Tag Archives: decluttering

The Second Morning of the Rest of My Life

After yesterday’s energetic start I faded. The afternoon was OK but the evening tailed off and I fell asleep in front of the TV, woke up, flicked through three old writing magazines from 2002 (decluttering throws up some strange finds) and went to bed. I was, I admit, resigned to the fact that I was likely to face anti-climax in the morning.

I was amazed to find myself almost leaping from bed this morning when the alarm went off. I’ve dropped Julia at work, abused a few drivers and had an interesting time with the shredder already this morning. The COVID testing station at the County Council offices is, as usual, well lit and well staffed by people wearing high-vis jackets and masks. All they need is somebody to test.

The shredder is a large and impressive shiny plastic box. I have inherited it from my father. It seems right and proper that shiny mechanical things should pass down the male line, particularly as we threw the box away and I am operating it without instructions. Wives all over WordPress are nodding wisely not and saying “Yes, shiny mechanical things with sharp blades and no instructions have been a feature of married life for many years.”

Let’s face it, most instruction books could be reduced to two points –

(1) Switch on.

(2) Do what you like. We know you aren’t going to read past here. Even if you got this far.

I normally stop reading after ‘on’.

Last week I used the shredder. Julia had left me with a pile of documents and instructions that the shredder would probably need emptying at some point. What she actually meant was that it was full and needed emptying.

I wondered why it had two lights when one would be enough. Seems the second one was telling me to stop because it was full. You’d think they’s make it more obvious. Anyway, as long as it kept cutting, I kept feeding stuff in and the light kept blinking.

Then it stopped.

Even I can tell that means it’s probably full. At that point I found that I didn’t know how to empty it. Despite repeatedly pulling at anything that looked vaguely pullable nothing gave so I rang my sister, who told me what to do. It didn’t work. I waited for Julia to show me after I collected her from work. Nothing.

Eventually we opened a drawer slightly and Julia, having smaller hands than me, was able to scoop some of the shredded paper out, which eventually allowed us to free the drawer and empty the rest. This is a cross-cut shredder so the paper debris is not all ravelled up in a big ball, but cut into tiny migratory pieces. I’m still finding them on the floor.five days later.

Today I have started it and jammed it. There was, it seems, a piece of paper stuck in front of the sensor that tells it that it is full. I found that piece of paper after removing several dozen others.

I’m now ready to take another leap into the unknown and see what other interesting adventures occur when I start shredding again. You’d have thought, by 2020, having sent men to the Moon and built a Space Station, that we’d be able to design a shredder that actually works for longer than twenty minutes at a time.

My sister has sent me some oiled sheets you use occasionally to clean the blades. I’d never heard of them until last week. I can’t wait to see what areas of disaster open up as I feed one of them through.

It’s just turned 10.00 so it’s not been a bad start – all that and 600+ words. At this rate I’m in danger of actually achieving something.

 

The First Morning of the Rest of My Life

I think we’ve finally made the breakthrough in decluttering. It’s cost us many arguments, the serious erosion of my book mountain and, in my case, a very stiff back, but yesterday I could finally see it was beginning to look clear rather than simply redistributed, and I felt free. Well, freeish. There’s still a lot to do, but we are getting there. Even moving the car insurance is part of the new life. At one time I would have paid the exhorbitant rise simply because I don’t like change.

For those of you who noticed it, I’ll go back to my spelling of exhorbitant in a later post.

Today I dropped Julia off at work and went shopping in Lidl. I normally go to Aldi (the other budget German supermarket) but I thought I’d give a recently opened branch of Lidl the once-over. I needed a loaf of sliced bread. Bear that in mind as I describe my shopping technique.

My first stop was the bakery, where I selected four croissants for tomorrow’s breakfast, because they looked inviting. I bought two pain au chocolat because Julia likes them, a sourdough boule, a , some cobs for a sandwiches over the next couple of days, and, finally, a brown sliced loaf. I( sound very middle-class, don’t I? Apart from the fact that Lidl isn’t the natural home of the middle-classes.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d stopped there, but I added sea bass (I hate fish but Julia loves it, and I’m still trying to make up for the lack of birthday presents, which are still in the post somewhere). Plus ham trimmings (which are a good, cheap sandwich filling), chocolates (see previous comment regarding birthday presents), butter (necessary for the sea bass), paracetamol (just in case of shortage) and some quinoa in microwavable pouches. Yep, definitely middle class…

I doubt I’ll go back. It was a poor shopping experience, despite the bakery. Too many customers with no masks, bossy checkout operator with no mask and a bad attitude, poor stock levels and obstruction of the aisles by staff.

I’ve also decluttered, written, drunk a bottle of Lucozade and filled the shredder, though I have stopped it before jamming it this time.

All in all, it’s not a bad morning, though I’m now starting to wonder if my new found energy is down to the psychological boost of decluttering or the 45g of sugar that the Lucozade label tells me I’ve just consumed. That’s 11 teaspoons according to the internet. Oh dear…

Speckled Wood

 

 

 

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - dramatic setting

Dreams of Lottery Wins

We didn’t, I must confess, get much work done today. Well, not much work of a decluttering nature. I spent most of the morning writing instead of working and Julia spent most of the day preparing for an art session she is running tomorrow. It won’t be appreciated by the organisation, though the clients will enjoy it. That seems to be the  way of things at the moment. Normally, when I dream of winning the lottery, I see myself giving a month’s notice and acting as a responsible employee should.

However, if we win enough (my normal £2 win won’t be enough, I’m afraid) I’m going to take great pleasure in listening to Julia’s end of the phone call where she rings up the morning after the win and hands in her notice instantly.

There’s a £70 million rollover on Friday. If I win that I will suggest that we retire early.

Then I locked my keyboard. Not entirely sure how I did it, but I did. The computer was supposed to be off but it switched itself on and when I got back to it, after stacking stuff all over the table, there were messages on the screen. One must have related to locking the keyboard, because that is what happened.

I got Julia to look up how to unlock a keyboard, but it didn’t work. So I tried the old keyboard we had hanging around. It wouldn’t plug into the back of the computer. Fortunately we had a third one, the one I used to use with my laptop on the farm (yes, we really do need to declutter – but look how useful it is to have three keyboards). This one plugs into a USB port and fortunately the computer, though old, does have several, so I was able to connect it up and get going. I really do hate computers…

…and computers feel the same way about me.

If I win the £70 million at the weekend I will probably get a new computer too. But mainly I will buy myself a house enclosed in a bubble, with filtered air and an airlock for a door so the grocery delivery man can deliver them without breathing on me. Let nobody accuse me of not taking Covid seriously.

This is not at all like I used to dream of spending my lottery winnings.

Wednesday Morning

I went to hospital this morning and parked up under the treatment centre. I spent the best part of an hour writing and watching life pass me buy then stuck a mask on and went in. The reason for the hour’s wait was because I wanted to get there while there were still spaces left.

By the time I walked into the entrance there were still spaces left – another great plan that didn’t quite work out. However, it wasn’t wasted time as I did quite a lot of writing. And compared to taking a taxi, I saved £12.

The sheet of questions you used to be asked about Covid has been reduced to a simple “Any Covid symptoms?” from a bored receptionist. This is quicker, but less reassuring.

By the time I left I had a lump of “putty” and two sheets of hand exercises. I am so looking forward to doing something like 20 exercises, each with ten reps and each at least twice a day. That’s going to be… (sound of wheels turning and gears clunking… a lot…

I’ve just ordered a couple of plastic gadgets to pop my pills out of the packets for me and, more importantly, to catch them for me. I tend to drop a lot due to declining dexterity.

I’ve also looked up my grip strength to compare it to the average. Seems that even with arthritis my grip strength in my dominant hand is strong. The non-dominant hand score is about two thirds of the other, but still good. I’m surprised at the size of the difference, though I couldn’t use one of my fingers on that hand. I’m feeling a bit better now, as I have been feeling pretty decrepit lately.

We went out for a coffee after I returned home, then went to Hobbycraft for Julia to buy things. Nothing much of any importance occurred but judging from my fellow drivers it was National Leave Your Brain at Home and Drive Like an Idiot Day, particularly for those driving 4x4s. Not one of them, it seems, can plan their route 50 yards in advance, with the result that I have to be barged to one side to allow them access to the lane they need.

While we were out we found a charity bin that takes books. It was nearly empty so all the books from the boot of the car went in there. I’m giving some specialist books to one of the customers on Saturday, so will have got rid of several hundred this week. It’s sad, but necessary.

 

 

 

Confessions of a Bad Husband

I thought I’d get up early and do some writing before Julia rose. She deserves a rest after her exertions yesterday, and I though I might evade her for a while as she lay in the arms of Morpheus, as they used to say. I wasn’t sure whether to say that or not, but it seemed more appropriate than the more accurate ‘snoring’. On looking it up, I find that it is considered a ‘pretentiously classical allusion’. It’s a cliché

, an anachronism and overly-flowery, but is it really pretentious? Am I pretending anything? I think the writer of the free dictionary should read his own product.

Anyway, it didn’t happen. At the first hint that I might be making  a break for freedom, she woke up, sniffed the air, sensed a disturbance in the force, imitated a questing Dobermann and said: “What are you doing?”

“Putting my socks on.”

“And then?”

“I have some writing to do.”

The air crackled with tension.

As things stand, I am, as you can probably tell, writing. There is a time when a man has to put his foot down and tell his wife “This far and no more!” This is, I believe, a paraphrase of Job38:11 “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further:”, though, unlike Bertie Wooster, I did not win a prize for Scripture Knowledge in my youth so have to admit checking it up on the internet. I have, of course, used the King James version.

This, however, was not the time for me to use those words. I have, sneakily given her a lift to the laundrette, and returned home. She thinks I am sorting books for disposal.

Books for disposal, one of the saddest things I have ever written.Anyway, can’t stop for sadness, or more discussion of my craven capitulation, as I need to make the best use of the next half hour.

blur book stack books bookshelves

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

What’s Five Foot Four and Scares the Life out of Me?

After a day that alternated tedium with periods where I feared for my life, I am not quite sure what to write about.

I did think of a witty piece on the perils of being married but she’s been tidying all day, with regular pauses to snarl like a rabid badger, so I’m not going to risk that. I too have been tidying all day, but at a less frenetic pace. I have just put the vegetables in for tea and taken my chance to sneak to the computer while Julia is upstairs beating some poor junk into submission.

I am seriously thinking of making up one of those bundles on a stick that you used to see illustrated in kids’ books and running away to sea. My other choice, joining the French Foreign Legion under an assumed name, is not really a viable proposition for a man approaching his sell by date.

You have to be under 39½ on joining, and I don’t think hair dye and a cunningly doctored birth certificate are going to help me much with that. Apart from that I am amazingly eligible to join one of the toughest military units in the world. Their list of disqualifying medical conditions misses most of mine out and as long as I can meet the requirements of the BMI I only have the sports tests to do. Unfortunately, at the moment, I would need to be about fourteen feet tall for the BMI calculation to work.

This is probably too tall for a long and successful military career – it is usually felt to be a good thing if the soldier is shorter than the generally available cover.

Looks like I might just have to do what I’m told and offer her chocolate.

I saved two books on photography from the pile she gave me to throw out, so as from tomorrow you can expect better photos. For now I’m just going to chuck in a few old ones before returning to my roasting vegetables.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t be fooled by the smile…

 

Monday, a Day of Promise

I rose at a moderate time, washed up and made breakfast. I tried to make Julia a heart-shaped fried egg but the egg didn’t quite spread inside the frame and then it started to stick to the pan and in the end it looked like three-quarters of an egg, as long as you knew it was supposed to be an heart. If you didn’t know what it was meant to be you wouldn’t have known what it was. My own egg was much more successful as I set out to produce an odd-shaped free-form fried egg with crispy bits, and that was exactly what I ended up with.

Once they were shoved into a cob with bacon and mushrooms it didn’t matter what shape they were. All that matters to me is that my yolk is hard. I don’t really like runny yolks at the best of times but they are a hazard to shirt fronts when used in a sandwich. Julia likes her yolk soft, but as my wife of thirty years, she is accustomed to disappointment.

 

I have read the comments on my posts, added the word ‘cyanosis’ to one and added a couple of lines to another.

My first post of the day is now done, my new medication has been delivered by a hospital volunteer and Julia is clinking with menace as she sorts jam jars and emanates expectations. She wants me to start filling the skip with bits of shed. She has dragged it to the driveway and it is now time for me to do my bit. I will potter out to offer support and supervision in a moment, then come back to this.

By the magic of WordPress I am now back.

She had been struggling to dismantle a bookcase which had suffered from years of standing in a leaky shed and is therefore un-salvageable. This is the sad state of quite a lot of stuff, including things that had been safely stored in the dry garage last time I saw them. Married men will recognise the note of pain in my writing.

Anyway. the bookcase fell apart from a few taps with a rubber mallet. If I had been able to access a proper hammer it would have taken considerably fewer taps. With a proper Enoch I reckon one blow would have done it. That’s right, when I am in full swing, we are never far from a Luddite link.

Last night, whilst relaxing, I started to read WordPress. I haven’t really done that for years now. It was a very pleasant experience. I’m going to write another few posts to top my total up to two thousand then I’m going to cut back on posting and increase my reading.

Don’t get me wrong – I like all the blogs I read, but I’ve been limited in the last few years and have struggled even to keep up with sporadic reading of my regulars. Given a little more time I’m going to enjoy more reading, particularly as I was able to catch up with a few people I haven’t read for years.

Despite the weather, which features a cold breeze and a threatening low grey sky, I’m feeling quite sunny today, and am hoping that this frame of mind persists.

I’m going to throw in a few cheerful flower photographs from Harlow Carr Gardens and make beans on toast for lunch.

All photographs are irises in spring from our visits to Harlow Carr Garden, apart from the header which is Julia in the Mencap garden at Wilford.

Clutter, Clothes and Cookery Books

In line with my new policy of decluttering I started by bagging up three bags of old clothes this morning. I then moved on to bag up several dozen books, including a large number of cookery books. To be honest, I get most of my recipes from the internet these days and don’t need the boxes of books.

I didn’t see my book on decluttering but I’ve promised Julia that when I find it it will be going straight in the bag. You don’t need books to declutter, you need bin bags and determination. I am no longer hanging on to stuff for a mythical future car boot sale or because it may come in useful.

We have been taking stuff to our local Mencap shop. I would like to say that this is because we’re supporting Julia’s work but it’s really because you can park outside the front door. If Satan ran a charity shop I’d probably drop stuff off there if the parking was easy.

I am a lazy man of low morals. And, if you believe Julia’s comments on my discarded clothing, poor fashion sense.

When I got downstairs Julia sent me back up to change. The fact that I’d found a thermal vest (or undershirt if you prefer), a Hawaiian shirt and an orange fleece waistcoat whilst sorting clothes is, it seems, not sufficient reason to wear all three at the same time.

This is news to me as it’s how I normally select my clothes. It’s just that most of my clothes are dark and nondescript so the problem of mis-matching doesn’t normally occur.

I’m assuming that she meant the clothes…

Anyway, that sums up the day. I’m now watching The Apprentice and eating the Jellyatrics that Julia was given for her birthday.

 

 

 

A Different Sort of Day

Had bacon sandwiches for breakfast.

Did some decluttering and deadheading.

Had an argument about the best way to declutter. I, as usual, was wrong. It seems it’s far better to move lots of stuff multiple times and pile it up dangerously rather than just doing it once in a structured and stable manner. However, my way takes thought and it would involve me making decisions instead of just doing what I’m told.

We had lunch at McDonald’s, where they were having a “Bring Your Own Idiot to Work Day” judging by the service.

After that, we managed to hunt down a charity shop with a parking space outside. They now have eight bags of books we have more carpet to hoover.

Many of the books are cookery books. You can buy some excellent cookery books from charity shops for £2 or £3. However, I rarely use them much (usually only a couple of recipes) and they then gather dust.

Today, with some wax polish and an old vest, I removed the dust and added some gloss before returning them to the charity shop system.

My X-Ray appointment today did not go as well as the last one. Instead of same day service and ten minutes from start to finish, I had to wait three days for the appointment and sit in a stuffy corridor for an hour.

You would assume they had a great array of techniques and equipment to X-Ray fingers. They are tricky things to photograph from the side as you have to avoid taking all the others at the same time. With a metal plate (which I’m sure they used to use in the old days) and some gaffer tape I could have easily rigged something up, but with me holding the unwanted fingers out of the way and one wedge of blue foam it takes a while.

It’s nice to know that you get better service when they are looking for lung cancer than when they are looking for arthritis. Having said that, you still have to wait 7-10 days for the results whether you have a terminal condition or difficulty holding a pen.

I don’t, by the way, have lung cancer. I have a cough. That’s why I went to the doctor – pills for a cough, not an X-Ray followed by pills for a cough seven days later.

This is a good thing as I’ve just spent £300 on two new dental crowns. It would have been annoying not to get the use out of them.

There’s no point having the nicest teeth in the cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Difficult Day

I’m typing and watching TV. John Torode, the Australian cook from Masterchef (where he is partnered by greengrocer and pudding-eater Greg Wallace) is drinking mate in Argentina whilst learning about Argentinian beef.

Even Argentina, with all its open space is moving to rearing beef in feed lots.

It’s sad, but true. I was tempted to use the word “irritating” about Torode, and “even more irritating” about Wallace. But manners got the better of me, so I didn’t.

I’m intrigued by mate, but having read about the preparation I may give it a miss. I’ll add my favourite bit of mate trivia before leaving. It’s the bit about the South Africans around Groot Marisco, in case you were wondering. I have covered it before, I think, though I can’t find the post to confirm that. It’s a bit like the Burnley and Benedictine story. Or why they speak Welsh in Patagonia. Or Afrikaans.

I do love trivia. I quite like Argentina too, after watching today’s programme, but that’s mainly based on the fact that they eat a lot of meat. Even their truckstops serve barbecued beef.

On the other hand, I don’t like laundry and I don’t really care for six hours of decluttering, but it was my programme today, as dictated by Julia. (And yes, I have selected my words with care.) I did manage some deadheading, so it wasn’t an entire waste of a day.

Tomorrow we are starting our holiday, though we aren’t actually going away.  I have a blood test tomorrow and have to book an X-Ray appointment for my left hand, which will probably see off another day. I was hoping for anti-inflammatories and a steroid injection rather than another bloody visit to the hospital.

More medical discussion tomorrow, for those of you who are interested. It’s nice to be able to discuss medical matters without the necessity of removing my trousers.