Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Nikchick's Thinking Organization

...must be January.

I'm not sure what it is about January that drives me into a re-org frenzy. Nothing to do with it being a new year or resolutions, I think it's more that the holiday season (my birthday, Thanksgiving, Kate's birthday, Christmas, the New Year) brings a bunch of new stuff into the house. Gifts come in, food and drink and other holiday entertaining essentials spring up, decorations are dragged out from the nooks and crannies where they've been stashed all year... and as I look at the new untidiness in the calm after the storm it's organization time.

A major relief has been getting the plumber in to finish the work of closing off our heating system from our potable water system. Our super nice plumbers came in and replaced all the piping in the water closet with lovely copper pipes and fittings, stuck a heat exchanged and pressure gauge on the heating side and replaced our ten-year-old water heater with a nice new tankless system. When they pulled out the old expansion tank it was rusted inside and full of water, a sure sign of impending failure, and I was glad to have them take away the water heater while they were at it rather than keep the thing and have to revisit this whole issue again in another few months or a year. The heating system, now that it's closed off and held at a lower pressure, only holds about three gallons of water. In the future, should any leaks spring up they'll be easily discovered because of the pressure gauge and with only a few gallons of water in the system the risk of catastrophic damage is removed.

A bonus to having the water heater out of the tiny water closet is that I have a tiny amount of extra storage! It's not much but it's enough to have a place for my brooms, mops, buckets and other small cleaning items, which were previously crowding my already crowded laundry room. (As I discovered when I had to replace my washing machine, the room is just barely big enough to hold a modern washer and dryer and still have room to open the door.)

Anyway, despite our decluttering and organizing efforts in 2009, the bottom line is that we still just have too darn much stuff! I've also reached my limit on how much cleaning and organizing I can take on myself. I'm allergic to dust and shirk dusting duties, but that just means the dusting doesn't get done. I spend several months in 2009 nursing a shoulder injury that made things like even drying my hair with a towel, chopping vegetables, or scrubbing pots a painful experience. I got the thumbs up from my physical therapist to go back to normal routine at the end of the year but my first foray into vacuuming the house and scrubbing the bathtubs left me hurting. My loving family does what I ask (most of the time) but we have very few regular, assigned chores and absolutely no schedule. Instead of continuing to try to be supermom who either does it all myself or takes the blame when things don't get done, I've been looking over options for assigning chores and creating a schedule. I have a pile of organizing books and home upkeep books beside the bed. Now that Kate's back from her dad's a family meeting is in our future. I haven't decided exactly how the chores will be divided but we're going to build on the organizational successes of 2009. Here we go!

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Official: Too Much Stuff

You would think that having recently divested the household of 8 boxes of books I'd be sitting pretty. Not even close. Can't even tell they're gone, to be frank. We officially have too much stuff. Junk. Crap. Detritus.

In order to make room for the washing machine repairman (who didn't show up yesterday and swears, swears they're coming tomorrow morning now) I had to move things that I'd been storing in the laundry room (which is larger than a standard closet but smaller than a walk-in closet). Those things largely bankers boxes of papers and assorted files) are now taking up a good corner of my kitchen. The kitchen is already my defacto office and I have shelves, boxes, filing cabinets and all the random things you'd expect to find in an office here in addition to the stuff you'd expect to find in a kitchen. The kitchen table is completely ringed by boxes, shelves, bins and piles waiting for storage. We've even got shelves in the corners of the landings in the stairway and in the upstairs hallway!

Upstairs the bedroom is in the same state: shelves on every wall, over the bed, under the windows. Boxes, laundry baskets, drawers and other storage options ring the bed on all sides. Closets are full (winter clothes, summer clothes, everyday clothes, business and "occasion" attire, luggage, and some stray boxes of yet more junk). The upstairs guest bathroom has spent the last year as a storage room, mostly old boxes of Kate's old toys or kids' books that are slightly damaged (thanks to a book-binding nibbler named Bonnie) and not suitable for resale but still decent books that I can't bring myself to throw out or recycle. Kate can't walk in her room at the moment because I haven't been able to take apart the old deluxe (expensive!) bunny cage to get it out of her room nor have I been able to remove the coffee table that has lived in her room as furniture since her Kindergarten days. I'd put that junk in the garage but the garage is also full. FULL. In anticipation of the recent windstorm I moved a large pile of boxes (and goddamn packing peanuts... oh how I HATE packing peanuts) off the back porch and into the garage. That took up the very last available space that there was in there....

The "office" is also full. Years ago we took the door off the room to be able to get another book shelf wedged in. That shelf is long full and so is the rest of the office. Full, full, full.

I look around at all the stuff and I know more is coming. There's always more. Birthdays, Christmas, new technology supplanting the old, more Green Ronin books (and more...and more...always more...) and things I can't even predict. I look around and I don't know where to start purging. We need those Clean Sweep people to come and ruthlessly purge. Or a giant dumpster from Trashbusters that can just be indiscriminately filled and hauled away.

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Spring, please stay!

I'm so ready for the weather to stay nice! I don't have a sense of whether this spring is "average" for cloudy days/rainfall/cool weather but it has felt exceedingly long to me this year. I'm ready, SO ready for sunshine and warmth.

Yesterday was just nice enough. I spent a couple of hours wearing a sundress because I could. I arranged to meet Pramas for lunch in the market, where we blew a wad at Place Pigalle and dined on their famous mussels, delicious soups and where I had a sublime slice of buttery king salmon in a roasted tomatillo sauce, washed down with some of their excellent minty iced tea. I also made some progress on Kate's passport situation, digging up old documents to prove my places of residence prior to her birth and getting a certified copy of my divorce decree and the parenting plan we submitted to the court. I have a request in for a copy of my now-nullified marriage certificate as well, though why it should matter to Kate's citizenship whether her two American born and raised parents were married or not is a mystery to me. Maybe, maybe we'll get this thing sorted out in time for her to go to her Dad's for the summer as scheduled. Also attended a meeting for incoming sixth grade families for Kate's school; I'm pretty excited about the focus of things and the 6-8 program that's shaping up. Thankfully last night Tim offered to bring and bake his perfected deep dish pizza recipe for "game night" so I didn't have to also cook; wine, pizzas, and strawberry rhubarb pie were consumed. I stayed up too late talking with Ray after everyone else left.

Today I had use of a Flexcar Honda Element and I did not waste it! Before breakfast I had the thing loaded up with electronics for recycling. We cleared out seven desktop computers, five monitors, two laptops, two printers, a fax machine and 179 pounds of miscellaneous peripherals (keyboards! I got rid of seven or eight keyboards). Then it was back for a second load, this time filling the vehicle to the brim with styrofoam and other non-recyclable packing materials. Then, up to Chez Sass to deliver leftover pizza where I got to hold Keegan for a good long time. A trip to the post office, a stop at the farmer's market and now, finally, home for the night.

I picked up a bunch of great stuff for dinner tonight (and since I was running hither and yon today had a filet o'fish meal and that's it, I'm starved!) including some morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, and miner's lettuce. Also some fresh asparagus, two kinds of stinky cheese from a new cheese vendor, and a fresh seeded baguette from the fine folks at the Columbia CIty Bakery. Man, I've got to stop writing about my food and go eat it!

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Once upon a time, I bought the Better Homes and Gardens book Making a Home (subtitled Housekeeping for Real Life) because I've never been a homeowner before and I wanted to make sure I was educated about what kinds of things (maintenance, cleaning, upkeep) a homeowner needed to attend to in order to keep their home well maintained. It's the kind of book that encourages you to make several cleaning lists (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal!) that includes in your ideal "to do" list items like Monthly: Clean oven and refrigerator; sanitize refrigerator drip pan.

Their Spring Cleaning section lists a number of chores that without a book I never would have thought to undertake: Have pillows professionally cleaned, wash or dry clean rugs, dust or wash window blinds, wipe out cabinets and install fresh shelf paper, vacuum cooling coils under or behind refrigerator, wash windows inside and out (including storm windows and screens), flip and rotate mattresses...

I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing these kinds of chores done. Unfortunately for me, I just don't have time to do them. I've often thought I would actually enjoy being able to manage my house full time; I would hate to be a housekeeper for someone else ("Oh my god, that lazy Nicole failed to dust the top of the refrigerator again!") but to be in a position to do for myself? My little project manager heart does a flip to imagine being able to schedule carpet cleaning, to know that I've rotated the mattresses and changed the sheets, that my gutters are clean, my garage swept, my light fixtures free of dust and dead insects.

Of course, you would never know that I harbor these fantasies to actually look at my house. I've never actually changed the air filter in the stove vent, or replaced the water filter in the fridge. I'm far more likely to be checking the Green Ronin message boards or working on some company-related project than freshening my linens or contact papering my cupboards. I can't remember the last time the kitchen floor received more than a cursory Swiffering. It's a pretty good weekend when I can get a couple of loads of laundry washed/dried/folded/put away, dishes done, recycling taken care of, and the living room vacuumed.

This weekend, for the first time in ages, I wasn't traveling, sick, or just plain weary. I finally removed several large boxes filled with packing peanuts from a corner of the living room, finally put away the boxes of Christmas decorations in the attic space of the garage, and basically started paying attention to the house around me more than making sure the family has clean clothes, clean dishes and food in the fridge. As long as I'm working full time, the only driver in the household, taking care of all school- and Kate-related duties, I'm never going to fulfill my desire of running my household with precision. However now that spring is practically upon us, I look forward to shaking off some of the winter funk that has settled around us while I wasn't looking.

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