20 06 2012

Why does it take you so long to vacuum?  I’m glad you asked.

Get vacuum out of closet, unwrap cord, and plug in. 30 seconds.

Notice dog nose smears on window, get rags and cleaner, clean window and windowsill.  3 min.

Notice other windows have dog smears including the back patio door, continue cleaning all windows within reach of dog nose. 5 min.

Notice plant by back door is dusty and in need of trim.  Find scissors, trim and rotate plant. 1 min.

Back to vacuum.  I am now 10 minutes into vacuuming but haven’t turned it on yet.

Notice couch is frumpy and in need of a detox.  Lightly spray couch and pillows… and dog’s chair while I’m at it (WIAI).  2 min.

Notice end table is sticky when setting spray bottle down.  Get a clean rag out and wash/dry table.  Clean light switches WIAI on the way to drop the now-sticky rag into the washing machine.  5 min.

Start vacuuming, ignoring the light globes that need washing and the black entertainment center components that are a dusty shade of gray, but not the piece of Christmas wrapping paper peeking out from behind the couch.  (“How long has that been there?” I wonder, in a dazzling display of mental duh-ness.  “Since Christmas,” I answer myself, giving myself a mental headslap, since my hands are holding the vacuum handle and the shard of wrapping paper.)  Living room floor is vacuumed. 10 min.

Now I deal with the light globes and dusty entertainment center. 15 min.

Standing on the dining room table removing the light globes, I notice the couch spray on the table, so I flip the cushions, vacuum them and under them (such a lot of crumbs for a couple who don’t have a lot of parties!) and spray the whole thing again.  18 min.

One hour later, I am pushing the vacuum through the kitchen into the family room.

There are four more carpeted rooms in my house.  My husband can vacuum them all in 30 minutes.

This is one of the few times I wish for male-pattern blindness.


Foil Folding

18 10 2010

Today I threw a brick of dried-out, moldy cream cheese away. Again. That happens frequently in this kitchen. Every couple of months I toss another one, barely used, into the trashcan.

To do the math-if I’ve thrown away 6 bricks this year with only about 1/4 used, that’s 4.5 bricks wasted. That means in my 28 years as chief-cook-and-refrigerator-cleaner I’ve thrown away more than 20 packages. That’s TEN POUNDS!! Ten pounds of yummy, gooey cream cheese dried and moldy instead of piled on bagels and raisin bread.

So guess what I did tonight in a flash of inspiration after throwing the latest progressing science experiment in the garbage while toasting some fresh raisin bread? I opened the drawer of plastic containers, found one about the same size as 8 ounces of cream cheese, and plopped in a fresh new brick.

Why did it take me so long to figure out this quick, and potentially thrifty trick? Why have I been stuck in this pattern of trying to fold the foil wrapper up tighter each time, hoping it will keep the cheese fresh… while knowing it wouldn’t?

Isn’t Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results”?

28 years of Major Food Fail!

The frightening part, though, is asking myself what else I continue to do that doesn’t work, simply because that’s the way I’ve always done it. No thought involved, no trouble shooting, just default foil-folding.

This week I’ll be looking with fresh and searching eyes for habits that I continue to practice that don’t work. If you think of any (mine or yours) please leave a comment. I’m trading foil folding for airtight containers.

Peace on the rooftop

28 07 2009

Just a couple more photos from today before I head to bed….  and sweet peace.

(Read Uncovered, below to make sense of the pics.)

Very large and spikey frozen missiles

Very large and spikey frozen missiles

Patient Impatiens

Patient Impatiens

Ripped shingle, rusty nail

Ripped shingle, rusty nail

Solid panels of honey-colored plywood

Solid panels of honey-colored plywood

Rest and peace

Rest and peace


27 07 2009

Today it’s our turn to fill the neighborhood with nail-gun syncopation.  In June a hailstorm picked our town to rescue the roofing industry from the recession.  To make sure the honor was bestowed properly and completely, the sky launched frozen spikey stones larger than golf balls at houses, neon signs, windows, and vehicles for an incredibly long quarter-hour.

One of the smaller (1-inch), but more beautiful hailstones

One of the smaller (1-inch), but more beautiful hailstones

The next onslaught went on for weeks—contractors and sales people rang our doorbell, called on the phone, and left fliers in our screen door.  A pile of literature grew on our counter… and then landed in the recycling “Paper Retriever” at church.

Banging, scraping, and constant machine gun-like firing has been the next wave, and today we are adding to the cacophony.  Yesterday, the neighbor’s roofers punctuated my Sunday afternoon nap.  Today, ours will shorten their children’s naps.  (I imagine they didn’t take naps at all yesterday when the roofers were on their roof!)

Sitting under the destruction is more than unsettling—much like the storm, only longer.  My nerves haven’t recovered from last week when my husband was in the hospital.  Pictures on the walls around me are shaking, and ceiling lights are swaying.  Grandma’s heirloom coffee cup and saucer just gracefully slid from their perch on the bookshelf, thankfully landing without a chip.  There is very little material between the roofers’ feet and my journal here on the desk.  What makes this worse is that I went outside just a little bit ago to see the roof.

After mourning for my flower-friends (which are casualties—again—first the hard, white hail, now the torn, black shingles… sigh) I looked up at the naked roof.  Most of the plywood is still sunny golden just like it was when the shingles were applied.  They had performed well and protected their charge.  A couple panels on the east slope are grayed and black in areas; these the roofers avoided with careful sidesteps.  Falling through the roof into our bed is a real possibility on that part of the roof!  The contractor assured us that they will be ripped out and replaced.

Why those spots?  What had been different there from the rest of the roof?  We didn’t have any noticeable leaks inside, but there must have been a way for rain (and hail?) to get under, around, or through the shingles and damage the wood underneath.

Last week my top layer was torn off as I drove back and forth to the hospital everyday.  Lack of sleep, traffic, weird hours, and irregular meal times caused a chink allowing the uncertainty of the situation to trickle into my unprotected soul.  And now, a few pieces of my plywood need replacing.

The contractor said the roofers will be done this afternoon.  Peace is not far off.


Invisible Fur

6 07 2009

Violet Mandy

A couple of weeks ago, the two cutest dogs in the entire world were here.  Two long-haired furry (but very loving) beasts +  hot temps = dog fur shed everywhere.  Each time I vacuumed I found a small (lifeless) puppy in our bagless vacuum!

Before people guests came to visit this past weekend, I didn’t have time to vacuum again, so I bent over– down-up, down-up– all over the house, picking the black tufts from our light-colored carpeting.  Several days with our company went by, and all was well until the video-playing guests moved from the couch to the floor after I was in bed one night.

The next morning when I walked into the living room to open the curtains I was a bit confused.  There were fur clumps scattered on the floor again.  Since the dogs hadn’t been in the house and I don’t believe in spontaneous generation I used my highly-developed powers of deduction (I’m a mom!) and figured that all the moving around on the living room floor during the video game the night before must have consolidated a light, coating of un-vacuumed dog fur into tufts.  The guys’ movements forced the previously invisible fur into view.

Fur floor

Picking up tufts by hand + vacuuming the same floor = twice as much work as it would have been to vacuum the floor in the first place!  That’s why I don’t usually take shortcuts.

Happy Apple Birthday

19 06 2009

This morning after sleeping in on a luxurious day off, I had a late Birthday Breakfast.  Nothing special—two rice cakes with unsweetened peanut butter and an apple.  But in that ordinariness a blessing was waiting!

Several days ago I left a note for our son to buy milk, eggs, and a bag of apples at Aldi on his way home from work.  He did, but I’ve been so busy with work (early mornings/late nights) I hadn’t been in the fridge to see if he had remembered.  This morning as I began gathering my breakfast, I noticed the five gallons of milk and three dozen eggs.  The bag of apples was also where it should be, in the fruit drawer, and I retrieved it and set it on the counter.


As I turned to get a plate, the label caught my eye:  Chazy Orchards.  “NO WAY!” I laughed out loud!  ‘The largest MacIntosh Orchards in the World’ were just a few miles from our previous home in West Chazy, New York.  My imagination walked back to our home there, and I smiled.  Not a clear-across-my-face grin, but a wistful nod.  Troubles and heartache have continued to bombard us since moving to Indiana several years ago.  Thoughts of home in West Chazy during a simpler time surrounded me—like an ample cloak, heavy with familiar comfort.  Yet as I remembered more realistically, I realized that even after 16 years, it still hadn’t really been home.

So I asked myself where home is for me.  Working backward through the places I’ve lived, I came up empty.  Both my family growing up, and now my married family, have moved into towns and cities and not been able to become a part of the “home town” circle.  My roots go down quickly and deeply, but they have always been stunted by the clay of long-established associations.  There are places, however, which have seemed more like home than others—and it’s always been because family was nearby.

For me home=family, whether or not I have felt included in the lives of others around me.  The sadness that no place feels like home is an emotional cord that grows stronger with each heartache, tying me with growing longing to my True Home and Forever Family.  That is my home where I belong—truly belong.  That is where real family lives and loves.  That is where every good and perfect gift originates… like a bag of Chazy Orchards apples!

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