August is almost over and I’m trying not to freak out at how fast the year has gone. Along with trying to maintain a reasonable level of anxiety (rather than completely falling about) as the political situation and the related pandemic and civil situations continue to get worse, dealing with the stresses at work, and so on. I keep meaning to write about things more mundane and personal that all the news related and sci fi related stuff that has been dominating this blog for the last many weeks. Let’s see if I can pull that off!
One of the challenges of me working from home every work day (and because of being in a high risk group the current guidelines are that I try to avoid going shopping et cetera more than once a week) has been just trying to keep track of what day of the week it is and what time it is and what I’m supposed to be doing on particular days.
Being home constantly does strange things to my notions of housework, as well.
For instance, I was finding myself getting more and more annoyed at how cluttered two parts of the kitchen counter were all the time. It was on either side of the sink, making it difficult to deal with dishes and the dishwasher, because there was always the chore of assessing and dealing with the clutter before I could get to the chore I had gone into the kitchen to do in the first place. And given how easily I distract myself and go down metaphorical rabbits holes and forget why I went into a particular room in the best of circumstances, this was getting much worse.
One day I made myself stop and look at all the clutter and ask myself why it was there. A small part of it is that both my husband and I have a habit of drinking multiple glasses of water a day, and so each of us has a glass or mug that sits next to the sink to be reused through out the day, then put in the dishwasher and a new one is used the next day.
But that was a miniscule part of the problem. A lot of the clutter were things that aren’t dishwasher safe. We have a rather lot of those. And what I realized was happening day after day was that I’d notice several of them beside the sink, and then not be certain if they had been washed out or not, so I would wash it out, and since and then I would sit it on the counter to dry… and later in the day Michael might to exactly the same thing, so I was come in and notice that one of the plastic water pitchers, for instance, which I thought I’d washed in the morning, is wet again. So I’d leave it. But then the next day I would find myself worrying that maybe I was mixing up a time it had been rinsed and waiting to dry a week ago, so I’d wash it again.
Several other things were items that don’t normally go in the cabinet after being washed, but instead have a spot in the pantry, which is slightly more work to get into, and so they were stuck in a similar cycle. And I realized there was a simple solution that we just hadn’t thought to put in place. So I bought one of those folder bamboo dish racks, cleaned everything and towel dried some things and put everything away.
The rack takes up one of the two places that used to be filled with random clutter all the time, but not the space is serving a purpose. If something in the rack and is dry, neither of us has to worry that it hasn’t been cleaned. We put it away, hand wash anything else that is on the other side of the sink, put in in the rack, and the rest of the counter is available for whatever.
It shouldn’t have taken me several months of being frustrated to think of that, I know.
So, we have replaced a bad habit with a more useful one, which is good. But I noticed a little wrinkle that has developed since. Every Sunday I put all the parts of the coffee maker that are dishwasher safe in the dishwasher and run in. I get down one of the antique bone china tea cups (which belonged to my late first husband’s grandmother), a saucer, and my infusing pot, and I drink tea all day instead of coffee.
At the end of the day I wash out the teacup and saucer and put them on the rack to dry, right? And the pot goes into the dishwahser when the coffee maker (and other cleaned dishes) come out. Throughout the week my husband and I wash other things, take dried items from the rack and them away… except we both keep leaving the teacup and saucer in the rack all week.
Most Sundays when I get ready to make tea, I put the teacup and saucer that have been sitting in the rack all week in the cupboard, each on the bottom of their respective stacks, and take another from the top of the stacks down to make tea. The latter part because I’m justifying hanging on to these small number of specialized dishes for all the years since Ray died by making sure I rotate so that all of them get used regularly.
Now, where I keep the teacups and saucers is on a high shelf in one of the higher cabinets precisely because unlike many other dishes and utensils they aren’t used every day. So I suspect I’m not putting them away sooner is because it’s fractionally more work. And I strong suspect Michael doesn’t want to put them away for fear that he’ll mess up my rotation system.
And it’s not really a conscious decision. At some point after we’d had the rack for a couple of weeks, I just started putting away everything on the rack except the cup and saucer, and now it’s like my brain literally doesn’t perceive them as being a separate object from the rack itself until the day that I go to make a cup of tea.
I know that it’s a very minor glitch in our improved habits on this issue. It just… when I notice that my brain isn’t doing what I want it to do, I get tetchy.