May 12, 2012

Katie Is A Genius!

The other day, and because all my days and nights run together anymore, I cannot get closer to telling you when than 'recently', one by my favorite cyber-friends Katie gave me and the rest of the Internet some wonderful advice.  Now, the advice was all good, but the part that spoke most to me, being menopausal, was what she had learned about getting close enough.  You should really read it no matter what age you are.  She covers all the bases, that girl, although I doubt that she knows how good she really is.  None of us do at her age in my opinion.  We really should be better to ourselves.  Anyway, she is genius because she has already learned through hard experience that she has to give herself a break.  She did this with her 2nd baby by not expecting herself to get everything done and counting it good if she got 'close enough' by making piles she could attack at some other point in the future.

This idea took root in my brain because in case I haven't already told you this, you should know:  piles are my forte. (for-tay since I lack the knowledge of how to put the little squiggly mark over the e, something probably any 12 year old already knows how to do).   Piles are what I do, what I have grown to be good at.  Practically every available surface in my house holds piles of one thing or another.  I do not recommend that you even get started making piles, because it is a road to confusion and frustration, but this is often what we girls do to ourselves.  Why?  Because no one comes to our house and says to our faces what they really think, which is "How did your house get to be in such a shape, woman?  Zoikes!"  Well, maybe your mom.  Maybe, depending on how much she thinks it might hurt your feelings.  Most other people are too afraid to be rude.  With good reason, in my house, of late!  Just remember, apathy can be your friend.  You may not believe it now but once you reach a certain age, that apathy that you think is a bad thing can keep you from making scenes in which you would probably just make yourself look an old hysterical ass.  Use it wisely.

While Katie is still young and has a nice new house where everything has it's place and most of the stuff is in it's place most of the time, I have a house where I have lived for 11 years and have been making piles of stuff to get around to that whole, long, entire time. When I moved here, I had 4 children ranging in age from 3-11.  Children have started school, some of them have fallen in love, 2 of them have graduated and left home, hearts have been broken, resolutions have been reached, and all this time, I have been making piles.  Piles of stuff that I presumably meant at one time to get to, but just............haven't.  Instead I have added to the piles.  Occasionally I re-arrange the piles, and by re-arrange, I mean I stuff them into a drawer or put them in a box and then put the box in the furnace room.  Presumably to get to later, but I gotta tell ya, later is a long time coming.

To prove it, I offer you this:

This a picture of the Rock Star in the summer of '90.  He was born in December of 1989.  I was 24 years old.  My house was clean.  Yes, he was a cutie, but I want to to look to the right of him.  See the wicker shelf?  Notice how there isn't very much stuff on it?  That was because I had a nice new house and believed that everything had a place and everything was in it.  Ah, I miss those days.....that's why I think everyone should move every 5-10 years.  Unless you do, you *may* be looking a problem with piles yourself.
I showed you that so that you can appreciate what Katie's post inspired me to do.

Behold the same shelf 22 years later.  Remember that this shelf has only been sitting in this house for 11 years:

yes, yes, I know.  You cannot believe that I would even live with this let alone put it on the internet.  If Katie can blog her own first birth, I can come clean about what the apathy of menopause can do to you.  OK, OK, I cannot possibly blame this all on menopause......This is what drowning in children for 11 years and then the apathy of menopause can do to you.  Yeah, I knew it was bad, but with the first quiet times I have had in 20 years I chose to read or take a nap.  Judge me at your own peril, you young energetic hopeful people who think it will never happen to you.  I can be the warning that will stick in the back of your mind when it happens to you.  Just know that you are not alone.  And this was just the stuff that was out of the way, so to speak.  Check this out:
Yep.  My kitchen table.  Apparently the piling gene has been passed on to my children.  Let's play I spy for a minute.  On the chair closest to us is Jack's harness that I gave up on earlier this week when the dog's became cat-killers and a black sweater I wore to work because even though it was nice this week I work in a place with the temperature of Siberia.  On the bench to the right is my purse (yes, I know it's too big but I have piles there too) and one of the boy's swim suits which I laid there to dry.  On the other bench is an afghan put there a couple of weeks ago for the same purpose.  Why?  Because when you are a born pile maker any airy surface is great to dry clothes, of course.  DUH!  On the top of the table I see my sewing basket, which we needed to sew a miniature sail on a miniature raft for a book report on Tom Sawyer (A CLASSIC) this week, what's left of a bag of Apple Jacks (no one ever want the last of the bag), a clever little bag that you get your shoes in when you order them off the internet, a tupperware container containing the last of the pecans from 2 years ago, a case of Roman Noodles because the boys can both fix them and will eat them by themselves but I have no room in my cupboard for, a couple of bags of clips to electrify a fence for the cat-killers, an empty box of what I do not know, and a pair of binoculars covered in camo tape by The Cyclist that only has one site that still works and which I used to look at the Orioles this week.  Yes, all this is from this week except for the afghan, which I washed last weekend.

My mission was clear, and I told myself that I was going to get this cleaned up if it killed me, and if I could just get this much cleaned up, I could make other piles of the stuff that I could not force myself to tackle today.  This plan satisfied both my urges to get the house clean enough I wouldn't have to be embarrassed for people to come to it AND my penchant for putting things off.  WIN-WIN!!

I put in Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On album and it just flowed.  I absolutely love Mary Chapin Carpenter, always have, mostly because she is a very talented song writer with a smooth mellow voice and does all her own work, but also because she just does her music and puts it out there without investing a lot of money to make her seem like a bubble headed barbie doll.   She's a real girl, and it comes through loud and clear.  This album was our family favorite when the Rock Star and The Beautiful Redhead were small, so it was a great choice.

It wasn't long before I had many more piles and the dogs, baffled by the sight of my cleaning, no doubt, had gotten comfortable in front row seats.  Mary sang "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug", and I sang along, aiming pointed looks at the dogs, hoping the meaning was clear, because they are still on house arrest.  I found a battery charger in the shelf, it's in the bottom right of the picture above.  When I put it away, I discovered that I have two of these items.  Who knew?

I found a bunch of good CD's, Gordon Lightfoot, Kenny Loggins, Bellamy Brothers (must have been a Salvation Army find since it was a CD, I am sure I haven't bought anything new from them since at least cassettes), and Billy Squire.

Mary was singing The Hard Way when I discovered this, I considered it a God wink:
What's that you say?  The remains of a lunch that I sent for some unremembered field trip at least 1 year ago, maybe 5.  There's no way to be sure.  The blessing was that it contained only empty trash, an ice pack and a spoon.

Mary was through The Hard Way and on to I Feel Lucky for the second time by the time my kitchen looked like this:
I was making good progress and I sat down to make a list of my piles.  I tried to take a picture of the list but it didn't come out.  
This was what was on my list:
Recipe's (very large pile.  I blame Pioneer Woman.  She cooks like the devil but is actually an angel  You will love her.  Check her out and you might want to buy some 3 ring binders because you will print off many, many recipes.

Pictures (spanning 80 years.  Family history + life.  Nuff said.

Seeds (Rosemary, Thyme, Pumkin)

Life Insurance Policies ( Yes, I am ashamed.  I even have a filing cabinet.  On the other hand, I haven't died, and even if I did, the kids may be amazed that all the info was right there in plain sight)

Old Calendars (If you don't have joint custody, this one would be hard to explain.  Just stay married.  It's easier)

Grave flowers (my intentions are good and no one will ever know the difference anyway)

Dog stuff. (nail clippers, bitter spray, broken collars, brushes, pad cleaning wipes, Frontline)
New Insurance cards (eegads!  Since I don't know how long they've been there, I don't even know if they are good at the present time)

Fishing gear (bobbers and very wicked looking hooks.  What could they be fishing for with hooks like that? Maybe frogs.

By the time Mary was singing I Take My Chances for the second time, I was feeling triumphant, because my kitchen now looked like this:

Still a ways to go, but I was on a roll!  By the time she belted out Passionate Kisses for the second time, I was looking at this:

Jack is exhausted by all my hard work but Shadow is still paying close attention. I wonder if I could teach her to clean.....  On the bench are one of the boys' school bags and a princess dress that belongs to the real grandmother of my Pretend Grandbaby.  She wore it to my house in March and I put it in a freezer bag so it wouldn't get hurt and I fully intended to return it a long time ago.  2 months isn't really too bad, for me.

I know it still looks full but the shelf is all clean and organized now.  The only things on the table that still need to be put up are either the boys' school work or pictures.  The pictures are a different pile and project all unto themselves.  My goal is get them all in albums for Christmas presents for the kids.  What year that will get done is anybody's guess, and if I die before I get it done it will be waiting for the kids in one big pile. It's important to pass on family traditions, you know. 

It was noon by this time and I had 3 nice boys downstairs who had not even bothered me one little bit. Probably they were staying downstairs in fear of my odd behavior since it's not every day I clean, let alone neglect to nag them to shower and brush their teeth 49 times.  Oh well!  Since they had allowed me to accomplish 11 years of work within 2 measly hours, I made them grilled ham and cheese:

One thing about boys:  feed them and they will be loyal to you forever.  That's what I like about them.  I find them very predictable that way, it's part of their charm.

Then I was off to the library and the store, because after all this I deserve a good book.  If you are wondering if I have ever considered whether my reading gets in the way of my housekeeping, I have.  Many times, but I don't think I'll be changing anytime soon.  Perhaps some day I will care more about cleaning.  I can only hope, as each day is a roll of the dice for me now.  The only thing that will ever keep me from reading is if I go blind.  Even then I can listen to audio books while I clean. 

Hey, there's a really good  

So if you have put off cleaning stuff up for so long that you have just gotten used to the piles, take heart!  With the right inspiration and music, you can turn that train around before you even know it.  It's a great trip down memory lane and once you do a little bit you feel so good you want to do more......sometime.  See how that works?  Anticipation with no pressure.  WIN-WIN! 

Good luck with your piles, assuming you have some!

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These are my thoughts, which sometimes drive me crazy and sometimes keep me sane, but are always entertaining. I call this Lace Your Days With Hope because I can't find enough hope to make an entire quilt out of. Stay tuned, and add your own!