Monday, March 31, 2003

No cleaning tonight

No matter how I try, my housecleaners always make my kitchen shine. Amazing. I'm even managing to avoid the post-cleaning impulse to cook something that makes a mess (grin).

Anyway, my order from Amazon arrived today. Original estimate was mid April, but occasionally I get lucky and they ship from their warehouse outside Reno. I'm feeling slightly guilty because I feel that I am taking away business from my local merchants - almost bought "Yoga for Wimps" on Saturday at the health food store but thought "I'll see if I can get it used on Amazon" - so I'll have to make up for it by preordering Harry Potter V from Black Oak (at full retail).

Actually I buy a fair number of Amazon stuff used - it is a good marketplace for people selling off their libraries and I still seem to get deals even when I have to take the shipping cost into consideration.

Contemplating whether to go to Opening Day tomorrow - currently leaning against it since I have a tickle in my throat. Am eating spicy Mexican soup (with lots of chile and lime) to chase it away.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

More progress

Today is a beautiful day. In the seventies, sunny. People are walking around in shorts and driving around "topless". There were some boats out on the bay even when I crossed over before 8 am.

What have I done? Clean for most of it, indoors. I think I estimated my bedroom as an eighteen hour job and I have now been slogging for half that. I did resist temptation to clean out my closet (the stuff that DOESN'T show will get done after the stuff that DOES).

I did go out in the garden, and to drop the clothing off. Yes, it is spring, when I have to remind myself to always put my garden gloves on when I walk outside in case I feel like pulling a couple of weeds after I take the trash out. (Although since it's no longer muddy, I don't have to remember to put the garden clogs on.)

How much I'll be able to do in the yard this spring with me in this mode I don't know - probably most of my installation will happen in the fall. I have up to four weeks of vacation available this year :-).

DST starts next week!
Excuse me while I *preen*

Before I made coffee this morning, I had:

-- Done a load of laundry
-- Baked up the remaining cookie batter
-- Cleared out the area behind the door in my room
-- Made breakfast
-- Reorganized the pile on top of the cedar chest some

and I still got to 8.15 service in San Francisco on time.

Okay, so there was some coffee leftover from yesterday, so I had it when I bounced out of bed at five-fifteen. (I went to bed really early last night - filing tired me out, bigtime.) But about all I did post-making coffee was eat my burrito (leftover management, or what to do with 2/3 of an egg, scrambled), get dressed and start the dishwasher. woohoo!

Amazing the stuff I find - some books were in the pile behind the door, and emptying out the purse for the donation revealed my ticket for the WTC observation tower (on my second trip to NYC in 1998). I gasped at that.

This should be an excellent day for getting stuff out of the house. G. is moving and wants newspapers, and Lord knows I've gots old newspapers. Hah. Just speed-sorted through a stack - if the cover didn't catch my interest it was OUT. And the wardrobe for opportunity lady said she would be at an open house on Hearst this afternoon so it looks like I can avoid a trip out to Walnut Creek.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Signs of Spring

Okay, now I'm convinced that it's really spring. Asparagus is under $1/lb at my regular market and I've seen a Gulf Fritillary butterfly fluttering around my passiflora vine in the front. (They don't overwinter here.)
The Clean Sink Club

Back in November I was in the kitchen cooking on Sunday night and heard a piece on the radio program "To the Best of our Knowledge". It was about clutter, a subject near and not-so-dear to my heart. One of the segments was the host speaking to a lady who said that she turned her life and her clutter around by starting off small: every night she would have a clean sink. Eventually the rest of it followed. I thought "it's worth a try" and started following the plan.

I went on the web to track down the source and find that Marla Cilley is known as The Flylady and not only has a book out, she runs a listserv for Recovering Packrats (she will send you up to 15 messages a day telling you to do certain things), and many sing her praises far and wide. I didn't know there was a newsgroup for those trying to recover from clutter (alt.recovery.clutter) where people post the mundane little things they do to get out from under and give each other support. I don't wanna go there since I am trying to spend less time on netnews to try do deal with mine (so of course I set up a blog. hah. although if I figure out the embedded blogs thing I think that might be an excellent place to keep my boring-to-everyone-but-me list).

Anyway, I kept it up and was pleased with the results - and as the lady said, I started doing other things - but fell off the wagon when my back was injured about a month ago and I really had trouble bending down to load and unload the dishwasher. My back is better but I am not as rigorous - I left for Seattle with a WAY messy sink (all the baking gear) and haven't been keeping it up. But last night I loaded everything up and degunked the sink; and this morning I was so pleased to have a clean sink that I started other cleaning things - containerized the bulk items sitting in bags on the counter, did the hand wash, rinsed out empty bottles for recycling. Which I had to stop myself from continuing since today I really need to file all the papers that survived the purge last week before the housecleaners come Monday and can't make that bed :-). I also did a load of laundry, which is apparently a FlyLady "morning routine" task (although I think this is oriented to women with kids who have DAILY laundry, not adult-only households in drought-prone areas who have WEEKLY laundry).

I like the approach of starting out small - a lot of the organizing books are by people who are, as FlyLady's slang goes, born organized. I think that's what I liked about the Morgenstern book - she wasn't and taught herself how to be! Although if the book gets lost in the clutter (hah) I can always go to the website.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Busy Baker

Due to the budget situation at work, a lot of people who are eligible to retire are being strongly encouraged to do so. This benefits the rest of us since more unfilled positions = less likelihood of layoffs among the remainder. So we are having a lot of retirement parties.

I found out about today's impromptu potluck yesterday. So I dragged my leftovers from last weekend out of the freezer. Okay, so I did make another round of triple ginger cookies, but I wanted to test something out before I packed the recipe off to Fine Cooking for their Holiday Baking issue. (The test was successful.) But that means (since I was only able to bake half the batch this morning) I will have Freezer Cookies (two kinds, and still have Freezer Truffles since those aren't going out after all). I seem to be turning into my mother in that respect. (Not a bad thing all things considered.) Now I just have to start bribing the guys at the meat counter and my mechanic with cookies and truffles, and stop saying "I'm not much of a baker" - I'm still not, but nobody who appreciates the cookies really cares about the difference between me and the people who _are_ dessert specialists.

I don't think I'm doing this to take my mind off world events - I usually make something soothing for supper at those times. I made gallons of soup in the fall and winter of 2001 (and still usually make a batch a week - I like it for work lunches). I find the process of chopping and sauteing to be very soothing. I'm not even particularly hungry for the cookies.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

The Road to Baghdad

I was one of those people who thought that the present war was not going to be a cakewalk despite our obviously superior military force. But I would have been disgustingly pleased to be wrong. Doesn't look like I am. Feh.

Unlike a lot of people, my anxiety level has gone down. Having had some vacation time and excellent quality time with friends probably helped. But in a way there is nothing I can do about it. Unlike a lot of people again, I am not glued to the TV or; I'm normally a news junkie but the constant coverage makes me want to switch off.

A note about the "irregulars" - if some hostile force crossed the Oregon line and was heading towards Sacramento, I wouldn't be the least surprised if the locals got out their firearms and started trying to pick individuals off. I'd cheer them. I would probably be at home practicing my own firing.
Morning Miscellanea

Still working on getting my blog to look the way I want it to (without having to swot up on HTML since I really should be doing other things). Didn't do much of anything last night since I didn't leave work till past eight and just ate and slept when I got home. While I was waiting for my file copies to complete, though, I did sign up at a place I read about in Newsweek, a $30 product at that is supposed to assign legal but more than garage sale values to donated items. I don't need it for this tax year but I will for next! Supposed to print out a receipt and everything. If it works (I hope to get my Wardrobe for Opportunity donation dealt with Real Soon Now) I'm going to tell my good friend E. since she rather surprised me by telling me her 2003 goal was to get 52 banker's boxes worth of stuff out of her house. The surprise was that, except for her art supplies (she paints, sketches, and works in Fimo), she's actually pretty minimalist as far as I'm concerned. Although this might be occasioned by the fact that she's been moving furniture around like crazy drywalling/painting/recarpeting her rooms, now that she's decided to stay in that house (and has survived yet another round of layoffs). I think I need to throw 104 out to make a dent. However, since I am allowing myself to count the spring-cleaning efforts, I think I should be able to make it (especially if I change the quantity to grocery bags, my usual "hauler"). Can't wait for the weekend when I can clean some more. Sounds weird, huh? But I've got this lovely vision of finally being able to set up a sewing table in my office.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Spring Cleaning

While I was on vacation around the house last week, I made a big dent in the clutter in my bedroom. The house is getting gradually more organized, bit by bit. Kitchen first since I get annoyed if I can't get at my tools and materials, then the bedroom so I can see visible progress and be encouraged, and so on. I think the key is to set a series of small goals (and also to work on what is behind the accumulation). It sort of doesn't help that I only feel like dealing with the paperwork when it's beautiful and sunny (and I could be, say, doing things in the yard) but the weather is getting nicer. I have been reading the book Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern and it is providing useful tips. I am also at the point (and a more organized friend of mine says it's an important point) where I've realized that I never refer to most of the magazines and papers cluttering the house so they could go OUT, OUT, OUT without lasting harm to my life. The wonderfulness of searching on the web is helpful, as are "Annual Editions" of recipes - a 2' stack of _Cooking Light_ compresses into a 2" volume and is MUCH easier to pull off the shelf and browse through.

I have a collection of favorite spring poetry, but this is one I have printed out and tacked on my bulletin boards right now:

Come, all you who are not satisfied
as ruler in a lone, wallpapered room
full of mute birds, and flowers that falsely bloom,
and closets choked with dreams that long ago died!

Come, let us sweep the old streets--like a bride;
sweep out dead leaves with a relentless broom;
prepare for Spring, as though he were our groom
for whose light footstep eagerly we bide.

We'll sweep out shadows, where the rats long fed;
sweep out our shame--and in its place we'll make
a bower for love, a splendid marriage-bed
fragrant with flowers aquiver for the Spring.
And when he comes, our murdered dreams shall wake;
and when he comes, all the mute birds shall sing.

© Aaron Kramer

Now back to cleaning.

Gather Ye Roses

It must have been lovely here over the weekend when I was away because the rose buds on my Gertrude Jekyll rose have bloomed out quite nicely. I love this rose since it smells like essence of damask rose, and it is a wonderful color too. (To quote one of my favorite divas, "Pink is my vice".) The bush puts on a spring flush that is quite spectacular and can be smelled from the street 20 feet away. (It will probably be early this year - usually it's May Day to Mother's Day, approximately.)

Oddly enough, I seem to be having some mental trouble processing that it is indeed late March, almost April, and spring has been full-tilt-boogie in coastal Northern California for several weeks now. The roses should help reset my mental calendar. Hooray, hooray, it's almost May.

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

No Business As Usual

Last Thursday, anti-war protestors shut down many major streets in SF's Financial District, and over 1300 were arrested.

On Friday morning, I had a window seat in an airplane flying right over the Bay Bridge toll plaza at 7:50 am. There was NO LINE at the toll plaza and the "commute direction" traffic was moving at speed or close. Normally I would expect the place to be a parking lot. I've seen more of a line on Sunday mornings. I imagine just about everyone who normally drives either worked from home (yay VPN) or decided to take BART.

This week protests have apparently shifted focus - blockading Bechtel and the Federal Building, rather than shutting traffic
in the whole Financial District more or less down and annoying people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the cause.

But seeing the toll plaza empty during peak commute was something.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Back in the saddle again...
Back to blogging after about a year ... I have enjoyed reading some other people's blogs (especially Going Bridal), so decided it was time to revive my own. It's practically mainstream as a phenomenon now; within a short time after the bombs started dropping over Baghdad, my local NPR station announcers were mentioning links to reporters' web logs on their station web site. Listening to the radio for news (something I have been doing for a while) seems so low-tech in comparision.

But today I didn't think about the war much. It was my first day back after a week of wonderful vacation - spring training in surprisingly damp Phoenix seeing my beloved Oakland A's, several days around the house trying to get things done, and a wonderful cooking newsgroup party near Seattle. In my "web breaks", I was more interested in seeing the Oscars fashion parade. My coworkers and I did get a laugh when one of our supposedly technically astute peers in another department complained to us that some people were experiencing slowness browsing to CNN and Yahoo News during the middle of the day. The news sites only. As if this were something that we could fix for them. Duh.

(Really rusty on this html thing - will have to beg some assistance from more experienced folks. I did my web page in Notepad, and it is enough of a pain that I haven't updated it much in over five years.) Maybe I'll hold my nose and get FrontPage to update it. I do have lots of pix now that I would like to include.