Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: April, 2016

{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…

 

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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.

Two books in a week!

Yes, on holidays. Therefore, copious reading has taken place in between refereeing children, tidying shit, carting children to places so they don’t kill each other, tidying more shit, making a fancy pants bullet journal and um. Yeah, refraining from killing my kids (in fact, I did threaten to send them both to the holiday program and go back to work because feral as. Seriously. Who would have children and voluntarily stay at home with them every single day?* Crikey.

Anyway, I’ve read a whole two books this week. I read The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths. They’re book one and book two in the Ruth Galloway series. She’s an archaeologist and gets called in when bones are discovered (this happens in both books, so yeah). They’re written peculiarly – not so much second person but sort of. It was slightly disconcerting at first, however the story was interesting enough to keep me reading. I liked Ruth Galloway, she’s strong and feisty and intelligent, and she’s also not reed thin and drop dead gorgeous and describes herself as on the fat side (she still pulls the odd bloke despite her lack of thin and lack of gorgeous. The reed thin and drop dead gorgeous woman in the books is a bit of a silly bint, to be honest.)

The two books I’ve read are set in and around Norfolk, with lots of Roman and Iron Age ruins and the like to be poking around withThe stories are predictable in that you can certainly pick the baddies (I’ve only read the first two, and the second one was marginally harder to pick. If this continues, it will be nigh impossible by the end of the series), but they’re twisty enough that you’re not ever 100% sure that the baddies are whom you think they are, and the goodies are only about 75% good. This makes it worth reading. The two I’ve read have followed on relatively close to one another, and from what I’ve read, the rest of them do as well. So, they’re easy to read back to back. They’re also quick to read as well. Perfect if you want something mildly twisty and quite interesting.

I’m looking forward to book three and four, anyway, and it means I have now read TEN books for 2016 and the year is barely 14 weeks old.

I’m reading the first Walt Longmire book now (for something completely different…) it’s a Western with cowboys and Indians and everything. The series “Longmire” on Netflix is based on the books. While I’m not sure whether I like it or not, it keeps making me laugh so I think I’ll persevere.

*Yes, I realise it appears I am yet again bagging people who are making life choices that are different to mine, however, while I do love my children dearly, I love them MUCH more when I don’t see them every waking moment.