To start with, we are literally doing some housekeeping and saying goodbye to the lovingly hoarded rammel of a decade. Actually, according to some of the paperwork, that’s two decades.
I have to keep documents for seven years for tax purposes, but the problem is that I never remember to throw things out. I need a system of rotation, like a shop, rather than my current system of piling, like a compost heap.
With the help of a shredder, I intend that most of the old paperwork will shortly be entering a compost heap, but after that, rotation will be my watchword.
Another watchword is, of course, good intentions. OK, so it’s two words, but it’s close enough.
The writing exercises are going well. This is Day Three of the blogging challenge, so it’s still on track. It’s not particularly impressive viewed against the record of some of the more prolific and regular bloggers on WP, but it’s getting back to where I want it to be.
The more I write, the more I want to write, so it’s working well. That’s probably a theme I will return to, as I recently read an article on prolific writing and the way it helps generate ideas. It’s working for blogging, and it’s working for Haibun.
So, decluttering and back to writing. That’s two things. I’m now going to get to grips with making a list of all the irksome little jobs I have to do.
There are a lot of them.
But first, I’m going to make Julia a cup of tea.
And they say romance is dead…
No photos today – the ancient netbook doesn’t seem able to handle photographs tonight and just spent twenty minutes freezing.
There were 21 parcels to pack this morning according to eBay, but in reality there were only 15 because six of the orders had come in on Saturday afternoon and we’d already packed them.
Fifteen is still enough.
When I arrived, via a blood test and McDonald’s, there was a telephone van outside the shop but he drove off as I unlocked. I went in, set everything going, and settled down to do the questions. There were five questions, one of which didn’t merit an answer. I wasn’t able to answer the other four so that was soon done.
Then I listed the items that needed packing, reached for the first one and started to pack. I pressed the button to find the address, and the internet died.
When the boss arrived ten minutes later I was busy switching off, restarting and prodding the reset button with a paperclip. And muttering.
He revealed that there was a telephone engineer outside again. On enquiring about our service, we were told he couldn’t possibly be to blame as he didn’t know which wire was ours.
Neither of us found this terribly convincing as any idiot with a tool box is capable of causing disruption, regardless of knowledge.
We struggled through the next hour using the boss’s phone and an unsecured BT account we found whilst searching.. It was slow and tedious.
Then, as if by magic, the internet returned. We looked out of the door and found that the telephone engineer had gone.
That’s a coincidence isn’t it?
Despite this we managed to get all the parcels packed and despatched. We also managed to serve a rush of customers, who started coming in as soon as the internet flickered back to life. It was almost as if they knew we had things to catch up on.
At least I didn’t have time to be bored.
In the afternoon I got rid of four bags of books, coughed a lot at the dust and got told off by Julia.
It’s been a difficult day.
The picture is a Great Tit in the Mencap Garden. There were several about with nesting material in their beaks when I was down on Friday. As usual, I couldn’t get a decent shot so this one, with no nesting material, will have to do. I’m going to try again tomorrow.
The day started badly when Julia went out to the car this morning, and found that the windows were all down. It’s happened once before – and with other cars. I always think it’s something to do with the automatic locking, though I never quite work out how it happens. Fortunately it was a dry night and nothing was taken.
This is one of the reasons I don’t like electric windows. I didn’t want them, I didn’t ask for them, I just bought a Volkswagen about 20 years ago and found that I had no window winders, just buttons. Over the years I spent several hundred pounds on repairs and ended up with three windows held shut with blocks of wood as the car eventually ended up being worth less than the cost of repairing a window motor.
Fortunately, the rest of the day was better and I was even able to look at novelty sporrans on-line. Even better, I was able to marvel at the irony that it’s a vegan taxidermist who is hollowing out many of the animals for the new wave of sporrans. If I’d merely seen the words I’d have assumed she was mounting prize vegetables for proud owners.
Julia found a bag of watches today as we continued tidying. It’s a mystery why I placed my two everyday watches in a bag with two broken watches (gardening is hard on watches). It’s even more of a mystery how they ended up in a box in the dining room.
I suspect that Julia’s definition of “tidying” has had a hand in this. She thinks that simply moving my stuff round and hiding things has some sort of benefit. I don’t.
It’s been a stressful few days.
We’ve discovered four boxes of VHS tapes which I thought had all gone years ago, eight bags of books (frankly, I’d rather give the kids away), a box of continuous computer paper (for a type of printer I haven’t used for 20 years) and the thick end of a hundred rounds of shotgun ammunition which I’d forgotten about.
That’s a long story, revolving around moving to town, giving up shooting, then giving up re-enacting, then having children. And, above all, being disorganised, with a bad memory.
I hadn’t realised that most local police stations no longer have a counter service. It took three attempts to find one that was open, but it went smoothly enough after that.
Finally there was the £30 in copper I had managed to accumulate. It cost me ten percent, using the machine in the supermarket, but the remaining £27 paid for the groceries, and it was a lot easier than counting it all out into bags for the bank and making a special journey.
I’m tempted to write a post about how I’m going to turn over a new leaf.
Regular readers will know that I’ve already dieted, eaten more fruit and vegetables and decluttered the house on a regular basis. Or, more accurately, I really, honestly, sincerely meant to do all those things.
The fact that my shirts are now tighter than they used to be and my total clutter total has been reduced by two bags of books indicates that things might not be progressing according to plan. The fruit and veg plan isn’t going too badly, though it does rely on a fairly liberal view of what counts as fruit and veg. Chocolate, fruit flavoured sweets and tomato ketchup are, according to my view, all acceptable. They aren’t necessarily as good as kale, apples and avocados, but they’re better than nothing.
I’m looking at various ways of improving on this. One way is what they call “reframing”. I learnt about that when they sent me to speak to someone about my weight. Basically, as I understand it, it means that if something goes wrong you take a step back, look at what happened and have another go. So I’ve stepped back, I’ve examined events and I’ve come up with a new plan.
I’ve decided to stop worrying about my weight, so that’s the weight problem solved. I’m going to add the jam in doughnuts and the cherries on Belgian buns to my list of “fruit” so that’s another item ticked off the list.
That just leaves the clutter. If I can find the book on decluttering that I bought a few months ago, I’ll finish reading it and then give it away. Every little helps…
You may well be familiar with the concept of matter and antimatter. Or you may not. If you are, you don’t need me to explain it again. If you aren’t, I suggest that you consult Wikipedia or Dr Who, which is where most of my scientific knowledge comes from.
All I know is that when the two meet, the consequences are not good.
Clutter and anticlutter are slightly different. When the two meet there is no mystery of quantum physics or annihilation. There is merely a sigh, an old-fashioned look and a patient explanation.
You see, clutter is the undesirable accumulation of a husband. Anticlutter is the vital stock of craft supplies belonging to his wife. Things like paper straws, cardboard oddments and the fleeces of Jacobs sheep are essentials. Ordnance Survey maps from the 1950s, military cap badges and comic postcards are mere detritus.
When the two meet anticlutter survives, or even expands: only the clutter is annihilated. And possibly the husband, if he objects.
I blogged a bit this morning and made some plans. Julia was due on a training course at 1.30 so it made for a short day.
After dropping her off for a two hour refresher on Safeguarding I went to find a charity shop that needed three bags of second-hand books and assorted rammel. I couldn’t find one, as everywhere was so busy there was nowhere to park.
I went home and read my post before I filled two more bags with paper, including a large amount of old business paperwork from 2004-6. They missed collecting our recycling bin last week because of the snow. I feel, as I continue filling it, that they will regret this decision when they have to remove a month’s accumulated paper clearing.
The letter from the anticoagulant clinic showed I was right at the top of the range, but [assed. I don’t need to go back for two weeks.
Then I collected Julia. As usual, the training was a waste of time, though it does allow the council to tick boxes. Don’t start me on the state of Safeguarding in the UK.
She helped me find a charity shop with parking outside. She also told me off for what I said to a bus driver who sounded his horn at me in an impatient manner as I took the bags out of the car. After all the time buses have spent holding me up over the years I think he could have waited thirty seconds for me.
He even made eye-contact as he went past, just to be more aggressive about it. If he was a lip-reader he would have found this an upsetting experience. Even if he wasn’t a lip reader he could probably still make out the few short, simple words I used.
Later we went shopping as the light faded, and were surprised at the volume of birdsong. Spring, I suspect, has arrived.
Then we returned home and ate Fish Pie. Julia topped it with sweet potato this time so we’ve had four different toppings in the last week – potato, potato and swede, potato and parsnip and sweet potato.
It’s not quite the lifestyle I envisaged for myself when I was young and ambitious.
I could start with my normal Saturday opening – “After dropping Julia off at work…” but I’m feeling like doing something a little different today. Same goes for the photos of the Mencap garden yesterday morning. They are OK but I’m just feeling like something more is needed. (As the post developed, not quite in the direction I intended, it became a little negative. It developed naturally, as I wrote, and I decided to let it stand. Not quite sure if it’s too negative or too personal. Let me know if you have any views on the tone.)
And that is why I am showing you pictures of cookie cutters.
Novelty Cookie Cutters
I’m torn here. I love alliteration and I am committed to resisting American English. In the case of cookie cutters I feel as if continents are colliding in my head. I really don’t want to say “Cookie Cutter” but some irresistibly force makes me do it. There is no natural alternative – Biscuit Bodgers just isn’t going to do it. I’ll try Biscuit Cutters and see if that works.
I found the cutters recently whilst decluttering. They had disappeared without being used during one of the chaotic times on the farm. We made a lot of gingerbread with the group and these cutters (with six different designs) seemed a good idea.
The problem was that after the introduction of the Farmer’s Sister into the mix everything went wrong. It started with her telling me “we’re all on the same team” which is a management shorthand way of indicating we weren’t all on the same team. Then it progressed to her shouting at me because she said I thought she was stupid because I had a degree and she didn’t.
All I had done was proof read something I’d been asked to proof read and send her the corrections. It seems that this was wrong – I should have sandwiched the suggested changes between telling her how good she was, how valued she was and how hard-working she was.
There’s a vulgar term for this, but rather than expose my gentle readers to it I’ll post a link to it for those of you who are interested.
The truth is, I don’t have a degree.
I also, at that time, didn’t think she was stupid. I just thought that she had made a mistake that needed correcting. She had used a word wrongly. I can’t recall what it was, but it was something like uninterested/disinterested. It’s no big deal. I have to think hard when using affect/effect. Getting something like that wrong doesn’t make you stupid. If someone had corrected me on it I’d have thanked them and looked it up to learn the lesson fully.
No, what made her stupid, for I did eventually have to admit she was stupid, was her refusal to learn or improve.
We were stupid too – we should have realised that it was time to move.
However, that all belongs to another story, and stupidity was probably the least vile of her personality traits.
After the team comment, and the shouting, she started a turf war, and kept moving out stuff. We had to start moving it back home every time we used it, and eventually, things got lost in the confusion. That’s how the cutters became lost.
Other things disappeared and turned up in bins or dismantled in the workshop. Like over-sized children the Farmer and his sister knew nothing of how they got there. She took down the group’s art work and binned it. She once needed a book for kitchen use, so she took the garden diary book off the shelf, tore our notes out and took the book away.
Sorry, but it just seemed the appropriate time for this to be mentioned, and once I started, I thought I would finish.
Anyway, back to biscuits. I found the cutters. I will make some biscuits.
Here, to provide a happy ending, are some previous biscuits (and some peppermint creams.
It’s been a strange day. I spent most of it sorting through a pile of junk. As a result, I have a neater and better sorted pile of junk. It takes years to make a proper mess, so you aren’t going to set it all to rights in a day.
I’ve found some interesting items, but have also managed to start a bag of things for the charity shop and another couple for the bin.
It’s slow but it’s moving in the right direction.
I will be writing about ebay at greater length soon, but for now I have to say I’m now feeling much better about it. I’ve just had a day when I bought everything I bid on at minimum price. This is a mixed blessing, as all the items were cheap (which is good) but I bought eight items and the bill soon adds up.
We had another casserole for tea after Julia came back from work. This was stewing steak with carrots, parsnips, small onions, garlic and thyme. I also used two stock pots, cumin and black pepper. I then covered it, chucked it in the oven and fell asleep in front of the TV. When I woke up it was ready. What’s not to like with a laid back recipe like that? I could have woken up an hour earlier or an hour later and it would probably have been OK.
I dropped Number 2 son off in Sheffield yesterday and we have the house to ourselves again. This should be relaxing, but it isn’t as Julia is now wittering on about hoping he’ll be alright. I’m sure he will be. He has money, he has stationery and he has access to kitchen, shop and pubs. He’s a student, what more does he need?
One adjustment I will have to make is portion size, I cooked for three tonight.
I’ve written about tsundoku before – the habit of piling up unread books. It was brought into painful focus earlier today when I opened up a box of books that has been undisturbed for several years. For “several” you could probably substitute “ten” judging by the publication dates.
When I read The Elements of Murder last month I was surprised at my familiarity with poisons and notable poisoning cases. Not only surprised, but quietly impressed with the breadth of my knowledge.
So when I found a copy of the paperback edition in the box today it was a bit of a downer. Not only is my knowledge based on reading the book ten years previously, but my memory is in fact so bad I didn’t remember buying the book twice.
It’s also a reminder that when I pictured the seven books in the photograph I was intending to review them swiftly. I’ve actually managedtwo and started two more. I haven’t even finished reading one of them. But I have bought more, and read several of them.
Finished Richard Mabey book. Yes, 3.5 stars seems about right.
Had high fibre breakfast with fruit.
Watched the Peregrines on Notts TV. Can’t find a good link to post. You aren’t missing much.
Opened parcel. It’s a new book. Could be hard work.
Explained to Julia why I needed a new book.
Picked up prescriptions.
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Asked surgery receptionist very nicely if she could get details of one of my two hospital appointments next week. I lost the letter. Yes, two next week. With luck like that I should buy a lottery ticket.
Set off for Peterborough.
Stopped for Burger King lunch. Yes, it was bad planning.
Visited Father and Sister.
Sister told me she now has three books on decluttering. Yes, three. Hence the title of the post.
Had tea. It was veggie burgers. Menu planning has slipped a little in recent days.