Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Right. Um. Where was I?

Down the back of the couch, obviously. I’ve been busy. No. Seriously, actually busy. For the last month, flat out like a dead lizard  – we’ve been away a couple of times and had a fair bit of Family Time as well, the Hound had to have an operation on her knee after a badly timed ute-jump (she’s not dealing with convalescence well – while it’s nice to see she’s lost none of her ridiculous personality, ninja jumps to the top of our very high bed are Not On, Puppy. Can’t quite manage another $1,600 to re-fix your knee) Had a bit of a technological disaster with the old laptop that (of course) hadn’t been cleaned out yet. Someone clicked something. They will NEVER do that again. Or I will possibly have to revoke interwebs privileges. That took a bit of sorting out, but I’ve now found a lovely computer guy for stuff that’s out of my league. AND the printer died (or didn’t want to talk to the new laptops, one or t’other) – tried living without BUT that was more annoying than I would have thought. Email to work, print, scan, send home, email to destination because private. Argh.

Plus, the kids have been tag teaming lurgies – Chaos’s turn this week. Mayhem was last week. Reg and my good self have been taking it in turns. Today is my turn. Coughing til you spew =/= going to school. Anyway – it’s probably time for a bit of a half time catch up on stuffs seeing as we’re half way through the year (and I owe about four posts that are all stumbling over each other in my brains). Half time it is then…

Firstly, the lard arse. I’m down about five or six kilos, depending on which way the wind is blowing. I’m going to pull my entire hand out of the cookie jar though and stop with the face stuffing, because I suspect that 5-6kg will revert to 3-4 kilos if I continue with the biscuits. I need to find a biscuit that is pleasing without being more-ish. (Chocolate Ripple, Scotch Finger, anything wafer-y, Tic Tocs and 100s and 1000s are all in the more-ish category. Teddy Bears are not so much). I could stop entirely with the biscuits, but there’s something about a cup of pretend tea that calls out for a matching little something something to go along with it. So the singular biscuit stays. Just need to cut out the plurals.

I’m doing excellently with the non-buying of lunches. I buy something maybe once a week (pretty keen on chicken karaage from one of the food court joints. It’s really tasty, and because it’s rice and chicken and salad, I can easily kid myself it’s healthy. It’s fried chicken. It’s probably not.) And I have succumbed to the siren call of the charity chocolates twice in six months – when I was reaching for my third packet of chippies, I was all just have the fucking chocolate. So I did, it was as shit as I remembered and eh, didn’t do it again for another  month (theme? Maybe there is.)

I did discover something related to my exercise (such as it is) and my mood though – if I get my steps in, I am pleasing of demeanour. If I  miss for more than a couple of days in a row, I range from slightly shitty to absolutely incandescent with rage. Small irritations are magnified by all the other small irritations and I end up best described as A Bit Fucking Cross. For three weeks. I can’t remember the last time I sustained a bad mood for three weeks. There were legitimate external influences on my mood, but seriously, my reaction to some of the really small things that happened? Good thing I don’t work with pointy objects.  I was starting to think it was the lady-pause because I am of an age; and I do remember Mrs McGee’s phases of less than impeccable rationality from my yoof. Three days of solidly hitting my step goal and PFFT!  Bad Mood was gone. Correlation co-efficient positive one. Steps up, irritations are irritations. Steps down? I’ll fucking run you through with a javelin or something. If I had a javelin. Which, in and of itself would be a source of further irritation. So, next time I’m that cranky…send me out for a walk well away from the pointy things.

On the topic of walking – Pokemon GO rocks. Also, anything that means I can go for a two and a half hour walk with the kids and no whining or fighting has to be totally awesome in my book. I’m not sure about the gym thing yet, although Mayhem is bursting at the seams to get me into a gym (he’s playing on my account because well, he’s 10. No phone for him). When he earns technology back, I might let him have a go (long story – tl;dr version = three strikes and no tech for two weeks). All those people with their po faces and sneering about the Pokemons can pretty much get stuffed because it’s fun. Just because I now walk the long way in through the front door of work because there’s three extra poke-stops compared to the back door… eh, it’s a couple of hundred more steps for me!

I’ve officially broken up with the Flylady (again), I’m still not tidying up BUT I am still bullet journaling. I had to step back a bit when I got carried away with the decoration and the pretty and best handwriting all the time. Couple of deliberate scrappy do lists and eh, she’ll be right. I stopped tracking goals because well, setting myself up for fail isn’t fun. But as far as keeping things on track, I’m doing pretty well. (The Hound got *all* of her injections on time because written down. Although Reg didn’t like me keeping the dog’s anti-inflammatories next to the kid’s antibiotics. NO idea why.) Tracking spending shit me because I can’t remember and hello, accounting for $3.80 for a coffee every day when I really do have no other vices… So now I am trying to SAVE $100 a month instead. Much more sensible.

My blanket is coming along nicely – it’s too big to be portable now, and I only have a strip and a bit to go (plus the border). The other project is also ticking along. I took it away with me and did two squares in two days. Actually, that’s probably the most legitimate reason I’ve not been writing – the bucket of time I have for writing is the same as the bucket of time I have for crochet, and crochet is winning. Because time is a finite resource subject to change without notice. And that is a topic for another day.

Happy Democracy Sausage Day

I missed out on a Democracy Sausage today. The sausage sizzle at the primary school where I voted had a Sausage Emergency at 10.30, necessitating a run by my good self to Coles for a selection of their finest mystery bags and tasteless white bread. Strangely enough, the blandness of the home brand bread, coupled with the mysterious content of the sausage compliment each other. So, while I did my duty for the school (my kid goes there, I’m not *that* altruistic), I missed out on a sausage. Bummer. The queue to vote was enormous – when I got there, the queue was just past the end of the multi-purpose room, by the time I went in, it was half way across the school yard, and when I came out – curling around past the gate. No wonder they ran out of sausages. There was a bloke who wasn’t from round these parts (judging purely on a) his accent and b) his total bemusement) who kept saying “I can’t believe it” and “it’s supposed to be serious –  there’s kids and dogs and sausages and cakes”. Which is as it should be. And yes, he had a sausage AND a dog while he waited for his friend to vote.

Anyway, politics is NOT what you’re here for. Nor are you here for the sausages. Well, I assume you’re not here for the sausages or the politics. If you are, sorry about that*. I write about books and housework mostly, nothing too deep and meaningful.

Orright. Books or housework? I think books, seeing as I’ve just finished two. I set myself a goal to read (and finish) two books a month, and I am taking this as June’s two, even though I finished one of them today! Now, I was struggling a bit with reads in June because I was being a moody fucker and trying to read something that was a Bit Deep. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but when one is being In A Mood, one is better off leaving the challenging shit to a better day. Technically, I read two books in two weeks.

Book the first was Nightshift (Book #3 in the Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris. She of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series. Please don’t judge me.) It is proper Trash – the kind that comes with a capital “T”. It’s light, fluffy, angsty, weird as fuck and I’m pretty sure there were issues with the continuity, although that could have been down to my falling asleep reading it and forgetting what I was up to. Suffice to say, it all worked out in the end and they lived happily ever after until Book #4 comes out, anyway. It’s supposed to be a trilogy, so we’ll see how that pans out. I wonder if Ms Harris would consider writing one decent length book instead of three bits of books? If you took out all the re-capping and ‘splaining, there’d probably be a decent 450 page novel. Although, if she did that, I’d only get one book instead of three. As you were.

Now, Book the second was a bit LOT better – this one is called Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel. I picked it up from a review from Ben Aaronovitch who wrote the Peter Grant series (wizard detective. Win.) when I was sniffing around his website looking for the publication date for the next installment (September, maybe. Or not. Depends. Ahem.) Anyway, I have liked a few other books Mr Aaronovitch has thrown out as reading suggestions, so I gave it a whirl. I am glad I did. It was fun. It’s about a bloke who makes a living buying and re-selling rare and interesting vinyl records, who goes off on a mission to find a particular exceedingly rare 1950s jazz pressing. There’s quite a lot of derrings do, a bit of sexy times and a few drugs. It’s a cracking read and I definitely recommend it. I still have my vinyl record collection (I can’t seem to get rid of mine. They’re very alluring. And I spent a LOT of pocket money on that collection. I don’t think any record collectors with valves on their record players will be looking for my selection of Hits Hot 1977 and Ripper 1978 to pay me a lot of money though. My musical taste was (and is) a little eclectic).

I’m also reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (that’s the one that was too deep for my cranky arse), John Birmingham’s How to be a Writer and a book about lying (The Honest Truth about Dishonesty – for work, it’s about behavioural economics which is quite fascinating. About how people basically do a quick cost benefit analysis on every decision they make, and that lots of little lies are way more costly than one big lie. I’ve only read three chapters. It’s probably more complex than that).

Anyway, there’s books for the last month for you.

 

(*If you’re interested, I cast my vote with a mind to making my very safe seat marginal and for a feral senate to keep the bastards on their toes. See what happens when I miss out on ma sausage!)

Yeah wat?

Today didn’t start well. In fact, this morning could best be described as a bit of a no good terrible very bad morning. It all started when my darling Mayhem completely forgot the process required to transfer foodstuffs from the cupboard to one’s belly. It has many steps, so I can understand how he could get confused with all that put the food in the bowl, put the *spoon in the bowl, put food on the spoon, and put spoon in mouth. Now chew. Now swallow. Repeat from star until bowl is empty. And Chaos got in on the act by fluffing about before he got in the shower (one shower house means there’s a queue in the morning. He has to have breakfast before he showers. There is time for him to do both before I want the shower. If he doesn’t fluff around.) I finally got out the door, dropped Mayhem at school and parked the car. This was the point where I realised I’d left my phone at home.  This is somewhat annoying, but ultimately deal with-able – the world won’t end without it, and anyone important has my work number anyway. Then, I’m half way to work and I realise I’ve left my work ID card in my other coat. Also annoying, but hey, temporary pass in my near future. And to add to the irritation of the morning, the brand new shirt I was wearing had a Tag. One of those really irritating tags that just drive you completely bonkers – but again, nothing a pair of scissors and someone else’s steady hand couldn’t deal with.

I got to work, organised a temporary pass (more difficult than it should be. The name I use on the other side of the internet is simple but strangely complex. And apparently ridiculously hard to spell), finally headed up to my desk, said my good mornings, took off the fifty bazillion outer layers that are necessary in a Victorian winter and turned on my computer. Nice. I opened my bag, pulled out my glasses case, and…

Empty.

Yes. I forgot to pick up my glasses from the front passenger seat from the car. I knew, when I left them there last night, there was a fairly high (ok, virtually certain) chance I’d forget them, but did I bother picking them up and putting them in my bag when I was looking at them sitting on the seat? Well, no I didn’t. But you knew that. I left them where they fell and went inside. Because I am a twit. Now, while a lack of phone, lack of ID card and really irritating shirt tag are irritating, none of these items will impact in the slightest on doing my job.

Not having my glasses sorta does. I am ridiculously long sighted – without my glasses, the words on the screen in front of me are meaningless squiggles, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do at work without the ability to see whatever the hell it is I’m theoretically doing. And definitely nothing I can do for eight hours without looking at it. So, I put my coat and scarf back on, remembered to collect my car keys (now *that* would have been dire – I park about 1.5km from work), grabbed my wallet and trudged all the way back up the hill. Glasses were exactly where I left them, so I put them in my inside coat pocket (not forgetting those babies) and went home.

Yes, I went home, picked up my phone from the dining table where I left it, collected my ID car from my coat pocket and whipped off the shirt I was wearing and dealt with that damn tag. I ended up paying for parking for the eleventieth time this month, which is annoy – but hello, needs must.  I got back to work just before 10am and started the day for the second time. I may or may not have accidentally acquired a block of Pana chocolate (fig and wild orange) on the way back, too. Days like today deserve chocolate.

Still resting…

After what could best be described as a fairly frenetic KonMari attack on a large proportion of my house, I stopped just after Easter and embarked on a brief hiatus to see what would happen if I stopped with the tidying up of all the things… That hiatus has now entered its second month and I don’t seem to be in a rush to tidy up anything else. And you know what, the house is still looking ok.

Now, because I’m not keen on being told what to do, and nor am I keen on doing things the way they’re supposed to be done (just call me Miss Free-Range 2016), my approach to the whole KonMari business was probably a bit scattergun compared to the super orderly super structured purist KM methodology. I should also state up front and out loud that I still do have a fair bit of stuff that I like dotted about the place. This could well be described as crap (or komono) by some people, but I like it (or someone else who lives in my house likes it – looking at you, several butt-ugly paintings in various rooms in my house) and I reckon liking it is enough to meet the definition of joy-sparking. And no, I’m not consigning my teddies to the fucking bin, you heartless moll. Ahem.

I suppose I did start at the start, because I started with clothes, but it appears that I also embarked on the KonMari process before KonMari was a ‘thing’ – two years ago, I did a full kitchen makeover that involved gutting an entire room and remodelling. The method I used to decide what should stay or go was remarkably similar to the KM process. Although I also had to consider whether I used the item, and also whether I had room for the item as I lost a lot of cupboard real estate in the renovation ( I lost the equivalent of a row of cupboards as the old kitchen had cupboards to the ceiling and the new kitchen doesn’t.) I still regret parting with my gorgeous Italian ceramic platters and bowls, but I had nowhere to put them. And they’re the kind of thing I’d a) use once a year and b) had a viable if not as attractive alternative that fit in the damn cupboard. (To be perfectly honest, they didn’t actually fit in a cupboard pre-renovation – they were sort of tucked into a very high up cupboard and threatened to land on unsuspecting cupboard openers.) When I officially reached the kitchen section, I cleaned out the pantry (something that gets done twice a year anyway) and chucked a peeler that shit me and kitchen was done.

And as for sentimental stuff – a bit over a year ago, Chaos moved into his own room after sharing with his little brother for nine years (and us living in the house for 13 or so years at that point. You can imagine.). In order for him to be able to move, I had to clean my very important stuff out of the wardrobe and under the bed and in the corners of what was the spare room. This took me a week, I picked up and looked at every single box and item of stuff that was crammed into that wardrobe and got rid of a lot of stuff – goodbye uni texts and notes, nine years after I graduated is long enough to keep them (I had vague ideas of doing honours, but got a job instead). Goodbye 1988 tax assessment notice. And goodbye pictures of people I didn’t recognise. We filled a skip bin twice over. Not just out of that room, other stuff was being culled at the same time, but I had a red hot go. All my sentimental stuff that I wanted to keep is in a chest of drawers under the house. Three drawers instead of an entire wardrobe and ALL the drawers, several boxes under the bed and a whole lot of other seekrit locations.

But I did tidy my clothes ‘properly’, and, with permission and some assistance, the clothes of the Gentlemen. The win for me is that despite actively removing at least half of my clothes, I have more clothes to wear. And a couple of things I didn’t feel the love for any more are now back in the rotation of clothes I wear (it appears I didn’t have issue with the skirts themselves, just the shirts I used to wear with them. I’ve culled the shirts and wear the skirts with different tops. I still need new trousers, but I’m looking at how I can mend the hook on one pair because the fact they don’t stay done up is what causes the lack of love). After discarding a HEAP of clothes I’d worn once, and some that still had tags, I am so much more discerning in my purchases. Even if something is sparking hot pink electric neon ‘buymebuymebuyme’ joy – like a pair of 8-hole cherry red Doc Martens on proper sale ($90 off) and in my size that stayed right where they were for someone else to love because you know what, they weren’t that comfortable and I really do get hot feet.

The most astonishing thing though is how damn easy it is to keep the wardrobes under control. It took me just over 15 minutes in total(!!!!!!!!) to tidy our wardrobes, including refolding Reg’s jumpers and actually folding my t-shirts (eh, I am lay-zeee. They come back from the ironing fairy on hangers and um. Sometimes they don’t make it to the drawer. But because I only have eleventy bazillion shirts instead of a gazillion, there’s room, so it’s ok.) I was dreading tidying Mayhem’s wardrobe – there was shit everywhere. And seven and a half minutes later. What mess? Yes, I timed it. I’m a dork. Chaos sorted his wardrobe on his own (he’s 13) in under five minutes.

The paper situation at ours has also stayed relatively under control, and the discernment in grocery shopping has continued. Most weeks, I’m under budget; last week, we went to the pub and spent the grocery money on beer and steaks. Oops.  Nobody starved. All good. Nothin’ to see here…

I suppose I will go back to it eventually, because there’s still stuff that needs dealing with (probably. Ok, definitely. We have about a million DVDs. Or two million. And Netflix). But after a solid three months of tidying and sorting and rearranging and finding more sensible storage solutions, I’m done enough for now. The house feels lighter, and I can now “see” the maintenance that need doing – like changing light fittings so we can have some task lighting in the dining room, getting some art for the kitchen, cleaning or replacing the carpet in the lounge room…And painting. We’ve been here 14 years, and it needs doing. Not having clutter to ignore means I can see the work that has to be done.

I’ve read some srsly negative shit about the process and how “first world” it is, and how only people who can replace the shit they cull can afford to do it, and people who can’t afford it will be throwing out stuff they need. And the poor people and the war refugees and the hoarders, it makes them seem bad for holding on.Except it’s not like that. Well, not for me, anyway – I’ve not replaced stuff I’ve got rid off, except for a vegetable peeler and a couple of t-shirts. I repaired my coat, and I’m looking at fixing (or, most likely, getting someone else to fix) my pants. Yes, the Jobs that need doing are going to add up, but hello. Actually live in the first world, so the having of a house that needs maintenance is a problem that I have. It’s more about living better with less crap. I’ve not got rid of sentimental stuff, or stuff from my grandmother… I hate to think what will happen when I have to deal with my mum’s stuff, but hopefully, she’ll continue to go through her own KM process in the mean time (and keep giving me things she knows I will appreciate and look after.)

 

 

#Bujo – or the one where I’ve been gettin’ down with the cool kids

Ok, the other thing I have been doing aside from crocheting and reading is bullet journaling. I used to do it properly a while ago – however, lost my damn notebook and went back to writing the endless list each week. Found said damn notebook whilst doing the Kon Mari shenanigans (I’ve not actually *stopped* with the KM bidness, more letting nature take its course and seeing how things flow naturally without my un-naturally cleaning the fuck out of everything that stands still for more than two seconds. Is ok so far). Digressing again. Where was I? Bullet journaling. Which is shortened to BuJo for obvious reasons that don’t need the explains. The whole Bullet Journal thang was invented in this format by a bloke called Ryder Carroll and taken to a whole new ridiculously creative extreme by just about everyone in the universe who a) likes stationery and b) likes writing lists. And yes. That would be me.

Now the normal procedure is to show pictures of ones BuJo and explain the process. Dunno if you’ve noticed this wee thing about my blog… it’s all words and no pictures. This means I am going to attempt to explain the hows and the whys without illustrations. Testing. So, this will probably end up being more about the philosophies and less about my dodgy handwriting and doodle-ability.

It’s pretty cool actually, and strangely good fun. I started again officially at the beginning of April, after having a wee trial in the old notebook. I think one of the reasons I didn’t stick to the old notebook was because I didn’t really like it. It was a grid Moleskine, and a bit smaller than A5. I have man hands and large, girlie handwriting. This was a teensy little space to write in. It was NOT sparking the joy, so I repurposed it into more of a general notebook and the place where I do the testing of new layouts and all that. I’ve got a Leuchtturm1917 that I acquired (quite legitimately) when I was in the Big Smokey at magnation in their stationery section (epic discuss about the relative merits of Moleskine v Leuchtturm1917 with the wee young lass in the shop. She agreed about the size issue. I am not mad.)

When I was a kid, I used to LOVE the day we got new stationery, and when I got a new book I was always so careful to use my best handwriting and rule all the pages neatly. Of course, this always went to shit by day three of the new book and I was back to my squirlywhirly mishmash of writing styles (I started school in one state where proper cursive was the thing, and moved to another state where it was more joined up printing. My handwriting is a mixture of both. A year of graphics and I have beautiful block printing. Still, it’s a shame about my handwriting.) Anyway, the look and smell and feel of opening that page for the very first time… swoon.

Therefore, you can imagine my quite grown up delight cracking open the pages of my new journal and feasting my eyes upon the glorious creamy goodness of 200+ untouched pages. Ahem. I need a moment.

Alright, where was I. Swooning over stationery. Girl’s got to have a hobby. Now, the traditional set up for a bullet journal can be seen in the video in the above link. Mine is sort of similar-ish. I have a couple of collections – nowt fancy.

  • List of books I’ve read/want to read
  • Stuff I want to watch on telly and movies I want to see
  • Music I’ve heard I like
  • Meals everyone likes divided up by protein source

Then I leap into a sort of calendar thingy for the month (list of dates with events, appointments etc, I attempted colour coding it for one month. That didn’t last.) and a gigantic to do list for the month. That list is mostly Big Jobs that need doing. The benefit of this is that they become top of mind instead of wafty loose ideas that pop up to the surface every now and then. And it sort of works… a couple of things that were on the radar for oh, two years, actually got done. Gasp. This year, I did our tax before the accountant sent me a reminder letter, I organised a shelf for a cupboard that I’ve wanted done for ages (two years when the kitchen was renovated) and I cleaned the oven. Also for the first time in two years. (It wasn’t that bad, it had been wiped out a few times.)

I also set some personal challenges and tried tracking habits. Ahem. Well. Set myself up for fucking failure. Nice one, Maudy. So, I got all totally mindful and gave myself a talking to, looked up SMARRT goal setting and applied that. Small goals that are specific and measurable. Fucking der, man. Being much more successful in May. Although I seriously suck at sleeping. I tried tracking spending, but memo to self – school holidays is *not* the time of year to be doing that sort of thing. $20 here, $50 there, $40 for the pictures, $10 for a magazine… eh,that was a bit fucked up. I’m trying again in May, but I keep forgetting to write shit down. I don’t think I’ll bother in June.

One thing I really like about this methodology is – well, if something’s not working, you can ditch it. I realised pretty quickly I needed a weekend list (usual suspects – washing, planning and hunting for the family, plus odd shit I want to do) and that a weekly list as well as my daily mini-lists was essential because there was ALWAYS something I needed to remember for a couple of days ahead of time. On the weekly list I have a wee to-do list, and I’ve added my Flylady-esque cleaning lists. My cleaning fairy does the basics, my fly-lists are 8-10 little jobs that are nice to be done but don’t really matter if I don’t do them – again, because they’re on the radar, they’re at least done every couple of months. Win. The daily lists are the half a dozen odd things I need to remember on a given day. I’ve been having a few “moments” lately, so I’ve added some stuff I wouldn’t usually list to keep my head where it needs to be (above my shoulders and not so much hiding under a bin. Long story.) So far, so good.

I did take up grown up colouring in – although I do like it, it’s not really practical for anything aside from letting your mind roam free. The thing about this exercise is it helps me focus. I know what needs to be done because it’s written down, I don’t have to remember, I just have to check the list. I’ve got notes on how to do stuff (like, fixing the damn emails) and highlights of the month. It’s quite soothing to sit down with my gigantic tub of stationery and write shit down, draw a few pictures (even if it’s just the weather) and mess about with washi tape (I cannot believe I did not know what washi was until six weeks ago. I am Feeling The Lerve). And my handwriting is improving – my typing, on the other hand, appears to be going to shit! These things happen and I will get used to this damn keyboard.

Also, I have this vague idea of Future Ancestor discovering a box full of journals in the future and flicking through them and finding out about the minutiae of the day to day life of someone in the 21st century (and their eyes glazing over with the boredom as they read of washing and cleaning and what we ate. Social history as it happened)

And there you go, 1,300+ words and no pictures. I hope you found it illuminating.

 

Gosh, it’s been a while…

I’ve just realised it’s been a month since I last posted. Crikey. However, I have totally been reading like a total reading machine. Srsly. Reading a LOT. Well, a lot for me. I suspect I’ve actually read four books in the last month.

Firstly, I finished The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. I liked it, I think. The books form the basis for the Longmire series on the Netflix. I loved that series, so I was really keen to read the books. The books are different to the telly series, the characters are different, but at the same time they’re the same. And they’re sort of funny. Not uproariously HARHARHAR funny, more of a quiet snigger here and there funny. I haven’t had the burning desire to read the next one yet (although I am currently in the midst of upgrading ma teckernologies and I haven’t shifted over books from the old beast of burden to the new whiz-banger (which has a weirdarse keyboard and I keep mis-fucking typing all the things). Anyway, I probably will read the next one as I did like it enough to read more.

The secondly, I read another of the Ruth Galloway ones –  The House at Sea’s End. I really like these ones. They’re sort of cosy police procedural type books with a bit of history and a bit of lovey dovey action and enough of a mystery to be quite soothing, really. I’m not sure whether I have the next one on the trusty e-reader, so I shall have to persevere with my reading list.

Yes, I’ve set myself a reading list – I keep getting all zomfg what the fuck am I going to read next, get side tracked definitely not acquiring books by nefarious means (I do in fact acquire books legitimately as well, I am not all bad.) and end up with some trash or other that I don’t want to read. So, yeah, went through the books, downloaded about 15 or so and I am going to read them before I read anything else.

THEN I read Stalin’s Hammer: Rome by John Birmingham. It’s another installment in the Axis of Time series. This was me reading it on the train… Oooh. OH. Nooo. Ow. Ohhhh. NO WAY. No Way. Hehehahehehaheheha Oooh, no. Ow. etc. The Axis of Time series is classified as alternate history science fiction. It is in fact all that. However, that doesn’t give you the whole biffo schmako that goes down in the delivery of said alt.history. Prince Harry is in this one, and he totally is and was Granny’s favourite. Anyway, if you’re into history, don’t mind a fucking excellent stretching of your imagination, and good dose of the “what ifs” do yourself a flavour and get on the Axis of Time bandwagon. Is Don. Is very very Don.

Finally was another by Denise Mina (Gods and Beasts) I am doing a lot of series reading this year – doesn’t matter – it’s reading and that’s the main thing. I had a couple of hours on public transport last week, and slammed through this afterward. Again, I’m not sure about it… don’t hate them, just not sure. It’s only book two, so eh, I’ll persevere.

So yep, that’s four books in four weeks. I’ve set myself a challenge to read two books a month, so that’s not too bad… I am reading a book that’s more on the literature side than the trash side for a change. Nowt wrong with trash, just sometimes a girlie needs a steak. And also to stay awake long enough to consume said steak and not nod off in three point two seconds! I’ve also been crocheting like I am the Queen of Crochet (patently not, however… also, this damn keyboard is taking a bit longer than I expected to be getting used to… it’s slightly narrower than the old one, and much narrower than the one I use all the time at work. I’ve also not been using it much – too much crochet and reading =/= typing on fancy new laptop!)

{insert something pithy here}

The Gentleman of the house and my good self have been debating casually the relative merits of ditching the land line and embracing the mobile phone only household. We keep coming reluctantly down on the side of “eh, we probably should keep it” despite only our parents, a couple of chaps from the car club and those annoying scammers who want to fix our windows ever calling us. The main reason being is the Mayhem doesn’t have a telephone of his own (and no ten year old needs a mobile phone of his own, so we’re not even contemplating going there. And the effort involved in maintaining and keeping charged a spare mobile on the off chance… well, easier to just use the land line).

Anyway, the land line phone has been a bit crackly and hard to hear and getting progressively worse for the last few weeks – we’re merrily assuming it’s the hand set (it’s pretty old) and do we get another one blah blah until the crackling upgrades to what really sounds like space aliens having some grown up time. Ahem. This is not optimal. Regardless of what we ultimately decide about the land line, right now it needs some fixing. So, on the phone I get to our provider of telecommunications… waiting waiting 20 minutes. Hrrm. Do I stay or do I go? Stay, because tomorrow night it might be 30 minutes and tomorrow night is Friday and then it won’t get fixed til for ever. Waiting waiting doing all the things while I wait waiting waiting…

The lady who finally answered me – well, while she was friendly and polite enough, she was pretty damn keen on me organising my own technician. Because it was totally going to cost me about a million dollars and all if they come and it’s on my premises. So do you want to get our technician or yours because it’ll cost you if it’s on your premises. (Except, that she kept saying ‘premise’ instead of premises. That was annoying.) Anyway, I am nothing if not persistent. Um, the last time I had a problem with my landline, the person I talked to could you know, check the line and tell what sort of problem it was… Oh, I *suppose* I could do that… lalalalalaaaaaaa hold music and she’s ba-aaack. Yeah, it appears the phone line is a trifle NQR and the fault appears to be off my “premise” and we’ll organise a technician. It will be fixed by Monday.  Noice!

(Have to confess I wasn’t quite sure how they’d manage to fix it by Monday, considering it was 9.30pm on Thursday night, and 7pm Monday seemed a trifle ambitious unless it was just something unplugged somewhere.)

Fast forward to a quick call on Friday from a technician who said someone would come and see me. And whadderyouknow – this afternoon. Sunday. Technician. Lovely chap. Spot of overtime. Not so much of the fixing of the phone line, though. Turns out we have a private line, because none of the other three houses attached to our line have the phone on. Noice. There’s a short in the line from all accounts, and he’s a) not quite sure where it is and b) thinks it’s covered with lead. As in the metal. He did do quite a lot of driving up and down the street, though. He’s popped it back in the queue and yeah, probably Tuesday. And if it’s not that, it’s going to be a couple weeks. If it ends up being Door #2, it means they’re going to quite probably have to go to a fair bit of trouble for what is effectively ONE phone line. So far, their service has been quite lovely. It will be interesting to see if this continues…

 

No no she’s not dead, she’s, she’s restin’

Yes, definitely not dead. And yes, definitely having a wee rest from the tidying up of all the things. There comes a point in ones life when one has folded and tidied everything into submission (or as close as can be considered submission when a) one lives with other people and b) one is steadfastly ignoring the sentimental category); and when one has realised that one would like to, you know, do other shit that one considers fun, one hangs up the garbage bags and loans the books to someone else and um. Does other shit for a bit.

I’ve just had the school holidays off with absolutely NOTHING on. This is the first time since ever (I think, definitely BC) that I have taken two weeks off with the sole purpose of doing one full time job instead of two. It’s been rather good, actually. I have certainly done some tidying – the laundry now no longer makes me shudder every time I go in there. I would have liked to have painted it (long involved story, don’t go there), so I have to wait. And I did in fact sort out the filing cabinet and the cupboard it was in (which was actually more of an issue than the filing cabinet). You can now open and close the cupboard without fear of things landing on ones head. I even ditched the bath toys. The offspring are now 10 and 13. They don’t use bath toys any more. I filled the rubbish bin (and the recycling bin) several times, and I’m spreading the lerve around the local op shops. So yeah, time for a break from the cleaning and the tidying. And I did a spot of crochet – not as much as I’d hoped, but none the less, I have two sets of squares to complete. I did stuff with the kids – took them to the skate park, took them to the pool (wee horrors made me get in with them!) took them shopping… let them go see Batman v Superman in the fancy cinema all by themselves because no. Just no. Deadpool yes. Daredevil? Love it sick. Batman and Superman? Not my cup of tea.

And I’m also looking into mindfulness again. I discovered it many moons ago when I had a one year old and a four year old and spent my entire days alternating between screeching like a banshee and locking myself in my room and rocking just a little bit. I discovered a book called “Buddhism for Mothers with Lingering Questions” by Sarah Napthali – apparently, it was the second one. Nowt like starting in the middle. BUT in saying that, when I picked up the book when I was doing the great book cullage, and after I laughed at *all* the tags and flags and bookmarks (there’s like forty including and not limited to post its, bandaids (unused), shopping dockets, tags from clothes…) and had a flick through, I was all yeah. Ok. I need to look at this again.

I am a bit of a stress head. In my case, I am talking very literally. When I get a bit cross and a bit tense and a bit under pressure, I tend to clench my jaw. I have a very strong jaw. VERY strong. I’ve cracked oh, five teeth. I suspect that they were all a bit cracked, but I’ve fucked one six ways to sideways and I shall shortly be flash as a rat with TWO gold teeth. That’ll be $3K thanks very much. That’s more than my first two cars cost. Put together. Anyway, so that I can avoid being the proud owner of five gold teeth I need to loosen up a little. Meditation is not my strong suit – I have a very untidy mind and the attention span of a goldfish with ADD. So, yeah, I’ve never had much success with meditation. And according to the other book I bought (Be Mindful and Simplify Your Life) – you can’t meditate until you can do mindfulness. Also, there’s a wee quiz. If you score ten or less, you should go see a mindfulness counsellor or a psychologist. I got eleven. It appears I need work. I’ve been reading bits and bobs from that book and from Lingering Questions, and I’ve also been revisiting ole mate Marcus Aurelius. He’s often got some suitable words for the less stoic among us. This little gem popped up when I was looking for something else – you could consider it a Sign if you were that way inclined.

Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything nor its value escape thee.

(Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. (121–180).  The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.)

That statement applies well to almost everything that I’ve got going on at the moment – The KonMari business, the need to increase my mindfulness (even if only to avoid spending the other $5K on fixing the rest of my teeth). So, my cunning plan is to at least tidy my mind a little bit and calm the fuck down. I’m also returning to a slightly expanded and flashed up version of Bullet Journaling (more on that later) in which I am going to be tracking some new habits like, you know. Going to bed at a reasonable time, doing creative shit, reading…

(Eight minutes to go clean ma teeth, wash ma face and get into bed! G’nite)

 

 

*Title shamelessly stolen and slightly altered from the Dead Parrot sketch by Monty Python

Quarterly update on all the things

I have a confession to make. Right now, I am bored out of my gourd. I am (im)patiently awaiting not one but two phone calls, and a delivery by courier. The phone calls will both necessitate my leaving the house, and if it weren’t for the damn courier, I could have gone out for a bit this morning. Actually, I probably should have gone out this morning because the courier issue wasn’t going to be resolved until this afternoon at the earliest. So, I am home and waiting. I have spent the best part of the last few days doing house-related stuff and to be honest, I cannot be fucked tidying or cleaning or sorting another thing. Even the kids are suitably amusing themselves and not fighting (which I am not stupid enough to say anything about aloud because hell breaking loose and all that.) So, bored I am. And because I’m sitting on my arse, you get to enjoy some dreadfully witty repartee from moi, and I get to amuse myself for a little while. Ahem.

Ok, where was I… Quarterly update. I decided at the start of the year that I wouldn’t make a list of ‘resolutions’ per se, and instead a vague set of goal-type things where I decided to do something about my lard arse, and start with not buying my lunch.

  1. The lard arse – well, it’s shrinking very slowly. I’ve lost about 4kg since I got semi-serious in January about losing some weight. This is enough that my clothes fit slightly differently, but I’m not noticeably thinner.  I will attribute most of that to ditching chocolate; because I appear to have slowed down with the walking, and I’ve still lost weight. My step goal is 11,000 steps a day and 80,000 steps a week – It’s been since before Christmas that I achieved my weekly goal two weeks in a row. Ramp that up to where it was, stay off the chocolate and yeah. See where that takes me. Seven hours sleep a night would also be good – I did refill the sleep bank when I started holidays, but um. Bad habits I have.
  2. Not buying lunch and snackers – that, I have to admit, I am doing well with. I decided that going to the supermarket on Monday and buying a week’s food counts as bringing my lunch, and I’ve been buying a packet of biscuits as well and there’s my coffee/tea snack. The week before Easter, I really struggled because I only had three days in the office, and had to buy my lunch each day because of various things that were happening. It felt all weird and wrong to be handing over $12 for a simple meal. I’ve saved about $200 since I started (of course, totally blown most of it with school holiday activities and shenanigans, but I can start again next week when everyone is back at work and school. But hey, I had the cash.) It’s been harder to resist the delicious treats from the cafe, but I have been looking away.
  3. Flylady – I’ve been fluffing around with the Flylady and the KonMari as well, and yeah – the house is looking a lot better. Flylady is still irritating the pants off me (good thing it’s 30C, hur hur), but I’ve adapted her weekly zones lists into a rotating cycle of four weeks that more or less follow the calendar and I’m going to see how I go with that for the next three months. I’ve just taken out the bits my cleaner doesn’t do (like wipe out the insides of the drawers, and rearrange the pantry, and clean the fucking oven, and wash the dog bowls) and divided it into four sections:
  • Kitchen (kids to do stuff I can’t reach)
  • Wet Areas (bathrooms and laundry)
  • Bedrooms (ours, kids responsible for theirs, nagging from moi to ensue)
  • Living areas (lounge, dining and Cave. Kids responsible for Cave and dusting Lego.)

They’re basically the same as hers, but the Fly separates the front porch and entry into a zone on its own (along with the dining room). My house only has 9 rooms, and the entry just has a box of shoes in it so not deserving of a zone of its own.

So there you have it… Three months in, 4kg lighter and slightly (albeit temporarily) richer, and with a marginally cleaner (and definitely tidier) house. Wins all round. AND it appears the damn courier has my parcel on board (of course, the fucker still has to deliver it today. I have plans for tomorrow that don’t involve sitting around waiting for it again, damn it. Also, I am calling the courier names because he’s a liar liar pants on fire who allegedly left the same parcel here two weeks ago instead of getting it signed for. He didn’t, we had to re-order *and* change a heap of plans that were depending on the receipt of said parcel. Thus, he’s a fucker. And I’m cranky.) One of the two phone calls have been received, plus another call I wasn’t expecting (yay, tax is done. Wonders how much we’ll get…) I’m on fire these holidays. On fire.

(Speaking of. Made bread dough this morning, so I should probably bring that inside and put it somewhere cooler than outside. Oops.)

 

 

Mindfulness (or how KonMari turned me into a discerning shopper* and I stopped eating chocolate)

Since I climbed aboard the KonMari train, my house is definitely starting to show the effects. There’s still crap everywhere, but it’s more orderly crap (and mostly belongs to other people. The stuff that’s mine is totally not crap, ok. It’s my hobbies.) Stuff goes back where it’s come from, and the areas I have sorted out seem to have stayed sorted. It’s been about six months since I watched a couple of vids on the YouTube and about ten weeks since I read the books and started to take the whole business a bit more seriously. I am a lot more aware of what I own and I strongly suspect I’m more aware of *why* I own it.

Being mindful is basically all about being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to your thoughts on a moment by moment basis. Picking up everything I own, looking at it and considering its place in my life is being mindful. BUT (and this is a bit strange) I’ve noticed some peculiar side effects creeping into my life.

For example, the family grocery bill was always around $300-350 a week. Sometimes a little more, and rarely a little less. There’s four of us, one teenager, one ten year old and a couple of alleged grown ups. On top of that $300+, we’d either eat out or get take away once or twice a fortnight. That’s a LOT of money on food. However, in the last ten weeks or so, I’ve spent an average of $260 a week on groceries, and we’re eating out/getting take away less (probably once every two-three weeks instead of once every 1-2 weeks). That is a minimum of $400 we haven’t spent in the last ten weeks.

Now, my ‘meal planning’ (such as it is) continues to be as half arsed as it ever was. It’s still a vague list of protein and suggested cooking methods that’s subject to change without notice. I still buy crap I don’t need (why do they sell stationery at the supermarket, hrrm?) and I don’t think I’m throwing out any less than I did before (I’m perpetually chucking 1/4 of a container of cream, a handful of spinach leaves and half a manky tomato). Groceries have certainly not gone down in price in the last two and a bit months, so I really don’t know how the fuck I am managing to not spend $40 a week minimum.

It appears I’m just buying less stuff. My shopping list is shorter – it used to cover the entire page, and now – maybe half. I still go off piste and buy the odd thing or two that’s not on the list (Stabilo pens and cool boxes to keep stationery in. I am not obsessed), I think I am just more aware of what we have in the cupboard, the likelihood of using it all up between this week and next, and only putting stuff on the list when the answer to that question is yes, it will get used up. I’ve also stopped buying shit because that’s what I always buy (hello, looking at you seven bottles of mouthwash) and sticking to the list. Weird.

This shopping discernment is also applying to buying other stuff as well. I took Chaos and Mayhem clothes shopping after a quicky KM of their respective wardrobes (I have to say, even if you don’t go any further than sorting out your (and your family’s) clothes, it’s so worth it – I culled stuff the kids had grown out of really quickly, went through the biggest one’s discard pile with the little one, he’s picked out what he likes, and the rest have gone to the oppy. In the space of an hour. Do your clothes, do the kids clothes, even do the significant other’s clothes. It’s worth it. Future You will thank you so much.)

Anyway, digressing as always – Chaos needed clothes, Mayhem was well stocked up.  In the past, shopping for Chaos would involve me buying stuff, bringing it home, Chaos would vary from yay to meh about the purchases, but they’d all end up in his wardrobe with the items classified meh to be ignored for all eternity or he grew out of it. Or I’d take them both shopping and feel the parental urge to be Fair and buy them exactly the same number of things. This time, we had a list and we stuck to it. Chaos needed two pairs of chinos, a pair of trackies and a couple of t-shirts to replace the 10 or so he culled the other day. He also needed a dress shirt big enough to wear a t-shirt under. We came home with one pair of pants, one pair of trackies and three t-shirts because that’s what we found that he liked. And Mayhem came home with no clothes because that kid has enough clothing to last him ’til the end of the year.

Chaos looked at things. He tried things on. He discarded things he didn’t like. He discerned. And I am trying to do the same thing – while I’m on leave I’m wearing stuff I’m not sure about, and determining whether they’re going to stay or go. So far, two shirts are staying and two are going. I’m going to have nothing left the rate I’m heading!

The chocolate thing is even more weird. And mindful. It started when I was standing over the charity chocolates at work, internally debating the relative merits of a plain Freddo or a double strawberry one or both. I decided on both, but at the same time, realised that I didn’t particularly like the charity chocolates because maybe a bit stale, a bit room temperature and squishy and generally not very nice. I took the chocolates back to my desk and returned to the task at hand while I ate the unappealing chocolate and set my mind to the question:

“If I don’t actually enjoy this, why on earth am I doing it?”

I am stuffing my face with slightly squishy and not very nice chocolate because I want a break from my desk. Because the chocolate is in another part of the office, I have to get up and walk there. So, instead of chocolate, I have been having a cup of “pretend” tea (fruit flavoured tissane – best described as hot cordial – while I like the idea of tea, the reality is somewhat lacking in appeal). The really weird part of the not eating chocolate thing is that it extended to not eating it at home either (no, I wasn’t eating $40 a week of chocolate, that’s not why the grocery bill has declined), and I simultaneously stopped stuffing my face with half a block of fruit and nut every second night. A few days turned into a few weeks which turned into Easter’s around the corner, I’m not going to eat chocolate til Easter. Easter’s been and gone – and while I have in fact eaten chocolate, I’ve probably had 2-3 little eggies each day. When I think back to last year (and every year preceding), and the chocolate stuffing fiesta that took place… well. I think I’ve broken the habit.

I’ve also lost four kilograms. I think that is certainly related.

*Except, well, stationery supplies. I’m still buying stationery supplies. But they have less calories than chocolate and my kids can’t grow out of them.