On baby chickens and other Mystery Guests

I found the skeleton of a baby bird in my bathroom vent (see Day 14). It was well and truely dead (as in, only the bones were left) but it still made me queasy. It’s snowed here so I couldn’t really bury it properly. I dropped it off my balcony into the bushes instead. As a compromise for the heartless burial, I walked through the snow on my balcony barefoot. Apparently it’s good for the circulation. And I was already barefoot from cleaning the vent.

I hope it wasn’t the baby chicken my landlord heard. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I would have smelled it if it was.. Right? I hope it was already there before I moved in. That somehow makes it less my fault, even though falling down the shaft was something the bird did by itself.

My Mystery Guest went home today. He left the first message in my 2013 Guestbook. He wrote:

Dear Jesska,

One seldom finds such open and nice people as you in life. Therefore I thank you for your sincere/hearty hospitality during the festival and wish you lots of pleasure/enjoyment with your Couchsurfing Project.

P. [his name]

P.S. I ate 2 eggs for breakfast, I hope you weren’t planning on making Omelette this evening πŸ˜‰

It sounded better in German, but it’s still pretty good in English πŸ™‚ I like having good “written-down-comments” – they cheer me up on the days when I don’t get good “spoken-comments”.

Whatever.

I think I declare the CouchSurfingProjekt 2013 officially started πŸ™‚ I still have to register, but I think it could be fun πŸ™‚

On late nights and strange men

– Thanks Ed Sheeran for the title πŸ˜‰ –

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a week*. I can’t say I didn’t have time, because I had as much time as in any other week, I just used it for other things…Β  πŸ˜‰ I think it’s going to be a long one… πŸ˜‰ Admit you wanted one, and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you..

I haven’t been in bed before midnight since I can’t remember when, maybe last week sometime.. And men are strange. I’m going to provide some examples, but they probably won’t begin to cover the strangeness of men in general πŸ˜‰

***

I changed the workshop round on Monday. Most of the move had to do with the atmosphere in the workshop and my inability to work when distracted as well as wanting to create distance between myself and the ‘unhappy’ person (man) with whom I share my workshop..

***

I went dancing on Tuesday. I think I wrote about how I have a whole group of new people to get to know. As a woman, I tend to dance with men, which makes getting to know the women a little more difficult. Naja, at the end of the dance class, all the women vanished, leaving me and 3 of the guys to decide what we were going to do with the rest of the evening. There was the offer of meeting the intermediate danceclass for waffles, but they’d been there for an hour or so already and were on the verge of going home. The dance teacher had mentioned a bar/club/restaurant which has a Brazilian evening every Tuesday. We dance Forro, a Brazilian dance, so that sounded pretty cool. When we got there we were greeted by a rather underdressed lady who presented me with a coupon for a free cocktail; ladies only. I was a little disturbed by the idea, but maybe my imagination is too active. The others tried to get her to give them coupons too, but she wasn’t covinced by their feminine sides. The dancefloor was entirely empty as we finally made our way down the stair into the underlit bar. An even scantilier clad lady sat on a stool singing while a couple of guys accompanied her on a DJ mixing deck (???). A this point I wanted to bail out. I didn’t because.. actually I don’t really know why because.. I just told the barkeeper-bloke who appeared out of the gloom that we wanted to sit somewhere, and that there were 4 of us. It’s probably not fair to assume the others were too busy oggling to answer. It was pretty loud, maybe they didn’t hear him ask….

*grins* A short while later things started looking up. The others ordered burgers (Tuesday special) and one of them offered to buy me a non-alchoholic cocktail in exchange for my ‘surprise’ cocktail which the waiter kindly explained was premixed and therefore couldn’t be made without. I ended up with 2 half-burgers (the special involved buy one get one free and all 3 of them ordered them. Only one managed to eat both of his) in addition to my non-alcoholic contail. In return, I let myself be persuaded onto the dancefloor by one of them, where we were the only dancers. A couple of songs later, one of the others demanded it was his turn, and a couple of songs after that we all decided it was late and we should probably go home. And that was the end of another interesting day.

***

I spent a lot of time between Thursday and yesterday with a man with metre long dreadlocks who has been staying at my house for the duration of the film festival in the city. He’s a pretty awesome guy. Runs a film school for people who aren’t interested in making Hollywood style films. He knows EVERYTHING there is to know about films, and shared a minute fraction of that knowledge with me. I am now a million times more knowledgeable about films than I was before… He got me a film festival pass, and helped me decide which films would probably be worth watching.

***

I walked home last night and was asked, “Can I know you, please?” by a random stranger on a bench. I’m not really sure what that means. I know the Bible occasionally refers to sex as ‘knowing” someone, but I’d never heard anyone use it in normal conversation (as far as yelling at passing strangers counts as normal conversation) so I assume he was foreign (though I couldn’t say where from) and just wanted someone to talk to… I don’t particularly need more strange men in my life at the moment, so I smiled, pretended not to understand his broken English, and carried on home. He went back to his beer. Which is probably a good thing, considering.

 

* I’d almost finished it too, but left it in Drafts. I’ve finished it off (wasn’t much needed) and posted it today, 29.7.16, 3 1/2 years later, but it the ‘rightful place’….

Day 8 – pictures – dedicated to Miss Happenence

 

On changing sides

-or how I waged war on the workshop-

This morning I left my role of victim and became the perpetrator.

This morning I asked/told my colleague about my brilliant idea. He took it far better than I thought he was going to, simply replying sardonically; “it’s a good thing you don’t go on holiday more often. I couldn’t cope with many more of your ideas.” Having agreed he even more amazingly helped me carry it out, since he’s ‘the last person who’s going to stand in my way’. Could’ve fooled me. But maybe I just haven’t noticed the rest of the world because I was looking the wrong way.

Almost 12 hours later I was finished. Naja, not really. But a lot closer than before.

I would love to post pictures but I don’t have the right cable for my camera πŸ™ Maybe I’ll figure out how to use the bluetooth tomorrow..

 

Hmm? You’re confused? No way! You haven’t guessed what my idea was yet? Hmm.

Okay.

I’ll tell you.

I swapped places at work. I am now no longer the centre of attention, I no longer have a hoard of old men sitting around watching me work, I will hopefully no longer be distracted or commented on or dragged into tortuous discussions. I will be able to go to work, and work while I’m there. I won’t have to spend my evenings practising for my exam while no one’s watching, because I’ll have spent the day practising. I won’t have to grit my teeth trying not to go mad at the idiotic banter. I won’t have to pretend I care that my boxes are blocking the way to the radio, because they won’t be anywhere near it. I won’t have to answer the telephone just when my apparatus is getting to a crucial point, because I’ll be too far away πŸ˜‰

Life could get a whole lot brighter πŸ™‚

The workshop is longer than it is wide. A row of 2m high windows runs along one of the long sides. Against the wall under the windows runs a worktop known as the windowsill. Underneath that is another shelf and under that the radiator. There are 4 workbenches each placed perpendicular to the windows, facing towards one of the short walls. My colleague sits at the back facing the entire workshop, then came my bench, then the spare bench he uses for Quartz, and then the bench hidden by something like a million boxes of Glass Things. Each bench has 3 chests of drawersΒ  holding it up (solidly – they’re incredibly cool benches ;)). One on the left, then a space for your legs, then two on the right. My bench hung over the edge of the drawers on the left, meaning you could place a table half underneath the end. The table is wider than my bench, so it sticks out on 3 sides, each approximately facing my bench. That is where everybody sits. The end of my bench was also exactly opposite the door. When anyone came in, I was the first person they made eye contact with (the rest were sitting with their backs to the door), and hence the person they brought their broken glass to. I don’t mind, that’s pretty much what I’m there for, but it didn’t do my popularity many favours.. Workshop Leader’s don’t appreciate being ignored, even [or especially] if they are drunk.

I now sit right at the front, with my nose to the wall πŸ™‚ The world happens behind me. My colleague’s not happy about it, but he hasn’t actually told me how unhappy he is, so I’m going ahead while I still have the chance πŸ™‚ He told everyone who’d listen that we were putting up the new east-west divide and only stopped when someone pointed out that he’d be on the east side… He also said (to them) that one of us was there to work and the other was there to act (or for the drama?). It’s quite nice acting and not just reacting πŸ™‚

 

Today was pretty chaotic.

We -or more specifically my colleague because I’m useless when it comes to being usefull- carted the boxes of Glass Things into the Storeroom where they will probably continue to collect dust in a similar fashion – why change the habit of a lifetime? I was going to put them on the Quartz bench and put the Quartz lamp on my table but that was totally out of the question. “What would that look like?!!”

I was never especially talented in those games where you have one space and 8 or 15 square pieces you have to slide around to make a picture. You know the ones? I haven’t seen one for years, but they were incredibly popular while I was small. Anyway, that’s what the rest of my day was like.

Once the boxes were gone I set about washing the layer of dust, grime and glittery glass sprinkles off the bench, the window sill, the window, the wall, the thin space between the bench and the wall. I’d like to say I’ve never seen such filth, but I’d be lying. I already washed everything once, and it’s only been 18 months since then. When I did it last time it had been more like 18 years since the last wash. *shudders*. Moving on. Once the worktop was clear I swapped the drawers round. Then I had to find space for all the stuff that’s accumulated over the years, and rearrange the plants to accommodate my Glass-Tubing-Rack. My old ‘windowsill’ was divided by a huge concrete pillar, my new windowsill is complete. I didn’t want to adopt the junk so I had to play Workshop-Tetris to get it all into the other spaces. As soon as there was space for my feet on my windowsill I washed the windows, and moved the plants. Then I moved everything from on top of my old bench to the new one. In between times I swept the floor, including under the radiators, and explained to everyone who came in and wanted to know, just what exactly I was doing.

It’s amazing/terrifying how much RUBBISH you collect when you settle in anywhere. I’ve been there for just over 3 years. I have 15 drawers and several cardboard boxes – bits of broken stuff that I need to mend or rescue the joints off, preparations for projects I never got round to finishing, small bits of tubing that are too short to put back but too long to justify throwing away, bits of paper with scribbled lists of things to do, or instructions for building something undiscernible, newspaper articles, Wikipedia-printouts from conversations with the ‘other guy’ (he can be relied on to bring a semi-relevant article with him the day after a discussion), old calendars.. just STUFF!. There was no way I was going to go through it all today, so I’ve hardly touched the content of the drawers, preferring to leave it for a better day. I packed everything else into fewer, bigger, boxes where it can also wait for me to get round to it. I’m thinking of tackling it Flylady style – 15 mins at a time.

What also amazed me was my colleague’s enthusiastic clear out of the things that have been occupying the end of my bench since my arrival. As long as I was there they HAD to be there; “that bit of the table’s ours”, now I’ve gone; “if we’re doing tidy, we’re doing tidy properly” !! Still, I can’t say I’m very sorry they’re gone. I’m not sure how much anyone needs small, talking, stuffed domina-mice.

 

Now to get some sleep so I’m ready for tomorrow πŸ™‚

 

Oh yeah, and I’m allowed to decorate the wall too πŸ™‚ 2 x 3 1/2m fresh unadulterated wall – mmmmmmmmm πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ And no more naked ladies!

On unexpected happy endings

There are at least 2 that spring to mind instantly.

1) The people I was going to go skating with phoned me afterwards to see if I was feeling good enough to let them come over anyway. The meat had apparently defrosted and it’d be a shame to waste it, especially if I’d tidied up πŸ˜›

So they came and there was space for them (and the barbecue) and I think a good time was had by all. It was almost 11pm by the time they arrived, the last coming at almost 2am because of working late. We ate in 2 sittings because we didn’t want to wait so long before starting. I think I fell asleep while they were eating the second time but it didn’t matter too much, thankfully my guests are used to entertaining themselves ;). I was woken up to yet another glass of Baileys and a foot massage – can’t be bad. I (and all who wanted to stay) eventually went to bed at about 5am. Not quite the early night I was expecting, but I don’t regret it. It makes me more certain planning’s not my thing though!

2) The ‘other guy‘ from work came to my workshop to apologise.

He’d thought about it and decided that despite not really changing his mind about what he’d said, it was none of his business and that he was going to keep out of it from now on :). It’s amazing what an apology can do to straighten things out between people.

On crisis cleaning

< or chaos to passable in something like 40 steps >

I Crisis Cleaned as mentioned in my last post. This is “how to make your house presentable in lots of hectic steps” – I’ve grouped them roughly by room/area even though they definitely weren’t done in order. It’s probably not an interesting read (unless you have a good imagination and want to be horrified by how far away I was from having a guest-friendly home), I just wanted to be able to remind my future self how good I can be if/when I get unmotivated:

Balcony – I think starting with the worst and/or most important is generally sensible, especially when you have a deadline to meet. The balcony was therefore top of my list – you can’t barbecue inside, even if you can sit on a sofa in a sea of books and other ‘stuff’.

  • carried plant pots off one balcony, through my house and onto the other one to make space for an unspecified number of barbecue guests, trying not to drip water on the sofa or step on anything with my less than squeaky-clean boots as I went. The floor needed washing anyway, right?
  • swept the dead-plant-debris into a corner. Having dropped several months’ worth of dead flowers straight onto the floor (too lazy to gather them up each time I deadheaded) it was covered in a thinnish layer of dead brown mush.. I’d also torn out the old plants (deadplanting?) in order to put the bulbs in. And seemingly spilled quite a lot of compost in the process…
  • washed balcony – dry sweeping really didn’t help much – by tipping 2 buckets of water out and splooshing it about with the broom
  • washed table and chairs – how does plastic garden furniture get so gross when you’re not watching??
  • scooped all the plant debris and grott out of the drain and into a bag
  • emptied the rejected birdfood and rotting apples into the bag
  • peeled most of a Theraband off the tiles and threw it away – it smelt funny so I put it out there last year.. Apparently they stick to the tiles and disintergrate if you let them

Bedroom – okay, probably shouldn’t feature next on the list of importance, but it’s furthest away and had the least icky floor, so I figured it would save mop-washings… it didn’t really, but it was fairly quick to do.

  • put rug/mat, under-bed-boxes and the washing basket onto the bed
  • took the washing to the bathroom
  • binned tissues
  • piled books/papers/pens onto bedside table
  • mopped floor without sweeping it first. I have one of those rubber brooms. They’re fantastic things – not only do they get into all the groutlines between my floortiles, they also don’t seem to create dustclouds the way ‘normal’ brooms do. And you can use them wet as well – super. What didn’t occur to me until it was too late, was the fact that using the broom to wash the balcony meant I couldn’t use it to sweep my house – they take a while to dry and while they’re wet you can’t really sweep with them, not without making thick wet dust trails anyway.. Doh! I got my mop out and mopped without sweeping first. I’m not sure if I recommend it. It obviously means you don’t have to sweep and wash the same area separately, which saves time. On the other hand, you use at least as much time as you save washing the mop-head because it gets covered in all the things you would normally have swept up first. Swings, roundabouts and learning curves.
  • picked the drawing pins out of the wet gunk and put them somewhere I was unlikely to stand on them
  • once it was dry I put the boxes, basket and rug back and made the bed again.

Kitchen

  • washed up all most of the stuff I don’t trust the dishwasher with
  • threw away bag of mouldy breadbuns. I am against buying too much food only to throw it away when it goes off, but I am also against eating mould even if the ‘best before’ date is still valid. They were the sort you finish baking yourself and I’d bought them in anticipation of my return over New Year when everything would be closed. In future I’ll have to freeze them instead of trusting the bbe date.
  • emptied dishwasher
  • washed cutting boards – I have a stack of them and it’s soooo tempting to take a new one instead of washing the last one πŸ™
  • mixed a new batch of muesli.Β I probably wouldn’t have spent the time mixing it during a crisis clean if it hadn’t meant I suddenly had a whole load more space on my kitchen counter πŸ˜‰ I love crunchy muesli, and I love chocolate muesli, and muesli in general really.. What I don’t love is how much sugar there is in the crunchy and chocolate varieties, and I don’t really need so much chocolate or crunch-per-mouthfull so I mix a box of each with a bag each of finely and coarsely rolled oats into a huge plastic tub. There’s just enough room in there afterwards to shake it up. Makes my day when I have decent muesli for breakfast πŸ™‚
  • washed floor. Twice.

Dining room – I really need to do some ‘decluttering’ in here. It’s basically my ‘storage’ room. And the room I spend most time in. My bedroom’s for sleeping, my sitting room for sitting, my kitchen for cooking and my dining room for everything else. My desk is in there too and the papers, cables, pens, envelopes with random ideas scribbled on them, mice, webcams and other computer paraphernalia multiply and spread out from my computer as if it was being paid to do so… The tops of all the cupboards double up as shelves as does the dining table. My ‘real’ shelves with their carefully balanced shoeboxes are a lifesaver but will soon need some me-input to prevent them collapsing under the weight of their responsibility. My plants drape themselves from any remaining horizontal space and my books block each other from view in double-rows on my bookshelves. The whole effect is more that of a creative scrapyard than anything else. Given that I was working under pressure I could only hope to scrape the surface.

  • rearranged the plant rack; emptying the various plantgraveyards into the bag and making space for the bulbs I still need to plant, as well as most of the empty pots I’ve rescued
  • got rid of the bag of mouldy compost. I have less than no idea how compost goes mouldy but it’s very annoying that it has. It was seed compost. I don’t have a car and I live far enough away from the busstop to make fetching heavy things a nuisance..
  • cleared the table by putting the files back in their cupboard, shuffling all the remaining papers into a pile and all the ‘small stuff’ into a shoebox and plonking them both onto my desk. Wiped it down and dried it. Empty tables are astonishingly motivating – there’s so much potential for putting things on them (for some reason kinetic energy comes to mind; the only thing I still remember about it, is that the higher something goes up, the more energy it gathers to come down with.. Transfer the idea to the table, and the emptier it gets the more space there is for other stuff :))
  • shook out doormat
  • washed the floor

Sitting Room

  • shook out doormat
  • moved all the sofas, plants, tables, stuff aside; washing the floor before moving everything back again. It took 4 or 5 attempts to do the whole floor
  • made the guest-bed look good, or at least useable. I’d stacked my unvarnished picture frames on it. They landed on the table in the dining room. So much for having an empty table.
  • binned the dead plants, took the dead flowers to the kitchen, watered and dusted the leaves on the living ones

Porch – was so good I didn’t need to do anything.

Hall – was still good from Wednesday πŸ™‚

  • emptied my workbag and banished it to a better corner
  • swept up all the leaves and other bigger stuff I’d mopped into a heap (the hall is in the middle of my house) and binned them
  • washed the floor.

Bathroom – I do this last. Something about not wanting to wash the other floors with too many germs I guess. Not that there should even be that many more germs on the bathroom floor than on any of the others seeing as I don’t share with small children or a bloke πŸ˜‰

  • loo and sink were already sparkly thanks to all the swishing and swiping I’ve been doing πŸ™‚
  • picked up all the washing and put it in the basket. I have no idea why I don’t put things in it straight away but there we are. If I’d known I wasn’t going skating I’d’ve put the washing on to wash, I didn’t because it probably wouldn’t’ve been finished before I’d had to leave and since my cousin burned his house down with a duff washing machine I’m not too keen on leaving it running when I go out…
  • put the washing basket in the bath with the bath mat and the dustbin, balanced the scales on top of the washing, and the loo brush on top of the loo
  • washed the floor. Why is it mops don’t stay where you put them? I leant mine against the bath for a moment to move something and it promptly slid down knocking the looroll into the slightly damp bath and almost unbalancing the scales from their perch on top of the washing. When I tried to catch it I bashed the loobrush, thankfully not quite knocking it onto the floor
  • once the floor was dry I put everything back where it belongs
  • wiped the inside of the bath down. It’s amazing how much hair I lose every time I wash! I know I ought to get rid of it each time but sometimes I just don’t…
  • washed the mop out thoroughly and put all my cleaning stuff back in its corner.

So that’s it. Chaos to passable in something like 40 steps. I would like to say I got it all done in 2 1/2 hours but that would be a lie. I cheated and did some more once I’d phoned to say I wasn’t going out.

On polishing plant leaves

– Or ‘what I do with my free time’ –

 

Planning is overrated, pointless and a waste of time.

I think I’ll give it up.

I haven’t yet, but I might. It would save me a lot of bother and probably time and effort as well.

Someone’s bound to ask how I’ll notice the difference since I don’t plan much or often anyway. I expect they have a point. The actual objective difference is probably indeed minimal. However. I imagine the subjective difference from my perspective would be huge. Imagine life without let downs…

Sometimes I see organised people who make detailed plans and then proceed to follow said plans precisely and in the exact manner they expected to. I have to wonder how they do it. Is it a matter of training? Do I need to practise more and it’ll be ok? Do they plan the sorts of things that just work? What do they know that I don’t? In my experience life doesn’t work like that.

On Wednesday we (a group of people I know) decided to go iceskating. Yesterday I spontaneously agreed to have them all over here for a barbecue afterwards. So far so good. Okay, so my house was a bit disorganised but that’s no big deal. They know me and I there was time between work and going out.

The Glass Thing I was working on took longer than expected so I got home at just gone 4 instead of 20 past 3. Hey! Still no big deal. I needed to be out at just before 7 to catch the various busses and trains to get me to the ice-rink so I still had approximately 3 hours to sort things (and myself) out. So far still all good.

Trying to sort an entire house before people come over is what Flylady calls ‘crisis cleaning’. As Crisis Cleaning goes I’m almost a professional πŸ˜‰ Sometime I even invite people over especially as motivation.

I clean houses in a manner which vaguely resembled those lawnmowers that mow by themselves; I don’t start in one corner and work my way around. From an onlooker’s point of view it probably looks crazy – I know I’d love to see a bird’s eye video in highspeed…until I cringe and turn it off that is πŸ˜‰ – I dart about, moving everything to one side, washing the bit of floor that shows, tidying elsewhere until it’s dry so I can move things onto the dry clean bit and wash the next section, all the while going back and forth to the bathroom to wash the mop head. It’s probably not the best system but it works for me and I was in my element doing it with a fairly tight schedule.

I cleared and washed my balcony -breaking and mending my rubber-broom in the process-, wiped down the plastic chairs and table, put things away, moved furniture, washed the floors, ate a bowl of cereal to tide me over until after skating, emptied the table, … Basically, I was on a roll. I was sure I was going to be as finished as I needed to be by the time I had to leave. I had my shoes on, my skates were in a bag by the door, my jacket was hanging on it’s hook (my purse with money and my buspass in the pocket), the key in the door. As soon as my cleaning-time was up I’d be off like, well, if not like a rocket, then at least like a person on a mission. The house wasn’t going to be perfect, but I wasn’t aiming for perfection and who needs perfection to grill a steak anyway?

And then whooosh! I was hit full on by a severe stomach cramp and a 5 second toilet-warning (remember what I said about rockets?).

I shall spare you all other details, cause I’m nice like that πŸ˜‰Β  Suffice to say half an hour later I was on the phone to the others to say I wouldn’t be going skating after all.

 

How is that fair?!

 

I know no-one said life was going to be fair. But still. I didn’t think I was asking too much to want to go out occasionally… It’s bad enough being ill over both Christmas and New Year. Why does my body not want me to do ANYthing more exciting than wash doors at midnight? Why can I not stay well long enough to do anything fun? If anyone asks what I did with my Friday evening, I will have to tell them I spent it dusting and polishing the leaves of my houseplants. Which is true but not really tell-worthy.

 

But hey. I should be more grateful. At least the house looks good and the plants are shiny. (Also, a good friend of mine has been wheel-chair bound for ages and paraplegic (sp??) for almost a year, so, in comparison, I really have nothing to mope about…(ever :S) Prayers for her recovery obviously always hugely welcome)

On days

I think today was a day.

Actually I’m pretty sure I know today was a day.

I hope tomorrow will be a better day…