Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee (or a brew), I’d be inviting you to sit with me on our small enclosed porch, which I’ve recently dressed with some fresh greenery and new cushion covers. It’s amazing how awesome a nook can look with some palm fronds and a pot plant or two. And a stray climber to add some hipster greenery chic. (No, I’ve not done that deliberately: it grew all by itself.) Sorry about the image size: WordPress used to have small, medium and large sizes but they’ve taken out the medium one. Bad, bad WordPress.

 

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I’ve been doing some cushion updating recently. Diabolical for my DH, who thinks the following scene is an appropriate reminder of what I’m doing to him:

I think they look quite nice but I concede I may have reached the limit:

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The stabby Ben Stiller limit. The truly sad part is that the old cushions are still on the bedroom floor awaiting repurposing!

While I’m waiting for my job interview, I’m doing some soft furnishing upgrades. I’m not yet ready to start painting the interiors again but it’s getting close! In the meantime, I’ve created rooms of colour stories. The master bedroom is and will be a combination of soft blues and greys, navy and white soft furnishings married with warm antiques and soft white walls. The lounge room is the winter room, best enjoyed with a comfortable rug and a glass of red wine. It’s warm reds and autumn colours married with dark wood furniture. The kitchen has splashes of red but I’m not being precious about the colours there. The dining room is a bright mish mash of primary colours, turquoise, orange, blues, greens, pink and yellow. It sounds too much but they’re mostly paintings and glassware, riotous pops of colour. I’m loving colour right now, but it’s best enjoyed with bright white walls and that means house painting. Not yet.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m rather enjoying some home time right now. I’m cooking a bit more; I’m baking, I’m loving the chookies. It’s easy in my household to be so outward looking that we don’t get to spend time making our home lovely. The DH, who it must be said is not a homebody, has finally mown the front lawn and we’re slowly cleaning up the garden in preparation for some landscaping. This morning DH cleared away a garden disaster zone near the house in the backyard and I have a cunning plan to level the area and pave it, giving us a bit more usable outdoor space while we wait in vain for the next lot of funds to renovate the remainder of the house.

As the wife of a VIP who runs a music school, I reached my functions threshold this week. Last night, to be precise. Sometimes I just need some quiet nights at home and this week was one of them. Never mind we’d been out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings! This weekend is an ensembles festival. I begged off. Hubby has in no way tried to persuade me to accompany him, luckily.

Tomorrow is Mothers’ Day in Australia. I’m truly hoping I get to wish my mum a happy day, because it’s all getting a bit difficult to stay in touch from far away. You’d think birthdays and special occasions would become more important away from family. Truth is: life gets in the way and I often forget to plan for special times. I always swore it was due to busyness. Nah. I’m just forgetful, and the birthdays and special moments just seem to get closer and closer these days. The older I get, the faster they go by.

Screw you, old age.

older

Nah. Seriously. Have a great day, ladies. May your young children give you a piece of pottery they made in Art class; may your teenagers do the dishes, laundry, wash the floors and clean the bathroom and kitchen; may your adult children give you something really really special. Like a gift card for a massage or something. And champagne.

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This post was brought to you by Diane, at Part Time Monster. There’ll be a linky very soon!

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Friday filibuster

Hiya. It’s been a couple of weeks. I’m a hopeless blogger in that I lose track of days and then it’s a week between blogs and before you know it, October’s here already.

I don’t mean to do this, but I get busy sometimes. Even when I’m not “work busy”, other things such as birthday shopping get me otherwise occupied.

So, hello. I’m back. Last week was a fairly shitty week, when I had to accept I was not offered the job – they DID get back to me eventually, and it confirmed my supposition. But the letter was lovely and apparently I WAS impressive and had excellent skills – I just didn’t match the skills they needed for the job right now. There may or may not have been retail therapy.

Back to the drawing board. I’m doing some editing work, and applying for a DECRA, and eventually I will actually start my monograph. It’s a slog, so I’m ignoring it for now.

It’s a news blog day today!

In renovation news, all the electrical work is now done and I’m just waiting for the final bill. I still have to paint some of the sections and gap fill etc, but it’s not far off completion in the bathroom at least! (excluding the oil paint on the windows, for which I actually have to wait until it’s cooler). IMG_2974IMG_2981IMG_2969

The room looks quite chic but the tiles, lights, mirror and fittings were typical Australian prices and we didn’t go for the most expensive selections at all. Perhaps the most expensive element was the vanity unit, but I don’t have a break-down of the actual cost as it was built into the total price. The really fun part, after selecting all the bathroom fittings, was finishing off the decorations. It’s lovely to get some plants in the house: I’m a truly terrible plant keeper so these are surviving despite my best attempts to neglect them. Choosing vanity-ware, towels, bins and toilet brushes was ridiculously fun, too, and I’m so happy with the end result.

The other day I actually washed the floors throughout the whole house, so we’re nearly at normal again.

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Personally I think housekeeping is a Sisyphean task for which I am singularly unqualified, so I prefer not to do it much. We are tidy people and I do clean up after myself on a daily basis, but I don’t count that as housekeeping: that’s more about managing personal cleanliness. (Put it back where you found it, or find a better spot for it!)

When DH and I were both working long hours I hired a fortnightly cleaner. The cleaner was rather passive aggressive, complained a lot and would try to destroy my vacuum cleaner through little vicious acts of sabotage. She went.

Anyway. Cleaning out other areas of my life: I’m over the pity party, so I’ve switched my brain back on and I’m determined to maintain a gritted teeth joie-de-vivre. Which is rather contradictory but what the hey. I’m almost at the “I really really need to tackle the tax” thought, and the creative and academic writing will continue now. I’ve had to accept that I won’t see any money for my efforts, but we can mostly cope. I AM gigging and teaching a bit, which is good, and I’ll keep trawling job sites for more work.

And soon I’ll have a go at painting the bedroom and lounge room, because they need doing. I just have to buy some more ceiling paint, grit my teeth, and do it.

Plenty of teeth gritting this year!

In other news I’ve decided to keep live chickens for eggs. Huzzah!

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I’ve seen the hens and coop ($370) that will be perfect in our large backyard, and we don’t require a permit. It’s a stupidly expensive thing to do, given that we can buy a dozen free-range eggs for $6, and we rarely go through more than a dozen a week ($312 per year on average), but I want to control some of what I’m eating, from a purely ethical stance. In Australia while we have basic guidelines in place around free-range chooks they are not enshrined into law. The basic guideline states there should be 1500 chooks per hectare (1000m2), which gives them about the size of a queen sized bed each to scrabble around in. This is ok, but the powers that be (big food companies – is there a word that mimics “big pharma” for food?) want to make it 20,000 chooks per hectare. This is unacceptable.

Also, I want to know what my chooks are eating. We’ll feed them a combination of chook pellets (fish byproducts I’m told but there are vegetarian options), corn and wheat grain, and leafy green things. It’s not the cheapest option in the world – backyard farming – but it’s a fun thing to do and it’s not like I don’t have the time to keep my animals.

Our backyard is quite open. We will put the chookhouse in a shady area, but we also have to worry about foxes and snakes. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen a snake in our neighborhood, and Poppy the dog will kick up a ruckus if there’s a fox around. The possums don’t seem to have any natural predators here so they are fairly free with their wanderings, which makes me think the wildlife here is contained to birds and big-ass insects. I’m channelling my inner farmer here. My ancestors were farmers and I have kept chooks before. I love the gentle noises they make and the feel-good self-sufficiency of the backyard farm.

Of course, if I was a truly ethical eater I’d probably be a vegetarian. But it’s the little things that count. We try to buy bacon and pork products from a local butcher who sources ethical producers (those who don’t keep the piggies in little nasty pens, but give them room to move and live a short but hopefully happy life before they go to the slaughterhouse). And for years we’ve been eating free-range chickens, pole-and-line-caught tuna, farmed fish (we have a great farming industry in Australia that uses lots of efficient, earth-friendly practices), so on.

So I’m looking forward to naming my not-yet-purchased chooks, perhaps after Gilbert and Sullivan characters: Buttercup, Katisha, Yum-Yum? Ideas for names welcomed!

And now: I’m baking home-made muesli and spaghetti bolognese and delicious brownies. Hola!

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice the beautiful new coffee machine in the kitchen. It’s cranberry red. Nuff said about coffee, except to mention I drink quite a lot of it. Black and strong and espresso, thanks.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s not at the kitchen table because I’m trying to do my tax. There are receipts all over the table. 2 years worth for both my company and my personal tax. I hate receipts. I finally found a new system: chuck all the receipts into a chic black tin box originally containing Aesop grooming products and close the lid. Do not open the lid for a LONG time. Hence the kitchen table has now become a hideous receipt-encrusted eyesore.

If we were having coffee you’d notice a few appointments in my diary this week: I have an interview coaching session on Monday with my DH’s work coach. I’m terrible in interviews and vivas, because I can’t think fast enough and I ramble. Conciseness and precision are not my allies. Hence why I am doing so many 100 flash fiction challenges: I need to edit better. The spoken word: I wish I was Aaron Sorkin and had his brain. But I am not. On Thursday I have a singing gig, yay, and on Thursday night I head south to Sydney for a job interview.

This interview is important because the job is a good one.

I really really want this job.

However, if we were having coffee you’d notice my hesitation about leaving my DH to go work in another state. It’s HARD WORK. I have no fear our relationship would fall apart but it would get one hell of a beating. I’d have to work hard to manage my work commitments alongside family commitments, and to balance weekends and travel plans. UGH. And I have NO extended family in Sydney. They’re all in Melbourne. I’d be all alone (all by myself).

 

 

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve put on a kilo or two – that’s too many sticky buns and lounging around work for me. Summer here is hot. I’ve been painting. Then there was Xmas. They’re my excuses. The reality I was depressed and I’ve been watching a hell of a lot of TV/ Netflix/Stan. Now I’m fat again. Time to get to the gym which I’ve not attended since September (hence the fatness).

*Note to self: New Year’s Resolutions, dammit.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve started cooking again, and I planted a herb garden last week. It’s going well, thanks for asking. The brand new bathroom is now fully useable (if still missing an extractor fan), and I am using fluffy white towels. Brand new. It’s a luxury. Finally, I want to draw your attention to my bedside table – it has 3 books on it. I’m part way through all of them.

Life is pretty good this week. It might be because of the good coffee. How was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-time Monster.

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Here’s to the New Year

Good morning! I hope you’ve had a restful/exciting/peaceful/joyous/insertappropriateadjectivehere holiday season. DH (darling husband) is back at work and I am again alone at home. No daughter, no step kids. Just me and the animals and a really clean house.

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(Photo courtesy of daysgoneby.me)

Saturday I finally got around to vacuuming the whole house because dust and builders, and boy did it feel good. We’ve cleaned out the old bathroom so the children can put their own stuff in the drawers, we’ve organised the pantry, cobbled together a linen cupboard, taken clothes to the charity bins, bought a full length mirror for the WIR. It feels good to get so much stuff done. Old, unwanted things become a burden when you know they work: you can’t bear to throw them away. However, you’ve upgraded and now the old unwanted thing skulks in the back of the cupboard. In our case, without any cupboards to speak of, it’s skulking in plain view. We need to organise a garage sale, it’s true.

But I prevaricate. This year is a turning point for me. I’ve had more than a year to gather my thoughts, be angry, grief-stricken and generally unproductive. Now it’s time for action. I’m no religious nutter but in the past when I didn’t have a job or money I would “make a call to the ether” and invariably something positive would turn up. I guess this means I was open to opportunities as they arose. Now my opportunities are narrower, so how to hear the ether calling back?

I’m also aware of a life phase coming to its end. It began when I moved north and now it feels finished. Not, of course, from my marriage or blessed relationship with DH who is my light, my joy, my rock, my better half. I just feel that something new awaits me. Dunno what it is.

I shouldn’t write a listicle of NY resolutions: I’m a goal setter without the need for a New Year’s punctuation mark. But here are a few goals I can be getting on with for the month of January at least:

  1. Blog more frequently using ideas from the interwebs, and link with other bloggers. See? I’m already doing it. I’ve got Weekend Coffee Share through Part-time Monster, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and I’m thinking of doing some Friday Fictioneers or some other fast fiction writing. I’d love some help engaging with the blogging community – drop me a line if you would like to share some ideas about where to go and what to do. By the way, I also have another blog called The House that Jess Built. Check it out if you’re a renovation nut like me.
  2. Do my TAX. I have a refund owing and bills to pay.
  3. Finish painting the woodwork of our new renovation and paint the bedroom and lounge rooms now that the majority of the work is finished. (Yes, all right, I’m sitting here writing in my blog rather than actually doing this).
  4. Revise an article, write an article with a friend and start writing academic papers again. (This might sit in the too hard basket while I gather up the courage).
  5. Oh, all right: exercise again, cut down from my holiday eating and drinking, get healthy, that sort of thing. There’s always a get fit clause in a New Year’s Resolution post. I’ve been super fit and healthy before (see 2012/2013 blog posts) but it takes a peculiar kind of obsession I just don’t possess because it crowds out having fun, eating, you know: living. But I COULD move about some more, and perhaps eat a bit less. The drinking I’ll take one day at a time. Last year I did a 3 week break from alcomohol and it made no earthly difference to my health, weight, sense of well being or stress levels. Maybe I’ll try not drinking on Mondays. Lol.
  6. See my friends. I like to do this anyway but maybe a bit more so now?

 

So there it is. Small beginnings. What are your goals this year?

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice we’re having it in the nice new child’s bedroom I’ve spent weeks painting, which is very nearly finished and only needs a teensy tiny little extra bit of oil paint on the windows to be complete. You’d ask me why I haven’t done the windows and I’d be telling you it’s because working in oil paint is a bitch. It goes on easily and covers beautifully but it’s hard to remove when you make a mistake and it makes your hands tacky and sticky. And then there’s the turps.

I’d also tell you I’ve still got to do some walls in the rest of the house – they need sanding and I’m kind of over sanding – it gets in everything and I just want an easy time in the next few weeks. You’d remind me that hey! You’ve only got to sand one section of the lounge room and then it needs painting with an undercoat and some gap filling and you’re so close and don’t give up now!

I’d be giving you that sneery look I’ve been telling you about:

sneering child

and remind you that I’m OVER PAINTING AND I JUST WANT IT FINISHED ALREADY. Plus, if I start the wall that has just been replaced then I have to paint the walls and ceiling in the lounge room too, because there’ll be a big patch where the old colour meets the new colour. And then there’s the gap filling.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s awfully close to Xmas and our tree isn’t up, nor the Xmas lights, or the tinsel or any of the stuff that gives Xmas its festive feel. See comment above. The lounge room isn’t done and there’s mess everywhere (the Oh Jesus rooms have been downsized to just 1 room now, so I’m not so panicky) and frankly I’m just not in a celebrating kind of mood. This year it’s the DH (darling husband’s) year – we’re staying put here in Brisbane, QLD. But there’s only 5 of us and we had the big family Xmas thing yesterday because some people in this family decided to become church ministers and are busy on Xmas Day. Yesterday was fun, but sad too. There was a death in the family (a sister-in-law’s elderly dad) just the day before, and my parents-in-law aren’t so healthy. But on the plus side another sister-in-law has been given a reprieve from a very worrying cancer scare – she has melanoma, and it was originally diagnosed as at stage 4 (terminal), but her prognosis has been downgraded to a treatable cancer with great outcomes. She should have a long and happy life after all.

The day was lovely, but at about 3pm the cooling breeze died off and it became unbearably hot and sticky, as is often the case in SE Qld. The in-laws aren’t great celebrators because of that ministerial thing – it tends to suck the life out of you with all the hatching, matching and despatching they attend to. So they don’t celebrate stuff very well. It’s all a little off-hand. But we all put on a good show, nevertheless.

I’m not much good at Xmas without the rest of my extended family present. It feels small and miserable with only 5 people for lunch. I’m used to 20+ people for Xmas lunch, drop ins and “yes, let’s just find and extra chair, we can squeeze one in”. If we’re doing Xmas it needs to be with lots of people: an angry uncle and the odd cousin or two rocking in the corner, little kidlets screaming down the corridors, squealing as they open their family gifts, my mother’s loud, merry voice the heart note of the day. Lots of kids, noise, tinsel, Xmas crackers, too much turkey, champagne and home made brandy sauce.

So I’m going to think about Star Wars instead and remind myself of its glorious, nostalgic, senseless, silly fun and give this to you as my holiday gift. You may have already seen it, but it’s worth seeing it again. Jimmy Fallon is like a big kid in a candy store with his show and his guests. He’s lovely to watch but sometimes just a tad enthusiastic and fanboi-ish. But here his enthusiasm totally rocks. The Roots are awesome, folks.

 

Happy Xmas and may you enjoy house painting more than me.

Weekend Coffee share

 

 

Weekend coffee share 1/11/15

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’m going for several cups of the black stuff because I’ve had one hell of a hangover this weekend. My fault: DH was hosting his first Gala on Friday night (first time the Gala has been hosted in 20 years at our institution) and we celebrated with the staff and friends before, during and after the event with sparkling wine. I hadn’t eaten much and although there were plenty of nibbles at the after party I didn’t drink any water. I’ve been paying for it all weekend.

I’ve been in a grumpy as hell mood subsequently but I’m cheering up now because today I’m using my Ilve oven and cooktop for the very first time. Today I made (for the first time, too) an apple and strawberry crumble cake. At this time of year in this hot state we can get cheap strawberries. Not always the best quality, but there’s usually enough in a couple of large punnets to make a delicious something. I’m closer to kitchen perfection with my appliances too – my sisters chip in for birthday gifts so that we can get something nice, and I had requested a Kitchen Aid hand-held mixer to go with the lovely old-fashioned Kitchen Aid cake maker thingy DH had bought me for Xmas the year before (Empire Red, folks). I don’t cook very often but Sundays when the family is gathered it’s nice to put together a Sunday Roast and something sweet. My Sunday cooking mostly consists of roasts and something sweet (but super-easy to make), such as scones or a simple cake or pancakes.

The cake was perfect. The Ilve oven is a bit slow. So while it says 200 C degrees, it’s closer to 180 or even 160. I’ve put our portable oven thermometer inside to test the accuracy of the dial and yep, it’s pretty slow. So even though I used the normal oven setting for the cake (which was a bit slow, but this doesn’t matter too much for cakes) I found it necessary to crank up the dial and use the fan-force setting for our roast chicken dinner.

The cooktop is also slow, but I’ve found using Ceran electric cooktops this is normal. We just have to adjust up the temperatures all the time otherwise the setting sits permanently on simmer, whether it’s at 2 or 8. Luckily the setting goes all the way to 12. One better than 11, Spinal Tap! Oh, and one other thing. It’s perfectly level. After enduring 4 years of a cooktop with a 2 degree angle it’s great to finally work with a level cooking surface. I kid you not. This makes a difference.

So Sunday night we set the kitchen table, sat under our new light, ate dinner made with our new oven and cooktop, and were able to switch off the kitchen lights at the end of the day. Bliss.

 

Reasons to hang out in my writing room

I’ve had a lovely week this week. No longer in a depressed and angry mind-frame, I’m feeling positive about life possibilities, some of which do not include any music or music teaching at all. I’m even investigating administration positions. Not that I have any experience in those but dammit I have a PhD! I’m sure I can construct letters for signing, organise a calendar, plan meetings and events, work on excel spreadsheets, field inquiries, chase errant paperwork, that sort of thing. Actually, I’m not sure I have any of those skills, but I reckon it would take me 2 months to learn all the ins and outs and 6 months to feel like I know what I’m doing.

I’m on holidays as of today – no teaching singing for 2 weeks, and there’s a conference trip to Hobart I’m looking forward to. I lived in Tasmania for a few years when I was a young woman, and I loved the people, climate and the artisanal lifestyle some Tassie residents followed.

I think some of my contentedness stems from finally having a room of our own right next to our bedroom. It makes such a difference to our outlook, and I get to look over the city through the lovely greenery of my neighbours’ gardens. Which are mostly shrubbery, but you get the picture:

writing room view

I can see right over to the city buildings, which when lit up at night are absolutely gorgeous. It’s bright and cheerful in the room, and slightly less noisy than my former workspace. A lovely room for most of the day, it only gets really hot in the afternoon as it’s due West. But in the morning: wow. What a great space to be. I’m actually wanting to write more and develop ideas in this space. Amazing how a small change to one’s environment can make such a difference to one’s outlook. We’ll see how I feel in the height of summer without an air-conditioning unit, when temperatures can daily hit 35 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity or more.

I’m applying for an entry-level lecturer position at my local uni – tenure track. I think I have Buckley’s chance of getting an interview (there’s an Australian colloquialism for you – it means I have no chance – but don’t ask me the etymology of the phrase as there are several possibilities), but I possess many of the attributes required for such a role and I believe that I am a decent contender for the position. Anyway, that’s 2 jobs I’m going for, including the post-doc. However, I’m in such a cheery mood at present I don’t really care if I don’t get the job because right now working sounds like a horrible idea. I just like hanging in my beautiful writing room (shared, better still, with DH, which is awesome because we like working together). I feel like I’m having my very own writing retreat here in my house. Now isn’t THAT a great thought!

Do you have a favourite workspace or creative space? A room to call your own?

Hoarder disorder. A tale of spring cleaning.

Folks, this is a rather long post about hoarder disorder and spring cleaning. Grab a cuppa.

I had a little brain snap over the weekend. I’ve been angstified about my stepson using as his bedroom the verandah space RIGHT NEXT to our bedroom, which is accessible from our bedroom via a set of ill-closing French doors, the only thing between us and computer games when he visits. It has been like this for 4 years, which is long enough in my opinion for a regime change. He’s now 17 years old, needing some privacy. He has also had to share his space with the Oh Jesus* room, a euphemism for the office space DH uses, which also serves as a storage area.

Sunday morning I woke up with the niggling feeling that THINGS NEEDED TO CHANGE. After I nagged gently suggested DH mow the lawn because forest, I started thinking. What if, instead of Waiting for Godot** we created our own dressing room and study right here, right now, in the West Wing? And that’s what we did. On the very weekend anniversary of our move to our house 4 years ago, DH and I changed some rooms around. It took more and less time than I expected. More time because OMG the crap, but less time because the crap could have been worse. Stepson has been moved into my old teaching space, rattly louvre windows and all. DH and I now share a study – WITH A VIEW – and we finally have a private dressing room/wardrobe in the west wing. Huzzah!

Our house is partially made up of uninsulated but enclosed verandahs (with linings and all, fully electrified – they’re not THAT crappy), and it’s there where the stepkids sleep and where our stuff goes. The verandahs are each 2.6 metres wide by 8/9 metres long, so they’re a useful space, if somewhat long and thin, with cracks between the floorboards. There’s an East Wing and a West Wing. Originally, stepson lived in the west wing while stepdaughter lived in the other bedroom. Then my youngest child moved north to live with us and we had to move everything around. We’ve been living in the house rather uncomfortably for 18 months now, and it’s awkward with three permanent adults and 2 visiting stepkids trying to squeeze into a small 3 bedroom house containing a teaching studio.

I taught singing in the east wing for three years, and it’s the detritus from this phase which is the saddest turning of the tide moment. There is no longer anywhere to put the music gear. I’ve been teaching at the local conservatoire for the year, and the study wasn’t being used. If I am still teaching singing in 2016 I will be hiring an external space. Anyway, the keyboard is now skulking in the space next to the bathroom, an entirely unsuitable spot for electronic equipment. But there’s nowhere else to put it. Also, as with all good music teachers, I have a raft of gifts from ex-students and my old pre-school teaching days. There’s certainly nowhere to put all THAT stuff. I’m talking about picture frames and fun music toys and music mugs and my rainbow flag, that sort of thing. I also have decorating items from my former selves. Little knick-knacks which are adding to my sense of desperate overcrowdedness.

Yes, folks. Time to admit it. I am a bit of a hoarder. Not the reality-TV kind. More the kind that would prefer a little more storage. Just a bit.

DH is always impressed when I do a clean out. He would much prefer to live with a lot less. I’m not untidy, but I do collect stuff. We have no real storage solutions in our hundred-year-old weatherboard home, with 2 households of stuff to make room for (and we have already gotten rid of SO MUCH JUNK). The things we buy for the house now tend to be storage solutions. New coat hangers or pantry containers, that sort of thing. Yesterday we bought a third portable wardrobe, one of those sturdy if industrial-looking chrome storage units. Very retro/trendy. DH can’t believe it. He finally has somewhere to hang his shirts and get his shoes off the floor. A moment of quiet jubilation for him.

DH gets antsy when I bring a new thing home. He asks me – only partly joking-: “what are you now going to throw out?” Looking at the STUFF, I finally see how he is feeling. It’s too much. I regularly clean out my closet, removing old, mouldy or long-unworn shoes and outfits that are out of fashion, tired or ill-fitting. I began this habit a few years ago, and I’m now trying to extend it to other areas in the house, but it’s hard. My worst hoarding habit, I think, is book buying. I rarely throw out old books, as I often re-read them. I’m looking at one of our bookcases as I write this. It’s double stacked. All of our bookcases are. We have 10 large free-standing bookcases, including one in the toilet. Each bookcase holds about 300 books. So we have about 3000 books, texts, academic books, magazines, recipe books, CDs, photo albums, and music books in our little house. No wonder DH is overwhelmed! I also buy art glass, pottery and porcelain things. Usually from overseas trips, they are almost always small, but where to store them? We have stacks of little decorative bowls in our kitchen cupboards, although I now throw out any old glassware and china that’s chipped.

Another of our equally serious problems is the paper trail dogging our heels. We have lots of the stuff. Every six months or so I have a bit of a clean up and manage to partially empty my in and out trays, but almost immediately they fill again. DH is the same. He can’t keep a clean desk at home (given that his desk is bright pink – an old pine desk from years ago that we painted for my stepdaughter, it could be worse), and nor can I. He collects playbills and concert programs and receipts and things. I collect bills and invoices and decorating magazines and receipts and things. I am a hoarder of old electronic equipment and pretty paper things. In my desk drawers are about 100 old computer wires. No idea of their purpose, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need most of them.

In the master bedroom I have a lot of cute little decorative boxes (many of them gifted to me) in which I put all my mostly cheap paste jewellery, which then sit on my tall boy making a visual mess. This stuff is horrible to keep clean and dusted. I even have a white and gold porcelain heart-shaped box WITH A BROKEN LID in which I put my single earrings and jewels THAT ARE BROKEN. Why?! (I just threw it out, with sorrow because it was a gift from my daughter from about 1998. It has been broken since 1998).

We went away for a holiday a while back and to ensure our housesitters felt comfortable sleeping in our bedroom I cleared out all of our bric-a-brac. I liked it so much when we returned I haven’t put it back. This includes my perfume bottles, jewellery boxes and decorative items – things from a former design look (girly romantic, if you must know). It’s getting annoying now, but I loved the streamlined look. It also made me realise I can live with much less than I thought. I’ve worn the same 2 bracelets for months, and rotated the same three pairs of earrings. I’ve worn the one perfume. Now I want to expand a little, but I can do this without the jewellery boxes that hold earrings I haven’t worn in 25 years. While I’ve been writing this post I’ve been quietly going through these old boxes, throwing out broken pieces and empty perfume bottles. I’ve popped all the earrings I’m never likely to wear again but are a reflection of my past in one of the boxes, which I’ve taped shut and stuck in the bottom of my tall boy. A memory of me. Not important to anyone but my grandchildren, perhaps.

Now, the master bedroom is looking roomy, clean and tidy, although long overdue for a dust. The dirty laundry basket has been removed to the “dressing room”, and an old comfy armchair has likewise moved into the west wing. DH’s shoes have gone from under the bed, and we removed the French doors from the doorway. I’ve cleaned out one of the Oh Jesus* boxes and the other is now full of unused picture frames, postcards and some scrap-booking things (scrap-booking: one of my little projects for when I have a project room. Why scrap booking? Because STATIONERY, folks. I have a thing for it).

The next area to tackle will be the paperwork, my desk drawers and the music stuff. I’m not looking forward to it. But already I feel so much better. And I’ve been writing this post from my new study area, which overlooks a view of the city and greenery from my neighbour’s garden. Beautiful.

 

*Oh Jesus rooms were labelled as such by my mother. They are rooms so full of crap that when you look inside the room, you think “Oh Jesus”, and close the door again. Not intended to be blasphemous.

**Waiting for Godot. Things that will never arrive. In our case, builders’ quotes and renovation commencement.

 

 

In which I aim for good humour and bon vivant.

This week I am determined to remain cheerful and not be grumpy with the world. Today we are having our hot water unit replaced at a breathtaking price but I keep forgetting that the last time I priced hot water units was about 15 years ago. So there’s some inflationary cost there. Or so I keep telling myself as I grit my teeth for the bill. The guy is here now, and we should have hot water by the late afternoon.

On another positive note, an electrician came to look at our job today. Granted, it’s not a small job because we will need a new powerboard and general updating of our old electrical circuits, but we have a Queenslander. It’s all completely accessible under the house, very little stooping or crawling into cavities. And I had budgeted for it. We’re just doing stuff arse about, is all. Said electrician will send us a quote for the job later today and with luck might be able to do the job very soon.

On another positive note, I have decided on the light fitting for the dining room (which is in the same room as the kitchen). It’s this one:

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Ok, it’s not exactly cheap. But I don’t want anything too engineered looking or busy. It’s perfect for our little dining room:

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Ignore the lounge setting at the rear of the room – it’s no longer there. Our table is 2 metres long and the light fitting is 1 metre long, and is about right for a long room. So now I am going off to buy the light fitting and keep my fingers crossed that the electrician can start work ASAP on our stove. Because dammit I want to be HAPPY!