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Housekeeping?!

No, this isn’t a resolution check-in. We’ll do that next week. I’ve got housekeeping on the brain at the moment. Probably because I just cleaned the toilet for the first time in…well, I’m not going to say. Let’s just leave it at “it’s been too long”.

I’ve admitted my housekeeping shortcomings here quite often, but somehow, it never ceases to amaze me at just how lazy I am about this one thing, and also, that other people manage to keep their house far cleaner than mine on a regular basis and still have a “life”. How does one do that, exactly? Because honestly, I have no idea.

I spent time both this past weekend and the one before trying to get our bathroom cleaned up. Granted, it wasn’t a lot of time – probably a couple of hours each Sunday, but that seems like a lot of time to spend on one room just cleaning. And it’s still not “done”. The floor needs steam-mopping, the ceilings need to be cleaned, the rugs need to be washed and the curtains need to be…well, replaced, honestly. So what did I spend all that time on? The tub mostly, and trying to get soap scum and other grime off both the porcelain and plastic surfaces.

It’s still not done. It looks a lot better, and the hubby re-caulked the surround (it needs to be replaced, but we didn’t have time to go that far this weekend), but there’s still a thin layer of scum everywhere. We need to figure out a different way to deal with the soap, too, because the shower caddy over the shower head is just not working – soap drippings go through the caddy and down the wall, causing serious soap-scrum build-up and eventually mold.

We replaced the rusty shower curtain rod (it’s downstairs – I think we can clean it up and reuse it), and both the curtain liner and the curtain. Once I find a new caddy I like (I’m thinking a corner one on a tension rod, maybe), I’ll get that and some bonefide soap dishes to keep the soap drippings from going everywhere.

One more weekend and I should have it in much better shape…but then I need to figure out how to keep it that way.

And there’s also the matter of my dusty blinds (all over the house), the dining room table/storage area for misc junk, my makeup vanity in the bedroom…the laundry room…needless to say, it’s somewhat overwhelming.

I used to use Flylady’s cleaning method, but the last thing I feel like doing after work is cleaning something. I’m generally doing really well to clean the kitchen before I get ready for bed, and that’s thanks to the Lucy-dog, who needed her meals mixed up with enzymes in advance. Her special needs “trained” me to clean the kitchen last thing at night, and I still do it to this day, even though she’s been gone three and a half years now. Still, it could use a monthly cabinet wipe-down and floor mopping.

I need a plan. A new routine. A list to follow. Something that will work for me, and keep the house cleaner in spite of my best efforts to just let the dust-bunnies proliferate.

Are you a good housekeeper who keeps everything dust-and-dirt free? If so, what’s your secret/routine?

If not…solidarity! I’ll let you know when I figure out a plan/routine/magic spell that doesn’t require me to clean all weekend long.

Why don’t we have self-cleaning bathrooms by now, anyways? I mean…it is nearly 2020…


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Just Saying No…to a List-Driven Vacation

In four more days, I’ll be “on vacation” for a week. My vacations are often spent at home – I don’t travel much because I’m mostly a homebody (though I do enjoy myself on the rare occasions I leave the city – but I hate the prep it entails, and need a fair amount of recovery time when I get back). My husband will be out of town on his own vacation (playing pool in Vegas), so the dogs and I will be left to our own devices for seven whole days.

It’s gonna be great. šŸ™‚

Normally when I take these vacations, I get excited about all the stuff I can get done. Household projects we never seem to get to, “resets” on things that have just gotten out of hand, or stuff I’ve been working on, but never seem to make any headway with. I make a huge list, and plan every day out to the hour, and by the time the week is done, I’ve gotten quite a bit done, but never as much as I thought I would, and I’m just as tired and in need of “recovery” as I would be if I’d traveled.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing the very same thing. I need to get to “this” – but I’ll wait and do it during my vacation. I really should do that, but since I have vacation coming up, might as well do it then. Need to make this and this and this appointment – I should just make them for that week I’m already off work. You get my drift. And see the problem too, I bet.

This weekend I was really gearing up, and sat down to make a list, and…that’s when it hit me. My vacation week does not have to be “pre-loaded”. And it’ll certainly be way more fun and relaxing if it isn’t!

When my husband and I travel, we don’t make big plans for what to do once we are wherever we’re going. Unlike a lot of people, we might have an idea of things we’d like to do, but we pretty much just play it by ear – do what we feel like on any given day, depending on how energetic or tired we feel, we sleep in, and stay out late, and generally have a great, relaxing time. It’s draining for both of us to be around a lot of people for any length of time and my husband loves to just be spontaneous, so we leave the routines behind and just “go feral” for the time we’re gone.

It occurred to me that my “stay-cations” would be far better if I did exactly that. Treated them like an “away” vacation, where I just do what I happen to feel like doing on any given day, and don’t set a strict agenda or force myself to try to get a bunch of things done. If I get stuff done that would normally have to wait, that’s great. If I don’t, well, no big deal – if it’s important, we’ll find time to get it done eventually, and if not…then it’s not important enough for me to bust my butt getting done on vacation time.

If I feel like spending an entire day reading a book (not that the dogs would let me, but just go with it), I do not have to feel guilty in the least for doing so. If I wake up one day and decide I want to clean and reorganize the bathroom, I can do that too – but not because I feel obligated to work on my “list of things that never get done that need to get done while I have time off”. If I wake up and decide to watch three more episodes of Game of Thrones, and then decide I’m tired of sitting so I may as well clean out the shed on the patio – no problem. Maybe I’ll decide an hour later that sitting was way more fun, open a draft in progress, and write until the dogs remind me I need to feed them, and should probably feed myself while I’m at it.

I’m a planner by nature (obviously), and very routine-driven, and the idea of not planning out every second of my vacation for maximum gain strikes me as somewhat irresponsible…maybe even wasteful. So it’s uncomfortable for me to adopt this “just go with the flow” attitude. But I know I’ll be glad I did when my vacation is actually restful and stress-free, rather than busy and packed full of expectations that I can’t possibly meet, ensuring a heavy dose of guilt at the end before I go back to work.

I’m just saying “no” to a list-driven vacation. Which means I should probably think about working the stuff I’ve been “saving up” to do during said vacation into the confines of my normal routines, eh? No reason/excuse to procrastinate now…

Odds ‘n Ends

Yesterday, I turned 41. It was a rather uneventful day, really…and I spent most of it trying to decide whether to get my normal Sunday chores done then, or put them off until today (since it’s a federal holiday, I have today off work). Needless to say, I put most of them off (except for what really had to be done, like laundry since my hubby has to work today), but I didn’t really do anything else either, so…I kind of squandered my “free time”. It’s almost better when my birthday falls on a weekday, because I always take the day off, which means I don’t have anything that has to be done so I can just do whatever without guilt.

In any case, it will only take me a couple of hours to get my chores done today, so I’ll still have plenty of time today for reading & writing. I won’t have time to binge-read an entire novel like I was planning (not if I still want time to write, anyway), but I have a (smallish) stack of comic books waiting, including the latest Harley Quinn and I Hate Fairyland issues. That’ll be a nice segue between cleaning & writing, methinks.

As far as drafts go, I’m currently working on Donteneoux’s Dragon, a medieval/steampunkish sort of fantasy/sci-fi story. It’s not nearly so convoluted as it sounds, but I’m not sure how else to describe it, since it will *seem* fantastical to the reader but there is no magic involved, and all will be explained logically…eventually. It’s got me intrigued, even though work on it has been slow, but I’m enjoying discovering the story as I go.

The second draft I’m working on is a still title-less short origin story/myth to complement my first young adult adventure story that will hopefully be coming out this spring. There will be several novels in that series, and I plan to write an origin story for each of them, to be sent out with quarterly newsletters throughout the year. I think it will be fun, and also add a little more depth to the main stories as they come out.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little work done on each today, to start the week off right.

In other news, this Wednesday Lucy-dog goes in to get her ear amputated to remove that monster-tumor and to have a lump just behind it removed. Whether or not that’s the “right call” is anyone’s guess, especially since my husband and I both thought we felt more swelling on the side of her throat this weekend. But, we’ll see, I guess. I’ll drop her off at 7:30am with food, insulin, syringes & care instructions, and hopefully they’ll give her back in somewhat better(?) shape around 48 hours later. Luckily work’s been busy lately, so I should have plenty of distractions on Weds/Thurs. And there are certain projects I need to get done so I can take this Friday, as well as the following Mon/Tues off to make sure she doesn’t pull out her stitches, and to monitor her blood sugar with the meds she’ll be on.

Fun times, I tell ya.

Now, I should probably get my butt in gear and get to work – time’s a-wastin’! Right after I make another cup of tea and maybe eat a leftover piece of angel food cake…

Of Menu Plans & Jury Duty

I spent a way-too-big chunk of my weekend trying to create a menu-plan. Why? To prevent so much food waste, and also to avoid wasting time trying to decide what to make for dinner when I need to actually be making it. Because good TV is back, and not much motivates me to get dinner done quickly like good TV starting at 7pm.

I know, I know. The life of a TV junkie.

In any case, I was not successful at creating a menu plan. I did, however, figure out why I have such a hard time with them, and part of it is, I don’t know specifically what I’m going to buy until I’m at the store, doing my weekly grocery shopping. It isn’t until then that I know whether beef or pork roast is the better buy, or if the fresh mushrooms look like they’re melting back into spores, or if the kale is yellow, but the asparagus actually looks great. No sale price will get me to buy beef that doesn’t have the right marbling (to my eye). You get the idea.

So, creating a menu plan ahead of time is pointless (and impossible), given the way I shop. I need to plan after I shop, which means I needed a different sort of app than what I was trying to use, so I spent a good chunk of Sunday setting that up…

What I’m basically saying is, I spent my whole weekend not doing stuff I needed to get done, in order to not-do something I thought I needed to do. And aside from a glucose curve for Lucy, some vacuuming and clean clothes to wear, this past weekend was a pretty huge disappointment. I hate it when that happens.

Today, of course, since it’s the least convenient time *ever* for me to take time off work, and because I have plans to leave town on Friday, I’ve been summoned to appear for Jury Duty. I normally like jury duty – I’ve served twice now, and both of the cases were interesting and I found the social interplay fascinating to watch, both in the courtroom and the jury room. I’m quite sure this trial would be no different.

However, the news helpfully pointed out tonight that the trial will be approximately 2 weeks long. Two. Weeks. Long. So if I get picked to sit on the jury, I’d have to cancel my Friday trip, and since I’m the only one who does what I do at work right now, I’d still have to keep things going at work while serving on the jury (no, work can’t/won’t ask me to, but I can’t just let everything fall to ruin because there’s no one else to pick up the slack right now – it would make things exponentially more difficult for me along with everyone else). It would basically boil down to some long days and missing out on the trip we’ve been planning for six months. Just a short trip, granted, but still….

So for the first time in my life, I’m hoping not to get picked to serve on a jury. And I feel bad about that, because it’s a civic duty I really usually have no problem fulfilling, even if it is a little inconvenient. Right now it’s just…a lot inconvenient, and it will be a nightmare two weeks (longer than that, actually, considering I’ll be that far behind with my projects) if I end up having to serve.

Menu planning and jury duty. Scintillating Monday discussion, eh? I do wish the caffeinated mints I just reordered were here. Sadistic people in the courts won’t let me bring my tea into the courtroom, and jury selection starts at 8:30am. Dang it.


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On Mornings, Gardening, & Priorities…

I’m not what anyone would call a “morning person”, but my husband recently decided a change was necessary to our morning schedule, which bumped my alarm clock up another 15 minutes on weekdays (he’s getting up about half an hour earlier than before). I was getting up around 5:45am so I’d have time to fit my morning yoga workout in without fail, no matter what either of us had going on that particular day, and now he’s decided to fit in a morning workout as well, so I need to be up at 5:30am to ensure that I have enough time for my particular routines before I need to get him out of bed.

So far, there have been three “side effects” of this for me – one good, one bad, and one the jury’s still out on:

– I now have writing time in the morning before work (15-20 minutes…enough for a few hundred words, thanks to the new laptop that boots up and shuts down in about three seconds flat).

– I crash earlier at night, simply due to my body needing a certain amount of rest. It’s bad because those quiet late nights are some of my most productive times, but I can’t make use of them if I’m so tired I’m constantly nodding off.

– I can’t sleep in much past 7:30am on the weekends anymore, or I’ve gotten too much sleep and feel groggy/unmotivated for the rest of the day. This would be a good thing, except even though I’m awake, my brain still just doesn’t function all that well that early, so I don’t really get much of anything done until a more normal “awake” time for me (around 8:30-9am – it’s about 8:30am on Sunday as I’m starting this post).

I was thinking about this the other day, and honestly, the only reason I need to get up so early on weekdays is because I simply move slower that early in the day, so it takes more time for me to do anything. If I were able to follow my natural biorhythms, I’d probably go to bed around 3 or 4 in the morning, get up around 10 or 11am, and theoretically, I could shave a good half hour/hour off my whole current morning routine just because that’s a more natural waking/alert time for me. Which makes no sense, because theoretically every “hour” of the day is just another hour, and we should be able to train our bodies to run the same way no matter what time of day it is as long as we get optimal sleep. Alas, there’s something odd about the human body/brain and how it reacts to all sorts of things like light levels and noise and stimulus that makes it impossible to do for some people (there have been scientific studies proving that, it’s not just my opinion, but I’m too lazy to go look them up – Google is your friend).

Weird stuff, I tell ya. It would be so much easier to be able to “get up and go” in the mornings instead of having to take the time to let my brain catch up with my body.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is yardwork and gardening. Mostly because the weather’s getting nicer, and I’ve spent a few hours each of the last two weekends doing “spring clean-up” in the backyard (and before that, wishing it would stop raining so I could get said yardwork done). My husband and I are kind of opposites when it comes to gardening. He tends to prefer a more manicured, polished look, and I prefer more of a natural, haphazard look, which makes it a bit challenging for us to work on yard/garden planning together. But we both enjoy it to a point…just not the point of where we’re ever going to reach that polished look he’s going for (it takes way more time/motivation than I think either of us is willing to give it for that). Eventually we should be able to find a happy medium, but at the moment, I think we’re just looking for a way to keep up with what we’ve got, and fit a little extra in where we can. Eleventh year is the charm, right?

Once again, everything comes down to priorities. We’ve all heard it before – everyone has the same number of hours, yadda yadda yadda, but it really is difficult to narrow down priorities to what we can actually accomplish comfortably without burning out. It’s a frustrating thing, but at the same time, I think it’s a good problem to have in some ways, because it means we have a lot of varied interests and we have plenty of different things we can choose to spend time on. A far better/healthier thing than being hyper-focused on just one or two things all the time, methinks.

Of course it sucks when we just can’t possibly find a way to fit everything we genuinely want to do in, which is the position I’m often in. But things change, life changes, and odds are good that if I can’t get to it now, there will be an opportunity later. The trick is deciding what can wait, or what you’re willing to wait for.

Well, and time/project management is important too. I just downloaded a trial copy of My Life Organized (MLO) again, and I plan to play with that this next week. It’s one of the most comprehensive project/time management programs available, and it’s undergone a lot of improvements in the past year (I was waiting for Android updates, which they have now). ToDoist is working for me, but there are some more advanced features I’d like that it just doesn’t have, and MLO does. So we’ll see. Automated daily and weekly to do lists are the cornerstone of my productivity, both at work and at home, so it’s worth finding the “best” program for the job.

Yes, I sometimes procrastinate by organizing, but at the same time, having to break projects out into smaller and smaller chunks forces me to sort of reverse-engineer them at the same time, and that actually gives me a better understanding of the whole thing at the same time, so I can work more efficiently. Again, applies to personal projects, writing/publishing projects and day job projects all the same. So it’s all part of my process.

And with that, I’m going to go break down some projects. Maybe I’ll start with our yard renovation project…


 

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On…Random Stuff

Monday was rough. Part of it was me not being properly prepared because I didn’t use my weekend wisely (take this post, for example…). Part of it was just me being an idiot (the last couple hours of the workday, mostly). All in all, it added up to a day I’d rather just forget, though parts of it are going to spill over into Tuesday by necessity. But my Tuesdays generally suck, so no big surprise there. I expect them to be bad, so I go into Tuesday pretty much resigned to the fact that whatever’s going to happen, will, and surviving the day is all I can really reasonably ask of myself.

A couple of groovy things that happened this weekend:

I turned the heel on the sock I’m knitting and started decreasing the gusset

FirstSocks

I got a bunch of fun stamps from the Monthly Postcard Exchange

IrelandStampPackage

A third groovy thing for the week: Saturday is Free Comic Book Day!

Now, I’m off to bed because it’s past my bedtime yet again, and I’m gonna need my wits about me tomorrow…

Here’s hoping your week’s off to a much better start than mine!


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On Housekeeping, Dishes, & the Power of Three…

I dusted and mopped this weekend.

I know, I know – you’re all thinking, “Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? It’s like saying the sky is blue or grass is green (or brown, or white depending on where you are)!”

And you’d be right, except for the fact that those things “you” listed are true all of the time, and I can’t even tell you the last time I mopped the hard floors or dusted. I only dusted part of the TV stand, but I tell you what – there was probably a thick enough layer to measure with a ruler.

I may have mopped the floors twice since we moved in. Ten years ago.

Now that you all know I’m a total slob and never want to visit, here’s the thing. Last weekend, I felt like crap, and hubby had the flu, and the whole house was just…not well. I had no motivation to do anything, much less housework. So nothing got done – not even the weekly vacuuming, which is basically what keeps us both breathing through our respective allergies during the week. Today (yesterday, Sunday, whatever), I actually felt good for the first time in two weeks, and I finally managed to get the housecleaning done, including mopping and a little dusting. It’s a red-letter day, people. Cause for celebration!! << See that? Two exclamation points, even…

Know what else is cause for celebration? There’s a new dishwasher on the way, and it should be in town by Tuesday. Thank God (and my husband), because I’m really sick of doing dishes by hand. It even has a dedicated silverware rack at the top! Seriously cool – I can’t wait to get it!

3BagsOn a completely different subject, I got recently is a new “laptop” bag. Finding the right bag to carry my Alphasmart (and/or a smaller laptop, when I upgrade) has been an ongoing battle since last December. I decided back then that I didn’t want to have to carry two bags to work anymore – I wanted to consolidate my drinks/breakfast/snacks into a bag big enough to carry my Alphasmart for writing on breaks or whenever going somewhere it’s common to have to wait. And I also wanted it to be large enough to carry a smaller laptop, because I’m thinking of “upgrading” my big, heavy one to something smaller and more portable later this year.

This is where the Power of Three comes in. I don’t know why…maybe it was my artĀ professorĀ drilling the whole “odd is good, threes are artistic” thing into my head, but I’ve noticed myĀ subconsciousĀ is a bit obsessed with sets of threes. I tried three cases for my Note/cell before settling on one I like, the draft I’m currently editing is full of threes (3 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 months), and it took me three tries to find the perfect new bag that is *just* the right size and shape to hold everything I need it to.

The Big Green Bag was first, but it’s not balanced right, it’s just a tad bit too tall, and the straps are too short. Not long after I got it, I tweaked my shoulder pretty badly with it (don’t ask) – an injury that took around 6 weeks to fully recover from. It would be nice for traveling, but that’s about it.

The Red Book Bag was next, and it’s a little smaller, and has a nice long cross-body strap, but the outsides are hard (like, um, a hardcover book), and I’m not really a cross-body strap girl, so carrying it was unwieldy and uncomfortable. Good novelty bag for certain situations, but there are no outer pockets either, which was a huge turn-off.

Finally, the Peacock Bag – which is perfect. There are three compartments and another padded compartment inside the center one meant for a laptop. It’s not too big, but just big enough to fit what I need it to, and functionally, it’s comfortable enough to carry as a large purse when I’m not using it for work. It has a nice long shoulder strap that’s very adjustable, two shorter handles and plenty of outside and inside pockets for…stuff. Found it on ebay for a total steal – still more than I wanted to pay, but it’s full hand-painted leather, and I plan to use it for many years to come.

Goldilocks and her Three Bears have nothin’ on me…

Actually, now that I think about it, the new dishwasher will be my third in this house. Here’s hoping it’s perfect and will run for many, many years. Or more than three, at least…


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Monday Musings: On Carp, Domesticity, & Life Cycles

Fantail2014

This past weekend as I was cleaning out my goldfish tank, checking up on my plants and basically doing all manor of domestic chores, I got to thinking about the cycles I tend to repeat over and over in my life. My interests tend to ebb and flow depending on whether I’m currently hyper-focused (obsessed, fixated, whatever) on one main thing or not, and it’s a rare thing indeed that survives one of my obsessive/compulsive mental cycles. Those who do survive tend to be the ones who can bug me until I give them food, water & love (so…my dogs and my husband).

My goldfish (I don’t name fish…whenever I name them, they die soon after, so it’s the one animal I keep that I never name) is one such lucky creature (or not so lucky, depending on how you look at it). I don’t remember exactly how old he is, but I brought him home at least five years ago, possibly more. He’s made it through the strongest part of my writing obsession, which is saying a lot, considering how often in those years I neglected to clean his tank as often as I should have, and downsized him twice when his buddies died and I decided I wanted to devote less real estate to fish (he lives in a 20 gallon condo that he has all to himself, so don’t feel too bad – he never grew to full size during the time he spent in a big 45 gal. tank, so he was stunted to begin with, poor thing).

In any case, I’ve been cycled out of the obsessive phase of being a writer for awhile now, which means he’s getting better care again, and amazingly still kicking along quite well. Goldfish are very hardy critters, and they can live up to 30 years or so (though I’ll admit I’ve never had one live longer than 10 or so, but it’s probably my own fault), but I still feel bad that he had to go through that time of neglect because I was so focused on just one goal for so long.

Incidentally, I ordered him some new silk plants and a new air pump this weekend. I think he’ll like the change in scenery.

And then there are my plants. My mom always kept plants, so every once in awhile I’d try to keep one too. In my basement bedroom, where it was cold, and there wasn’t much light. I remember one was a small cactus – the ones they glue the fake flowers to and sell at the grocery store (eyeroll)? I killed it. And no, I didn’t over-water it, I just assumed that since it could go for a long time without water, I didn’t need to water it. It eventually withered up and died from lack of water. I was either in high school or college, but either way, I was working a lot, and hanging with friends, and focused on…other things.

Then I bought my first house, and my dog and I moved out on our own, and I started collecting plants, and…pretty soon, I owned a jungle, complete with a set of lighted shelves in the laundry room for growing African Violets. Plants were my next obsession, and I spent hours reading and studying and learning all the optimal conditions for growing them and pruning them and caring for them…to the exclusion of a lot of other things.

Then I went through my reptile phase, and the plants naturally scaled themselves back to a somewhat moreĀ manageableĀ level, while the number of living things in my house multiplied. It’s just as well I lived alone.

When I got married and moved to our current house ten years ago, I think I was down to two lizards, some hermit crabs, someĀ fire-bellied toads, my big goldies and the dogs, of course. I lost most of my houseplants in the move – the only ones still alive today are, ironically enough, cacti.

In any case, in the years since I’ve gone through several more cycles where I’ve hyper-focused on one thing to the neglect of other things that should have been important enough to keep up throughout. And as I was thinking about that this weekend, I was wondering if it would ever stop. More to the point, if there was something I could do to make it stop.

Actually, I was sort of wondering why I hadn’t outgrown it yet. It seems immature to obsess over one thing in your life to the exclusion of everything that can’t vocally demand your attention. And yet, I still do. Or did. I currently have no hyper-focused obsession, which is why I can spend a whole day taking care of fish and plants and domestic chores without constantly feeling like I should be doing something else. It’s nice. A much calmer way to be.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep things on an even keel while still learning and growing and moving forward. There has to be a way to avoid that whole obsessive/focused cycle.

Maybe I’ll write a book about it. My characters tend to figure things out faster than I can – the subconscious is sneaky that way. šŸ˜‰