing so sublime as choosing to relegate virtuous industry for indolence.  When in doubt, get horizontal, even if the dord still needs cleaning.

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*Someone made the suggestion I make these lists on my phone as I am less likely to lose them this way. For once I will decline his sensible idea. A fluorescent marker (pink, preferably) painted across “Clean the dord” is far more satisfactory than merely deleting it. And it’s jolly good fun!

 

**On the bed, not in her house.

I have just returned from boxing up a collection of cookbooks; it is a ponderous parcel. The Lovely Neighbor (who is in the process of preparing her house for a move) gave me a pile of cookbooks the size to rival Fafner’s hoard. I did not have the heart to refuse her. In the same week Someone cleaned the pantry. This left my cookbook collection overflowing their shelves and TLN’s donations piled up on the dining room table. It was time to take action.

OzkyU_8n  I recently listened to an interview of a Japanese lady who is apparently The High Priestess of tidy up and organization. She inspired me to tidy up my tomes. Her approach rests upon the axiom one’s possessions should elicit joy and anything else ought to be discarded.

It was not easy applying this philosophy to old books, especially cookbooks. I’ve kept a lot of them out of guilt that someday I will use them, yet I haven’t and I doubt I ever will. Many I had forgotten they were even there. I took this sage’s advice to express gratitude toward each book as I put it on the ‘out-it-goes’ pile. Indeed, while many I never used, nearly all of them had given pleasure at their purchase. Some cookbooks have memories of trips when I bought them. Her approach made tidy-up and letting go a bit easier. My messy shelves are now organized and stream-lined to the ones I cherish. I threw out the many “Oriental” cookbooks from The Lovely Neighbor as there were nearly a dozen. I now have only two or three, which is enough.

Ironically I am working on making my own cookbook, a collection of Spo-recipes which are my favorites. They are not exquisite but the ones I use over and over. I think it convenient to have them all in one volume. I am separating the sheep-dips from the goat-cheeses to only include the recipes I find delicious, memorable, and worth repeating, like my men.

The end point: a shelf of cookbooks few but useful, along with my own. I am keeping The Cooks Illustrated magazines and the plastic filing-box of TV-recipe cards. Any additional recipes I need in life is covered by the Betty Crocker, Epicurious, and NYT Cooking apps.

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This vision bring me joy indeed.

The Japanese lady would be proud of me.

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A few days ago I was rummaging around the office drawers at home, looking for something I can’t recall, when I happened to open the file drawer only to discover the clerical equivalent of King Tut’s tomb or Fibber McGee’s closet. A cascade of files leapt up like a litter of puppies all eager for me to pick them up. I am slowly going through them to see if there is anything worth keeping.

I grew up in a family with genealogists who believed in saving even the most mawkish papers lest they contain precious data for future generations. I also grew up Protestant so throwing things out is almost sacrilegious.  I am surprised I haven’t become one of those hoarders whose homes are stacked with items up to the ceiling. However the file drawer is verging on such; it’s time for tidy-up.

It is fascinating to see what I once thought important enough to keep. The majority of these ancient papers are receipts and records circa The Punic Wars. I find it fascinating that my first emotional response upon seeing these ten-year-old-or-older papers is surprise to their existence. If I can’t even remember they are there, then there is no value to them. Into the rubbish went all the car repair receipts from 2000-2010 and my medical licenses from the 90s and taxes prior to 2010. It felt lovely to purge it so; the Protestant and OCD angels did not strike down for doing it.

Having achieved this wizardry I am ready to move up to the next level in the Dungeons & Dragons dreck of my den: books. The shelves are overflowing with tomes I will never again read; most of them I didn’t recall are there. Throwing out a book is not as easy to do as old paycheques. I used to give old books to the library, but it seems the local branches have become snippy about accepting my donations. They can fill their bins with discards. I know some folks who surreptitiously drop off their unwanted books via the return bin, sort of like dumping a box of unwanted kittens off at the local pound. I think I would feel guilty doing likewise.

I imagine an office/library with some books that comfort and a file drawer with minimal papers of importance. After this feat then I can try out for “Dungeon Master” status and skill by tackling the contents of the garage. Oh the pain.

It’s a stretch but I think I can handle it.

Blogger-buddy Linda (the dear!) inspired this entry. She recently blogged about her counters (lemon-yellow) and their contents (lots).  She asked her parsimonious pals their opinions on the matter of counters.

Oh the pain.

As I age I am go more and more towards Martha Stewart minimalism. Going in the opposite direction are my cluttered counters. Once upon a time I wrote about the surreptitious sprites who flit about the house moving things about. There is a worse group of goblins I’ve christened the Counter-Kobolds. These villains delight in putting things on top of counters, sometimes as soon as my back is turned. I turn around and lo! the counters are again obscured under dirty plates, laundry (folded or yet to be), and gym bags. We are forever in battle to gain the upper-hand.

The kitchen is particularly prone to gathering goodies. Food preparation is the worst. Usually while Someone is cooking the meal I am behind him putting things away.* Despite my industry by meal’s end the counters are again piled high as Fafner’s hoard with dirty pans and mixing bowls.

“New clutter” comes and goes but ‘old clutter’ seems sessile. On the window counters are several knick-knacks and empty glass containers neither one of us can deduce how on earth they got there. Despite the mystery these intrepid dust collector remain. Once in awhile I try to stuff one behind the unused desert cups in the cupboard, only to find next day it is back in position.

I vow to persevere. I have joined the generations of women (and men) forever fighting clutter in the ideal pursuit of clean and shiny countertops, sans cups, sans gym bags, sans everything.  The one exception is the bright red sorbet machine. We haven’t used it in years but it is pretty. It’s been grandfathered in.

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What? A clean countertop? Let’s see how this knife looks up there!

*This sometimes causes tension. I am often asked where the hell is the knife I was just using, which is now going into the sink or dishwasher. This causes Somone to become cross – but never too long or too severe. After all, he is talking to someone with a knife in his hands.

When people meet each other for a potential partnership, they should ask themselves some logical questions.* Examples:

Are you a smoker?
What if any is your religion?

What do you think of me drinking milk right out of the carton?

I would add to this list an inquiry into how the other one does the laundry. Think about it. You two will be doing decades of dirty duds and if there are intransigent standards it may be best to seek another mate or designate one to do the laundry while the other can take out to rubbish.

At the Spo-house, laundry accumulates faster than boiled asparagus. How on earth two men make so much is a mystery.  It seems there is always some more that wants doing; there is always more to put into the dryer, and even more to fold and to iron.

First area of potential contempt: how often do you want to ‘do it’ – meaning the laundry. Are you one to ‘do it all’ on Saturday afternoon or when there is enough to fill the tub?  Urs Truly tends to the latter, although this makes the washer machine into a sort of OCD case – “I am continually washing the same things, over and over, it never feels done or clean”.

Second area – and fear this can be a relationship deal breaker! – how often do you clean the lint trap. I won’t say who, but there is someone in the house who seems to never think about it.  Oh the horror.

Folding clothes together can be as invidious as talking politics with your conservative uncle.  I tend to dump the clean clothes into a Fafner’s pile and then sort them into proper taxonomies of T-shirts, socks, shirts, etc. and proceed to fold each subspecies to completion prior to moving on to the next (socks always last by the way). Someone finds this nonsense; he folds stating with “what’s on top” and moves down the pile. How things are folded can also be ticklish. We’ve made an unspoken truce to take turns folding clothes the ‘proper way’ while the other is away.

Ironing. Someone does a much better job than I. Think of Buddha on Adderall.  However he gravitates to the “I am now obliged to iron all shirts en masse as there are no clean ones left” while I want to iron shirts as soon as they appear. I don’t iron his shirts as he ends up redoing them anyway.

Two more areas to inquire before moving in together: the amount and type of washing powder and the dryer timer.  I tend to be niggardly about how much (how little) soap to use and I don’t see any difference to add the other liquids. I read somewhere it is bad to dry clothes too dry. Needless to say these are areas best done without pronouncing to one’s pignsie how you are going about it.

We’ve manage twenty years together without ending up in court either for a divorce or as a defendant in a homicide trial, and the togs get tided somehow.

Perhaps it isn’t so much how one does the laundry as giving charity to the other – even thought he doesn’t do it properly and I will just have to do it myself next time.  🙂

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You can imagine their thoughts………

*Alas it is too late for Someone, who should have asked:

Do you like to watch Law&Order?

How many relatives do you have like you?

What is your taste in music?

-Too late indeed.

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The Other Michael is coming to town and we are excited to host. Apart from the pleasure of company, visitors get us out of our mundane daily grind and into a higher plane of living.

First, the house must be tided, and not just the minimum but a proper cleansing. We must expunge away the morass of endless gunge that has accumulated over the months. Someone says he wants to shampoo the rugs: this portends a more detailed house job is going to happen. For once we will have a clean place. I dare say we may even change the bed sheets in the guest room.

Out-of-towners also inspire the preparation of better meals. Rather than rotating through the same three or four ‘fuel food’ items we pass off as supper we will have proper dinners (no rubbish) and a few eat outs at restaurant (lovely). TOM enjoys a cocktail so we will have fun and adventuresome libations to boot.

Next month Someone is doing a lot of evening, so keeping TOM entertained in the evenings won’t be difficult. I forget what shows we are seeing but it doesn’t matter much. It will be jolly to step out and see some theatre.

The major question facing us is whether or not to get out the Christmas trimmings ala “We need a little Christmas”. At least we should put away the Halloween things which are still sitting in the dining room in their black and organe bins and boxes waiting to be put away in the garage. Thank goodness TOM is coming to town as these would probably sit until Easter.

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