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]

For Kate… / (January round-up)

Dear Kate (and anyone else who is under the impression that I live in a pristine house),

 

I think I need to point something out.

My house isn’t pristine.

It isn’t even close.

 

Okay, I have cleaned my toilet more times in January than in the last 2 years put together, and kept the dust off my bathroom ‘mirror-shelf’. I have also made sure my kitchen sink was shiny or at least empty [almost] every evening before going to bed. I have made my bed in the morning, and made sure I got dressed before going to work. Most days I eat breakfast, drink more-or-less as much water as I ought to, and can control my mean thoughts (or at least not let them out into the wild ;)).

That’s about the extent of my greatness.

There were admitedly a couple of ‘clean spells’ in the midst of the chaos, generally spurred on by the thought of company (best said in Badger’s voice ;)), but I have a long way to go before I am cured of leaving-things-out-for-later, of can’t-be-bothered-right-now-I’ll-do-it-tomorrow, of I’ve-cooked-and-the-kitchen-looks-like-it’s been-bombed-but-I-don’t-really-care, of piling-plates-on-the-counter-instead-of-emptying-the-dishwasher-to-make-space-for-them, of dropping things in the hall when I get home, remembering them only when I trip over them in the middle of the night. It’s still dark in my hall, because I haven’t got round to fixing the new light in place yet, despite buying it in November.

I have a whole machine-load of towels decorating my bathroom floor, waiting to be washed, because I’m not home long enough to make sure the machine doesn’t catch fire. I am a one-person household – think about how long it takes to gather that many towels together…

I haven’t been to bed before midnight more than a handfull of times this month, mostly resulting in being late and getting ranted at.

I haven’t done my ski-exercise-video nearly often enough. Or been swimming, or cycling, or otherwise very active.

I haven’t been tackling hotspots, or decluttering, or picking up after myself.

I haven’t revised for my exam or finished putting up my postcards.

There are a great deal more things I haven’t done, than things I have.

Like I said before, I have a long way to go…

Assuming long journeys begin with the first step, I’ve taken it, but I haven’t taken many of the others!!

Maybe one day I will reach the top of the clean-freak-mountain. Maybe I won’t.

If I’m honest, I hope somebdy stops me before my entire life revolves around things being and staying clean. It would be nice to have space to be creative, to know where I’m supposed to be and when, to have something reasonable (and clean) to wear when I go dancing (or to work), to know I can invite people over whenever I feel like it and not worry about the state of my house or whether there’s enough looroll to go round.

However.

On the whole I’m pretty sure this cleaning lark is a way of making those things possible, and not the aim itself. Even if it is this year’s project.

 

Thanks for believing in me ๐Ÿ™‚ One day I’ll be as great as you think I am…

Lots of love,

Me xxx

Day 8 – pictures – dedicated to Miss Happenence

 

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 ๐Ÿ™
  • mixed a new batch of muesli.ย 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • loo and sink were already sparkly thanks to all the swishing and swiping I’ve been doing ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ – 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  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 Flying…

A new year, a new habit. Why not flying? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Except I don’t mean flying in either the jumping-off-cliffs-and-flapping-your-arms-about sense, or the more civilised sense, elbowing my way through the masses of small children and tense parents into MY seat on an aeroplane. I do a fair bit of that as it is.

I mean the kind of flying coined by the Flylady, Marla Cilley. It means ‘Fully (or finally) Loving Yourself’ and is (as far as I can tell) a programm to get your house and life ‘sorted out’ without ending up a nervous quivering wreck.

The basic idea behind it (again, as far as I can tell) is that if you’re happy and you know it, and not tired, you are more likely to get stuff done, and if you get stuff done, you’re more likely to be happy. Which I guess I agree with. She says a lot about getting rid of perfectionism, and that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if you can’t do whatever-it-is perfectly right now. Waving a wet mop at the floor is better than nothing, even if it isn’t as good as getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing. Twice. With some kind of cleaner. And then polishing it. It’s about starting, then continuing in ‘baby-steps’ instead of crashing and burning and giving up. It’s about getting more sleep and giving yourself permission to stop rushing about finishing things before it gets to 3am. It includes motivation to cook better andย excercise more which is something I struggle with, as my shortage of posts in December will testify to. It’s about attending to your own oxygen mask loving yourself first, so you can love other people.

At the end of it all, or more as a result of it all, the idea is to be a happy, rounded, fit, healthy, awake person, the sort who isn’t tired or stressed out and who has time to bake cookies and go dancing, who remembers to post birthday cards in time for them to get there, and who can invite people over at the drop of a hat because she has such a clean, tidy, welcoming house.

Not much of that sounds like me. Yet. *cackles*

– I don’t remember the last time I posted ANYthing on time, went to bed before midnight, had a tidy house for more than an evening or made biscuits (Ok. I made mincepies while I was at my folks over Christmas, but that doesn’t count). I have a huge problem getting up and to work on time. I have far less energy than I think I ought to have. I get home and can’t be bothered to cook, because I’d have to wash the saucepans from the night before first. Eveytime I want to go dancing I have a minor breakdown because I can’t find anything clean and/or presentable to wear. When I invite anyone over I have to work out how long I need to get it presentable before I suggest a day. Having cleaned like a wild thing, so that whoever’s supposed to come over can, it takes less than a week to get back to the way it was before.. ARGH. –

I found the site a year or so ago, and even signed up for it and read [some of] the emails. BUT. I didn’t ‘jump on the bandwagon’ as they say. I picked up [some of] the cooler tips (like leaving the roll of new bin liners between the dustbin and the current bag so you don’t have to look for them when you take the rubbish out), but I didn’t rush off and clean my fridge when they said “clean your fridge”, and I never really bothered with ‘decluttering’ or shining my sink.

This year… I’m going to try it out. Itย  feels a bit crazy, and if I’m honest, a little bit like a strange non-religious cult, but since this woman, the Flylady, has been going for over 10 years and has about a million followers she must have something going for her. Besides. I read yesterday, that the best way to prove something doesn’t work/isn’t true/is stupid, is to try it out and see instead of talking about it..

So. I’m going to do it. The beginning of a year seems a good place to start and my house could really do with it. Or I could. Or both.

I’ll write the missions on here, and maybe put before-and-after photos up if I think they’re interesting.

Watch this space.

On stubbornness

(please assume all references to ‘men’ mean people)

Once upon a time there was a dirt road between 2 small villages. The villages were pretty and the fields inbetween were pretty too.

A man stood in the middle of the road, between the 2 villages. He was admiring the view.

Another man walked along the road. He stopped where the first man was standing, because he couldn’t get past. He asked the first man to move. He wouldn’t, so the second man shook his head, walked round him and carried on.

A little while later the first man grew tired of standing up and so sat down. Not long after that a third man walked along the road. He also stopped, asked and walked around. This happened many times with many people. Occaisionally someone would try to persuade the man to sit somwhere else. Sometimes an argument ensued, sometimes there were fights. Ineveitably the persuader would realise the pointlessness of wasting more time and would go on his way leaving the man sitting where he was.

The first man put his tent up in the middle of the road. More and more people walked around him. The grass next to the road soon became trampled down and before long, no one stopped to ask him to move. This upset the man. He wasn’t going to move, whatever they said or did, but they ought to at least ask.

As time went on, the first man built a house on the patch of road where his tent had been.

A new road was built around the house, so that the cars didn’t have to drive on the grass.

The villages grew bigger. They became towns. People moved to one and worked in the other. The traffic between them increased. Houses appeared close to the first man’s house.

The first man made a garden around his house, digging up some of the road to do so. When anybody asked him what he was doing, or told him not to, he shouted at them until they went away.

Later, when the road was widened, the road around the first man’s house (and his newly claimed garden) was widened too.

By and by, people forgot there was ever a road under the house.

One day, someone new came to the area with a map and a book. They walked up to the first man’s house and asked him to move, because the road was going to be made into a motorway, and motorways don’t have curves. Besides, according to the book, he had no planning permission to be there. He refused to move, was incredibly rude to the man with the map and slammed the door in his face. The man’s neighbours came out of their houses to see what was going on. The man-with-the-map told them. They laughed at him and said;

“But you can’t make him move now – he’s been there 60 years! You’ll have to wait until he leaves before you can build your motorway.”

On not sleeping…

Explain this:

  • Pausing to admire the sun

    This morning, as on many others, I had to fight myself to get out of bed. It was so cold everywhere but under the duvet, and I snoozed and I faffed about and ended up running halfway to work, so as to be marginally less late. (My minutes of lateness seem to add tens of decibels to my collegue’s vocal utterings. There are mornings on which my ears just aren’t up for that kind of treatment).

  • I spent the entire [work]day waiting more-or-less patiently to go home in order to get back to bed where I can begin the wonderful task of paying back my horrendous sleep debt.
  • evidence of a misspent night (Weds)

    Having just about made it home via an agonising process of “c’mon, you can make it to the next lamppost…and to that tree…just that staircase then you’re there…”*, I then had a bath instead of a quick shower and proceeded to completely miss the turning to my room, making a beeline for my computer desk and spending the evening reading other peoples’ blogs instead of actually going to bed (or eating or clearing up my kitchen or doing any of a number of productive things).

I got home at about 4pm. It’s now half past 1 in the morning. WHAT HAPPENED??

I have a wonderful bed

It’s not like I don’t have a bed. Or that the bed I have is in any way uncomfortable or uninviting. It’s a fantastic bed. The sheet’s clean and I even have a new duvet. I had about 6 hours sleep last night, and not quite 4 the night before that. The few nights before that were also shorter than optimal.. So by rights – or at least by my reckoning – I’m owed at the very least 4 hours extra sleep tonight. Tomorrow (today) I’m going to sell lunch tokens to people. That means dealing with money and giving the correct change, and that means mental maffs and would be much better accomplished with the ability to think vaguely straight. This is generally achieved by getting enough sleep.

If I know this AND am tired, WHY ON EARTH don’t I just go to bed?

The answer is I haven’t the faintest idea.

Or at least, none that would hold any water if it happened to have any poured on it.

My theory is that there must be some kind of magic woven into the words. Magic isn’t really one of my big themes, what with being Christian and all, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it. If I’m not actively choosing to stay awake (and if I am I’m not aware of it) what am I doing still up? There must be some kind of something keeping me here.

So just what kind of ‘magic’ (for want of a better word) do these blog-writers create? How does it work? And more importantly, at least for me right now, is “why am I not producing my own trail of sleep-deprived people?”

And that, dear readers, is why I made this blog. You are my guinea pigs. I want to find out what causes readers to read against their better judgement.

I also want to give some of the more restless thoughts and wonderings in my head space to run about and play, and give the others space to grow. And besides. If my brother can become a successfull blog-writer, why shouldn’t I be able to?

Dragged not carried

*in my defense, I WAS heaving/dragging 21 Litres of water and something like 6kg of Lasagne in a cloth trolley-suitcase behind me at the time…