MYTH, MAGIC, AND HOUSEKEEPING – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, I explained to Garry about house-elves. He isn’t a big reader of fantasy, as I am, so some of this stuff hasn’t gnawed at the edges of his consciousness.

I told him if we were to leave milk and cookies out, the little folk would come to our house. Overnight, while we sleep, they would clean, scrub, repair, and cook. Fix the roof. Clear the snow. When we got up the next morning, the coffee would be ready along with delicious, fresh baked goods.

solarized art effect horizontal kitchen

He looked at me. I think he wasn’t sure if he had heard me. “Is this like, real anywhere? Has this actually happened somewhere?”

“No,” I said. “Only in folk tales and myth. And Harry Potter. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? We could leave out milk, cookies, and an old pair of socks. Just in case.”

Dobby_the_house_elf

One eyebrow went up. “And something that already lives here would surely eat it. And Bonnie would abscond with the socks. Our kids would be sure to leave us something. Probably not fresh baked goods … or a clean house.”

Just for a second or two, I had him. Myth and magic live. So much better than reality, aren’t they?

ABOUT THE HOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — House

These days, when I hear the word “house” my brain flicks into “fix-me” mode.

On television commercials, people always have plenty of money to hire “pros” to fix whatever needs repair. I hope they get better service than we’ve gotten.

For the rest of us, finances get a bit thin as repairs pile up. All of those television people are more concerned about finding the time to find a contractor then they are about how much the job will cost.

They live on a different planet than I do. Because even when we were both working, we had to be careful about how much anything would cost and whether or not we could pay for it.

So here’s my wish list.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

A house in which the pipes never corrode or clog. Where the electricity doesn’t blow if you turn on the hairdryer at the same time as the microwave. Where the modem never needs rebooting and the price of electricity goes down. Where any item you ever purchase lasts forever and the price of heating oil is always low.

Where snow is moderate and melts before noon and the wind blows the dead leaves off the driveway.

Windows never sag. Mice don’t move in and try to take over. Ants don’t invade. Doors never rot. The lawn, mowed once, stays mowed and the garden, once weeded never needs a redo. Where a roof lasts for the life of the house, as do all the windows and doors.

And above all, never let the well run dry or lightning strike the pump.

SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong

In a world where we are launching cars and other vehicles that can drive themselves, why can’t anyone create a pump for soap, shampoo, hand cream, and other gooey stuff that will keep working until the bottle is actually empty?

I’ve been a very good sport about paying huge amounts of money for fancy creams to deal with rashes. Soaps free of anything that might be remotely allergenic to use for my body and for the washing of clothing. The “good” dish soap that is safe the environment and is supposed to outlast all the other soaps but never does.

I have — for example — a soap dispenser for the Dawn in the kitchen. Why? Because Garry is a firm believer that more of whatever goop it is is always better than less. Thus he uses twice as much toothpaste as I do and ten times more kitchen soap. I figured if I put it in a dispenser, he’d get tired of pumping it out a lot faster than he would if he were to have his hands on the entire half-gallon container.

Today, though, he couldn’t get anything to come out. I opened it and it was more than half full, so I figured — as usual — it was all gunked up with soap. So I rinsed everything out with hot water, then found a pokey pointy thing to clear out the pump in the front, then washed the entire pump container which was all sticky and gooey.

After which, it worked. I commented that if we can replace human beings in production plants with AI devices, why can’t someone make a soap or hand cream pump that doesn’t clog up? Or, for that matter, a dispenser for packing tape that doesn’t stick to everything except the package you are trying to get ready for shipping?

Kitchen jar opener

If we can make so many complicated things that will ultimately make most people unemployable, why can’t we make the simple things work? Make child-proof drug dispensers that don’t require a wrench, lockpick, and hand-ax to open?

How about one of those zip pull envelopes that works? How about a “push here to open” place on a box that will actually open the pasta or whatever it is supposed to open rather than simply caving in the entire container?

I keep knives, scissors, and small wrenches in my night table and that’s just to open up sealed pill containers.  I have special implements to open the tops of jars and bottles. Even with all of these items conveniently at hand, sometimes, I can’t get them open and Garry can’t get them open either. Maybe Owen could, but he’s not here. Usually punching a hole in the jar’s lid works because it breaks the seal. But then you have a jar with a hole in the top.

Very expensive shampoo dispenser

I’m really tired of throwing away half a container of expensive goop because no one can get it out of the container. It is aggravating and a big waste of money. I want someone to FIX the problem.

My favorite innovation? Amazon charges you extra to get a package that a normal person can open without special tools.

AND THE BEAT GOES ON – Marilyn Armstrong

Falls and canceled medication and rain delays notwithstanding, there’s progress in fixing up the old place. Not as much as I would like, but definitely better and more (with a little luck!) is on the way.

Owen did a first powerwash and finally, on the 4th of July, it was the third day of no rain, so he painted (waterproof with a heavy stain) the deck.

Powerwashed deck
Wet, but clean deck!

We used basically the same color which was used on it when it was built. It’s called “redwood” and it really does look like redwood. I know this because the house in which I grew up was clad in actual redwood and it was really this color.

Of course, these days, you can’t buy redwood but that was the 1950s and we weren’t aware of how much damage was being done casually by people who simply didn’t know any better.

This deck was not made of redwood. Pressed and treated hardwood would be my best guess and all things considered, it has stood up to the years reasonably well. It has also begun to come loose from the house and the northeast piece is a noticeable few inches sunk below the rest of the deck. This needs to be fixed and Owen is planning to fix it using 2X4 beams and a jack to hoist it up to the right level. With a beam under it, it should stay put for another 20 years, give or take. If we could afford it, a new deck would be nice. We can’t afford it and besides that, the deck is in surprisingly good condition for its years.

Owen wants to give it another coat. We have ordered it from Amazon because it simply isn’t available locally. I would have happily bought it from Koopman’s, but they don’t carry it. Neither does Home Depot, though they carry other products by the same manufacturer.

So Amazon it was and if it gets here by Wednesday, we will have a second coat and hopefully enough to spray the stairs and the fence too. I’m not sure the deck needs another coat, but I think the fence and stairs need at least one coat.

Deck with the new color on it. It was much redder and has sunk nicely into the wood.

Maybe we have found someone who can repair our back door, too. The problem is I really don’t want to replace the back door. It’s a Dutch door that opens on top. You can’t buy them anymore and this is a good oak door that isn’t rotting. It just needs some loving care. I suspect we’ll have to replace the screen door, but we’ll see.

Also, a bit of progress on finding help with the house. The problem is money. Our taxes went up by almost $80 a month and our heating went up by $75 a month. Prices keep going up and our income does not go up.

But we need help with the house. We aren’t getting younger or stronger and now my knee is really sore. AND we have company coming. At least a light cleaning is in order, like it or not.

Looking at the pictures of Garry and me from six years ago, I was struck by how much we’ve changed over these past six years. It was before my heart surgery and Garry’s hearing surgery. It’s not a matter of wrinkles. It’s wear and tear. Hard to explain what I mean, but the pictures say it all.

Meanwhile, one of my no longer available medications has been replaced by something that actually works better, but the other medication hasn’t been replaced because it was a holiday weekend. Hopefully, I’ll get in touch with the doctor tomorrow and we can make this work. In the meantime, I’ve been asleep a lot of the time.

That’s what happens when you take medication away from a narcoleptic!

FAILURE TO BOUNCE – Marilyn Armstrong

Again, I tried to find a prompt for this, but nothing fit. Ironically, yesterday’s “writhe” would have fit today’s post, but I’m pretty sure you only get one use per prompt so I’ll just have to wing it.

Winging it is definitely the wrong word.

Yesterday evening, I stepped out of my shower, hit a damp piece of floor, and my bad left knee crumpled under me and down I went.

Defining bad left knee: When I was in my mid-20s, I fell and tore all the ligaments and tendons in my left knee. All of them healed except the ACL (anterior Crucis ligament). Repairing that ligament was major surgery followed by a year of physical therapy and healing time. And the surgery doesn’t always work.

They have to thread a new ligament (or whatever they use as a new ligament) through your knee and stitch it into place and then hope that it “takes” properly. The general advice was that unless I was a skier or a serious hiker, I could just be careful about the knee. Mostly, I had to not twist that leg because, at any angle other than straight, the knee recognizes its lack of ligament and collapses. It’s not painful. It just stops working like a knee.

It only hurts when you hit the ground.

At some point, when I was around 40ish, I discovered falling down was not like it was when I was younger. I couldn’t just get back up, dust myself off and move on. I had to be very careful on uneven sidewalks and “offroad.” As long as I kept my knees straight, no problem and if I needed it, I could get a brace that would give me a little extra support for the knee.

Mostly, I been very careful. I took a few falls in Boston, on Beacon Hill where sidewalks are notoriously bad. Since then, I’m careful to the point when I forget I have a tricky knee.

It wasn’t a huge fall. I didn’t break anything. I got some bruising in miscellaneous place and my knee is sore as was my back (no surprise there). What I hadn’t realized is that I had pulled a ligament or tendon (not sure which) in my groin area. A classic baseball injury and Garry assures me I’m now on the 10-day injury list.

I was really surprised at how sore I am. I did an unexpected split across the entrance to the shower and pieces of me hit the ridges that hold the shower doors in place. Sharp little things when they scrape across your thighs. By the end of the evening, I was limping around and complaining a lot. Mostly, I was complaining because I didn’t do anything dangerous or careless. I was so mad at me!

So I slept late this morning on the theory rest would help … and it did. It hurts a lot less than it did yesterday and I’m hoping that by tomorrow, it will hurt even less.

Garry said I should be more careful. I said if I were any more careful, I could just wrap myself in bubble wrap and never leave the sofa because I can’t be any more careful than I already am.

The real problem is at 72, I don’t bounce. What would be a very minor fall in earlier years is a much bigger deal.

Nothing reminds you of how you have aged quite as much as falling down.

YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY MISS IT – Marilyn Armstrong

Last night, I spent close to an hour looking for something that was exactly where it was supposed to be. It was on the correct shelf, right in front. Nothing was hiding it. It wasn’t behind something or turned the wrong way.

I looked there — twice — and I couldn’t see it. So I looked in all the other places I might possibly have put an unopened package of medication. There’s a cupboard in the kitchen where some stuff is stored. There’s a rack in the bathroom where other supplies are kept. Otherwise, it’s either my medicine cabinet or the cabinet over the john.

I searched the kitchen thoroughly, in the process finding and tossing out several bottles and tubes of prehistoric stuff that had to be at least a decade old and which I didn’t know I still had. But, I didn’t find what I was looking for.

Finally, I began to question if the container for which I was looking existed at all. I thought I’d bought two bottles of this stuff. It’s not expensive, so I would normally buy a couple of them at a time and stash the spare in my cupboard. But maybe I only thought I’d bought a spare. Maybe there was only one.

Before tucking myself into bed, I made a final pass at the cabinet over the toilet, my default location for storing non-prescriptions medications and cosmetics. There it was. Right in the middle. Where I had looked at least three times during the past hour.,

72-bathroom-cabinet-081916_001

Despite my tendency to blame it on the dogs or on supernatural wee people, I suspected my eyes had been blind to the container. In a bright yellow box.

In bed, I told Garry I had just spent nearly an hour looking for something that was where it was supposed to be and where I had looked multiple times.

He was sympathetic. “Yes,” he said, “It happens.” So. Is it my eyes refusing to see what’s obviously there? Or is my brain unable (temporarily) to register information?

Or maybe … it really is those pesky, wee brownies, fairies, and pixies messing with me.

READYING THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

No way around it. I miss the birds! They were always there and all I had to do was get the camera ready and wait … and voila! They would appear in full and glorious color.

Until the squirrels took over. But then I got a lot of cool squirrel pictures. From a photographic point of view, it was a win-win.

Wet and very clean!

Even though I understand this is the right time to take them down, I didn’t think I’d miss them so much. I’d gotten so used to looking out the window to see what birds — or squirrels — were hanging on the feeders. It was the first thing I did in the morning. And the first think Garry did, too.

The deck looks a lot better than I expected

The day after we took down the feeders, there were birds and squirrels wandering around looking forlorn. Even the next day, we had a few cowbirds hanging around. But now, four days later, there are no birds in sight. I had no idea how many birds we had until those feeders went up and you’d never know today that the birds ever existed.

Goldfinches

It’s pouring today, so the clean deck is shiny with water, but now we need another 48 hours of dry weather before we can paint it.