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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.

house-cleaning-11688-570x403I woke Sunday morning to see the sunlight reveal a thick layer of dust on the dresser clock and the dresser as well. I couldn’t recall when last the house was cleaned. Someone was to work all day, so I decided to spend this day of rest doing some housecleaning. By 6PM I was quite tired –and the house was only half cleaned. I am not experienced in housecleaning. I suspect someone with experience can do this in a fraction of the time and much better. Being an autodidact is nice but I felt gipped of a weekend. Someone says he will clean the other half of the house on Tuesday. By then the first half will have started to collect more dust. This stuff never ends.

I hoped in my industry to have found a missing blue sock. I have the other one; it’s been floating around without its fellow for some time. I keep putting it back in the laundry hoping time/space and dryer will magically reunite them but no such luck. As a consolation prize I found several coins under some appliances. Alas, the total is not enough to purchase as new set of socks, which is Someone’s recommendation.

I unplugged the icebox freezer for it had accumulated enough frost to do so. Happily nothing was lost. All its contents fitted nicely into the new fridge. In among the frozen chicken breasts and mystery meats were several Tupperware containers of frozen something-or-others. I had completely forgotten about them. I should label these things for my system  of I will remember what this is” has been a complete failure.

Although I was quite pooped, I had the mild satisfaction the house is better than it was. Some sinister-sized dust bunnies were evicted from under the bed. One can no longer write naughty words in the dust on the coffee table. I suppose with practice I will improve my productivity but I think it is high-time to put my foot down and hire a maid or butler or somebody – anybody – to do this for me.

 

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Lately I’ve had an evil urge to ransack the house and throw everything out. Who needs all these things, especially the items I know darned well I won’t ever use again. The list is legion: old books, board games, kitchen gadgets – even an ice scraper for the windshield. The Salvation Army could fill their bins on my clothes discards.  Out in the garage are countless nuts, bolts, and tools in no taxonomic order to the point nothing can be found even if I wanted something.

The easiest way to purge the Aegean stables is to toss it all in the trash, but this rankles my Midwest aversion for waste. A lot of the items are OK, ‘gently used’ and merely unwanted. When I lived in Chicago the solution was simple: you put anything out in the alley and within half an hour someone comes by to claim it. Thanks to the HOA we don’t have such around here, worse luck.  Another garage sale may be the answer although they take some time and energy to arrange.

Once upon a time I announced to my family I wish someone would come and take it all away. Brother #4 responded by removing my stereo system. It was too late to explain I didn’t mean that so much as the several sets of china and boxes of blivets.

Perhaps what I should focus upon is what creeps into the house, and I don’t mean the scorpions. Every time something comes in an indoor item will be ejected.

I once had a patient who burned the house down rather than packing everything up prior to a move. She explained this was a quicker and more practical way to start over. Sensible woman.

 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections sent an email thanking me for the ‘most excellent posts’ this week but added a small critique: it was high-time to write something light-hearted or they will be forced to hang me by my wrists until I cheer up. They sent along a little booklet titled “House of correction for bellicose bloggers”. The little tome is illustrated and there isn’t a dull page to it.

So here it goes.

This morning Urs Truly went to Home Depot. I always have a mild neurotic trepidation when going to the hardware store. I am not handy. My usual approach to something gone wrong is to hire someone who knows what he is doing or go ask Someone. Alas, Someone is miles away today, engrossed in his work,  and I am home alone with much that needs doing. So it was off to Home Depot I go.

Mind, there is consolation in eye candy of big-butch types. They are a heartwarming spectacle while I look around for the items on my scavenger hunt. Compared to them I feel like I am wearing a pink neon boa with a sign around my neck, and the sign reads “Nelly!”

Walking into HD immediately evokes bewilderment as to where the heck lies my items.  Most things on my list are small items, worse luck, which aren’t easily located among the mammoth rows of lumbar and paint buckets. I walked around looking bewildered and lost.  I passed several employees but no one asked me if I needed help. I finally got someone to point me in the right direction to find the vacuum cleaner bags and the Dobie sponges and it wasn’t too bad.

Back at home I managed to get out the folding ladder, climb up and open the AC vents to remove and replace the filters. My worst suspicions were confirmed. The old filters were covered in grey dust and dog hair, a remarkable contrast to the clean white new ones I was trying to juggle on top of a ladder.  I managed to change them all without breaking my neck.

Then came the changing of the vacuum bag. A week ago I opened the Eureka to discover the dust bag was as bloated as Trump’s ego. I found a replacement bag but it did not fit. It was for an old vacuum long discarded. I learned this the hard way by turning on the vacuum only to have dust blow out of all sides, spreading contagion in an instant.

Now I am taking a break from my industry. I have replaced the filters, the vaccuum bag, and exchanged defunct light bulbs for new ones. It may not be much it all made me feel quite butch. I may next try to fix the broken coat hanger in the closet.  Soon I can go to Home Depot with my head held high, proud that I belong there. By the way, Home Depot does not sell boas, neon pink or otherwise.

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