On making a mess in the dark

I started planting my balcony boxes almost a month ago. Various things kept getting in the way, and I kept wishing I could get out and finish them.

Today, I left work earlier than usual and decided to ignore most of the things I should have been doing, and instead spent the evening playing in the dirt.

Since someone messed with the clocks, it’s dark by 5, but luckily I have a light on my balcony.

I ran out of compost, almost exactly at the same time as I ran out of boxes (if you don’t count the 3 waiting to be started).

I also ran out of warmth quite a long time before that, so I was glad of the excuse to go in for a hot shower! Autumn is cold and damp 🙁

Tomorrow I will pick up a couple more sacks of compost – for the last boxes, and for the new houseplant arrivals.

This is the state I left it in:

Edit – the morning after:

The balcony was covered in plastic grass when I moved in.

It’s now covered in plastic grass and wet compost.

🙂 joy

Does anyone have any good ideas for getting the compost out, besides washing it? My balcony is right over the front door – it has to be a resident friendly idea

(And yes, this is probably why people buy those huge potting mats…)

On art, anniversaries, and playing with poo

Friday was my 6th just-finished-my-aprenticeship leavers-party anniversary.

I didn’t exactly celebrate, but I did get DB to take me to a friend’s ‘horse farm’ and load a trailer with 3-yr-old horsepoo.

Somehow it seemed fitting.

***

The headteacher usually gives the speech at the leavers ceremony on the last day of school. Usually. When my year group finished, he unfortunately had some extraordinarily important, spontaneous meeting planned which couldn’t possibly be moved to a different day (or time), so he handed the responsibility to his deputy, an art teacher on the verge of retirement. I’d never had him as a teacher, but he seemed innocuous enough. Until the leavers do anyway..

It started at 11 am.

Most of us were still exhausted(/hung over) from the unofficial party the night before, but that didn’t bother us much. It had mostly been a good night and we were ready for the friends, parents* and/or grandparents* to turn up and celebrate us. We were the Stars of all the shows and we wanted (and, at least in our minds, deserved 😉 ) to be applauded for working so hard for so long.

The tables had been decorated and the canteen staff had graciously allowed us to use real plates and cups, instead of plastic. The stage was full of balloons from the morning’s balloon fight. J and I had organised drinks and most of the group had brought cake, sandwiches, biscuits and other party foodstuffs – someone had even made trifle, but don’t ask who. Several select members of the group below us had been chosen to wait on us.

Anyway, the scene was set.
Let the show begin!

The deputy head got onto the stage and, after all the customary waffling and welcoming that goes on at these things, he proceeded to spend 20 minutes recounting his first artistic endeavours. Which, seeing as he was an art teacher, would have been okay, IF he’d started his artistic career using crayons or potato prints or fingerpaints and paper like the rest of us. However. He had had the dubious privilege of learning to paint with the contents of his nappy and the walls of his bedroom.

Even that would’ve been bearable if it had been a 30 second joke before he moved on to something serious, but it wasn’t and he didn’t.

20 minutes is a long time to listen to someone you don’t know talk in graphic detail about things you’d really rather not know about.

It was excruciatingly embarrassing. Cringeworthy even.

No one actually got up and ran away, but it would have been understandable and probably appropriate.

I think the only thing keeping us there was the promise of certificates and once we’d got our grubby mitts on them there was no stopping us.

No one really felt like staying on and celebrating afterwards. Coffee was served and drunk in a stunned silence, no one really had an appetite for anything, much less for chocolate mousse or trifle.

By 1pm the hall was empty, except for J and I and a couple of others who stayed to clear up before going our separate ways for the weekend and the rest of the summer.

***

Which brings me back to the weekend.
I never thought I’d spend a weekend playing with poo. But I did. And I even quite enjoyed it.

I have a new raised bed and while the horsepoocompost was already amazing the way we got it, it’s also full of bits of wood and random stuff like clothes pegs, so I’ve been sieving the biggest stuff out. I’m getting a load of topsoil delivered this week so hopefully, by the end of the week, my babies will have new homes by the weekend 🙂

*(not mine, but all the rest)

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 🙁
  • mixed a new batch of muesli. 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 😉 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 🙂
  • 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 🙂

  • 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 😉

  • loo and sink were already sparkly thanks to all the swishing and swiping I’ve been doing 🙂
  • 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.