Moving. On, Around, Up…

Whoa. It’s been a time here at the House of Peevish. Bubby has left the building, and as she has moved on to bigger and better things, so do we.

(Actually, what she has moved on to is, I think, haunting the other cats and That Baby. Everyone has been displaying distinctly Bubby-like behaviours since her departure, and in general acting like weenies. So either she is haunting them — AND I WOULD NOT PUT IT PAST HER — or at the very least, she had a quick word with each of them before she left and left them explicit instructions. Being a weenie from beyond the grave — it’s her style.)

But the past week or so has caused us to take stock of things. And we have decided to get some things done. Lots of things. Moving things. Cleaning things. All sorts of things.

And then on Saturday, I threw my back out. And so, as I sit in my chair, it has been mostly BDH who has been doing things.

(Bah. I am sore and peevish. And feeling like an arse because I can’t do much to help BDH in his quest for order.)

There are all sorts of tasks that we’ve been wanting to accomplish, and for whatever reason, Opus’s death has kicked us into gear and we decided to do some of them. Or maybe it’s the onset of fall that’s done it, opening the windows and letting the cool air and sunshine in. But whatever it is, we’ve been cleaning and sorting and organizing like crazy.

Okay. BDH has. Whatever.

We put thousands of photos into albums. We washed and folded lots of laundry. We cleaned and put away Opus-maintenance items like her cage and her blankets and her litter box. We reorganized furniture. We made (or planned to make) food from the produce in our sadly neglected kitchen garden, like jerk and pesto and tomato sauce, which will then go in the freezer to be enjoyed all year.

We’re getting our lives in order, too. We got a calendar, one of those dry-erase deals, and put it up on the kitchen wall, so we can track appointments and Stinkerbelle’s swimming lessons and garbage days and whatever else. We started off a personal fitness challenge. We’re scouring websites and cookbooks for new or healthier or more interesting or more budget-friendly recipes to try. We’re making checklists. We’re imposing order on chaos.

It has been nice. It has been some change. Change is sometimes good.

The only problem? With all this moving and changing, there will come a time, hours or days or weeks from now, when one of us will go, “Have you seen my X?” And neither of us will have sweet fanny all of an idea where the heck we put X in all our flurry of cleaning and futzing and moving.

But it’s okay. Opus moved on, nice weather moved in, and we got moving. It’s all good, in its own way.

Projected

I have been trying, over the past week or two, to switch up That Baby’s nap schedule.

Previously, she was napping — or rather, catnapping — for a short 45 minutes or so in the morning and in the afternoon. That didn’t work for either of us. The morning nap wasn’t long enough for me to get anything done, and the afternoon nap wasn’t long enough for her to feel rested and not wake up in a frenzy of tears and recriminations.

Then, we tried a longer morning nap. That went well, except for the fact that she would wake up after 45 minutes and then need to be rocked while she snoozed for another 45 minutes or so — and that didn’t work for me. She was rested, but by about 4 in the afternoon she began to drag, and was positively beside herself with the tired by 6 pm.

So now, we have switched to a long nap, right after lunch. This one? Seems to be a good one. We play hard in the morning, or go for walks, or run errands, and by lunch time she is ready for a snooze. Some days Stinkerbelle will nap for two hours or more, which means I will get two hours of time to do stuff around the house, or work, or even just get a shower and lunch. And she generally wakes up rested and happy.

I am loving this nap.

One of the things I can do now, with two hours of time, is get a household routine back. I can get some cleaning done. Or I can do some laundry. Maybe I can even sit down and actually get some paid work done. But whatever I do, it means we are happier around here. And that is really nice.

We are a family that does well on routine. And with routine comes organization. And with organization comes a neater, cleaner environment. And with a neater environment comes more calm and relaxed me. And a more calm, relaxed me means a more rested me.

With this, I am finding I actually have time to think about taking on some projects around the house. Nothing monumental, mind you, but if I am not stressing about getting things done around here, I actually have time to get things done around here. I can breathe and take stock of things. I can look at things more objectively and say, “Okay. X need to be washed/sewn/mended/cleaned/painted.” Or, as is often the case, I can look at things and say, “OHMYGOD would you LOOK at the CAT HAIR on these CURTAINS” and actually plan to get them into the wash.

And I can actually see that there might be some time in which I can get up on a footstool, take down the curtain rod, bundle up the curtains, and throw them in the wash.

I know. CRAZY TALK.

But it’s true. There may be time, and by doG I am going to use it. I am starting to set up small projects around here. Or, at the very least, identify projects to be done. Perhaps, given a few moments, even make a bit of a dent in one or two.

I LIKE when life goes like that. I ENJOY thinking, “THAT has to be done” and actually thinking there might be some time to do it.

But not only does it mean I can get cleaning done around here, but I can start to think about bigger projects as well. There are a lot of rooms that need painting. And some require a date with some Polyfilla before that. There are closets that need to be gone through and sorted. There are cupboards that need reorganizing. There is a garage full of stuff that needs to be cleaned out. And there’s a yard and gardens that are just crying out for some attention.

But there are personal projects too.

Right now, I am doing a lot of knitting. Although knitting is a leisure time activity, one of my potential projects is to knit a blanket for BDH, since he has been admiring the baby blankets I have been knitting and was thinking he might want one for himself. And this potentially helps clean out my closets of all the yarn I have been storehousing for — wait for it — when I can start a new big knitting project.

Now, one of the issues I have is that I am an endless project starter. I start projects with energy and enthusiasm and vision.

And then I abandon them.

(Sidebar: Some say it is because I am a Sagittarius. But BDH is the same, possibly even more of a project starter than I am, and he’s, what, a Libra or something? So there goes THAT theory. Plus I don’t take a lot of stock in that stuff. But whatever.)

But I am getting better, as I get older. Plus, the clutter of endless abandoned projects and shiny bright ideas has come home to roost. More specifically, the roost is pretty damned cluttered with these damned unfinished projects. So I am learning that perhaps projects on a smaller scale — like setting aside a couple of hours and washing the curtains, for example — are probably more achievable. I get more done this way.

So that is what the liberation of a long Stinkerbelle nap has done. It has given me an hour or two to get things done. An hour or two of precious, productive time.

Now let’s hope that we can keep this routine for a little while.

Mostly Offline

It’s been one of those weeks around here. One of those weeks where I have been mostly offline. But that doesn’t mean things have not been happening.

Part of the reason has been the bankruptcy debacle of last week. Because we’ve been part of the adoption community for so long, for whatever reason the news of the bankruptcy really affected us. It was weird. Our adoption was completed almost a year ago, and yet it still upset us. We had all sorts of emotions over the situation:

  • We were angry at the principals.
  • We were devastated for the children and caregivers.
  • We were sad for the families involved.
  • We spent a bit of time coming to terms with the idea that this may really, definitively close the door on a potential future adoption in our family.
  • BDH experienced his first exposure to the international adoption haters, those ignorant, twisted freaks commenting on news stories.
  • And I just found myself reading far too much news, adoption or otherwise, online, and it was bumming me out.

I tend to get caught up in the churn of emotions in these sorts of things. And reading other news on top of that? It just bummed me out.

I’ve also been offline to do things in my real life:

  • Errands needed to be run, like trips to the grocery store and finding a hairdresser for That Baby. That last one is still up in the air; there seems to be a dearth of hairdressers who know how to deal with African hair in this city of 100,000.
  • Chores needed to be done. And, mostly, they still do.
  • I walked a lot with That Baby — and, if my stinking cellphone would actually do things that it is supposed to, I’d have photos to show you of Stinkerbelle on the swings on one of those walks.
  • I went to the dentist. Just a cleaning, but hey. Nobody likes the dentist.
  • And — two of the nicest things of all — I have been doing a lot of knitting and watching How I Met Your Mother and old episodes of Mythbusters. Fun, entertaining, distracting, mindless.

So, what else of note has happened recently? Well, there have been physical injuries:

  • Stinkerbelle head-butted me on the bridge of the nose so hard I saw stars and had a headache for days. Her eye socket was mostly unaffected.
  • I have been taking super-mega-Advil a lot for the headache pain, which causes me to sleep deeply. And, since I wear a CPAP face mask, this means I have been sleeping in all sorts of contorted positions, and consequently have a crick in my neck so bad I can’t turn my head or lift Stinkerbelle up without doing that old lady sucking-air-through-the-teeth noise to indicate pain.
  • And most serious of all… Stinkerbelle’s Auntie Tena took a nasty spill off her bike, banging her head on a train rail and ending up in emergency. She now sports a bunch of stitches and a shiner that Rocky Balboa would envy.

So… that has sucked.

We’ve also had some interesting diversions:

  • Trying to keep Zippy the groundhog out of our vegetable patch. We love him, but there are limits to the hospitality which we are prepared to offer.
  • Playing ball with That Baby, who loves few things more than to play with The Big Multicoloured Ball. Well, except for…
  • Dancing, which is always good.
  • Wondering exactly when the battery on my laptop will completely die, and in the meantime, watching it die a slow, madly-flashing death.
  • Teaching Stinkerbelle NOT to lick the television.
  • Coming up with inventive ways to stretch out ever-dwindling cash to get the most bang for our buck, grocery- and entertainment-wise.

So, yes. Been offline a fair bit. Life has been full.

Adventures in Food – Reprise

Further to my food adventures post, a conversation from late yesterday:

Big Damn Hero says: Hello
CinnamonOpus says: Hi
CinnamonOpus says: Just so you know?
CinnamonOpus says: Parsnips are weird.
Big Damn Hero says: ooookkkkk
CinnamonOpus says: I’m glad they didn’t grow for Peter Mayle. I really am.
CinnamonOpus says: They’re just ODD tasting.
CinnamonOpus says: It could have been a whole different show if he had eaten a bunch of parsnips.
Big Damn Hero says: So unlike anything that you have had before?
CinnamonOpus says: Yes.
CinnamonOpus says:
Kind of like the bastard child of a carrot and a turnip.
CinnamonOpus says: With a bad attitude.
CinnamonOpus says: Anyway, I told you I would report back on them, and here I am.
CinnamonOpus says: I knew you were eagerly anticipating the news.
Big Damn Hero says: A curnip?
CinnamonOpus says: A turrot.
Big Damn Hero says:
A Carnip?
Big Damn Hero says: A Turnot?
CinnamonOpus says: Niprot.
Big Damn Hero says: Tarrot?
CinnamonOpus says: Rotnip!!
Big Damn Hero says: Rottur!
CinnamonOpus says: ROFL!

Adventures in Food

Recently, it has been a time for adventures in food. Adventures WITH food. Adventures ABOUT food.

  • I got some samples of beauty products in my junk mail. One of them was a facial cleanser, and so, on the weekend, I thought I would give it a go. My complexion has been a bit… meh… recently, what with being stuck inside all winter and all. So, I took the little packet up to the bathroom, and read the instructions. I tore it open and poured it into my hands. It was greenish, and bore a striking resemblance to olive oil. “Mmmmmkay”, I thought, and rubbed it in as instructed. Then I took a second look at the packet. Turns out, it WAS olive oil — well, part of it, anyway. Oh well. I got in the shower, rinsed it off my face and neck, and carried on with showering. Later in the day, I looked at myself in the mirror. My skin looked… really GOOD, actually. So I googled it, and apparently, olive oil is a GREAT natural cleanser and moisturizer. Looks like I’ll be relocating that little bottle of olive oil that’s sitting unwanted and unloved in the kitchen cupboard…
  • I am trying to lose weight, and have been doing Weight Watchers. It’s been working really well. One of the things I am using in my battle against the bulge, also suggested here on my blog a few months back, is soup. I have been making a big pot of soup every week, and that is what I have for lunch. Now, if you have seen Grosse Pointe Blank, one of my all-time favourite movies, you will know why I have nicknamed my soup “Not a Boring Soup”. (Because carrots and celery are just a base of a soup! It’s not going to be a boring soup!) So every week, I throw a bunch of things together, and voila! Soup. The base is always carrots and onions and broth and canned diced tomatoes. But I try different things each week, and it’s never the same. Two weeks back, I threw in mushrooms and green beans. Last week? Sweet potatoes and turnip. This week? Some frozen yellow tomatoes from my garden, and… Parsnips. I have never had a parsnip before in my LIFE. I only know of parsnips from our A Year in Province DVD. So… we’ll see.
  • I have discovered the joys of PC Blue Menu Chocolate Gelato. And I swear to never be without it again. You will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.
  • I decided, although my daughter is 11 months old and still has no teeth, that it was time for her to move up to junior food. (Mostly because a few jars of junior food was all we had in the cupboard.) So, I opened something that I thought Stinkerbelle would go for: sweet potatoes, vegetables and beef. That Baby has a love of the orange food that knows no bounds. I put some in a bowl. Now, if you have never looked at junior food before, it has little chunks of whatever in it, so kids get used to chewing and textures and whatnot. I tested them, mashing a carrot and a bit of potato, and they were mushy soft. The peas? Not as much, so I just went through and mashed up any I could find. And I sat down to feed That Baby. WELL now. WHAT a PULAVER. You would think I was trying to KILL that baby. There was MUCH face-pulling, and sputtering and choking and going on. Every other spoonful was Teh Drama. “OMG! There’s FOOD in my FOOD!” So, since then, Her Babyness looks at me with MUCH skepticism whenever meal time rolls around. But, thankfully, Teh Drama seems to have passed. The Orange Food, not to mention the hunger, wins out in the end.

Thinking Green Thoughts

It is almost spring — well, theoretically, anyway — and so I have to start thinking seriously about my garden. I need to get seeds started PRONTO. I should have started weeks ago, but there are those niggling issues of baby minding and cat maintenance and money… so I haven’t done it yet.

YET.

But the weather appears to be warm-ish-ing up, and so I can get out and get to some dirt and start preparing for this year’s garden. Or, perhaps, if it is warm enough, I can stroller That Baby to the local Home Hardware and buy a tray of seed starters.

One of the things I have done in recent years is grow veggies in my garden. And it’s been a good thing for us, since it saves us some money and gives us fresh vegetables to eat through the summer and fall. It’s also good for the environment, since it’s organic. By that I mean, I stick seeds in dirt and WALL-AH, we have plants. Maybe I water from time to time. And then I dig the old stuff back into the dirt or chuck the greens over the fence for the deer when the season’s done. (If you are some sort of eco-warrior and that is not actually organic, don’t correct me. I don’t want to know.)

This year will be no exception, although our garden’s contents will be different from past years. We’ve discovered love of different veggies this year and so we’ll probably forego potatoes and onions and do beans and squash instead. But who knows. I’ll have to see what looks appealing. We also have a very small garden so we’ll have to see what fits. Planning is essential. So, I have to get my seeds out and plan what we will do this year. And I enjoy that part.

I also have started a lot of our flowers from seed in recent years. It’s just too expensive to fill the gardens and pots with stuff from the stores and garden centres, and although what I end up with looks measly in comparison to the lush windowboxes and pots and gardens of most of my neighbours, it’s free and it’s mine. It may not be much, but I did it myself. And the fact that it didn’t cost anything but time is a big bonus for us too.

The only problem is where to put our little greenhouse. It used to go in the window in what has now become Stinkerbelle’s room. And it has to go somewhere where DestructoCat (Duncan) can’t get into it and wreak havoc. So, we have a few logistical issues to work out yet.

But gardening is just around the corner, and I am starting to think green thoughts. And this year, there’s going to be a little gardening “assistant” out there with me. I am kind of psyched, actually.

What’s a Shutterbug Mom to Do?

So… sharing a couple of pics of That Baby this week has got me to thinking. About pictures.

I take a lot of pictures of Stinkerbelle. I mean, a LOT. I can grab the camera on any given day and take 250 shots in just one sitting. Part of the problem is that, at this age, That Baby is a moving target. Well, not so much moving, as bobbing and weaving and lurching and tilting. So, I do what the sports photographers call “spray-and-pray” photography: take a whole bunch of shots in rapid succession, with the hope that one or two will be good.

Now, of course they are digital, so it’s easy. I remember the days of film and bemoaned the fact that I could never get any good at photography because I could not AFFORD to get any good at it. I couldn’t afford the film to practice or take a lot of shots. But now with digital, the only question is storage space.

Our photos are pretty huge. Unlike BDH, who has taken the time to learn this stuff, I am still at the “point and shoot” stage of my photographic adventure, and so I don’t know about changing settings or whatever. So the photos I take are giant, and high resolution. Which is fine — I am fortunately learning a lot more on the software side of things so I can make them smaller on the backend as needed. BUT… I don’t, unless I am using them.

Herein lies the problem.

We literally have thousands of photos of Stinkerbelle now — not to mention the thousands and thousands of photos we have of other things. Some are quite good, some are quite average. And many are of dubious lighting and composition, or are not in focus, or are of the “ooh-I-wasn’t-looking-so-my-eyes-are-closed-or-all-squinty-like-a-drug-induced-haze” variety.

When I graduated from university, our commencement speaker was a very old lady who was the niece of one of the Group of Seven. She was their archivist. She was fascinating. The premise of her speech was “always keep all your photographs, even the bad ones, and make sure you write the date and a little description on the back”. That’s how she started the speech. We thought she was a loony.

But as it turned out, she wasn’t a loony. She was really engaging and funny. From that premise, she related her stories of archiving items about the Group of Seven, and how the same should be done in our own lives with our memories. We only go through life once, and no matter who we are, we have a rich history of stories and memories and experiences to leave to our children and grandchildren, so we should be sure to share them by making sure they know what these treasures — ostensibly photographs, but anything really — are all about.

I took it to heart. For awhile. But then, it got to be too much. I had too many photos and items to save.

Now, with the advent of digital photography and digital archives, the dating of items is automatic. That part is fine. But I am not so good at annotating the items I save. The writing I do is self-explanatory, but photos and other items not so much. So I have to get better at that — and who has that kind of time? I have a myriad of little projects like that I dream of doing. I guess I just add it to this endless list.

And then there’s the issue of storage. As I said, our photos are huge. Saving them takes a fair bit of space. And saving them consistently, categorized consistently and in one place, in a house full of computer bits and pieces, is a task. And one we keep saying, “ooh, we should do that” and just never seem to get around to doing.

And that’s not even counting the project I have going to take all our photographs and negatives and scan them to store digitally… a project that I started with my photos from Japan and then, after a few weeks, abandoned to whatever other demands in life that came along.

So I wonder: How can I do this better?

If you were me, would you save everything — all the photos you take, good and bad? Would you take the time to make a little note on each? How would you keep track of what the photo was about, why you took it, what you were thinking and feeling at that time? And how would you organize your masses of photos?

There is so much history and so many memories to pass along to our daughter in these photographs and other little bits of our life.

What’s a shutterbug mom to do?

(K)New Me

Today was a day of change. Okay, not so much change as the START of change.

  • The sun was out. Bright and shiny and warm. It’s the first time I have felt optimistic and positive in weeks. Yay for sunshine!
  • I’m working on a menu plan. I was feeling so optimistic with the sunshine streaming through the windows, that I got out a bunch of cookbooks and just started going through them. We’re working on a number of fronts here  — healthy eating, better portions, within a budget — so it’s not easy. But I was so looking forward to trying some new things and cooking to put stuff in the freezer, I went and grabbed a few ingredients from the shelves/freezer, and hopefully I can get started soon.
  • I joined Weight Watchers online. Again. Good doG, why do I keep doing this to myself?? (I know why. I like the online tools. Isn’t that sad? Okay, the toys are not the ONLY reason. I mean, nobody joins a weight-loss program JUST to play with software.) So I am starting to work on losing some weight, as I had mentioned when New Years rolled around. I like the inside me, but I hate the outside me. So, it’s time. And to help with that…
  • I got on the bike for a workout. It’s literally been MONTHS since I have had a good workout — since it got too cold and the weather turned too foul to go for walks each day. And I’ve been needing some exercise. So, after a few off weeks, I got Stinkerbelle back on a routine and that freed up just enough time for a bit of a ride today. I ache a little bit. It’s a little bit painful. It’s great. And hopefully, that will get me back on form and ready for our walks once the weather begins to cooperate again.
  • I cut my own bangs. Hmm. Well, possibly asymmetrical bangs will come into fashion…? Oh well, it saves us money and I can’t actually drive out to see my hairdresser anyway until my car is fixed. And even so… pack up myself and That Baby, drive 30-45 minutes for a 10 second bangs trim, and then drive all the way back again? I don’t think so.
  • I figured out how to post pictures and password protect them! Oh wait, that was a couple days ago…

It’s starting to be a whole new me. Hopefully the old me will make a graceful exit. (I doubt it. The old me has a history of overstaying her welcome. She’s a bit of a bastard that way.)