Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Too Much Stuff

My home has surpassed Clutter (approaching disaster is probably a better description)! I haven’t reached the point where I am about to nominate myself to appear on the Hoarders TV show, but…………………

So, I have taken 6 vacation days with the intent of organizing, cleaning, decluttering, achieving calm, peace and an end to embarrassment if someone comes into my home. This time I made a list of my priorities. No longer would I spend most of my vacation days on the computer and/or watching TV shows that I had seen at least 4 times before. I had a plan. I knew what I was going to tackle. I knew it would be a big job, but I was ready. No doubt you’ve heard that before. I know that I have. As Robert Burns so aptly said, “the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”

Today was day 5 of 10: I spent nearly the entire day cleaning the four filters of the central air conditioning unit and the return space below, plus the air purifier that I keep in the cats’ room. It’s not that those are big jobs, they were just really dirty. What an amazing amount of cat and dog hair and just plain dirt had accumulated. Hours upon hours of work that no one but I will notice and something that will have to be done over and over and over and over again. My normal reaction when other people scoff at the idea of living with a cat or a dog is anger. Maybe “those people” are smarter than I thought they were.

So, my house after 5 days of vacation is still a wreck because I’ve spent most of the time doing the everyday stuff like washing clothes, cleaning litterboxes and dealing with the unexpected, instead of tackling my To Do list. Yesterday I decided to clean a few of the exposed ceramic floor tiles in the dining room/den. However, when I pushed the large rug back, lo and behold the cats had peed/barfed on the rug and the floor underneath was even worse than the exposed portion. The rug wasn’t worth trying to clean, so I had to move bins, furniture, etc to pull up the rug and carry it outside for the trash. That wasn’t on the list. And the tiles – NASTY, NASTY, NASTY. So I cleaned them by hand (mops and scrub brushes haven’t worked before), one by one. The floor looks great. The rest of the house – not so much. The hard work noticeable to the general public? Not really. Are the dogs and cats impressed? Not at all. But, I like it and can now add handwashing the tiles to another repetitive task to be done. I am feeling quite a bit like Sisyphus……….that darn rock never reaches the top and keeps rolling back down to the bottom of the mountain. At least at 60 years old, eternity doesn’t seem all that far away.

So, tomorrow I’m taking a day off and going to a matinee. Before that, I plan to clean the bathroom. After the movie, I’m donating 12 years of National Geographic magazines to A Gift for Teaching so teachers and students can use them. At least something will be permanently leaving the house and be put to good use. And after that, a trip to the chiropractor so that I can continue to abuse my body as I clean, lift, move and rearrange all the stuff I’ve accumulated for low these many, many years.
To be continued………………………………..

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Women CAN do anything!

I was born in 1950, just a few short years after the end of World War II, and part of the Baby Boomer generation. My father fought in Europe during the Second World War and my mother worked building airplanes for the military in the repurposed National Cash Register plant in Dayton, Ohio. (Anyone remember the Rosie the Riveter posters?) My mother worked full time while raising my older brother who had been born in 1939. During the war, Americans were subjected to rationing and were issued coupon books to purchase everyday items like toilet paper and food. Americans recycled for the war effort (too bad we’re not encouraged to do the same to SAVE THE PLANET!).

As a young girl, there weren’t many female role models for me. Women and their accomplishments were pretty much absent from the history we were taught in school. I didn’t learn about women’s struggle for the right to vote until I went to college, and that was thanks to the rebirth of the Feminist Movement. In celebration of Women’s History Month (wow we get a WHOLE month, instead of every day of every year), I want to share the story of the WASPs, which received coverage on NPR recently. On Wednesday, the Federal government finally recognized (acknowledged?) the contribution of these women during World War II. The few WASPs who are still alive received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Follow these links to find out more about them and to view some very rare color photographs taken by Lillian Yonally while serving as a WASP: http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/03/a_contraband_camera_photos_of.html and


It’s been a great year for women already. It only took 65 years for these trailblazing women to be honored and recognized for their service to America and only 82 years for a woman to receive the Best Director Academy Award. Maybe within the next 100 years ALL of the accomplishments of women will gain recognition as well. In the meantime, celebrate women because we can, in fact, DO ANYTHING! When in doubt remember this great quote: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except she did it backwards and in high heels.”

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I have a lot on my mind, but don’t’ know where to begin. I just had some email exchanges with someone who I have known longer anyone else. They began with exchanging birthday wishes and morphed into the habitual ideological clashes. He is as far right politically as I am far left. We met in October or November of 1968 at a campus bonfire in the very early days of Florida Technological University (now the University of Central Florida). He was from Kentucky, I was born in Ohio but grew up in Miami. He was a microbiology major and I was a math major (until I changed to zoology in my sophomore year). I started smoking when I realized my lifelong dream of being a mathematician wasn’t going to be a reality. Never thought of that connection before: my dreams up in smoke! That would be funny, if it wasn’t.

I have been reflecting on quite a bit since turning 60. I have attempted in the last week to stop smoking. Not doing so good. The patches really aren’t working this time. The side effects of Chantix scare me. I can’t really afford private hypnosis sessions. I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years, although I’ve fallen off the wagon from time to time. I know that giving up dairy products and eggs is what I want to do. Like smoking, that’s not going so good either. Instead of taking better care of myself, my house and even my car, I choose to focus on everything “outside” of me. Whether it’s my job, my critters, or the world – it beats housework, cooking better meals, improving my health and fixing things around the house that need fixing. All too often it is easier to face the demons in the world than those within ourselves.

Seriously, if I am going to take action (quit smoking, exercise, lose weight, eat better and more ethically), time is running out. Clearly, at 60, there are fewer tomorrows to put this off to. Is there a Procrastinators Anonymous? Guess I’ll get back to the laundry and litterboxes…..with critters there is always laundry and litterboxes to do.

And if you care about the planet, please check out this article from The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100322/hari