~ Everything is a Miracle ~ or ~ Some Not Totally Disparate Thoughts

English: A antique chandelier lit up by candle...

An antique chandelier lit up by candles. I believe this to be both useful and beautiful. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These paragraphs were taken out of the weekly column I write for my home town newspaper. Taken at random–they are complete thoughts unto themselves without the context of the full article:

1. “There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle.”  ~ Albert Einstein

If, as Einstein says, there are the only two ways to live your life, I am opting to live as “though everything is a miracle.”

2. If you want to live simply, you could follow the edicts of Loretta Moore, who stated that “There are only two things in life that I have to do: breathe and quit breathing, everything else is optional.”  That in a nutshell certainly describes life at its simplest, but it also provides us with all kinds of options. I think the point she was making is that we have choices. So the over-riding philosophy of choosing the simple life is just one option. It should not be a crusade, religion, or movement—it should be a choice. I am not opting out of the idea of a simple life, but I do think there can be a balance.

3. The philosophy I follow can be summed up in the words of Christopher Morely, who believes that “There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Couple  that with what Editor and Publisher, Alexander Chalmers says are the three grand essentials of happiness: “something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for”, and I think I have the makings for a life, be it simple, complicated, or somewhere in between.

4. I think that the author, William Norris got it right when he said: “If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it. Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

I think he has hit the right balance–what do you think?

Quotes are from derived from Google

~ Hints I Will Never Use ~

English: A heavy-duty "bow rake" use...

English: A heavy-duty “bow rake” used for soil and rocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read a tip in my daily newspaper today that I will never use. Ever.  Now they say you should never say never—but this one I am sure of. It was submitted by Maureen in the “Tip of the week” section of the paper called Solutions & Substitutions.  Maureen suggests, not tongue in cheek that “If you want to cook several hotdogs over a bonfire, here’s a timesaver. Put the wieners on the tines of a metal rake and cook many at once.” Yeah, right.

Here is another hint I will never use. It is from the book “Haley’s Hints” which boasts “over 2000 of the most extraordinary money & time-saving uses for ordinary household items….at your fingertips.” So, are you ready? On page 154 under a section called “Sewing and Notions” (I already know I am in the wrong section of the book when the word sewing is part of the title) it is suggested that you “Try leaving your hand-sewing in a decorative basket by the telephone or your favourite chair. You can have a chat with friends or watch television and get a few hems and buttons done as well.”

vintage sewing basket

vintage sewing basket (Photo credit: **tWo pInK pOSsuMs**)

I did sew a button on once, and there is proof. My husband (a lovely man with a strange sense of humour) took a picture of me. As if it was some rare occasion. Okay, it was a rare occasion, but I still did not appreciate the fact that he took the picture. Martha Stewart I am not. Enough said.

Have you ever read a tip that you will never, ever use?

Or do you have a tip we can all use?

Published in: on November 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm  Comments (57)  
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Something a little lighter ~ one might call it flakier

THE HAGUE: Prison Gate

THE HAGUE: Prison Gate (Photo credit: Akbar Simonse)

I received an email today that I think was supposed to make me angry. But instead I was left relieved. It showed a beautiful building with a pool and game courts and some rather luxurious amenities. But it was not a new hotel or spa. It was a newly built prison. I was supposed to be outraged about how my government was spending our money—but I was not.

What the person who sent me the email did not know was that my plans for retirement include perpetrating a crime that will get me into one of these institutions of higher learning. It will not be a heinous crime—just one bad enough to get me incarcerated in one of the nicer prisons—sort of like when Martha Stewart went to jail and taught her “roommates” how to

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

cook and crochet and make potpourri bundles.

I have not quite figured out the crime I am going to carry out—but it will be one I can undo once I have achieved my goal. If I steal a great deal of money, I will just hide it and give it back. If I get a stock “tip” I will give back the money I earned dishonestly. I am not going to hurt anyone or do any real damage.

This is what comes of being a freelancer – no pension, nothing saved, and not much earned to speak of. If you have any ideas for me of the perfect non-violent crime that can be undone once my housing arrangements are finalized, don’t be shy—share them with me.

Right now, I am supposed to be doing some bookwork for my husband’s company (something which involve my nemesis:numbers) so I am procrastinating once again and creating something  I like to call “a little less than literature.”

Published in: on August 29, 2012 at 6:54 pm  Comments (46)  
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Seriously, get a maid

Through the Ages With Millie The Model

Through the Ages With Millie The Model (Photo credit: Terry McCombs)

I don’t want to get all domestic on you, or dust off my ol’ Martha Stewart straw hat, but it is time. It is time to clean my house. I was brought up in a very clean and neat house. Truly, I was. When I was a kid I loved to dust. Mom would hide nickels under the doilies and the little decorative table cloths (someone lovingly embroidered with birds of prey) that covered our coffee table and end tables to see if my sister and I would find them when we dusted. My sister never did. I always found them and added them to my weekly allowance which was saved up to buy the latest comic book that week (Archie and Millie the Model were two of my favourites—I was not a literary child.) The irony here is that today you can eat off my sister’s floors. You can eat off my floors too, after you have shovelled them.

Seriously, I do not usually let the house go to such extremes, though I do like it to be a little challenging — not dirty per se, but a bit beyond dusty before I clean, so I feel the whole exercise is worthwhile. I remember cleaning my mom’s house, and there was never much satisfaction to the whole cleaning thing (except that it made her happy) because the place never got dirty. You did not have to wear shoes in my mom’s house to keep your feet clean. I am not saying you have to do that at my house, but when you come to my door, and I ask you to leave your shoes on, it is not necessarily for your comfort (which of course is very important), but it is so you do not go home with remnants of delinquent dust bunnies on your clean white socks.

You know what convinced me that I needed to get the vacuum out (and use it)? Some crumbs fell off a kitchen cupboard, and instead of landing on the floor, they got caught in a cobweb and were suspended midair about an inch off the ground. That is what convinced me. I told this to my sister in an email, and asked her if I should really reveal this stuff in a blog post. I have received no comment from her yet. But I do not judge myself by my housekeeping skills. (Thank goodness). Okay, I will admit to getting the vacuum out and using it as a prop “as if” I am in the middle of cleaning, but I really do not derive any self-actualization from vacuuming.

Another sign that perhaps I should clean is the fan in my kitchen, which is on perpetually all the time. Yesterday my youngest son was trying to stop it with his hand (hey, he is 21, do you need to know more?).  When I asked him why he was doing that, he turned it off and said he was trying to see if you could see his handprint in the dust.  (Again, why? Same answer, he is 21—now don’t ask that question again.) In my defence, kitchen fans are notorious for collecting dust because of all the leftover cooking residue (okay, grease). The dust gets caught in the residue (okay, again grease—are you trying to embarrass me?) and stays there until you decide to climb up on a chair, risk life and limb, and scrub it off.  My answer to this whole dilemma is to keep the fan on all summer, then clean it in November when it is no longer needed.  You cannot see dust on a whirling fan.

I know that this topic is a recurring subject in my writing. And I know that it will come up again. But please do not judge me. If you come to my house and I am expecting you, I can fool you into believing that I am not a total slob. If you come to my house, and I am not expecting you, you will have to stay in my one sane room in the house – the living room, as I keep it pretty neat most of the time.  If you need to go upstairs to the bathroom though, you will have to put on a blindfold. So, call first if you have a weak bladder.

I am now going to clean my house. Really. This was just a pep talk to prepare me for the process until I can afford a maid and a butler and a cook and a chauffeur. (Hey, if you don’t dream big, why dream at all?)

Update: I did clean my house. No I do not feel self-actualized. Ask Pavlov –no, no, that was the guy with the drooling dogs; ask Maslow, he was the hierarchy of needs guy.

Abraham Maslow Quote (2)

Abraham Maslow Quote (2) (Photo credit: Psychology Pictures)

Published in: on July 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm  Comments (65)  
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Tiny Tortures

An oil lamp, the symbol of nursing in many cou...

An oil lamp, the symbol of nursing in many countries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~ John Muir

As of late, I have been poked, prodded and pinched, squeezed, squashed and searched, jabbed, jostled and ever so slightly manhandled. And all I have to say about it is: Thanks.

At one time or another, most of us have had to undergo medical tests which admittedly are none too comfortable. But we undergo these tiny tortures for the greater good. If we want good health we submit to mammograms, ultrasounds, blood tests, and a myriad of procedures that will hopefully find that we are in good health. If we find out otherwise, then we have options—options that would not be possible if we had not been pricked, prodded, and examined.

I am not the poster girl for preventative medicine—something has to hurt somewhere before I do something about it. A pain in my side that would not go away finally got me to make a doctor’s appointment and keep it. I have been putting my health on the sidelines for a while now, figuring if nothing is screaming out for attention, then everything must be okay.

First I had to have some blood tests. Sounds simple doesn’t it? When I went to to have my blood taken I did not warn the nurse that vampires have difficulty finding my veins, as I did not want to set her up for failure. It soon became obvious to her that I had tiny veins. She was gentle, but had to downsize her needle twice, but finally, she struck gold–err, I mean blood. Now, while we were going through this tiny trauma, I found out that she was getting married in a couple of weeks and we talked about her plans. I am convinced that if she had found my veins sooner, we would not have had this lovely conversation—so, even though I was jabbed a few times, it paid off in warm human contact.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I had a mammography. The less said about this the better. It hurts, darn it. But the nurse who took care of me was compassionate, and explained that a little pain was not much to ask when there could be so much to gain. I agreed, and read a Martha Stewart gardening magazine, while she went over the results. They have invited me back for an ultrasound. I would like not to RSVP, but I am trying to be wiser, so I will go back. Being dense (not just in the head) makes the mammogram results more difficult to read. I refuse to read anything more into it.

And just this morning I had an ultrasound in the area that initially sent me into my health care provider. In order to have this ultrasound, I had to spend the day before on a fat free diet. Do you know that everything has fat in it besides Jell-O, fruits and vegetables? Oh yeah, I was also allowed dry toast. Usually this would not be so bad, but it was Father’s Day, and I could not let the dad of honour eat my restricted diet—so I suffered through watching my family eat good food and dessert (something we do not have regularly) while munching on dry bread and strawberries. To add insult to injury, I also had to drink four glasses of water an hour before my appointment—so not only was I undergoing an ultrasound (which in itself is not all that bad)—I was undergoing an ultrasound with a full bladder.

I am back home, with a coffee and bagel under my belt, and trying to make a pact with myself not to eat everything in the fridge after yesterday’s almost “fast”. I made my family save a piece of the dessert, which I will be having for lunch. Bon appetit to me.

Company Coming

cleanliness is next to godliness

cleanliness is next to godliness (Photo credit: 2-Dog-Farm)

“We labour to make a house a home, then every time we’re expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.” ~Robert Brault

Spring cleaning. Now those are not words that trip off my lips often. Not even every spring. In a conversation with my sister recently, I said, “You have to make the trek from Ottawa down here soon, my house needs cleaning.” She knew what I meant. Not that she needs someone to visit for her to clean her house—I swear you could eat off the floors in her house—even when no one is coming to visit.  You cannot eat off the floors at my house—ever. Even the five second rule is a bit dicey most of the time. (You know the rule—if food falls on the floor you have about five seconds before really disgusting things happen to it—I think we have at the best of times, a two second rule at my house.)

It is not as if, in my heart of hearts, I am not a neat and clean person. It is just that my inner Martha Stewart is bogged down, or if truth be told, nonexistent. Jane Wells, author of the book “Definitely Not Martha Stewart” says that “deep in the heart of every woman lives a Martha Stewart. It doesn’t matter how liberated or non-traditional we are, the only difference in any of us are the circumstances of life that have nurtured or sublimated or completely eradicated our nesting instincts.” Okay, Jane seems to be a bit on the fence about Martha. I am not. I have no inner Martha Stewart, which is probably why she does not get on my nerves.  I love things to be neat, clean, and organized—I just do not care for the process it takes to get there.

My mom was big on spring cleaning. Wash down all the walls and the ceilings in every room in the house. No piece of furniture was unturned, undusted, unbuffed, or unpolished in the quest to clean the house when the first robin appeared. She took her talents for granted, and felt that there was no creativity in keeping a clean house—it was something everyone could do.

Cleaning takes hard work. Second, it takes hard work, and a plan of attack. Since my mother was already a fastidious housekeeper, it was not much of a job to do her spring cleaning, as on a daily basis, the house was dusted and vacuumed and the bathroom cleaned  (something I do on a weekly, nay–monthly basis). Her weekly cleaning jaunts were about what my spring cleaning is, when I choose to actually do it.  I learned from the best. It is not that I do not know how to clean—it is just I use these talents on a much more limited basis than my mom did—with, I might add, her approval.

She told me that keeping up with the Joneses in the house cleaning department was not something I needed to do—she did it because she said “it was expected”. Now, do not get me wrong, I do not live in filth, and when I am expecting company, I clean my little heart out. For me cleaning the house when company is coming is part of the respect I show for them. I am glad they are coming, and to show it, I clean up the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, plus a dust bunny or two, and the occasional tumbleweed.

I have been to homes where the housekeeping is somewhat relaxed, (as is mine generally) and I do not judge, as I figure the homeowner just has more important things to do, like curling up with a good book. In fact seeing how laidback others are about house cleaning has made me more relaxed in my own “getting ready for company” practices, which makes the whole process a little less harried (though admittedly, I do get a little unwound when doors I have deliberately  shut get opened and the flotsam and jetsam I have hidden from sight are revealed. The solution: get some locks.)

Easter is coming and so is company. I think I must be goal oriented and need an actual reason to clean up. As the author of  “Definitely Not Martha Stewart” observed: “If it weren’t for Christmas or company coming, some jobs would never get done.”