Backwards Symphonies

“It’s been a long week — I bet you’re ready to decompose.”
I stared at my husband, blinking through the mental fog of too-many-jobs-not-enough-sleep.
“I’m not ready for the compost pile yet,” I replied, trying to figure out what his latest malapropism was meant to be.
“Or whatever the term is,” he added.
My brain finally catches up. “Decompress,” I answered.
What an incredibly long week.  I can’t remember the last time I had one like this, and in my over-busy world that’s saying something.
Wednesday last week I had a pneumonia vaccination, which left my arm so sore I couldn’t take off my jogbra without assistance, nor even get my hand up to head level until the weekend.  Moreover, Continue reading Backwards Symphonies

Stop me, I'm having too much fun!

/SARCASM
I keep fixing things around here, increasingly with the wonderful help of the Kid (who at 17 now has skillz in home repairs unmatched by his dad, which is a satisfying thing when you’re a teen).
The bad news is the increasing apparency of a 2b/f ratio, where 2 things break for every 1 thing fixed.  I replaced the garbage disposal, and one of the brackets for the shower towel rack broke, chipping the tub enamel as it fell.  I replaced a shower head, and the textured ceiling crap is coming off the bathroom ceiling (necessitating scraping it ALL off, then painting on sealant primer and ceiling white), and apparently I need to unclog the P-trap to the bathroom sink.  We replaced a light fixture in one bedroom, and I observe that the ants have found a new inlet around the kitchen sink/window, and a curtain tie breaks, spilling beads all over the floor.  We replaced a light fixture in another bedroom and two more garments get added to the mending pile.
And so it goes. Which is partly grousing and partly an explanation for why I’ve not finished several posts.
(Oh–there’s another bead…)

Remembering to Remember to Remember to …

I went and drew the bath. When the tub was full, I took off my pyjama top, and realised that I had forgotten my towel.
I fetched the towel and then realised that I meant to mow first before bathing.
Shut the bathroom door to keep the heat in, I went and changed into gardening clothes. Unplugged the mower from the charger, got one strip done, and then realised that I had forgotten to put on the bag — I wanted to bag the grass clippings to use them for mulching the vegetable garden.
Fetched the bag and put it on the mower. Mowed several strips, enough to have filled the bag, and then found out that I had forgotten to remove the chute block that lets the grass into the bag.
At this point, I realised there was a trend: I kept forgetting things, including the planning-ahead bits. Oh, yeah — I forgot to take my medicine this morning, including my ADHD med.
Usually I try to put my pillbox atop my MacBook when I go to bed, to remind myself the next morning to take my medicine promptly.
But that requires remembering.

Pain "All-Sorts"

Damn anthocyanins!
See what a college education does for you? It allows you to cuss using polysyllabic words.
This morning I awoke with an “icepick headache” type migraine as well as stiff arthritic joints. Then as I was pulling my large, soupy bowl of near-boiling oatmeal-with-blueberries from the microwave, I spilt it all over my hand and wrist, the shelf, and of course, the cream-colored carpeting. After running cold water on my hand for a couple minutes (it’s fine, if tender — I’m not wearing my watch for a couple of days), I had to go back and swab up the spill. The purple anthocyanin stains from the dried-then-rehydrated blueberries will be quite the test of my carpet-cleaning spray.
Meanwhile, the physical pain of ice-pick migraine has bugged me off and on all morning. The good news is that although it’s horrible and intense, it lasts no more than a minute. The bad news is that it tends to repeat periodically through the day. Made a point to take some more medication before my exam tonight.

~//~

Glancing through newsbits was less entertaining — there’s a reason why I usually read blogs in the morning and news in the evening. (I do glance over the headlines in the morning, just in case western California decides to crumble into the Pacific or something.)
Oh the conceptual pain … it’s sort of thing that Stephen Kuusisto calls, “the neurological equivalent of a foot cramp”. This is from Time magazine, “Huckabee’s Texas Evolution” (hyperlink is to single-page, text-only version), which describes US Republican presidential candidate Huckabee and his support for intelligent design, and the upcoming Texas State Board of Ed elections (emphasis mine):

Republican Barney Maddox, a urologist and ardent supporter of creationism. … Maddox, who declines media interview requests, has posted his writings on the web at sites like the Institute for Creation Research and has called Charles Darwin’s work “pre-Civil War fairy tales.”

Now there’s some irony as heavy as a falling Acme anvil.

http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/4171/anvil1cq2.gif

Sorry — I didn’t realise the clipping was an animation — hit your ESCAPE key to freeze the action.
(Picture description: this is a pop culture reference to Roadrunner cartoons. Wile E. Coyote was always trying to do in the Roadrunner, including dropping an Acme brand anvil on him. In this cartoon clipping, there’s a pile of birdseed in the middle of a road, with a sign stuck into it saying “Free”. The road runs underneath a natural stone arch somewhere in the US desert Southwest, and hanging below the apex of the arch is a heavy iron anvil. Presumably the unseen Coyote has a hold of the rope tied to the anvil, and is waiting for the likewise unseen Roadrunner to come running by. Of course, Coyote never succeeds, as Roadrunner is way to smart for him. Beep-beep! )

~//~

Just to complete this triad of pains for the day, I realised that I was wearing a new turtleneck for the first time. Normally when I get new clothing I remove the sewn-in brand name, size and laundering tags. Clothes-tag irritation is not as much a strict dermal irritation (there’s no rash), but rather is a constant hypersensitivity, a small but chronic sensory pain.
So before I washed this turtleneck I used my seam-ripper to carefully pick out the threads holding the labels at the collar seam. But by this mid-morning I realised that I had missed a tag, a big long one with laundry instructions that was unexpectedly sewn to the seam just below my ribs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the spare time to sit around partially-disrobed in a toilet stall and employ my Swiss Army Knife scissors to the task of snipping a line of tiny stitches.
You would think that after a little while my brain would habituate to the sensory input and I would forget all about the silly tag. Well, it does, for a few minutes. But then I twist to do something, and I notice the annoyance all over again. Repeatedly, all day long. ARRGH!

~//~

Well, it’s time for me to wrap up my day soon. The icepick headache hasn’t shown up for a while. My wrist is less tender. It was wonderful to yank off the turtleneck and put on my soft, old honeybee pyjamas.

I aced my test this evening. And the last fix-it job I did on the dishwasher seems to have worked — we have machine-cleaned dishes, and I didn’t have to pay someone to come out and fix it, nor “hold vigil” for a repair person who would supposedly arrive “between the hours of eight and four”.

Oh joy, there’s the tinnitus popped back on again. And I’m getting another canker sore in my mouth. Well, can’t win ’em all.

Time to go

“How long can it take to walk out the door?”
Other people ask us this. They are incredulous as we struggle to get to places on time, much less with all the materials we needed to have.
We also ask ourselves this when we are getting ready or planning. Surely, we think to ourselves, merely walking out the door and getting into the car takes almost no time at all.
As if!
And that’s why we struggle to get to places on time.
It takes us far longer to “get our shit together,” to remember everything we need, and then get into the car, and unload all the baggage, settle down, and get ready to drive. The least speed-bump in the getting-ready process (like a mislaid car key) throws everything into chaos, which stresses us beyond dealing with that little event, often resulting in getting so distracted from our tediously-created coping methods so that we forget something we usually can remember, or almost-forget and have to go back in (maybe more than once) to fetch something nearly forgotten.
Take a deep breath.
Let it out slowly.
Yeah. Just thinking about these situations reminds us of all those crazy days, weeks and months and years of them. We remember all the scolding, the embarrassment of being late, of missing appointments, of getting to places without something important or even the most necessary thing that may have been the reason for us going there in the first place.
Just being stressed about trying to leave on time makes things worse; the clumsiness increases. Even after finally getting ready one morning (in N-recursive steps, as usual), Continue reading Time to go

Maslow Cleans House

This How-To post is dedicated to a pal of mine who was commenting about how hard it is to get the apartment (flat) tidied and cleaned up. I was trying to describe how I used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, natural supports, and the Premack Principle together as means for organising this most mundane set of chores.
In this case, we don’t mean that housekeeping is “hard” in the sense of physically mopping a floor, but hard in the sense of figuring out where to start, how to keep the momentum going, getting the job finished, and even figuring out what to do with stuff. The so-called “executive functions” of planning, execution, self-monitoring et cetera are not limited to office work — they are just as necessary in the realm of what used to be referred to (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) as “domestic engineering”.
Amazingly, tidying and cleaning a small apartment is more difficult than doing the same in a full-size house. Granted, the larger house has more rooms, which in turn means more square area to be vacuumed or mopped, and may mean twice as many toilets and tubs to scrub. But the problem with the tiny domicile is that the average 21st-century post-industrial resident has a certain amount of Stuff for daily living, and that amount of stuff does not shrink proportionately just because the domicile does. (I love the German word for “stuff”, Kram, because cramming my Kram into odd places is what I spend a lot of tidying time doing.) Worse, small residences usually lack great amounts of storage space. Unless you are spartan in your personal possessions by dint of poverty or strong design aesthetic*, you have more stuff than the meager cabinets and closets will hold.
Of course we have to pick up first to clear the surfaces so we can clean them. But we could spend all day trying in vain to get things picked up, especially if we have AD/HD and are easily distracted. Picking up is way too recursive — you pick up one thing to put away, take it to where it belongs, find something at the end point or en route to the end point, pick it up, maybe put away the first thing, try to put away the second thing, maybe manage to do so without being distracted by the third thing, or get interrupted by a phone call or a cooking timer or remember something else or…
Heavens, at that rate you would need to get your shoes re-soled before you got the place picked up! And in all that, you’re making a half-assed attempt at trying to clean things as well, because you got thirsty and found something moldy or spilled in the fridge and —
ARGH!
To make any headway in my own domestic engineering, I finally had to set up a hierarchy, somewhat similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The needs are dual, based upon the needs of the residents for living there, and also upon the housekeeper for being able to get things done effectively. My own order of operations is set up as much as possible for natural supports to be created. Continue reading Maslow Cleans House