Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Notes

Email to the Universe:

Subject: Re the dead bird in the pool filter.

Please explain.




Text from The Boy:

Hi Mum, is it OK to vacuum the sheets instead of washing them?


Letter #1 to the RSPCA:

Dear RSPCA people,

I know you mean well, but please stop putting pictures of cute puppies on your website. The constant whining and pleading that fills the house is making me tired, and also, we don't have a fence on one side of the house because the builder has been 'busy' for nine months, so we can't possibly get a dog.
Thank you for your co-operation in this matter,



Letter #2 to the RSPCA:

Dear RSPCA people,

Well, that wasn't fair, was it, posting that photo of the dog with the eyebrows? You knew I couldn't withstand the pleading, but you did it anyway, and you knew all about the fence situation, but you made me do it, driving the girls to the pound, 'just to look'. Oh, yes, all that innocent advertising about 'all creatures great and small' indeed, but WHAT ABOUT THE MOTHERS?

Yes, you know, the one who will end up doing all the work. I have a very bad feeling about this, and I am blaming you.

Yours sincerely,

The Mother Who Will Be Doing All The Work


Text #1 to Builder:

I know you are extremely busy, but there is a puppy emergency, and we need a fence ASAP or the poor puppy will be trapped at the pound, and there are children who are pining.. Thx


Text #2 to Builder:

I know that it has just recently been Armistice Day, and I realise that you are keen to share your love of military history, and I concede that it is very educational, but I must insist that your transformation of my back yard into a replica of a WWI battlefield is possibly a misplaced enthusiasm. The children are now quite conversant with the slit trench, the redoubt, and the excellent reconstruction of the battle at Hill 60, and I would request that you return it to a state more resembling a suburban backyard than a campaign in the Somme. Thx.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Here Be Dragons..

Hello my lovelies. You may have noticed there have been no decluttering and cleaning updates. There is a reason for that - no decluttering or cleaning has been happening, you know, apart from normal bog-standard vaccuuming etc. Instead, I have been distracting myself from a looming existential crisis by re-reading all Dorothy Sayer's detective novels, a Terry Pratchett I hadn't read yet, borrowed from a friend, and an adorable series I discovered at the library (I couldn't resist the titles) by Alan Bradley. If you like Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Peter Wimsey and Inspector Hemingway, you will love Flavia de Luce. Set in post-war Britain, 11 year old Flavia is obsessed with Chemistry, principally poisons, and bicycles serenely around the tiny village of Bishop's Lacey, competently solving local crimes, which annoys the local police inspector no end. She possesses a vague aristocratic father, two deliciously evil sisters who are my favourite characters in the series, and is in cahoots with her father's competent man-servant, who is irresistibly reminiscent of Bunter in the Peter Wimsey novels. Such an entertaining way to avoid reality...

Which is what I am really doing, because, ye gods, reality is terrifying. Here I am, and for twenty three years, all of my adult life, I have been a particular person, married, with kids, and that is who I have been, wife, stay-at-home mum. No complaints or regrets - I am so glad I have been able to watch my kids grow up.. and now, although my life is still inextricably entwined with theirs, the other half of my identity - wife - is gone. And you know, no regrets there either. I have spent quite a long time feeling crushed by a huge burden of guilt, regret and fear of the future, but now I'm done with that (well, I say this now, but of course, those particular emotions tend to return to haunt us at inconvenient moments..). However, that enormous bustling empire that occupied the 'Wife' section of the mental map of my personal universe, is now a void. It is eerily quiet. It is a heart of darkness, waiting..

It has taken some time, I must admit, to gently, or not-so-gently dismantle that empire. It did not go down without a fight. For twenty three years that particular continent has been the scene of such triumphs, such spectacular failures, extraordinary experiments, epic battles, quiet contentment, fear, wars, rumours of wars, joy, hope, resentment, dark conspiracies and, finally, the decline and fall and quiet march into the dark. For some time the empire didn't realise it was dead, and like the sad remnants of other dying empires, still kept trying to administrate territories over which it had no jurisdiction.

It has been the disentangling of those last areas of disputed territories which have been the trickiest, that blurred border between 'Wife' and 'Mother'. That area where 'Wife' may have been, somewhat unwisely in retrospect, micro-managing the relationship between the Dad and his kids. It is a fine line. It is a very easy, rookie mistake to make. It is much harder to let go, and trust that the Dad in question (who is a fine, kind, loving Dad), will go on and have fine, kind, loving relationships with his kids, without (gasp) the constant advice, interference and beneficent nagging of his well-meaning ex-wife. The trouble is, you see, that 'Mother knows best'. I don't know why more people can't see that I would actually be the perfect candidate for Leader of the Universe, because I am clearly always right.

But, by exercising careful self-control, I am beginning to let go the need to control everyone in my family for their own good, which leaves, of course, that big, black void of emptiness where the myriad concerns, anxieties and other manifestations of much of my mental energy was once located. I can understand why newly single people rebound into new relationships as quickly as they can. It is quite terrifying contemplating that empty space. Because do you know what? That space could be filled with anything. I could let it be filled up by the children, but I feel they occupy quite enough of my headspace as it is. I could fill it up with another man, or a demanding occupation, or I could use it to study Italian Renaissance poetry or small engine and appliance maintenance.

Or I could journey into the heart of that dark continent and explore what is already there. Existential malaise indeed. Who exactly am I, bereft of half the identity that has defined me for half my life?

You see why I am reading detective novels? It is all so much simpler when somebody else decides whodunnit and all the loose ends are neatly tied up.

And now, some lovely, soothing spring roses:

Because you can have too much existential angst..

Monday, November 3, 2014

Declutter Week Five: Bathroom, Laundry, and Assorted Other Rooms

To tell the truth I am getting a little bored with decluttering and spring cleaning. But no matter. We are not doing this because it is fun, we are doing it because clean and tidy is worth more to us than the fleeting pleasures of lolling in the garden with a good book. Hang on, is it really? Well, let's just say, we will be so absolutely pleased and smug as we loll in the garden with a good book while also knowing we are unlikely to contract a respiratory disease from the mould spores in the bathroom. Also, we will be able to find that pesky last umbrella when it comes on to rain and we have one chapter to go. Yay us.

So this week - the bathroom. Bathroom cupboards are appalling places for clutter to accumulate, almost all of it absolute rubbish, because we all use up products and throw the bottle back in the cupboard. We also collect samples and tiny bottles which proliferate and possibly breed under the sink. And what about those other products that seemed like a good idea at the time, but really weren't, and have been languishing since 2004 because we spent good money on them and can't bear to throw them out?

The solution to all of this is a) a bin bag, and b) a steely determination not to let any of this back in our house. Truth is I use about five make-up products and three skin care products. The girls might use a couple more. We buy the same shampoo week in, week out, and really, what we would appreciate more than endless choice, is a lovely clear space where we can find everything we want early in the morning without tipping everything out of the cabinet to get to it.

Luckily, a couple of months ago I cleared out a couple of years' worth of disgusting detritus, so this week I will only need to go decluttering lite. The laundry, however, is another prospect altogether. Ugh. It is full of messy things that I have just dumped there, plus lots of containers of mostly used up laundry liquid etc, that have been 'draining' for about two weeks now (think all that laundry liquid is at the bottom yet?) It will require a major overhaul. Also, between the laundry and the bathroom is what we call the 'back porch', but it is basically a mudroom that our back door opens out of. It houses an old wardrobe full of coats, hats, dirty shoes, umbrellas and shopping bags. There are baskets of hot water bottles, spare light globes and string on top of the wardrobe, and also an army of noxious spray cans to kill every bug known to man, because The Man is not a nature lover. Ants, spiders and flies make him very cross. All of this needs some attention. When The Boy was young I knitted him a fabulous gnome hat. Recently he went to a 'Bad Hat' party, and thought the gnome hat would be perfect, completely disregarding my delicate snowflake feelings. Anyway, I was doubtful he would even find the hat, but there it was, at the bottom of the hat basket in back porch closet, not having been moved in the fourteen or so years since he last wore it. So I think it be Time.

Now cleaning. Mainly the bathroom ceiling. Mould. And dead bugs. I think I will offer Rosy significant bribes to climb the ladder and solve that problem for me.  Plus, the laundry window is also pretty mouldy. Should do something about that.

That all might keep me out of trouble this week. After that, I think I will consider myself done, and start concentrating on finishing planting the garden and considering Christmas.

Tell me about your cleaning and decluttering adventures this week..

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Green and Thrifty

The first roses of the season. Happy Spring:)

Ok, so first we have the Not Green and Thrifty section to get out of the way. This morning I emptied all the dead food out of the fridge. Oh dear, oh dear. Report card reads 'Could do better'. Note to self. Just stop buying cauliflower. No-one will eat it, no matter what you do to it.

Chopped up a big bunch of spinach from the school vegie garden into the lasagne - and, while we are on that subject, during my nana nap this afternoon I had a sudden vision of how to make bechamel sauce in the blender. This is how I always make custard, so I thought I would try it with white sauce as well. Worked like a dream (well, it would all have been much better if I hadn't dropped the flour container on the floor and had to do significant sweeping). So I put in the milk (600ml), melted the butter (60g), added that, then the flour (60g) and whizzed it all up in the blender, then whisked it in the saucepan as per usual, adding grated cheese (handful), nutmeg, pepper and salt at the end. It was much quicker than making a roux, and I imagine it wouldn't be as likely to go lumpy either. So, cooking experiment success story. Although it has just occurred to me that it makes more dishes. I love the dish washer.

In the last two weeks I have been given two cartons of eggs (thank you Karlin and Cindy), so we are enjoying our home laid breakfasts:

Gorgeous nana crockery from the op shop.

I have discovered there is nothing more fun than to dip asparagus spears in a soft boiled egg while reading murder mysteries at breakfast time. The easiest way to have the egg and asparagus ready at the same moment is to pop the asparagus into the egg water when it starts boiling. They will both be ready two and a half minutes later.

The weather here in balmy Tasmania is absolutely freezing. I am sure it is snowing on our nearest mountain right now. It is sleeting here. The vegie garden is hanging on, but kind of sulking a bit. I don't blame it. We are trying to be very good and wear all the layers instead of turning on the heaters, and I hope we are winning at the battle to save electricity. Our tumble dryer broke a couple of months ago. I haven't replaced it, because with only four people living here now it is possible to dry all our washing inside. Although really, I generally just hang it outside anyway and cross my fingers. The great thing about our weather is that there are usually enough breaks between rain to dry washing. So far, from a combination of luck and planning there have always been dry school uniforms, although the girls have had to wear their school socks twice on a number of occasions. I tell them hardship is good for character development:)

The reward for walking to the gym this week has been adorable fat pink crab apple buds. I have also actually walked into town a couple of times and not died, so that was good. I also got to appreciate the giant chestnut trees in the parks, with their elegant white candle flowers. Love, love. While I was walking I casually broke off a few geranium cuttings that were poking through front fences. I popped them into a glass of water on the kitchen bench, and so far have only one growing roots. But one free plant is better than none, non?

I have declared this week Rhododendron Appreciation Week, because they are at their glorious peak at the moment, veritable cascades of blossom in parks and gardens. My favourites are the white with pale pink edges. Monday is a public holiday, and I have planned to meet up with friends in a local park which has an entire hill covered with rhododendrons. We shall eat home baked goodies and stroll around the rhododendron forest appreciating them with enthusiasm.

Being thrifty is so easy if you love gardens. You get to walk everywhere and appreciate lovely gardens, a grand day out is appreciating gardens in beautiful free public parks, you get to share plants with friends and make whole new plants out of tiny twigs from people's front gardens, because nature doesn't ask you to pay for any of her bounty. Today I picked a salad of self-sown lettuce, which has been feeding us for about two months now. I also picked rocket which has been self-seeding between paving stones, and added self-sown parsley, and new little broad bean and snow pea leaves, which I grew from saved seed. Thank you nature. Keep it up:)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Painting is one of the world's most boring occupations. When I was painting walls and ceilings during an earlier part of the renovations, my daily thankful prayer was, 'I am so grateful I don't have to paint for a living.' Some people tell me they find painting relaxing and meditative. Well, they are clearly more evolved than I am. I find painting repetitive and irritating. So some kind patron saint of Easily Irritated DIY Practitioners must have led me to the audiobook section at the library last week, where I picked up Cheryl Strayed's Wild. Thirteen wonderful hours of beautifully distracting prose, a memoir woven seamlessly through the story of an arduous summer-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon.

Now you must know that hiking, carrying a heavy back pack, getting sweaty, nature as it involves bugs and most other wildlife, putting up tents and other by-products of camping are all anathema to me, but listening to someone else's experience of being exhausted and sweaty and terrified of mountain lions was wonderfully therapeutic over my weekend of painting; it made wielding a paintbrush and getting a slightly sore painting arm seem quite relaxing in comparison.

I first came across Cheryl Strayed's writing via her Dear Sugar columns several months ago. Dear Sugar was an agony aunt column, with no holds barred. Strayed is that unusual person who does not hide or avoid or cover up pain. She heads straight into it, straight to the heart of the person she is writing to every time. She has come through oceans of her own pain, swum through it, almost drowned in it, but come through to landfall, and her Dear Sugar letters are extraordinary love letters to many sad and broken hearts.

Which made me pick up Wild, eager to read about the life of this big hearted person. And there it all is in its painful honesty, a life and the walk of a lifetime, all woven into each other to create what becomes almost an epic tale, one of the old hero tales, or a pilgrimage. The author walks the trail for a hundred days. overwhelmed by the task she has set herself, but also overwhelmed by the pain of her past. She writes so simply, but direct to the heart. Rosy came in to the study over the week end to find me sobbing with my head in my arms, while holding the paint brush at arm's length so I wouldn't get paint in my hair.

'Mum, what's wrong?' she asked in alarm.

'The h-h-horse DIED,' I wailed. Rosy gave me that special look she saves just for me and my endless peculiarities, patted my shoulder and went to get me a cup of tea. She is a good girl, and should live long in the land (by the way, I haven't spoiled the plot for you. The horse was always going to die, but I defy you not to cry about it anyway).

There is much pain and loss and fear and anger in this memoir.  But it is a very hopeful book. My favourite sentence is the last, as the author compares her life to the fish in the river at the end of her trek, fish slipping away just under the surface of the river, impossible to catch or grasp or possess. Her life is:

Like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was to let it be.

I just love this line. In a world of self-improvement, I will hug this thought to me. How wild it is to just let my life be what it is and will be. And I will admit it, as a tiny bit of a perfectionist and being rather fond of being in control, I am both challenged and comforted by that thought. I have no idea where that will take me, but believe me, you will read about it here:)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

In Which I Am Pointlessly Indignant

I am such a colossal ninny.

When The Man and I separated we were at the end of a twelve year renovation. Within a whisker of everything being completely finished. All that needed to be done was to install an efficient heating system, and build some shelves in the tiny ground-floor study. The Man had been meaning to build those shelves for, oh, maybe a year. But his stressful job and our stressful relationship kind of got in the way. Eventually, as everything irrevocably fell apart, we realised that The Man was never going to build those shelves, so I had a joinery firm we had used before come and measure up to do the job.

The nice young man came and asked me what I wanted, and I told him. Then I forgot all about it and he went away for three months because they 'had a lot of jobs on' as these firms inexplicably always seem to do when you want them. Then the shelves turned up in a van the other morning, and another nice young man started putting them up.

I popped downstairs after about half an hour to see how things were going. Now this is the point where I should have looked at the monstrosity he had put up on my wall, when it was held in by a mere half dozen screws, and shrieked, 'Good God, that is hideous. Take it down right now and put up the simple shelves I thought I asked for.'

Instead of which I squeaked, 'Oh yes, that looks so good,' and went back upstairs and kicked the wall. Truth is, I suffer from Over-the-Top Politeness Syndrome. Think Hugh Grant, but female, and less charming, and more like a prim librarian. I do not make fusses. I hate to hurt peoples' feelings.  I am crippled by a sense of social awkwardness where I am afraid I might offend a stranger. I am the person who says, 'Sorry,' when someone else steps on my toes.

I was incapable of sending that poor young man back to his workshop with an unwanted, hideous set of shelves because he must have worked SO hard to make them. So I just let him put them up, and I will hate them forever and grin and bear it, because that is also what I do. Because clearly it was my fault. I must have said 'yes' when the nice young man proposed this monstrosity because I often say 'yes' to tradies, just to make them go away. In fact, I said 'yes' to the vision in my head where there were more shelves, narrower and closer together, but we only ever talked about it, and I never saw a visual representation. I am a very visual person. I should NEVER say 'yes' to something I have only heard about, with measurements I somehow agreed to without seeing what they would look like..

Aargh, I am so very spineless, with not a determined, predatory bone in my body. By the time the nice young man had spent some hours hammering fillers into the side of the shelves to jam them between the walls, and nicely puttied up the screw holes and filled all the cracks around the edge, it was Too Late to stop being a jellyfish. I waved off the nice young man and glumly started under-coating the hateful shelves, absolutely furious at myself for not being able to make a decent A-grade fuss about things I am not happy about.

I have stared down the beastly things for two days now as I paint them. If this were a novel or a movie, this would be the moment that I would take a sledge hammer to them, crash them down and build the shelves I want with my own two bare hands. This is not a novel or a movie. I have reluctantly conceded that the shelves look marginally better now they are white rather than dreadful MDF brown. I cannot stand the thought of the mess, the cost and the fuss of ripping them down and getting something else put in its place. The tiny traitorous thought has occurred to me that being so incredibly large and over-engineered, I can store every single homeless item in the house on those shelves. Practicality has won over indignation. But the indignation is still there. Every time I look at those shelves a tiny flame of indignation is fanned. I will not always be a jellyfish. I will find out what I really want. I will ask for it very clearly. And if I don't get it, I will absolutely, positively almost certainly say, 'Excuse me, um, there seems to be a, um problem with this thingy that, but, well yes, it seems it is not quite what I um.... want. After all. Sorry.'

I will be like Arthur Dent after he has worked up a real head of steam. I will be Unstoppable!!

The hideous bank of shelves which look like they belong in an accountant's office. Actually, they do look marginally better now they are painted white. 

The simple plank shelves on the other side of the room which I like. I thought I had asked for more of the same on the other wall, only longer and thinner, but clearly not... I also took the opportunity to paint some baskets white while I had the paint out.

The best thing about my study is the view. It is the only room in the house which looks out at the garden from ground level.

Artichokes and bottlebrush and the pink flowers my mother calls kiss-me-quick. Their official name is centrathus ruber, but that is boring.

All the cups of tea, lined up in prim librarian style. The girls keep bringing them down to me. I think they are worried about the constant, slightly mad muttering coming from inside the study..

Monday, October 20, 2014

Declutter Week Four: Living Room and Dining Room

You may have noticed that there was no decluttering going on at Chez Blueday last week. This is because I worked for four days and was exhausted. I must admit, put like that, it doesn't look terribly exhausting, but I don't think I have ever worked four days in a row outside the house ever, and I got halfway through a post on Monday night and fell asleep! And I certainly did nothing around the house other than basic tidying, laundry and dinner. I am very impressed at the work all you full time working mums do, especially those who sometimes have the energy to write to us all at night as well.

I have been watching old episodes of Kirstie's Vintage Home recently while doing the ironing. And something I have noticed is that while all the decorative touches she adds and creates are lovely, really, the significant difference happens when those rooms are decluttered. It is not just a matter of moving things around and storing them more efficiently, it is the fact that a good three quarters of the stuff in those rooms is gone by the end of the make-over, that creates an end result  which is so peaceful and inviting. Not only more peaceful and inviting though, also more adult. A living room that is very cluttered really has the look of a teenager's bedroom. It is as if the things in the room are more powerful than the person who owns them. This is a feeling I have often had, especially in the years when my house was dreadfully cluttered. I was completely overwhelmed by my 'stuff', which meant I had effectively handed over my power to a bunch of inanimate objects. A clear, calm, deliberately arranged room sends a powerful signal - I am in charge here, and my things are here because I have chosen them, not because they have just cluttered themselves all over the place.

In one of the episodes I watched, a couple had a very cluttered house, but a very clear idea of the aesthetic they were after - 60s retro. It turned out that they had quite a lot of lovely pieces of 60s furniture, and that they were also very knowledgeable and competent at buying good pieces secondhand. At the beginning of the show though, in their living room cluttered with baby gear and daily detritus, they looked terribly helpless, and you couldn't see that they had any aesthetic at all. It was literally hidden under the clutter. What decluttering revealed was a confident and knowledgeable young couple with an adult room which showcased their talent for design.

Two or so years ago we had our whole living room and dining room gutted and rebuilt to add double glazed windows, insulation, new floors and less walls. We lived for a whole winter with the master bedroom as our only living space. It was quite... cosy. When the day came that we could finally move into our 'new' spaces, I only moved about a third of the 'stuff' back into the rooms that had originally been there. It was about then that I started my 'war on stuff' as well, so very little now lives in either room. They are not large rooms, so having very little in them except furniture makes them quite calm spaces to be in (well, let's be honest, a lot of daily nagging needs to go on to achieve this outcome. I have hopes that it will be only, oh, five more years or so before the nagging becomes internalised, and the shoes, hairbrushes, craft-work, tea cups and toast plates all magically find their own way back out of these spaces).

Now, I would really like to add some more Kirstie-style decorative touches these rooms - especially one large bare wall in the living room, but the fact that it is a lovely clear and calm space after I have whipped around and tidied every morning, and plumped the cushions, well, that makes me happy. The only things that are stored in this room are invisible. Magazines, DVDs, CDs, all tucked away in the coffee table and the cupboard. My sister-in-law taught me the value of lamp-light for a living room, so every evening I close the curtains and light two lamps. The soft light is very calming. I noticed when the children were small that soft lighting after dinner, and no TV, helped them settle ready for bed. That is not what always happened in our household - but when it did, bedtime was much pleasanter! Even now, the ten year old is much calmer when we have soft lights and music and a story instead of the overhead light and television. It is also an excellent way for adults to relax and wind down. Soft lights and no visual stimulation tell our brains that it is time for sleeping. Maybe this is why I am usually in bed by 9.30pm. Or maybe that is my inner nana!

So, jobs for the living room this week:

Sweep the ashes out of the fire place for summer.
Take all the covers off the couch to wash them. I have never done this. I hope I don't shrink them! I had all the cushions made with zips when the couch was re-upholstered, but I have never been brave enough to unzip them. I was going to have the couch cleaned, but maybe I can do it myself...
Um, I think that is it. Oh, there is a pile of magazines on the ottoman that I keep meaning to give to a friend. Must do that.

Jobs for dining room:

I have some lovely old wooden file drawers from The Man's work next to our dining table. They are our craft drawers, filled with all the children's art supplies. We always do art at the table, which means it has to be cleared away before the next meal. This is vital. Once we had an art area in another room. We used to be able to close the door on art mess. That was a big mistake. Only having craft where we must confront its messiness three times a day is a lifesaver! We put away a lot more consistently now. However, these drawers are becoming over-stuffed, and a lot of them don't even shut properly any more. It is time to reorganise them. I will get Posy to help me. She loves rearranging things. Then maybe we can have fun making Christmas craft. Ha ha. I wrote the words 'fun' and 'craft' in the same sentence. Don't worry, fun crafts will likely never feature on this blog again:)

Another job that confronts me in the dining room is the surface of the dining table. A few weeks ago Posy had a hissy fit about an art project, and threw it across the table in a rage, spattering acrylic paint everywhere. Now the surface of the table is covered in a fine splatter of paint that won't come off. There are also numerous scratches, paint stains from previous art projects, dents and various mysterious stains that could be anything, up to and including blood. I am not quite sure how to tackle this problem. I could refinish both the table and the coffee table, which has similar issues. I actually can do this, but would have to take them outside, and it would take days. Maybe when The Girl finishes exams it could be a mother-daughter bonding project. I expect she will be thrilled about that. Meanwhile I think I may have to reframe the table as 'rustic' and 'well-loved'. Unless anyone has a magic acrylic paint removal recipe?

Who would like to join me in making the living room and dining room presentable for the holiday season (or in Australia, just in time for the children to come home for the summer holidays and mess it all up again for six weeks..).

Oh, and here is my very best tip for making the dining room look organised. Push the dining room chairs in neatly. Or nag someone else to. Makes all the difference. Ditto plumping cushions in the living room, and folding the blankets neatly. My floors are a disgusting sight right this minute, but I'm hoping anyone who visits will only notice the splendidly plumped cushions!!

Monday: Did any of you ever read What Katy Did when you were a child? Do you remember the part where Katy finds her little brother's diary and reads it out as entertainment on their picnic? Most of his entries read - Forgit what did. Describes my week exactly. So, Monday - Forgit what did.

Tuesday: Forgit what did.

Wednesday: Even though my dementia is increasing by the day, you will be happy to know I can remember what I did today. I cleaned out the fire place for summer. Hurrah! This morning I visited a giant wholesale supermarket for the first time. I believe it must be the place that supplies a lot of the local cafes and restaurants. Enormous catering packs of all sorts of unlikely products such as giant tins of pineapple slices and the most enormous bucket of Vegiemite you have ever seen. Well, in between stocking up on giant packs of choc bits I found one of those old fashioned wooden banister brushes with the black bristles. They used to be made of horse tail hair or something, but this one was coconut fibres. It is absolutely marvellous, and I used it to brush out the fire place, feeling exactly like a Victorian house maid. I have so much fun some days, it just kills me.

Anyway, after I did my chimney sweep impression I pulled all the covers off the couch and put them through a delicate wash cycle with eucalyptus oil in the fabric softener compartment. I had my heart in my mouth, and all fingers and toes crossed, because who knew if I would shrink the covers and never be able to get them on the cushions again? They dried beautifully in the sunshine, and I brought them in just in time for Posy to get home from school to help me with the zips. It looked like a close thing there several times, but we finally got the covers on, and now I have ABSOLUTELY banned anyone from eating anything on the couch ever. That lasted for half an hour until I found Posy eating toast on it and watching telly. Which she will not be doing again in a hurry, I assure you.

Thursday: Washed all the cushion covers today. As I was hanging them on the line I noticed that one of my nice linen ones had a label which said 'Dry Clean Only'. Eeek! However it all ended well, without shrinkage or other disaster, so don't believe everything you read. I have a bit of a collection of duck feather cushions - SO wonderfully fat and heavy and satisfying to plump! A couple were a lucky op shop find, the other two quite expensive. I took them outside and gave them a good bashing, to release a winter's worth of dust into the backyard. They really needed that. I also washed the couch throws and vacuumed under all the couches. Oh my goodness, it has been some weeks months since I did that. On the bright side I found Posy's favourite missing sock (only Posy would have favourite socks. There has been much drama about its missingness. Now that it's found, I bet it won't be the favourite any more..).

Friday: Have completely ignored all spring cleaning duties. Yesterday had some shelves put in the study, and am determined to finish painting them this weekend. Not helped by a student-free day at school today, Posy and her Gang of Three who can cause more mess and havoc than any children I have ever met, with a sleepover thrown in. Aargh! A pox on the Department of Education!

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