On eating sausages with a wooden spoon and other questionable decisions

Written January 23rd. Posted now because my back is mostly better 🙂


At face value, eating sausages (and beans) with a wooden spoon is not an undertaking I recommend. As it is, I was very thankful for it, and not in the least willing to do anything to change it.


I’ve been organising my flat. That’s a euphemism for ‘creating complete and utter chaos and devastation’.

It’s a useful kind of chaos, the sort that will hopefully produce tranquillity and calm and lots of free time when I’m finished. In the meantime I am refusing to let people in because I don’t want to be evacuated or end up on an episode of Hoarders..


Once upon a time, way back in spring last year when I still thought I was quitting everything and going cycling, I got rid of most of my cupboards* and bought 60 small book boxes from Ikea instead. They have lids, they stack well and they’re sturdy enough for books. No one is paying me to say that :p.

Anyway. The cupboard buyers came before I’d sorted and got rid of or packed the contents of the cupboards so I emptied them (the cupboards) into piles of things to to deal with later.

‘Later’ is a tricky thing. It doesn’t happen the way you think it will.

In this particular case, I left the piles of things and flew home to see my family, planning to finish packing everything and repaint the flat when I got back…..and then the world closed and none of my plans was a real option anymore.

Bam.

When life give you lemons, you make lemonade. When the world gives you a pandemic and border closures and cancels all your plans for the indefinite future, you make new plans.

So I made new plans. This time they were plans to make the indefinite future the best it could be, starting with my flat, since I would be spending a lot of time in it..

I decided not to replace the cupboards, partly in an attempt to motivate myself to keep thinking of cycling and downsizing and partly because I liked how big my flat felt without them.

Instead I bought another aquarium and a trampoline. Because who wouldn’t, right? And then I decided to decorate the bare wall behind the new aquarium…which I’d have to do before putting the aquarium in place and setting it up because of the awkward impossibility of trying to work round it.

‘Decorating’ involved cutting the background out of a roll of leafy wallpaper with a tiny craft knife and pinning the remains to the wall with bug-shaped drawing pins. The results are a lot more awesome than the description but it wouldn’t be something I could afford to buy, even if they charged minimum wage for the time.

Working on it required many many many hours and almost my entire sitting room floor, so all my remaining furniture (4 seater sofa,  coffee table, CD rack, trampoline) plus the new aquarium, the small aquarium and the contents of my ex-cupboards towered precariously around the edges.

When the wallpaper finally went up on the wall, the towers of things spread into the available space and the aquarium cupboard took up the fight for my time and energy.

Trying to make 8 adjustable feet match floorboards that are off level in all directions at once is a nightmare. Especially when the feet are joined to an unwieldy quarter cylinder of cupboard. They don’t even give in when you glare at them. I eventually admitted defeat and let H sort it out. (He dismantled the cupboard first, which seems vaguely like cheating but I wasn’t going to argue.)

Then I went socially distanced gallivanting for a bit.

Then I had to go back to work and everything else came to a standstill. I have no idea how ‘People On The Internet’ have enough energy to do all the things they do because my batteries are fully depleted after working and eating. Ok, I was also trying to get my time sheet out of negative hours and teach a couple of kids English, but nothing objectively crazy or strenuous… subjectively though, even getting washing done or going food shopping during the week was very hit-and-miss.

At weekends I tried to catch up on sleep and housework and get some km on the bike. I dabbled in boxes of papers and packed clothes for the local clothes swap/donation place. Nothing really made a noticeable dent in the pile. I could have packed it into the cellar but I really wanted to avoid filling it with things I didn’t intend to keep and the things I wanted to keep were generally things I use enough for it to be awkward in the cellar.

In the lead up to Christmas I had the amazing idea of making advent calendars for a good handful of people. It turns out advent has a lot of days, and lots of advent calenders have many lots of days. Miniature packages might be tiny in their own right but somewhere in the region of 200 miniature packages take up a lot of space. And time. And require continuous effort. And I still didn’t get the last ones sent until Christmas Eve…..

In the middle of all that, Ex-DB finally agreed for me to go and collect my remaining belongings from his house. (Wheee!!)

In my memory there were a couple of shelves of books and a sewing machine. In reality there was enough to warrant multiple trips in a not-very-small car. 

Oh joy.

For various logistical reasons, I ended up borrowing traditional, big moving boxes that I emptied each time I got them here so I could reuse them for the next load and give them back after the last.

Despite 7 months and various lockdowns, I hadn’t found a suitable ‘later’ to properly deal with or find homes for my original stuff, and there really wasn’t a lot of space to pile new things..

..so..

..I went back on my decision to remain cupboardless and arranged to pick up a shelf-cupboard-combination that would cover a whole wall.

That would mean losing all the wallspace I wanted for my map of the baltic sea though, so I had a rethink and did some measuring and came up with a whole chain of changes, each reliant on the previous chainlink.

Get rid of the chest of drawers in the hall and replace it with a shoe bench and a stack of box drawers, leaving enough wall free for the white board from the sitting room, which in turn would free up a wall for the map. Then I could get the shrimp from the small aquarium into the new one, sell the table they were on and make space for the new shelf&cupboards. The shelf that used to be under the whiteboard could go up in my room and the computer monitor could go directly onto the wall, freeing up desk space and making the desk useable.

Still following?

The first bench I bought wouldn’t fit into the space I provided for it, no matter what the tape measure said. I put it aside and got a different bench. Selling it requires too much brain power at the moment.

The new bench is actually just a couple of drawers with a thin lid. I wanted to be able to stand on it to get to my whiteboard and it’s definitely not sturdy enough for me plus my corona-kilos.. H is making, painting and varnishing a thick wooden board to go on top which will be amazing when it’s finished. Until then though,  it can’t function as a bench, the wall boxes can’t go up and I can’t use my planning board.

There’s very little point in filling the boxes before they go up so those things and the boxes are wandering around homelessly.

The shelf-cupboard is huge and ridiculously heavy. The pieces are still waiting to be put up properly. Remember how the floor under the aquarium was off level? So’s the floor where this new thing is going. And the wall isn’t flat. And there are no right angles to be found at all. There are adjustable feet though. Yay.

While I muster up the confidence to adjust feet and drill holes, there are other things to keep me busy….

I got a new-to-me bedside table and a couple of matching plant tables this week, and I’ve been (loosely) following Dawn’s Clutterfree January program so there are boxes of plates and cups and clothes and a filing cabinet/bedside-table looking for homes, or at least waiting to go in the cellar or be donated.

I also, in a fit of pre Christmas madness, bought a couple of on-sale amaryllis bulbs which were desperate to be planted. The amaryllis bulbs from previous years were quite suicidal so I wanted to put them into a pot together so they can keep each other company and hopefully not pull each other over.

Cue thoughts about pots. If I’m going to plant things and get compost everywhere, I figure I might as well get all the the plants done in one go. I have window ledge boxes in the sitting room. German windows open inwards though and the boxes were always a pain. Time for new boxes.

There are very few flowerpots in the shape I wanted, so I bought boxes that weren’t designed for flowers. They are like fancy shoeboxes with lids and handle holes. I taped up the handles and melted holes in the bases with a soldering iron. The new amaryllis bulbs got one and I repotted the plants from my boxes into the others.

There are a few more plants to pot on and I need to get a couple more boxes for them. The compost is still in the kitchen with all the balcony plants that need protecting from frost.

The small aquarium needed to be emptied to make space for the new cupboard, requiring the new aquarium to be replanted – it was originally planted in the middle of the night and it showed – and the shrimp caught and transferred. I’d bought a fertiliser layer to go under the sand in the new aquarium. My plan to empty half, add the fertiliser and backfill, completely backfired. Sand is not a helpful accomplice. As I was ready to put the sand back in, I noticed something suspiciously like the leeches I found in the old aquarium last year. I put new sand in. New sand needs washing before it can go in an aquarium. Kilo for kilo. Rinse for rinse. Broken fingernail for broken fingernail.

Also, shrimp aren’t easy to catch.


So anyway, like I said, everything is chaotic.

Today I decided to put things in rows to make the obstacle course slighter more predictable. I made a first-attempt-bench sized space on the rug in my room, cleared a path to the sitting room by piling everything on the bed, and bent down to pick up and drag the bench into place…

“Nope” said my back.

“Really?” I bent down again.

“Really really.”

I had barely touched the bench before I gave up on the idea and went to lie down on the rug. (The bed was full of boxes)

After a long time I sat up and sorted through another box.

A long time after that I got up enough to fill a hot water bottle and climb into bed around the boxes.

Several hours later, I was hungry and the hot water bottle was cold.

I threw some sausages at the grill and some beans into a saucepan and refilled the hot water bottle. When everything was done, I scooped the sausages into the saucepan and a cork mat under it, and made my way back to bed, clutching the hot water bottle and wincing.

I only discovered the lack of cutlery once I was back in bed and had manouvered myself into a fairly painfree position. Move again? Nah. I’m here for the duration. Shame I didn’t have a hand free for something to drink…

I hope I’ll be ok tomorrow, I really don’t fancy dying of thirst (or having a ‘serious’ back injury)


Edit, several hours later: made it to the kitchen for a hot water bottle refill and some water 🙂 Now to find a way to sleep between the boxes..

Goodnight all

* most = seven of them. I kept my wardrobe and the chest of drawers in the hall purely because I hadn’t got as far as selling them yet

On lacking expectation

I cycled to work this morning. It rained half the way there. The first half. Only the first half I suppose. I wasn’t expecting it to stop but it did.

***

After work, I had a plan to get a couple of trains to a distant part of town to try on a ski-helmet and pick up a pair of skis. After that I was going to get a train back and go and pick up the mattress.

***

I originally planned to leave my bike at work and swap it for the skis and possibly the helmet before cycling home. When I looked at the map and the local transport app at lunchtime, I discovered that I wouldn’t be home in time for the mattress if I relied on the buses to take me from A to B and B to C. I decided to take my bike and cycle from the station to the helmet, then to the skis and push the bike to the next station where a direct train would bring me to within 10 minutes of my flat.

***

Did anyone else notice the parts where I said plan and claimed it as my own?

Did all the alarm bells start ringing?

Did you feel the words “uh-oh” forming, ready to be released at a moment’s notice?

Did you see the chaos building up in the distance like the storm currently waiting to attack Berlin?

No? I didn’t either. I ran straight into it headlong.

I didn’t expect anything. But it expected me. I must be good company, or at least a regular visitor…

***

We had a fire alarm at work after lunch and before I could write my plan down.

Afterwards, I tried to get my work done so I could leave on time.

I almost did, too.

***

It wasn’t raining when I left my workshop so I packed my waterproof overskirt away in my panier.

It started raining just as I got outside the building. I don’t like being wet if it’s a cold kind of wet, and I especially dislike cycling in wet jeans, so I stopped and unpacked it.

I wasn’t expecting to spend time getting dressed once I’d left.

I didn’t expect the lift to be full when I got to the station so that I needed to wait for it to come up a second time.

I didn’t expect to miss the first train on my list of 3.

I didn’t expect the lifts at the second station to only go up when the train I needed to catch was a floor lower than the one I started on.

I didn’t expect the second lift, a lift I crossed a road especially to reach, to bring me back to the middle floor.

I didn’t remember my bike being so heavy when I decided to carry it down and up the next stairs I encountered.

I wasn’t aware that one station name in Berlin can actually mean 3 separate stations for the 3 types of train, and that they can be several hundred metres away from each other.

I didn’t appreciate having to visit each one of them to realise it.

I didn’t remember that the third train I wanted to catch only left once an hour.

I really didn’t like having to retrace my steps to get an alternative train from a station I’d already fought my way out of.

***

I didn’t check the map closely enough to know that the street I was looking for, started with one name and ended with a different one.

I didn’t realise that I cycled right past it without noticing.

I wasn’t paying enough attention as I started enjoying cycling along a straight cycle path without rain.

I wasn’t ready for the dark when the street lights stopped.

I wasn’t expecting my bike’s front light to be weaker than the wind-up torch I took on a night walk in 6th form.

I didn’t want to stop on the side of a busy but dark road with nothing but the dim glow of a fading dynamo to show where I was in order to check the map again.

I trusted Google when it recommended an alternative route from my current position when I finally felt safe enough to check.

I didn’t know, when I set out down the “dead end – pedestrian access only” road, that it would lead me into the middle of a very muddy field.

I didn’t know you could switch between the directions mode and the map mode without retyping the street name.

I didn’t know, once I was in a particularly boggy patch of field, whether it would be quicker to turn round and go back, or to carry on squelching.

I couldn’t imagine that I could be so scared of things that go bump (or knatterknatterknatter) in the dark.

I wasn’t expecting the torch on my phone to be so good.

I didn’t know in advance that I would rather cycle unnecessarily far by road, just to avoid a couple of hundred metres along a dark path through a woods

I didn’t know, when I set out from work, that I would arrive at the helmet man’s house later with the bicycle than I would have done without it.

I didn’t know, from the picture and the description, that the helmet would be just a smidgen too small.

I also didn’t know from the brief phone calls we’d had, that the seller would be so gracious about letting me traipse mud all through his immaculate house. “Relax! It’s all tiled and washable – it gets muddy every time I come in from working in the garden :)”

I didn’t know it would take me more than twice the time Google suggested to cycle across to the ski lady’s house.

I didn’t know that the skis would be so sharp that they’d take the paint off my handlebars when I rested them there.

I didn’t know that I would have such a problem steering when I got the skis into a stable position.

I couldn’t guess that the wind would pick up and join the pouring rain to slow down my attempts to get to the station while pushing my bike and balancing a pair of skis.

***

I didn’t expect to have to ask someone how to get into the train station.

I didn’t count on missing the last direct train of the evening and having to take three other indirect trains instead.

I didn’t think my phone battery would go down so fast, but I also didn’t think the last few percent would last all the way home.

I wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to me on the train, and when they did, I wasn’t expecting them to say, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve got a wife and a kid waiting for me” as we got out at the same station.

***

I didn’t expect to get home more than 7 hours and 22km after leaving work, 3 hours later than I wanted to pick up the mattress.

***

Despite everything, I still feel it was a successful day..

One on which I feel I definitely earned my sleep.

***

Talking of sleep…I wasn’t planning on sleeping on the floor again tonight, but then, life always seems to have more in store for me than I could ever imagine.

(And I wasn’t expecting the neighbour to phone and apologize, but he did – assuming the mattress man is understanding enough not to sell the mattress to someone else tomorrow, we’re all set to pick it up in the evening 🙂 – wheee!)

On the usual suspects

So.

Here we are again.

My house and me.

Faced with a whole lot of chaos and a deadline and armed with only 14 hours, of which I plan to sleep through at least 8.

I’m going to yet another wedding tomorrow and won’t be home until AFTER my dearest BF arrives. I’ve told him where the key is, so that’s not a problem. The problem is the state of my house. One of the problems.

I’ve been away a LOT recently (and have several posts stuck in my fingers waiting impatiently to get out) and working late when I’m home. In my head that ought to mean I’ve had less time to mess things up, but it doesn’t. It means I haven’t done any housework or washing (besides last night’s load) in weeks (/months??). Nor have I had the energy to unpack my suitcase. Or my backpack. Or deal with the mail. Or the dead flowers. Or any of the other things on my table for that matter.

In short, it looks worse than it has for a long time.

And it’s embarrassing.

I wouldn’t be quite so bothered if it was ‘just’ the DB and me. He knows me, and he’s only here for one night before we head off to Berlin in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The more major issue, is Studying-D. I don’t think I’ve mentioned him before, which I suppose goes to show how big a role he plays in my life. We go to the same parties, and know lots of the same people. Anyway. He lives just over an hour away (by public transport) and goes to uni near where I live. He’s currently researching/writing his dissertation and losing an extortionate amount of his ‘spare’ time travelling. His girlfriend asked me yesterday if he could live here while I’m away in return for watering the plants and his parents paying me rent. Travelling backwards and forwards to Berlin is pretty expensive, and he’s a decent sort of bloke and I get on with his girlfriend, so I agreed. Thing is, he’s moving in on Sunday. It’s half past 9 on Friday evening. I’ve just got in (okay, so 3/4 hour ago) and I haven’t eaten yet. I’d like to make the house not only presentable enough for a sleepover stop between the BF’s meeting and Berlin, but for a week of someone else living here. I should have started yesterday? Well, yes, probably. Except I got in at midnight and needed to be up at 7.

Time to stop waffling and make a start methinks.

This could be interesting.

Oh yeah. I also need to make a trifle*.

*and think of a way to get it to the wedding without spreading it all over the train.

 

[edit: you can read “What I did when” here]