Saturday, August 21, 2010

Transitioning into maintenance mode

I'm definitely not done the major cleaning yet, but bit by bit I'm getting there. This week, the living room got cleaned, and much to Ally's delight, I took down the Harry Potter standee that I'd stapled to the wall. It now adorns the wall of her brother's bedroom, which is where it was intended to go in the first place. I covered the ratty furniture with a clean blanket (sofa) and a clean sheet (chair), no no one need be afraid to sit there anymore. And of course, I swept up a cat's worth of hair, in addition to the cat hair taken directly from the cat via combing.

I still need to mop in there (the floor is laminate, so I can do that). Ally and I were out earlier this week, and she waxed eloquent about the virtues of a Swiffer Wet-Jet. Since she usually has a horror of using disposable tools, I had to take seriously the fact that this mop was something I needed to try. So I bought one.

Of course, I didn't realize until I got it home that it needed batteries (which were, of course, not included), so it was only today that I got it put together and running.

It's easy to use, and if you don't like housework, easy is the golden word. I've done about half the dining room floor, plus my itty bitty front entrance floor (which was formerly adorned with cat puke). I still have rust stains on the floor from rusting furniture, but all the dirt on the floor where I mopped is gone, and it only took me a couple of minutes. I'll be doing the rest of the dining room and kitchen tomorrow, you can be sure. Then I'll have a go at those rust stains with a wash of vinegar, and maybe try the pumice stone, and that will be that.

The thing I like about this mop is that it's as easy to use as a broom, which means I can envision myself using it right away when I spill something. I don't have to drag out a bucket, fill it with water and soap, wet the mop, mop the floor, squeeze the mop dry, rinse the mop, empty and rinse the bucket, and put it all away. I just pull out the mop, attach a new pad if needed, and mop away. Then I put the mop back afterwards. I'll be getting rid of my old mop and bucket next week. :)

I continued on with my office cleaning as well. Now that things are mostly set, I'm into the extremely boring part--emptying the boxes and sorting what's within. Phil likes to spice things up by lying on the papers I'm sorting and getting more cat fur everywhere, and clawing at me when I'm not paying enough attention to him.

My biggest problem at this point is not the paper, but the box of "stuff" I have that I want to keep, but that doesn't have a place yet. I'm planning on sorting through all the boxes first, which will leave me with probably two or three boxes of "stuff", and once I have some clear space, I'll start finding a place for everything I want to keep. And who knows--maybe by the time I get all this done, I won't want as much of it as I think I do.

For now, the papers are getting filed or thrown out. I'm going to change to e-billing, I really am. Not only will I not have to file seven years' worth of utility bills, I won't be getting two envelopes (an outer and a reply, which I don't use because I pay online or by direct withdrawl), and a whole lot of advertising pamphlets that I generally don't read. Recycling is great, but reducing saves trees, space, and stress.

And I'm getting better at filing as stuff comes in (or at least once a week), rather than piling it up on the dining room table, putting it in a box when I can't eat off the table any more, and bringing it upstairs when I feel like it, there to moulder for years and years and years.

I truly am learning new habits that I hope will continue once the house is organized and once again fit for living in.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yes, I have made some progress this week!

I've been bad about not posting this past week, but progress continues on the cleaning front.

1) The dining room is now a lot cleaner. Still have to scrub the floors, organize the pantry and remove a bit of stuff that doesn't belong there, but I got a lot of junk out of there, and the dining room table is clear, with a clean (!) table cloth and place mats. It's a much more pleasant atmosphere to eat in, which means that I have been eating in the dining room, and not at my desk or a restaurant.

2) I started on my office tonight. Basically, I cleared junk out from the closet, where I want to put the bookshelf. I swept the dust and cat hair out of there (I took an allergy pill first, so it wasn't a killer session). I dusted off the bookshelf. I put all that dust and dirt in a box with some of the greeblies from the floor. It will have to be sorted (there's some stuff in there that belongs in the blue bag, and the rest can go in the clear bag) before I can throw it out. I then started pulling the piles of books out of the junk. I sorted the books as I shelved them. First into keepers, garage sale (there will be one coming up in two weeks), and recycling. Yes, I'm actually throwing books away! I can hear a collective gasp from my writer friends, I know, but the truth is that some books are simply too out of date, too worn out to be resold or given away. And some of the books that I threw out should never have been published in the first place, but that's another story...

After I got all the books sorted and on the shelf, I put the remaining boxes against the window as neatly as they would go. I'm going to start sorting those tomorrow, one or two boxes every day. I should be done in good time for the garage sale!

3) Of course, I've been doing other stuff than cleaning. I had a job interview on Wednesday that went very well, but I won't know until the 25th at the earliest, so I applied for three more jobs, all in my field for a change. Also heard back from two of the places I'd applied previously. They were both rejections, but one of the emails I got was very encouraging--they would have interviewed me for sure if they hadn't already filled the position. So I'm definitely going to keep looking in my field (church ministry). Somewhere out there is the perfect church for me!

I've also been managing to keep up with the maintenance work. Laundry for this week is all clean and put away, dishes are done except for the most recent ones, bathroom is still cean. So all in all, I'm making very positive progress towards my goal of having a clean and livable house!

Ally's been busy too. She took a lot of picutures last week, but didn't get them posted. Instead, she spent a lot of her time babysitting the grandchildren of a friend of mine, and painting her younger brother's room. It's not entirely altruisting, that last--now I have to take down the Harry Potter standee from my living room, and put it up in her brother's room.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Cost of Stuff

My parents are visiting this weekend, and I'm having a great time. Not getting much cleaned, but since I've pretty much done everything Ally asked me to do this week, I've got a couple of days slack. I'm managing (by the skin of my teeth some days, but I'm managing) not to backslide and make a mess of what I've previously cleaned. My bedroom's slightly messy right now, but it's nothing that five minutes' work won't right, and I did get the sheets changed. The dishes are done and mostly remain so, the bathroom vanity is still neat and tidy. So I guess I'm doing okay.

But it's hard to keep paring things down, because people just seem to want to keep giving me stuff. Not a lot this week, or any week for that matter, but if what comes in is more than what goes out, I'll have a problem in short order.

Case in point: I have enough mugs and cups. More than enough mugs and cups, actually, seeing as I have about twenty or so for my household of one person and one cat. Even counting the fact that the kids are over pretty much every day, I have more than enough mugs and cups.

And now I have one more. Because my mom is clearing out her cupboard, and there was this mug with my name on it, and she thought I should have it. To give her credit, I'm about the only person she knows who she could give it too--my name isn't that common. So I have another mug. And a bunch of file folders from the church, and two videos for my son and those boxes of wool for my daughter. So in order for things to get better, I have to get rid of some stuff if I want to keep the new stuff I've got.

Because even though this stuff was free, it's really not free at all.

There's the cost of having a two-bedroom three-story townhouse for one person, one cat, and the stuff.

There's the psychic cost of living in a big mess.

There's the monetary cost when the stuff expands to cover all available space, and I can't find that bill and I forget that I have that bill and cheques bounce.

There's the cost of the time it takes to either find a place for it or give it away if I decide I eventually don't want it.

Stuff costs, even when it's free.

The file folders, I need. I'll make room for them by getting rid of a lot of the paper I don't need. Luckily, this can go to the recycling bin at the church, and our mission fund will get money for it.

The videos won't even play at my house--I don't have a VHS player any more. They went home with my son. (To be fair, my mom asked me before she brought these. My son does enjoy James Bond.)

The wool has been sorted. What Ally didn't need is already at the thrift shop, and what she wanted to keep is sitting in her dad's living room, and is not my problem any more.

But that mug...

On the one hand, it's pretty. Nice flowers and stuff. And it does have my name on it, so everyone will know it's mine.

On the other hand, I know what my name is, and haven't managed to forget that fact in almost fifty years. Not sure I need a reminder, though I may in the future.

On the other hand (not that I have three hands, but we're speaking metaphorically here), I have a job interview on Thursday, and having a mug with your name on it at work is a distinctly good thing, if your name isn't the same as everyone else's there. And I did give two cups away to Bill just this week, so the net loss is one cup.


I think I'll keep it, and if I'm so lucky to get a job with my own office (fingers and toes are crossed at this point), I'll bring it to work with me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm In Love (With A Stone)

So it turns out that I didn't lose or throw away that old pumice stone I had. I put it away in a drawer in the bathroom, and when I went looking for a razor this morning, the first thing I found was the stone.

After half an hour's work, the toilet was shinier than it's been in a long, long time. It's so shiny that I made Ally take a picture of it, which I'm hoping she'll post soon. I'm still working on the brown spot at the very bottom--it's been years since that part was white. But the rest of it is clean!

I found out that the stone works on the tub, too, at least on those stubborn rust and calcium deposits. I still have to use degreaser and scrubbing powder for the ring, but that part's the easy one. The bathtub should be white by the time Ally goes through the house with the camera again on Sunday.

Inertia is a very powerful force. It's really hard to overcome it and get started on something, but once started, I find it almost impossible to stop until I'm done. I've made some good strides today.

Last night, eldest son and the ex did some lugging for me, and some of the old, heavy stuff went down to the basement, where it will stay until we have enough together between two households to justify renting a truck to haul it away. Hopefully, that will happen later this month or early next.

This afternoon I started organizing my cupboards, and threw out a fair number of broken, soiled or otherwise useless containers, a whole lot of lids that had no containers, and then organized the remaining containers so that I know what I have. As I said to Ally, the biggest problem with having a big mess is you don't know what you've got or where it is, so if you need something, instead of using what you have, you go out and buy more.

Clearing up my mess has also helped with my mood, and I've been more proactive in looking for employment. Yesterday I filled out the two applications I picked up, and I took them back today, and picked up two more to fill out. I also emailed an application. So hopefully something will turn up soon on the job front.

I'll leave you with this comment from Ally: She said that the best aide in cleaning a kitchen or cooking is a playlist of music that you like to sing along to, but that everyone else in the house hates. Then you can enjoy what you're doing, and everyone else will run away and hide, and not give you any 'helpful' suggestions. Today our playlist included Beatles music, which isn't offensive to anyone in our family, but we did enjoy singing along, I while I chucked out containers, and she while she crocheted some new disclothes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Lovliest Sound in the World

It's garbage collection day today--a day later than normal because of the Civic Holiday yesterday. And on garbage collection days I wake up to a sound that is either the most wonderful sound in the world, or the most annoying sound in the world, depending on whether or not I got my garbage out to the curb the night before.

Yes, it's the sound of the garbage truck picking up all my trash.

It's at that point that I feel that those bags I threw out the night before (or in some cases, the minute before) are really gone, and no longer my problem. Because in our municipality, if the garbage isn't sorted right, it isn't picked up.

So anyhow, that's a whole lot of trash off my conscience.

As well, Ally and I did sort through the wool yesterday. Phil helped, too. He was very interested in our project, especially when I was untangling a whole bunch of macrame cord, some of which was in short pieces. He made sure they didn't escape.

We took the one box of stuff we didn't like to the thrift shop, and came back with a piece of material for Ally to make into curtains. Total cost, $3.38. We had a bit of discussion about whether the curtains should be for the dining room or the office, and decided on the dining room, because it will cut down on algae formation in the goldfish tank.

Which leads me to: I cleaned the tank! The goldfish are very happy. I snitched some more plants from the upstairs tank for them to munch on. I'm going to time it, and see how long it takes them to eat them all. (Note: These are plants that grow like weeds in my other tank, which is filled with tropical fish.)

I also mangaed to do all of the dishes. Yes. ALL of the dishes, even the roasting pan that had been soaking for about a month. The only dishes left are the breakfast dishes from this morning.

The final thing I did yesterday was the floor in the bathroom. It really wasn't as bad as it looked--mostly dust and hair (mine and Phil's) matted together, and it wiped up well with a cloth. I still need to give a final mop and polish, but it's already much improved in there.

As for the toilet, on the advice of several internet friends, I went looking for a pumice stone with which to clean the remaining brown spot on the bottom of the toilet. Couldn't find one at all in Wal-Mart, where it was suggested to look. Dang it! I used to have one to care for my feet, which tend to callous, and I threw it out! I knew I should have kept it! (Except that's what got me into trouble in the first place...)

So on to today. While in Wal-Mart and Value Village, I picked up application forms. Gotta fill them out and take them back, and apply for two other positions I know about. Then I'm going to finish up the dining room, and put everything away, excpet for the heavy stuff. The heavy stuff is going in the basement tomorrow--I got the ex to promise that he and eldest son would come over and heave stuff for a bit.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I'm going to post more later, but I do need to clarify a few things:

1) The number of times I called her for clarification was ONE. Yes, one is a number, but it hardly counts as pestering. (ETA: I also emailed her once or twice, but not every day. Sheesh! I'm her mother, and I love her. She should call more often...)

2) As for the toilet paper thingy, may I remind my loving taskmistress who it was who taught me the wonders of Stumbleupon? So there!

3) Yes, the maker of the curtains and the dolls is quite a talented young lady. I need curtains for the office and the dining room, please. My birthday's in two weeks. *grin*

4) That 'dust bunny' under the bed has CLAWS. You were indeed lucky to escape with your life.

5) It's true. I do need a new toilet. I found one I like on the internets...

That's it for now. Today Ally and I are going to sort the wool I brought home. Anything she can't use is going to the thrift shop TODAY. Also on the list for today is the dining room, including the poor fish, who WILL NOT end up in the toilet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pictures: what was done, and what's being done next

Taskmistress here,

A number of times during this week I got emails/phone calls asking just how much cleaning needed to be done in order for me to not to detail the state of her house again. I kept answering "if you need to ask, you haven't done enough." It worked OK (you'll see in a mo'), but I've come to the conclusion that she needs smaller goals to prevent such badgering in the future, and to set a standard for how much work needs to be done. Plus, it lets me post more pictures.

So she did indeed sort the box, and the rest of the garbage. She also moved the mattress that was on the floor of the office back to where it's supposed to go and only 3 weeks after the heatwave where she needed it ended! I'd take more pictures showing you the improvement in the office but there wasn't really one. So here's a closer picture of the mess:

She told me to take this picture. Honest.

I think part of her plan for this week is to move the blasted bookshelf into the closet shown in this here picture. I'M NOT HELPING MOVE THAT THING!! And I presume that moving that bookshelf involves some organization of this mess. (You never know, Mum is quite talented).

The biggest improvement is bathroom wise:

Toilet improvement! W00t. It's a terribly old toilet, so I won't be too fussy. I still think it could get a bit cleaner. However, that floor...

Ewwww... Official Task Number 1 for the week. This includes the whole floor of the bathroom (not pictured, but this is the worst part). And I'll be checking behind the door.

Shiny. Even the soap dish is clean. :)

Improved. Not done, but improved. Finishing this off is Official Task Number 2 for the week.

This woman should not be allowed on the Internet. Ever. *sigh* That cabinet needs painting... not this week though. Because painting generally seems to be my job.

Now, I didn't take pictures of her bedroom before, but she told me too this week because she did clean a bit. But I think it's mostly to show you that at least one room is a normal level of clean.

Vanity. I like the dolls. Whoever made those is obviously quite talented. :P

Nice neat bed. You can't see the curtains, but a nice job was done on those. Really talented sewer made those, I bet.

Missed a dust bunny! The fact that I got down on the floor to take this picture and live to tell the tale is kind of amazing, considering how much dust is normally under there.

Also, improvement on the kitchen front:

This is kind of miraculous. It's never been this clean, except for when I've gone on a rampage. However, only half of the kitchen is shown (and definitely no floor). These will come in time. Official Task Number 3 is:

Organization. You can't cook if you're afraid to go in your cupboards.
I'm also challenging her to have the other half of the kitchen as clean as this one. And the toaster oven could use a good scrub. Floor not required, yet.

And the last official task for this week:

Help us!!

Along with these four official tasks comes the understanding that the stuff that has been cleaned shall be in this (or better) condition next weekend. Minus the stupid toilet paper thing. (Or I shall cut off the Internets).