Domestic Doings, W songs, and a bit of eccentric serendipity

It all started because we were out of cat food, and also Kroger had a huge bakery surplus yesterday, heavily marked down. But I mean, I didn’t know we were out of cat food while at the store. I just got the bread, and some other things.

There was a sliced sourdough loaf and a package of brioche buns. And I got them out to ponder this morning, when the cat started meoling at me. I realized she had no food, so I pulled out leftover roast chicken from a few days ago, and managed to get some dark meat from it. The dark meat has taurine in it, which cats need. And so I decided to make stock from the remainder of the chicken, and put it in the stock pot, but as I was pulling out celery, carrots, and half an unpeeled onion from the refrigerator, it occurred to me I hadn’t cleaned in there since the beginning of the year! It was not a good situation, because that is wrong. You can’t treat a refrigerator like a clothes closet you throw things into when you’re feeling lazy or out of sorts instead of hanging them up. So I put the stock to boil and began emptying the refrigerator. Soupstock
And while I was doing all this, I put the iPod in my little kitchen stereo and started with Anya Marina’s “Waters of March,” which is the best version of that song, though they are all great, because it is the best song. I was really busy cleaning, so it just kept playing through W songs and I thought, well, that’s fine. I will have W song day. Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.26.53 PM
I got to thinking about how, eighteen months ago, my grocery budget was more than I needed, and things are now dwindling fast, but condiments last so long, even if the pantry gets low, I will still have five different kinds of mustard in the refrigerator. Life is odd that way. Refrigerator
Because of a miscommunication, we have more eggs than anybody maybe ought to have, so I thought I’d use some in bread pudding with the brioche buns. Then I remembered I forgot to add a chicken neck to the pot, so I got one from the freezer. My freezer door has a bottle of gin and several chicken necks in it. Life is also like that, if you are me.

Speaking of which. My friend Karen recently ordered a whole bunch of old Playboys for me, from what I figure is their peak period, the mid 60s right before Penthouse started up and changed things. They have come so far in three packages, and today’s had several from 1963. I stopped to flip through one and saw there was a review for the movie Mondo Cane. I decided to set it aside and remember to read that later, because I had to take someone to work. Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 10.43.10 PM
When I returned, I ate a sandwich while watching The Joey Bishop Show, as one does, and lo and behold, there was Andy Williams singing “More!”

That song is from Mondo Cane. A neat bit of serendipity. And I must say, though I like Darin’s version best, and not so much Sinatra's, Williams did it exactly like I imagine it was written. But then of course, he would, wouldn’t he? Here, if you're interested, from a concert.

The second episode of the show for today featured fun talent show-type performances from several members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here's some of that.

Now I have a clean organized refrigerator, and lots of soup stock, and not any bread pudding yet, but that’s all right. If you are working with a strict kitchen limit, it’s important to stay organized and keep track of your inventory. You have more scope for creativity that way, and also it’s depressing and overwhelming to deal with chaos on top of budgetary concerns. No one needs that. You might get home from taking a second someone to work and discover the dog got out without his collar on, and when you get home from finding him, the last thing you want is to have to weed through Ziploc bags and old sour cream containers in order to find your dinner ingredients. Something to bear in mind.

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It's that time of year...

This is the time of year when, no longer coughing all the time, with sunshine streaming in through the windows, I commence to heavier cleaning. I'm not a constant or furious cleaner, but I do like things to be as nice as I can make them. Yesterday as I was putting in a load of laundry, I suddenly remembered the Flylady. Have you heard of her? Years ago I looked into her housekeeping system and was stymied by the top thing; each morning you get dressed, putting on makeup and lace-up shoes.

This is so you will feel Prepared For Work. It's lockstep in the notion that No One would feel like cleaning otherwise.

And I agree that when you rise in the morning, putting away bedtime is essential if you are at home all day. If you want to be productive, you need your productive daytime gear. But that just isn't the same for everyone. In my house, shoes are not allowed, except for visitors who don't know any better, and we rarely have those. Further, they were required to be lace-up shoes. If I put on shoes with laces to clean the house, I'd not feel more productive; I'd feel like I was now being punished severely and would be distracted and upset all day by foot prisons. BackdoorshoesSandals the boys use to run out back for something, and my garden clogs and boots.

I wrote her a letter eight or nine years ago, and she was adamant this rule must be followed. It was a bit touchy, her reply. So we agreed her system was not for me. Also,  I think some of what she advises is wasteful of resources, but that’s a deeper topic for another time.

Later, she told people they could wear "indoor shoes," still lace-ups. Ugh. THEN I read yesterday there is now a sort of “Asian clause;" if you’re Asian, you get a pass on shoes. No one else could possibly also have the notion that wearing shoes in the house—tracking the street in through the carpet—is Not Done. Ugh. FrontdoorshoesI wear these sandals to get the mail, do something in the front yard, or run up to the store. In the winter, they are traded for slip-on closed shoes. I keep all my "nice" shoes upstairs in my closet, but this is where shoes are taken off when entering the house.

I don't put on makeup, either, unless I'm spending the day outside; I have a light foundation which provides just enough sunscreen for my face and a pleasant even countenance for passers-by. Otherwise, Makeup is for Going Places. But I do get dressed every morning, put away my nightgown, splash my face, brush my hair. I am still modeling a simple morning routine for Young People, after all. I pull the covers back on the bed, and go make it up a couple hours later.

I like a clean sink, but as my middle son is in charge of dishes, if there are a few left in the morning, I don't try not to stress. I just stack them neatly to one side, and scrub the sink (but not by filling it with bleach water; this isn’t best practice for the old asthmatic lungs.) It gets me moving in the morning, then I carry on.

Here are tips from her or me or whoever that I think you might wish to consider, particularly if you are home a lot or most days:

    •    Do dress in the morning. I don’t mean dress up, I mean put on a loose comfortable dress or shorts or pants and a top, and if you’re into it, I guess you can add shoes... The key is to differentiate between bed hours and not-bed hours. Do rinse your face with warm water if you don’t take a morning shower (I like mine in the afternoon after I’ve Done Stuff) and lovingly pat it dry, brush or comb your hair, and nod hello at the mirror. You go ahead brush your teeth before or after you eat something; I’m not in charge of what you prefer even though I think before is weird. (I will say, if at all possible, please don't get right online with emails and news and status updates. Give yourself some greeting-the-day time first. Science agrees with me.)

    •    If you have your own clothes washer, but you tend to get behind, put in a load while you’re managing other morning tasks. Put that one load away the moment it’s done. Do another one each day, and after awhile, you'll be caught up, plus have a good idea how long it actually takes to stay that way. Wash sheets one weekend, other non-clothing items the next. Teach everyone over the age of eight to wash their own everyday clothes. It takes a lot of oversight for the first couple years, but they do thank you later when they realize their young adult friends are all dumb about how to do laundry.

    •    I buy one tree-free paper towel roll a year for occasional kitchen use, and you must do as you like, only think about this maybe: I also keep dozens of cheap washcloths and shop towels around, and they are washed in hot water when I’ve collected a load’s worth in either the washer or a container next to it. You can add them to a container with some bleachy water in it if you like, then pour it all into the washer, the way people do with cloth diapers. I just add a little Borax to the washer myself. These things last a couple years or more unless you’re bleaching them like mad, and you aren’t using many pieces of paper once just to then throw them out. Kitchencloths
   •    Before you go to bed at night, make sure the sinks are empty, counters are clean, and things are not lying about on the floor. Everyone in the house should help with this.

    •    Keep a large bag or basket in a handy but not in-the-way spot and add things to it that no one wants or needs, and when it’s full, take it to Goodwill or another charity of your choice. Each spring and autumn, go through everyone’s clothes and give away everything that no longer fits or can be used. If it’s not wearable (you wouldn't consider it worthy of cousins or friends) there are places that take textiles for recycling, or you can cut it up and use it for car or garage rags.

I’m not the person to offer heavier cleaning tips, though I might advise you to teach everyone to wipe the bathroom counter and rinse the sink after face and teeth time, but if you do these few basic things regularly, then you will feel more like advancing to regular dusting, cleaning the refrigerator regularly, and staying more organized in general. CabinetorderYou might adapt this idea for your own use: take a photo of full cabinets and tape it to the inside door so things are always put back in the same place.


30 in 31: day fifteen: cute stuff I made this year

A representative sampling of stuff I made this year.

Babynosides BabyquiltsidesThis is the first official quilt I finished with the sewing machine. I made it for the new baby of my favorite internet writer/a favorite person in general, so I felt good that it turned out pretty well.

BikebagA cute bag I made for myself.

CalicotopA small quilt top.

CrazyquiltThe crazy quilt I made last winter. 100% by hand. I shared a few details of it here a couple days ago.

FirstapronThis is the first thing I made on my new sewing machine, which I got for my birthday in June. I sent it to one of my daughters.

PaintdaubsA painting I never actually finish because it isn't meant to be? It's this whole thing. Also it's not a very good photo...but I decided to hang it, anyway.

Stripeside InsideThis is a reversible bag. For some reason, I don't have photos of the blue side. But I did some finishing stitching at the top, then sent it to my daughter, thinking I'd make another. I have the materials, hope to have the time soon.

PurpletopAn experimental crazy quilt top. It's not done but I think it's neat.

TomatillosalsaTomatillo salsa.

TabletopperQuilted table topper

Seasonal space, redux

Last year and a day ago, I wrote a blog post about preparing my spaces for NaNoWriMo and winter. 

 Yesterday I did somewhat the same thing, only my space has been very much rearranged over the past five months. Very much, that is, if you factor in enormous waterbed that really has only one place it can be. In June, I rearranged the painting/writing room so that now it is a sewing/painting room. In August, the bed was moved slightly when the new mattress arrived, to make room for my bike on a trainer. Last week, I switched the location of the dresser and bookcase to make that easier, and yesterday I brought the bike upstairs.  20151026_120154

 I spent the afternoon and early evening going through every piece of clothing, put away a large laundry basket full of things I won’t wear til next spring, threw away about that same amount of clothes that were too damaged to give away or reuse in some other way (which happens less often as I’ve taken up wearing cooking aprons much more often,) and prepared a giveaway bag of roughly the same amount, as well. I reorganized my dresser drawers and washed all my cardigans, hanging them to dry. I also ordered a warm outdoor vest and two pairs of arm warmers.

 This is because I have only a couple of long sleeve tops. I dislike sleeves in general, dislike the way they oppress my shoulders and upper arms, and I was this way even before pre-menopausal upper arms appeared. But I don’t mind often wearing a loose cardigan over a sleeveless top, so that’s how I manage winter these days. And I thought I might like the arm warmers sometimes, as they won’t interfere with shoulders and armpits. I also have several pairs of elbow-length gloves, and lots of long wide scarves. 20151027_104742Winter is tinkly lady time.

And thus once again, I need no new clothes at all until at least spring. My pants, which are mostly all too short for general winter comfort, can just be tucked into boots again, same as previous years. I cannot be bothered to learn whether that happens to be a prevailing style this year, because I don’t want to buy new pants. Others are free to cloak themselves from head to foot in the thickly woven fibers of winter protection. I’m uncomfortable watching a movie scene in which people wander around indoors with coats on.

 But anyway, all that aside, I no longer have a dedicated space where I might do the writing. The pink chair is in the bedroom now, and as I write this I’m sitting in the living room next to the old cranky cat. She is not allowed in the bedroom, much to her annoyance. It’s pleasant enough in here, but the hearth wants dusting, and there is a battery sitting on it. That will annoy me now that I know it’s there. I will get up to move it, then feel compelled to dust everything, then be reminded there are dishes to do and that we need milk.

You gotta have all that in hand if you want to be free from the distraction of it. I’m aware other people do not allow the need for household management to distract them from creative effort...

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…but that’s none of my business.

Still, I think November writing this year will be mornings with the cat, and when there is time, afternoons in the pink chair upstairs before dinner. 20151027_102318


I have this sweet 3 year-old MacBook Air now that doesn’t threaten to fall apart or die when I move it, so I am unbounded by location this year. I could even…leave the house with it.