WASHING, SANDING, BUT THE PAINT CAN WON’T OPEN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prompt


I had a really bad case of asthma last night and finding a position in which to sleep left me a bit tired this morning. But having finally convinced my lungs to breathe rather than wheeze, I got up and decided I’d better make a head start on what I — for some obscure reason — had volunteered to do. It was a small enough job and I figured I should “Be useful.”

Paint the parts of the door that were “left over” after we installed the most recent door handle.

It looks just like the old door handle, but unlike the old one, isn’t broken. Not exactly the same size, either. It is a wee bit smaller, though it is otherwise very similar. It certainly works a lot better than the older one ever did, even when it was new. My job was to wash the door, sand the area to be painted, then paint. It went pretty well until I realized I could get the top of the paint can open. I’m not the powerhouse I was in my youth.

I had swept the door area clean a few days ago, but since then about 8 million new insects had moved back into the crevices. Mostly spiders, but also some weird-looking puffy things and other crawlies.

I’m not very fond of crawlies, but I have learned to cope with them when I have no other choice. Garry joined the party, which was nice because he has a couple of inches on me, but between the two of us, we couldn’t do the top of the door. We are too short.

We did the best we could with brooms and dust mops, but it didn’t get washed. Everything else, we washed at least twice and if we’d done it three times more, I’m pretty sure it would still be dirty.

It’s amazing how filthy a front door can get. If we had a hose in the front of the house, I could have hosed it down once in a while, but we don’t. It’s one of the broken things that hasn’t gotten fixed and may never get fixed. I have begun to accept the truth: not everything gets fixed. Not now, not eventually. Some stuff just stays broken because it’s too expensive to fix, or it’s just not up at the top of your broken-thing prompt list. We got some stuff done — even got the gutters cleared, more or less. But the chimney is still very much in need of pointing and the deck has been waiting more than a decade for some Thompsons’ water repellent.

We are in a race to see which crumbles first: us or the house.

The amount needing to be done greatly exceeds our finances or physical strength by a magnitude of at least 10.

Every now and again, we play the lottery. Not often, just when I feel I need 24 hours to dream of wealth beyond imagining. I don’t want much. Just enough money to get a house that is more suitable for us. Without stairs. Easy maintenance floors. Modern heating and cooling. Not so many trees. Not nearly as many trees. And a driveway that can’t double as the bunny slope for a small ski resort.

I also got back the results of my blood tests. I tried to read through them, I had to look up each result on Google. At first, it looked like I was a goner. But you don’t read each result. You sort of have to look at the entire picture and when I got through doping out each level — the highs and the lows — I figured out why in the end, he told me to get Vitamin D3  and take two every other day.

I’m a little bit anemic and I have the kind of vitamin deficiencies people who don’t have a normal stomach tend to get. Then there’s the spine, heart, arthritis,  fibromyalgia, and asthma. What the report really said is “She’s one tough old bird. Give her vitamins.”

And I’ve been taking my vitamins and remarkably, I’m beginning to feel a little better. It turns out that anemia makes you really tired.

I always want medical reports to say “Do this, do that and you’ll be young again.” They never say that. They never suggest that you’ll be younger, thinner, or springier in your step.

But I’m alive enough and there are plenty of reasons I might not be. Strong enough — with help — to wash that door!

Now it’ll wait a few more days to get it done. It is beautiful outside.

On the next beautiful day, for sure.

SHELTER FROM THE STORM – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Shelter


That’s kind of how I think of my house, these days. The roof doesn’t leak and the basement doesn’t flood. The heating system still works and I have a functional kitchen.

I even have some flowers in my wild garden.

I know it’s not going to be my personal mansion and I do not set forth from it thinking of it as the backstage area to the forestage of Life. This place is pretty much all of life and we could be doing a whole lot worse.

Today, it’s where we live, where we sleep and eat, and where we try endlessly to keep it from falling down faster than we can shore it up.

We have some lottery tickets. I could look them up, see if we got rich and I don’t know it yet. But when asked these days what we’d do with the money, I think ” A simple, bright house without steps and cleaning people to come in once a week and do the basic stuff.

And a cook.

I really want that cook!

HOUSEWORK SUCKS – Marilyn Armstrong

Housework seriously sucks.

It’s not just me who thinks so. No one likes it, not even the people who are paid to do it for other people. Maybe they like it the least, but I suppose getting paid makes up for something.

Last night, Garry sniffed and said: “It smells like ammonia here.”

The recently departed carpet

I knew right away what it was. A few weeks ago, my grandkid brought over a darling and completely un-housebroken puppy who — of course — pissed on the rug, directly in front of where Garry sits.

The rug before this one

I have cleaned the rug, cleaned the floor … but the dogs have great noses and they can always smell it and feel obliged to add their own personal scent at the same site. This is why I only buy cheap carpets, so even if I have to ditch them once per year, I don’t have to slash my wrists because my hand-tied woolen rug from somewhere in Asia has been ruined.

I pondered the possibility of getting the rug cleaned. It was only a 4 X 6 so it would not have been all that difficult to haul it to wherever they clean rugs (I am sure there must be a place that does it), but the price of cleaning it would be around $30. The rug only cost $40 in the first place and once the urinating has soaked it through, it never entirely comes clean.

The rug before the rug before the last one

I pointed out to Garry last night that we needed to do some cleaning, especially floors. Even though we clean up after the dogs, they can smell it. The whole urinating becomes a kind of canine party, you know?

So when the dogs started their morning barking: “GET UP GET UP GET UP,” I got up. I turned on the coffee, gave them biscuits, cleaned the water bowl. I tried to get Garry up to help with the cleaning, but he had gotten up early to put the dogs out. It was pouring again this morning, by the way, as it has been doing pretty much every morning for weeks. When Garry said he thought he might need extra sleep to compensate, I said “Whatever,” and got to work. If I waited for Garry, it would be dinnertime and we wouldn’t be done yet.

I took up the rug and its underpinnings — the thing that was supposed to keep it from sliding around on the floor. I threw it away. It stank. It was made up of some kind of sticky foam and I think it had effectively functioned like a sponge and absorbed everything. Yuck.

I rolled up the rug and pushed it off to one side of the room, got out the vacuum. Vacuumed everything. Since we’d done this a mere four or five days ago, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I vacuumed the living room, hallway, kitchen, then took the dustmop and cleaned behind the dressers in the bedroom, another one of those jobs which needed doing for a long time. Oddly enough, it did not disturb Garry who thinks I can’t tell if he is sleeping or awake.

Back to the kitchen, I dumped Murphy’s Oil in the bucket, let it seep into the mop, and washed all the hard woodlike floors. Then I did it again, moving all the furniture out of the way. By this time, my back was screaming at me.

All the pulling and bending was taking a toll. I emptied the bucket. Refilled it with the kitchen floor cleaner and started moving everything out the way for the next stage. I got halfway through the kitchen and realized I needed help. I was not going to get the rest of it done. It was almost noon. I figured since this big cleanup was his idea, maybe he could lend a hand.

Soon to be the new rug. It’s shabby chic, just like the rest of the place.

About an hour later, it was done. Garry hauled the old rug to the trash. I changed the covers on the sofas. Duke is shedding and being white, he leaves a trail wherever he lays his body. Which is everywhere.

Duke made out well, all things considered. When I hauled the end table out of the way, at least half a dozen tennis balls emerged. One was tossed for excessive slobbering and toothy destruction, but all the rest were salvageable. I put a few back in the box where I store new ones and gave Duke three previously lost balls. Bonanza!

That was approximately when I realized I actually couldn’t move. For all practical purposes, my back had seized.

I ordered a new rug. Another $40 plus a new non-skid pad for underneath it. I considered skipping the pad, but falling isn’t a really great idea.

I hate housework. It’s never finished. As clean as you get it today, it will need to be redone in another few days. And another few days after that. It is the task that is never finished and never completed

SQUARELY PINK – Marilyn Armstrong

Today Is Our 28th Anniversary

So what could be better than pink fuchsia? We grew these the last year we were able to buy fuchsia. It was the year of the invasion of the gypsy moth caterpillars which consumed every edible hardwood tree on our property and I think would have, had they had the teeth for it, have consumed us, too.

The next year, last year, I blew our budget and had the house and the trees around the house sprayed for caterpillars and we were spared the worst of the invasion.

These pictures were taken exactly two years ago, the last year I was able to find anyone who was selling fuchsia. I’ve had other plants that were beautiful, but none as beautiful as the fuchsia.

Maybe next year.

Two years ago pink fuchsia

GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS – Marilyn Armstrong

FRIDAY RDP: GRUBBY


When I think of grubby, I think “three years old and covered with sticky apple juice.” But today, cleaning around my sink, I realized parts of my world have gotten grubby too and are likely to get more so as time chugs on.

Keeping your house clean used to be a normal part of life. You just did it because it was that time again. You fit it in between work and hanging out and that was it. But with the passage of time, it gets harder to do even the easy things and impossible to do the harder things.

So what do you do? Do you give up? If you can’t afford someone to give you a hand, what’s your other choice?

And if someone has an answer, let me know! Because I haven’t found any answers yet.

WHAT IS INTUITION? – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt – Intuition


Intuition – the sure knowledge that even though your husband swears he cleaned the bathroom, it isn’t clean. Bet on it. How can a man who is so personally fastidious be oblivious to the dirt all around him? Is this a guy thing? Some weird part of the male psyche?

I’m not an especially dedicated house cleaner. I’m one of the “good enough for company” school of cleaning. Vacuum the dog hair and clumps of dust. Wash the kitchen floors. Vacuum the dust wherever you see it and every once in a while, go nuts and actually dust a few things. Not everything. I’m physically not up to a full top to bottom cleaning anymore.

I used to put on a round of “Credence Clearwater Revival” and push my way through a 9-room house in about 2-1/2 hours. Now, that same amount of time I can do the living room, hallway, and kitchen. It takes a lot longer to do the same stuff I used to do without even thinking about it.

Intuition is also knowing how much I can do without exhausting myself and winding up sick.

Let me return to the beginning of this and talk about the nature of my kind intuition. It isn’t a “gut feeling” that “comes out of nowhere.” That “gut feeling” is an accumulation of a million bits of information you’ve collected over your years of life. The older you get, the more intuitive you become because you’ve collected more and more information. You may not even realize you’ve collected it.

I often say that I listen but more importantly, I listen to what is not said. What people fail to say is often the most important part of the conversation. Silences are louder than shouting, sadder than falling tears.

When I used to do horoscopes, if I was reading in the presence of the person who was paying me, I got hundreds of “tells.” The widening of an eye, a tic of the cheek. A tightening of a hand. A jittery foot. In the end, I always preferred to do initial readings without meeting the person. Because those tells can throw you off as much as put you on a trail. They can mean something related but very different than you think.

Sometimes people would start a reading asking me to “guess” or “intuit” their sun sign.

“Why?” I asked them. “Why use all that energy when I can just ask you? You know, there’s a lot more to astrology than your sun sign. Depending on how the orbs are arranged, other things may be much more important in your life than where the sun is placed.

No one ever believed me. Too many astrology columns in the newspapers of the world.

I know a lot about people, often from brief conversations. I am particularly amused by “anonymous” bloggers who think no one knows anything about them. I don’t know how much money you have, but I know a ton of other stuff. How? The words you use. The subjects you pick to write about. The flow of your words. The authors you love or hate. The places you visited.

Do I know your name and address? No, but I’m sure I could find out. The Internet is good that way. You can dig out data about anyone and anything. I don’t because it isn’t critical to me. I don’t need to know if you choose to not offer the information. Anyone who chooses anonymity will not be a real friend because anonymity screams one thing loud and clear: “DON’T GET TOO CLOSE!”

Gotcha. I observe borders. I hear what you are saying,  what you won’t say, wish you could say. Are afraid to say.

Intuition.

It’s everything I’ve read, seen, done, experienced. Live, loved. The more you live, the more intuition you gain.

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL WITH TRACES OF MY PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: TRACES OF THE PAST Y4-07

From Paula: 

After a month’s break, I decided to challenge you again with things from the past. What Traces of the Past have you found near you or on some of your travels?

Are these remains of things built and now in disrepair, the remains of natural occurrences, or items from your personal past?

Whether they provoke admiration or make you nostalgic or even horrified, here’s an opportunity to showcase them for this photo challenge.


There’s a story that goes with these two chairs.

Adirondack Chairs

I ordered them from LL Bean when we first moved into this house, 18 years ago. I had images of long summer afternoons spent lounging in the yard, relaxing in those chairs. I also bought a big wooden table, big enough for us and anyone who came to visit. A table for the deck and matching chairs and even a side table and a lounge chair.

We built a teepee — and I wrote a book about the teepee and spend some lovely time there, too.

But life didn’t go quite the way I expected. I got sick and stayed sick for years, one thing after another. And Garry lost his job. The economy crashed and by the time it came back, we’d been out of work so long, it didn’t matter. I physically couldn’t … and Garry was burned out. Finished.

The teepee was up for 6 years then finally had to come down, worn out by those winters and summers in the valley. I found those chairs were lovely to look at, but shockingly difficult to get out of. I needed a skyhook and a winch to stand after sitting there. So while they are still out there, they are rarely used. It turns out, almost no one can get out of them without help. Something about the angle …

Our third vow renewal.

We don’t spend nearly as much time outside around here as we expected. Partly, it’s the weather and the rest are the bugs. Steamy hot in summer, bitterly cold and waist-deep in snow during winter, autumn is about the only really comfortable time. Even that depends on the proliferation of black flies and mosquitoes, and not counting two-years of gypsy moth infestation.

And yet, I have the happiest memories of the backyard. It’s where we were married (the third time, to each other) and where we had barbeques and where I slept in the teepee.

I may not spend many hours outside, but it has inspired me in many ways. It’s full of inspiration, even if the chairs don’t really fit and the teepee has moved on.

jupiter najnajnoviji