Monthly Archives: December 2012

The final frontier. Exploring the stuff that men hold dear.

Well, my  man anyway.

Joe, sadly, is not an organized person.  He is a messy person.  As long as he keeps his messes from taking over the house I can deal with it.  He has tried to take over the house.  Leaving bits and pieces of his “Stuff” in every room we have.

Joe has a tendency to just drop whatever he has in his hands in any convenient place he finds.  He, like most men, only looks at the top of his piles and determines he does not have the tool or the hardware to fix what he sets out to fix.  Drives me crazy, I tell you.  I know he has little packets of screws and other hardware.  I’ve seen them.  They are buried under all the CRAP!  Yet he goes to the store to purchase more!

I’ve relegated his sprawling to the hallway.

The much dreaded hallway

His stuff lies in wait to attack the unsuspecting passerby.

Piles of stuff

I’ve had old coffee cans jump out at me and toss the contents on my feet as I walk past to the laundry room.  I don’t have nice things to say about Joe and his stuff in those moments.

Teetering coffee cans

Joe is a collector of things.  He found some old Weiss scissors at a store in Wichita, Kansas that he just HAD to have.  They sit on the shelf, underneath an odd assortment of other things.

Collection of stuff

I tried to organize his stuff several winters ago but gave up on it.  Springs?  Really?  A box full of springs?!

Springs

I took pictures of the stuff that was contained in each of his storage vessels.  That way he would know what is inside them.  Didn’t work.  He’s lamented many times to me that he needs wire.  He can’t find his spools of wire.  I’ve pointed out the box to him, shown him the photo on the box, and he stills says he doesn’t have any wire for the project he is working on.  So he goes to the store to buy more wire.  Funny thing is…..the wire looks the same to me.  Same gauge, same color, same everything.  It has to be a guy thing.

Box marked wire

In his sorting work of today he has added more wire to the box.

Box opened to show the wire

Getting that shelf unit emptied and moved out of the way left me with a surprise I was not very thrilled with.  The wall has dust marks and dirt leaving an impression of the shelf and its contents.

Wall marked by the shelf with dust and dirt

I got the wall vacuumed and washed off.  I took a few moments to enjoy the sight of the floor space.  Then we got back to work.

This is Joe.  See his big smile.  He is stoked and really enjoying the process of getting his stuff organized.  He’s finding things he didn’t know he had.  This is a treasure hunt for him.

Joe at the beginning of organizing

This is Joe midway through the organizing.  The huge smile is gone.  He is making noises to the effect that this was a whole lot harder than he had imagined.

Not so happy Joe

He still has quite a lot to sort through and find a place for these things to live.

Stuff to be sorted still

I’ll give the man his kudos.  He slogged through the stuff of his.  He deserves a break.  He found a bubble blowing child’s toy and he was trying to shoot bubbles at me.  The thing doesn’t work any longer.  Boo!

Joe taking a break

Everything is cleaned, sorted, stacked, and neatly organized.  I’m really happy.

Hallway cleaned

Nothing to jump out and attack me when I leave my craft room.  Yippee Skippy!

Attacking cans and stuff are gone

Nothing to grab hold of me on my way to the laundry room.  Joe knows where his stuff is.  He also now knows how much he doesn’t have to purchase to complete a project he has been thinking about taking on.  YES!  SUCCESS!

Organized hallway

Cleaning my house has been a massive chore.  It started on December 6th and continued through to December 23rd.  When our neighbors came for Christmas dinner Joe had a bounce in his step as he took them, PROUDLY, from room to room to show all the work we did.  He spent extra time in the hallway extolling the virtues of organization.  How a simple thing can turn a man’s world to spinning the right way instead of out of control.

USER FRIENDLY TIPS:

  1. Working along side an unorganized person can be a challenge.  This can be applied to children as well when they have to clean their rooms.
  2. Let the person go through the process of deciding what to keep and what to toss.  The things you might think are trash worthy are not trash to the other person.  Just keep your thoughts to yourself.
  3. Working with someone else to clean up their mess does require a lot of praise, atta boy’s (or atta girl’s), and you will need to let them know that the progress made is AMAZING.  You may have to say that about a gazillion times.
  4. When the person hits that wall, and this is no longer fun, you will need to amp up the praise and the “Look how much you have accomplished so far”.
  5. If you mutter, or say, anything negative about the person dragging things out for too long you will lose them and you will have a massive mess to take care of.  Just grit your teeth, put on a big smile, and run through your brain all the adjectives that can be used to say “Amazing!”.
  6. If you are desperate, really desperate, you can bust out the “Supercalifragilisticexpealladocias” (or however it is spelled since my spell checker thinks I’ve lost my mind).
  7. Now is not the time to tell this person that you know how hard this work is and that they need to get a grip.  (I had to leave the area a number of times to control myself)
  8. When the job is finished you will be so very proud of the other person, as well as yourself.
  9. Lastly, make sure to wrap your arms around that person (child, spouse, friend, whomever) and give them a big hug.  Tell them one final time how much you appreciate all their hard work.
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The anxiety of letting go is intense.

I think, and this can sometimes be a dangerous thing, that “normal” people don’t have a problem with parting ways with inanimate objects when they no longer serve a purpose.

I have two anxieties, quite possibly way more than two, about letting go of things given to me by someone else.  Tossing out a gesture of love is a near abomination to me.  The other anxiety is the thing given to me in love has become a dust collector and is hardly even noticed, let alone used.

I have a collection of plush bears given to me by Joe over the past 12 years.  Each bear had been hugged, squealed over, and many moments had been spent feeling the soft texture of the fur in my hands, and doing the ultimate act of delight….rubbing the soft cuddly thing against a cheek.  Many days had moments where I stopped to look at the  new treasure, give it a touch and a squeeze, feel my heart swell with love, and off I’d go about my daily business.  Those moments dwindled into walking past the bear collection without a single notice.  That is until I saw the thick layer of dust upon the once loved fur.

My bear collection

Layers of dust on the bear

Every winter, during my hiatus, these bears all come off the shelves and are run through the clothes dryer for an hour on high heat.  I have a tennis ball in the dryer that bounces around inside during the drying cycle to help bang the dust off the bears.  This also kills any dust mites that may be living in the fur.

I learned, long ago, that you don’t put a plush bear through the washing machine to clean it.  By the time it gets through the wash cycle all the stuffing has shifted down into one leg or up into one arm.  The poor creature is terribly deformed and misshapen.  The only thing to do then is operate on it, rip its guts out, add new stuffing material back inside the bear, then stitch it back up.  Oh ya, after it has gone through the dryer to fully dry.

I had to, reluctantly, tell Joe to not bring me any more bears.  Crushing both of our hearts.  He thinking that I don’t like ANY of the bears he had brought me and putting him through several minutes of agony.  My watching and hearing the hurt I have just put upon the man I love.

These bears have become hostages in a home that has no love for them any longer.  They are held, on display and forgotten, because I don’t want to give them away yet I don’t want to keep them either.  They mean a lot to me, yet again, they mean nothing to me.  Poor bears 😦

I had to have a talk with Joe.  A long avoided and much dreaded talk with him.  I had to explain myself and my request fully so he would understand that I love the thought behind the gifts but I no longer love the gift itself.  Joe, being the fantastic man that he is, gave me permission to let go of the bears as long as I took pictures of each bear before it left our home.  In his wisdom, the reason behind it, he said I would eventually miss them and would wish I had not given them away later on.  Having photos of the bears would give me the ability to still keep the bears close to me but in a better place.

Joe’s parting words were…..”A child will have a bear to cuddle with at night and be kept safe from the closet monsters.  That child will give the bear the love it truly needs.”  Do I have the most awesome man in the world or what?!

Here are the bears that were donated to the Goodwill.  After they went through the dryer first to get them cleaned up.

Small brown bear

Small white bear with blue clothes

Small white bear

Small leopard

Medium sized brown bear

Medium sized white bear

Medium sized white bear the hat and flowers

Small white bear with bag

Small pink bear

Small yellow bear

Pair of halloween bears

Medium sized white bear that sings

Large white bear

Large tan bear

Medium sized white bear with shirt

Small USA bear

Medium sized white tiger

Medium sized red bear

Medium sized white polar bear

Medium sized white bear

Large purple bear

Large white bear with sweater

Large white bear with heart

Bear from Russell Stover's Candies

Many years ago I read some pretty harsh words said by Flylady.  “Clutter is Clutter no matter how much you love it”.  The words stung me each time I looked at my collection of bears.  These were not Clutter!  I was adamant about that.  She was wrong, so very wrong.

Well, I got over being upset with her.  It has taken me about five years to finally decide to embrace the fact that these bears are just exactly that.  Clutter.

To be fair to Flylady, she was addressing a problem one of her “Fly-Babies” was having about inherited household goods of that person’s late parents.  The Fly-Baby lamented over the state her house was in having all the furniture and “Stuff” of her parents.  Much of which the woman grew up with and adored because it belonged to her mother or held dear memories of her father.  She couldn’t give any of it away, nor could she live with it all.

USER FRIENDLY TIPS:

  1. Take a good look at the items you have collected over the years.  Do they get used?  Maybe china passed down from your parents or grandparents?  You want to still keep them?
  2. Do you have a collection, or stuff, that never gets used?  Do you mutter under your breath each time you have to dust or clean the collection?  Or you have clothing in a closet that you used to look stunning in but no longer can wear?
  3. Do you live in fear that once these items are gone they are gone forever?!
  4. Just take some time to think about how you would feel to have some space in your home if the stuff were gone.
  5. Give yourself permission to feel the pain of the loss, feel the sadness of packing the stuff up and giving it away, feel the betrayal of thinking about someone else putting their loving hands on these treasures of  yours.
  6. If this process causes you too much anxiety to even think about then let it go and don’t do anything.
  7. If, through this process, you feel a sense of freedom, and a nudge of guilt as well, then think about taking pictures of these treasures.  Consider making a scrapbook.  One you can look through and remember these once treasured items.
  8. This is a highly emotional task and is filled with all kinds of land mines that could set you off on a rant or an emotional storm.  Give yourself permission to leave this until you are ready to try once again.
  9. If, on the other hand, you are ready to begin the process of letting stuff go then get in there and do it.

This house cleaning and purging I’ve been going through for several weeks has been an emotional roller coaster.  I’ve had many moments of frustration knowing that I will go through the whole process once again next winter.  All this work for nothing.  Then again, all this work has brought me so much freedom as well.

I’ve brought out the “Pity Party” decorations and had quite the shindig.  I’ve lamented not having a regular job like a regular person.  One that I’m home every night with two regular days off.  A life that would allow me to spend time in  my craft room and be creative throughout the year instead of just in small chunks of time.

I’ve also been brought up short in my partying to realize that I would have my butt fired in an instant because I don’t “Play well with others”.  Then I’ve had to clean up my partying mess and get back to the business at hand.

The last, and final, post of 2012 will be (hopefully) tomorrow about our hallway.  Or as I like to call it – Joe’s “Man Cave”.  His tools and STUFF reach out and grab me each time I pass through to the laundry room.  The result ranges from muttering under my breath, occasional loud cursing, micro bursts of exasperation aimed directly at Joe to get the mess cleaned up.

Truth to tell, he had been asking me when I would be finished with what I was doing so we could clean the hallway.  HE was getting excited about getting the hallway, and his stuff, organized.  So, see, all this work does have an effect on those in your household.  As they see the results and feel the pride you are showing in your environment it seems to rub off on them.  Okay, I’ll shut up for now.

The much dreaded hallway


Microfiber cloth and mini blinds.

This is the final project in my living room.  Cleaning the mini blinds.

I had quite a good start before I remembered to take a picture of this process.  I had the right hand side finished when it hit me.

Cleaning mini blinds

It is not necessary to run right out and purchase microfiber cloths.  An old t-shirt, worn terry cloth wash rag, even a sock will suffice for this project.  The size of the fabric you choose needs to be about the size of a wash cloth.  I am using an automobile washing rag I purchased a long time ago from Auto Zone.  They can be found in the car cleaning section of the store.  I purchased a set of five microfiber cloths for $4.99.  The household microfiber cloths at Wal-Mart, Target, or Bed Bath and Beyond are just a tad bit more expensive, but not by much.

Microfiber cloth

You will need a cloth that will tuck easily between the vinyl slats of the mini blinds.  The cloth should be able to move freely, back and forth, along the slat without getting bunched up while in use.

Vinyl mini blind slat

The cloth will wrap around your fingers to act as a “mitt” while gripping the slat and moving the cloth side to side while cleaning.  Your other hand will need to steady the slat at the opposite side of the slat to keep tension on both the slat and the whole mini blind.   Whew, that is quite a number of “slats” I’ve used.  Otherwise you will just be making the mini blind dance around banging the window and walls while your hand is stationery.  Might be fun to watch but it doesn’t accomplish much 😉

Cleaning mini blinds

Cleaning solutions are simple.  You don’t need to have harsh chemical cleaners to do this job.  Here are some suggestions.

  1. 2 gallons of really warm water with 1/2 cup white vinegar.
  2. Windex sprayed on both sides of each slat.  NOTE:  Windex will over spray onto you window which will require further work on your part to clean your windows as well.  I’m just too stinkin’ lazy to go that far.
  3. Plain very warm tap water.
  4. 2 gallons of really warm tap water with 1/3 cup of Borax.
  5. 2 gallons of really warm water with 3 Tablespoons of bleach.

I use Borax for my washing jobs.  There is no odor to Borax, does not hurt your hands, will NOT stain carpets or drapes should any water drip.  Borax is available in the laundry aisle of your grocery store.  Usually, it is high on the top shelves.

Add some very warm water to your kitchen sink, or a bucket.

Approximately 2 gallons of very warm water

This is Borax, as you can well see 😉

Borax.  Found in the laundry aisle

I just pour the Borax into the palm of my hand then dump it in the sink.  Swirl the powder around in the water until it dissolves.  Some of the Borax will clump in the strainer and become hard.  When that happens just pinch the clumps and they will break up and dissolve.

Approximately 1/3 cup of Borax.  A palm full is enough

Many cleaning books and internet articles tell you to use a “Damp Cloth”.  What is a damp cloth?  How wet is a damp cloth?  How dry is a damp cloth?  Indeed, I can say damp cloth several more times I think.

This is the best way I have found to have a wet cloth that does not drip nor leave wet smears that have to be dried afterwards.  The cloth will be wet enough to do the job yet dry enough so the whipping tail won’t be splattering you with dirty water.

Thoroughly drench your cloth in the warm water.  Hold the cloth above the water by any two of the top edges.

Fully drench the rag in water

Fold the cloth in half while it is still dripping wet.

While soaking wet, fold the rag in half

Fold the cloth in half once again.  No squeezing just yet.

Still wet, fold the rag in half yet again

Now fold the cloth in half from top to bottom.  Squeezing will begin.

Fold wet rag in half from top down

Get a good grip on both ends of the folded cloth and begin twisting.

Grip both ends of the rag and begin twisting

Twist some more.  The water is not all out of the cloth.

Keep twisting

Keep twisting, you will see there is still water coming out of the cloth.

Twist some more

When the cloth begins to cork screw in your hands the squeezing is finished.  The only water remaining will be on your hands, which can be wiped off on the cloth as you go to your cleaning job.

When the twisting trys to cork screw you are done

Move the cloth around in your cleaning process as you go along.  When an area of the cloth becomes highly soiled find a cleaner spot to continue cleaning.  When the cloth is full of the dirt and dust it is time to go clean the cloth out in your sink of water.  Swishing well in the water and do the folding and squeezing thing all over again.

This nasty rag….

Dirt and dust stained cloth

And this nasty water….

Yucky water from the dirt and dust

Results in clean mini blinds that you can be proud of.

Clean blinds.  YES

USER FRIENDLY TIPS:

  1. Progress, no matter how slow, is still PROGRESS.
  2. On a tight budget, cleaning mini blinds that are not broken is more cost effective than purchasing new blinds.
  3. This is very tedious work, cleaning the blinds, it is helpful to have music playing that you enjoy.
  4. No one from outside can see much of you, and only barely  hear you.  Sing along with your favorite artist.
  5. Have children over the age of 5?  Trick them into doing a slat or two while you dance around the clean room to the music 😀
  6. Don’t have any children at home?  When the 15 minute timer goes off do some solo dancing of your own before you reset the timer.
  7. If you are physically incapable of reaching the top half of the slats, ask someone that can to join you in this project.  While they do the top half on one window you do the bottom half of the other window.  When both are completed then switch sides.
  8. If it is too difficult for you to get down on your knees to do the bottom part of the blinds, ask someone that can get down to help you.
  9. If you have one of those fuzzy mini blind cleaner things, and it is easier on your pain wracked body to do this job, by all means get that tool out and use it.
  10. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS!

My  next post will be about saying good-bye to some dear friends.

Parting with favorite stuffed animals


Computers have changed the world.

Way, way, back in 1984 I worked at Arizona State University in the Agriculture Department in a pool of secretaries.  One of the professors had a computer he used to write his papers.  This was so long ago.  I mean nearly eons ago when floppy disks were inserted in drive slots to make the dumb box come alive.  Without the operating disks the computer couldn’t do anything on its own.  Things have changed since then and the computer has taken over homes and businesses all over the world.

When desk top computers first came out they were lauded by many.  This was to be the answer to PAPER!  Uhm, it has been my experience that computers CREATE more paper than any typewritten letter or memo with accompanying carbon copies ever did.

Along with the mounds of paper these machines spit out they also come with another massive headache no typewriter ever did.

More wires

Cords and wires!  It is astounding the number of cords necessary for the different electronic devices I use in my business and personal life.  There are, a minimum, of TWO cords for each device.  None of them are marked by the manufacturer.  If a person disconnects these devices without knowing which cord goes with what device it is a nightmare to sort out the tangled mess.

Just a quick side note here.  I started this deep cleaning campaign on December 12th.  It was December 17th when I arrived at this section of my living room and the cleaning process.

Back to the area at hand.  The computer cords.  There are many products you can purchase to help you keep track of all the cords that go to your devices.  There are also some cheap ways to do the same thing.

There are cord tabs you can purchase from office supply stores.  I bought these two from The Container Store in Denver, Colorado when we were visiting family about 5 years back.

Blank cord tabs.  You can write on the white space the name of the device the cord is attached to.  A pen or a sharpie marker work well.

Blank cord tabs

Labeled cord tabs can be purchased as well.  These were, originally, for the entertainment center but as you can see I haven’t used them yet.

Labeled cord tabs

Each of these cost about $2 a set.  The prices range from $2 to $7 depending on where you buy them.  If you have a lot of devices, as I do, this cost can go right up there.

The cheap way you can do this is with Scotch Tape and a sharpie marker.  Pull a length of tape from the dispenser, wrap one end securely around the cord then fold the tape tail back on itself.  This “flag” will be the place for you to write the name of the device with the sharpie pen.  Make sure to flag both ends of the cord if it disconnects from the device.  You’ll see what I  mean later.

You can also use a Label Making device.  This particular one is no longer available.  We’ve had it since about 1998.  I don’t even know if we can find the tape refills for this machine any longer 😦

Label maker machine

Joe shows you how to attach the label to the cord.  You would do the same thing if using Scotch Tape.  I had to get cranky with him to hold still so the photo is a bit wobbly.  Secure one end of the sticky label, or tape, to the cord then wrap the remaining label, or tape, back on itself to make a flag.

Wrap the label around the cord

Just like that you have a tag you can see and read.  You will also know what that cord belongs to if you ever have to remove it from the device.

Done!  Labeled cord

I have three outlet strips to power all the devices I use.  Most of them were on my desk and took up so much space I had crap falling off my desk all the time.  Some of the cord plugs, the larger ones, were warm to the touch and I was always fearful I would have a fire.  I am paranoid about fire in my home since we live in a mobile home and they have a tendency to flash burn in a second.  A little exaggeration there but not by much.

Joe used his handyman skills and his tools to hang my power strips on the wall behind my desk.

Power strips mounted to the wall

Am I ever thankful for my many talented husband 😀

I have a Lacie External Hard Drive as one of my devices.  This little sucker has quite a number or cords.  One cord goes to the wall outlet, another cord goes to the external hard drive itself, yet another cord goes to the computer from the external hard drive.  That is from just one device!

The power cord for the Lacie Drive is labeled near the plug thing-a-ma-bob.

Power cord

All of the cords leading to, and from, the device are labeled.

The device cords

 

More devices, more labels.

Other devices labeled

These labels are for the connecting cords to the internet router and where all they get attached.

The internet router

Some cords get connected directly into the back of the computer.

Devices that plug into the computer

Each device has a power cord.  The “Hub” is a little thing that connects to the computer and allows all the other devices to be plugged into one area and talk to the computer.

Power cord to the "Hub"

The “Hub” and all its tentacles.

The "Hub" connecting the cords to the computer

After getting all the devices dusted and cleaned, clearing off my desk and cleaning it well, then putting everything back and reconnecting all the wires and cords Joe got out his stash of wire ties and went to work securing that tangled mess of wires to my desk and getting them out of the way.  More tidy and less of an eyesore.

Wires all labeld and contained

That looks so much better!

This small, and final, wall section of our living room didn’t take the full four hours to complete the deep cleaning ritual I had been on.  It has taken a full five days to work my way round the room CLOCKWISE from entry way outward and back.  I’ve had to make a dumpster run daily to clean out my vacuum cleaner.

Dust and dirt collected.

Filthy dust and dirt contained and outta here!  All that is necessary  now for this room is to do a daily vacuum of the open floor area, which hardly takes any time at all, and a quick swipe with the Swiffer Duster.  Spic and Span living room and I feel so much better.

Tomorrows post will be about mini blinds.

Cleaning mini blinds

USER FRIENDLY TIPS:

  1. Goal setting in small areas of your home at a time keeps you sane.
  2. Small amounts of time, even one hour, make a huge difference in how you feel about what you are accomplishing.
  3. At the end of your cleaning time STOP right there.  Don’t go any further with the cleaning.
  4. Tomorrow will be another day to work on more of it.
  5. Be kind to yourself and make sure to acknowledge your hard work as you move through the room to see the work you have accomplished.
  6. Depression can be triggered by doing TOO MUCH WORK and you will end up bashing yourself over failure to complete the task.
  7. Setting a time goal will allow you to be with your family or doing things you really love to do.  You will accomplish more by doing less.  Truly you will.
  8. The ultimate goal is to get you back into your family’s loving embrace and not being avoided because you are cranky.
  9. If you do become cranky, allow yourself a small amount of time to be cranky.  Then get over yourself and go do something fun.

 


Curiosities of a Curio Cabinet.

Before I go any further in this post I need to state that this is NOT the “Flylady way” of cleaning.  I am having to cram three months of work in a little over a month and a half.

We got home from the road around November 8th.  The first couple of weeks were focused on getting my paperwork done while all the crap surrounded me and the dust kept piling up.  Joe had so many doctor appointments during those weeks that it was difficult to stay completely focused on my tasks.  Then Thanksgiving arrived and there were two days of feast prep while I stood in as Joe’s “Sous Chef”.  The day after Thanksgiving I got back to my paperwork for another couple of weeks.  Once the paperwork was out of the way then I could turn  my attention to the house cleaning.

I DO NOT advise anyone to take on these big projects.  I have been a bit snappy of late because I have not had much down time since we got home.  The ungrateful martyr has shown herself a time or two…..on Christmas Day to be exact…..because I’m getting really tired.

Usually, or at least in the past five years, I have until late March or mid April to begin thinking about getting back on the road with Joe.  He normally goes out by himself from January through March leaving me to take the time I need to get this work done and spread it over three months.  Not this year.  Due to Joe’s many illnesses we have to get back to work to pay the mounting medical bills.

Whine over.

This is a photo from my winter cleaning of 2011.  The red bag holds our Christmas tree.  The rolling cart to the left, along with the piles of Joe’s boxes and some of my junk, had been hidden from you by the tree.

A rolling cart in the corner

This little section of wall was the next days work.  Yesterday’s post I left off with the bookcases and wire hanging.  Once again, I had a goal of four hours to do the deep cleaning.  I set my timer for 15 minutes, as I have done all along.

The current cleaning project

The first part was to get the furniture moved out into the middle of the room….except for the Curio Cabinet, that stayed right were it was.  I vacuumed the wall and top of the curtain.  The next 15 minutes were spent on the carpet where my recliner chair had been and I used an upholstery tool for my vacuum on my chair to remove all the dust.  The next 15 minutes was spent in vacuuming and dusting the rolling cart and getting all the CDs and office supplies rounded up and stored away.

Cart moved

That case of printer paper which had taken up residence out in the middle of the floor had been emptied and….

Case of paper

Stored away in the bottom area of the rolling cart.  Along with my file folders.

Office supplies stored

I have a “love/hate” relationship with my Curio Cabinet.  I LOVE it because it houses all the strange treasures we accumulate in our travels. I HATE it because it is all glass and I have not found a product – other than plain old straight vinegar – to clean glass without leaving streaks.

Curio Cabinet before

The top shelf holds the blown glass pieces that Joe would bring home to me before I started driving.  The odd mixture of things he found I hold dear.  Now for an “awwww, that is so sweet” moment.  Teary eyed, Joe told me this about why he bought me little things from the road.

  • “When I was out on the road by myself I missed having you with me.  Waking up alone, eating alone, and being alone was not fun for me.  When I stopped at a truck stop and saw something that I thought you would like to have I kept it with me, right beside me, as I drove trying to get home.  That way, I actually had YOU right next to me.  Once I got home and gave the thing to you then I had the task of finding something else to bring you.  Just so I would have a piece of you with me all the time.”

Top shelf

The second shelf is an odd mixture of things.  Small military vehicles my Sister gave to Joe one Christmas, a box of cigarettes my Son-In-Law brought home from his trip to China, and more of the glass items from Joe.  Also the wash cloth animal thing we found on our bed at Disney World when we stayed there.  Don’t tell them we stole their wash cloths 😉

Second shelf

The next shelf is a mixture of Joe’s magical mechanical glass things, knives he has found, more of the glass from Joe, and the most treasured items are the “Thank You” gifts from some of the military people we meet on the road and buy their meals.

Third shelf

We’ve had several military personnel cut the badges off their uniforms and give them to us.  We so appreciate our United States Military people who volunteer their lives to keep us safe.  Neither Joe, nor I, agree with the war effort but we DO SUPPORT the men and women that sacrifice family and home for us.

Military badges

We were given a “Coin” by one person.  These don’t have a financial value but they do have a value for the Regiment, or whatever it is called that the soldier belongs to.  These coins are HEAVY and they are exquisite.  This is the back side of the coin.

Military coin back

This is the front side of the coin.

Military coin front

Down to the next shelf.  Joe’s collection of hats.  The yellow one is from his business, long ago, when he was a crop duster in Kansas.  Listening to his stories of his younger days I’m so glad I met him when he was older.  He was quite an arrogant show off in his younger days.  I have been after him for several years to get his stories written down.  He has some fantastic stories to tell.

Fourth shelf

Finally, the bottom shelf .  Our trip to Oklahoma City to see the “Phantom Of The Opera”.  I didn’t want to go to an opera.  I dug my feet in, whined a lot, gave Joe a miserable several days.  AM I GLAD HE DIDN’T CAVE IN.  I would have missed out on something fantastic.  There is memorabilia from his Prostate Cancer treatments, money from Canada when he delivered trucks to Kamloops, Canada a couple years back, gifts from  his children, and just oddities of our lives.

Bottom of cabinet

Once that monster was cleaned inside and out, leaving the house to smell strongly of vinegar I went on to the paper shredder.  Good grief, that thing can make a ton of paper dust.

Paper shredder

We traded out a microwave cart from the kitchen to hold our printers.  More of the wire hanging was done in this corner and the rest of the walls were vacuumed as was the floor.

Microwave cart as printer station

This used to be the “Junk Drawer” in the kitchen.  Now it is empty 😀

Empty drawer

More office supplies live in the bottom of the cabinet where empty flower vases and rolls of packing tape used to live.  The hair clippers I use on Joe remain in this cabinet because there is no place else to store them.

Supplies

This section took just a little over three hours to do.  I called it a day and quit.  By this time my back is sore, my arms are sore, and I’m waffling between being grumpy and totally stoked because my living room is getting clean.

USER FRIENDLY TIP:

  1. Progress made in small increments creates HUGE changes.
  2. As you walk into the room you are working on praise yourself for the work you have already done.
  3. DON’T focus on the work yet to do.  That will dishearten you and we don’t want that.
  4. Repurpose furniture to fit your needs.  It might not fit in with the furniture you do have but it serves a purpose.
  5. What are your most cherished things?  Do you have a way to display them?  Find a way to put some of YOU in the space.  Honor yourself by doing that.  This little thing means that you care about  yourself and are honoring your spirit.

Tomorrow’s post will be about more wires and the tangled web they weave in our lives.

More wires

Leslie


Hanging it all up. The wires that is.

Getting my living room deep cleaned took an entire week to do.  In the past I would have done it all in a very long day and spent the rest of the week griping and complaining about no one appreciating the hard work I had done.

On this particular day I focused on the entertainment center and the other bookcase.  My  husband is a voracious reader of murder mystery, military mystery, and just about any kind of “Who Done It” there is.  He has a few authors that are his favorite and has collected most of their books.  Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Lee Child, Robert B. Parker, W.E.B Griffin, Brad Thor, Lawrence Block, Jonathan Kellerman, Dale Brown, and he is working on the collection now of John Sanford.  There are several more authors that I can’t think of right now.  My personal collection of books are Elizabeth George, Jean M. Auel, and J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series.  I’m not much of a reader any longer since I get lost away from the “real world” with my crafting when I need to get out of my head.

The top of the entertainment center has a coating of dust on everything.  With my vacuum and my step stool I got up there and took everything off.  Made a decision what was to be put back up, given away, or stored somewhere else in the house.  I used the vacuum to get all the accumulated dust  sucked up.  I also used the vacuum on the items removed.  Most things then got a good wiping with a dust cloth.

Once again, I set my goal for four hours and had my timer set for 15 minute intervals.  During each of the 15 minutes I hopped from one shelf to another.  Removing books or items on one shelf, vacuuming when necessary and dusting what needed it.  When the timer went off I started on a different shelf.  If I didn’t finish one shelf during the previous 15 minutes I left it to work on later.

This allowed me time to decided where I wanted to put things.  Sort through the books to find duplicates and start getting the books in author order.

The entertainment center

The other bookcase was a bit difficult to get to because the Christmas tree (left up from last year) was in the way.  Breaking up the work into 15 minute intervals and hopping from one section of this mess to another made my job easier in the long run.  The books on this, sort of, hidden bookcase were all removed and cleaned.  Once the piece of furniture was cleaned and free of STUFF I had to move it out of the way to access the walls for vacuuming and cleaning the floor.

I can’t believe it, but, this entertainment center and the two bookcases have been Joe’s for years.  They have been with US for 22 years and he had them before he met me.  They are a bit tattered in places but they do their intended job.

The other bookcase

Back, once again, to the entertainment center and working on the lower shelves in the same way.  Good grief this thing was dusty!

Rest of the entertainment center Having the bookcase out of the way made it easier for Joe to get at the rat’s nest of wires on the floor.  Some of the wires are so delicate that I was always fearful of tearing or breaking one while moving the heavy furniture around.

The rat's nest of wires

The first to be dealt with is the thick satellite cable that comes in from the outside through a hole in the wall.  Joe is a great handyman and always has the necessary tools to do the work I need done.  The telephone wire that has found a place to rest on the Christmas tree has been a sore point with  me for many years.  Why the satellite dish needs to be connected to a telephone line is beyond me.

Getting the wires hung

We purchased this wire hanging kit from IKEA almost five years ago.  Finally getting some use out of this set.

Kit from IKEA

The satellite wire and the speaker wires are run under the chair rail along the wall and up off the floor.  This might be a little thing to one person but to me this is a major thing.  Takes worry off my mind about those fragile wires.

Satellite and speaker wires hung

Rounding the corner with the speaker wire is made possible by those nifty wire hook, clamp, doo dad, thingys.  You’ll see them up close and in action down further.

Rounding the corner

This is the wire hanging doo dad for the satellite cable.  This which-a-ma-call-it is included in the set from IKEA.

Large wire clip

The smaller wires are held fast with these little who’s its.

Small wire clip

The little wire doo dads also were used to get that flaming telephone wire up off the Christmas tree and finally out of sight.  The unsightly caulk spots on all of my walls makes me crazy.  The spots are clean 🙂 and we will live with them  until I get up the gumption, and ambition, to paint the walls.  THAT won’t be happening anytime soon so you will just have to deal with my caulk spots if they bother you.

Along the ceiling

 

While the telephone wire ran along the ceiling the speaker wires ran just under the chair rail along the outer wall.

Along the chair rail

Having those books and shelves cleaned, the wires hung, and the walls done in this area was a lot of work but so rewarding.  I did end up going over my four hour goal by 30 minutes because of getting the wires hung and the floor cleaned where the bookcase was moved to and filled with books.

Cleaned and moved

USER FRIENDLY TIP:

  1. Setting small goals makes the process easier to handle.
  2. Wishing you had updated furniture when you can’t afford to purchase new won’t take care of your cleaning problem.
  3. After doing all this hard work make sure to give yourself the praise you need for doing a fantastic job.
  4. Whether you realize it or not, others are watching you and are enjoying the transformation as well.
  5. Stay your course and see this through.  You will begin to find the joy in your home once again.

A word of caution here is needed as well.  Once your family members see what you are doing they WILL get on board.  You will be asked to help them with a project in a different part of the house.  IT IS OKAY to tell them “No”.  You are working on your project and will help them when you can or when you get to that part of the house.

For goodness sake.  DON’T go and ruin the happiness you have growing in your heart by taking on more than you are willing to do right now.  If your family member(s) gets bent out of shape, well…..”they will get glad in the same pants they got mad in”.  In other words, they will get over it.

Remember this.  YOU are only one person and can only do as much as you are physically capable of before you crash and burn.  Or do further harm to your body that hurts and rebels now.

Take a few minutes to read these “Fly-Baby Testimonials” that are on the Flylady website, if you haven’t already read them.  They will give your poor beleaguered heart a boost and make this cleaning process easier to face.  Be kind to yourself and the rest will fall in place.

Leslie

 


The “Crusher” is on standby….just in case I need to be saved.

Joe is fierce.  Grrr!  He can strike fear into the heart of spiders everywhere.  No spider can hide from him very long.  Grrr!

The "Crusher"

I tell you, even the smallest spider scares the fool out of me.  Those dang things bite me.  They gang up on me I tell you.  There just has to be at least one of those beasties lurking and waiting for me.

You might be wondering about the photo of Joe I have chosen to use.  I take pictures all the time.  NOT VERY GOOD ONES, but I do take a lot of photos.  When I first got started scrapbooking, and thought I was totally awesome at it ;-), I dug up several photos of Joe throughout the  years to showcase my “Man For All Seasons” :D.  This was my Anniversary gift to him way back around 2003.  It is crooked, wonky, and none of the papers match.  Joe was so happy with it he took it to Michaels to have it framed.  That must have been a conversation piece 😀

My "Man For All Seasons"

Okay, back to the business at hand and the topic of spiders.  Just look at the evidence of a squatter that has taken up residence!

Spider webs

No, this is not a haunted house, although it might be getting close to being one 😦  There is more evidence of, both, the spider and a seemingly haunted house.  Just look at this web suspended from the lamp shade.

Web hanging from the lamp shade

You might wonder why, exactly, I am choosing to bear my soul here by showing you my filthy house.  The reason is because there are many people that get stuck in the limbo of dread and self hatred.  Count me in on both!  Dread because the task at hand is massive.  Looking around this living room all I see is dust, dirt, clutter, and total chaos.

My “Pre-Flylady” days I would spend hours and days cleaning.  I’d devote my entire day to the job, sometimes several days.  By the time I was finished I was the meanest person you would ever want to meet.  Snappy, judgmental, demanding, mean, and downright *itchy.  I made everyone miserable because I was miserable, and I felt like no one appreciated me.  In short, I was a broom riding, drama queen in high dudgeon, and a martyr to boot.

I don’t, exactly, follow the Flylady since I’m not home daily to do it.  But I do appreciate and use her methods when I’m home.  I don’t have children to tend to, a job I have to leave for daily, or any other obligations save for getting meals made for Joe and the grocery shopping once a week.

Four hours a day is my goal.  Sometimes I can get a section done before the allotted time, other days the section is left half finished.  I have the rest of the day to recuperate from the strenuous work of shifting furniture and deep cleaning.  The satisfaction I feel to see the progress in motion is enough to banish the negative thoughts that run rampant in my head.

The first phase of the deep cleaning in the living room begins on this wall.  I live in a mobile home so the ceilings are not “cathedral” in height and a step stool, on occasion, is all the extra I need.  The hazy pallor of dust is on everything.

First phase of the cleaning begins here.

Immediately to the left of the door is a book shelf that is about to have an avalanche.  As a matter of fact, I think it already has.

Jam packed book case

Clutter on an end table.  This is what is known as a “Hot Spot” in Flylady lingo.

End table covered with clutter

Boxes of Christmas stuff that has taken root in this very spot since around 2006.  Time to get it cleared out and moved to a better place.

Christmas stuff that needs to be stored somewhere else.

Get my timer close to hand once again.  Have a dust rag, Pledge, and my Dyson vacuum cleaner nearby.  Everything along the wall I have chosen will be moved, vacuumed, dusted, and decluttered.  I will split my time and tasks up to include the jam packed bookcase as well as the seating area to the doorway.

Start the timer and start with moving the furniture away from the wall.  Next will be to vacuum the wall and then the carpet that is tucked up to the wall.

I won’t be doing any wall washing or painting this year.  Vacuuming the dust off the wall will make a huge difference in how the room looks and smells.  I pick a 2 foot wide section from the ceiling down to the floor and stay within that area until I have covered the entire vertical length of the wall and floor.  If the timer hasn’t gone off just yet then I move on to the next 2 foot section of the wall and floor.

Vacuum the walls

Getting the dust that accumulates along the wall at the carpet with the attachments gets at those spider webs and sucks up any of those beasties along the way.

Vaccum the floor along the wall

When the timer goes off then I go to Joe’s table and get it cleared of clutter, vacuum the dust on the table.  Suck up the spider webs that have attached themselves there and then spray the table with Pledge and give it a good cleaning.  The lamp shade gets vacuumed, as does the foot plate.  It all gets a good wiping with the dust rag.  The timer went off while I was in the middle of giving Joe’s chair a thorough vacumming.  I left it to finish at another 15 minute period.

The bookcase was started.  I only did one shelf at a time.  Taking the books down, giving each one a good vacuuming and dusting the covers.  The shelves were vacuumed and dusted.  When the timer went off I went back to Joe’s chair.  I continued on this way between the wall and seating area and the bookcase until the 4 hour time limit was up.

Christmas stuff was put in the closet.

Christmas stuff stored

I took away Joe’s table and used it as a landing place for other stuff of Joe’s and my cleaning tools for the vacuum.  That went near the doorway.

Joe's end table is now near the door as a "landing area"

The wall and seating area is now clean and bright.  I still can’t believe how much dust was in that space.

Wall area finally cleaned of all dust

The CD tower with the audio books has been moved to a new location.  The duplicate books are in a bin to be taken to the library and donated.

Duplicate books in the bin to be donated to the library

Just look at the dust and stuff that I cleaned up just along this wall, seating area, and the first bookcase.

Dust and dirt collected.

Joe now has a special piece of furniture to replace the end table I stole from him.  There are bags of stuff ready to be taken to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Finally!  One area of my home that is clean.

Clean seating area

User Friendly Tip:

  1. Work for three of the 15 minute timed sessions.
  2. On the fourth 15 minute session go get something to drink.  You will need to replenish the fluids you sweated out.
  3. While on your break, do something enjoyable.  Check your emails or read a blog, send out tweets of your accomplishments.
  4. When the timer goes off get started working once again for another three sessions of 15 minutes then a rest break.
  5. If you finish your section before the time allotted then celebrate your accomplishment.  Leave the rest of the work for tomorrow.
  6. Each time you walk past the clean area say out loud, to yourself, “I did that!”
  7. If you only have one hour available to do the work then still take the 15 minute break after the third session.
  8. Know that your time is VALUABLE.  Give yourself a break.  There is only you and there are tons of things on your plate.  Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to spend  hours and hours at cleaning.
  9. The goal is to get your house clean, your mental state back into being upbeat and feeling good about yourself, and to respect your time and any physical limitations.
  10. This is NOT A MARATHON where you collapse and die at the finish line.  This is “Baby Steps” to reaching your goal.

I have a video I made showing the process of clearing the boxes out of my living room.  It is amazing the amount of crap we end up taking home with us.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.  I hope you are enjoying your family time.  My wishes for you are that you remember the “Reason for the Season” of Christ’s birth and also have had a bit of child like glee in your heart over Santa’s visit during the night.

Leslie