Is It Bedtime Yet?

I overslept.

I forgot to charge my phone.

I had no car to get to work.

I was teaching my class and subbing for another teacher today.  Twice the kiddos.

Lesson plan?  No, of course not.

Thawed something for dinner?  Nope.

Any clothing even remotely appropriate, clean, and ready to wear to class?  Can you guess the answer to that one?  (No)

A dog puking up something on the floor?  Yes.

Did I forget to make the bed and did the muddy dogs made themselves at home on the pillows?  Yes.

Was it a bad day?  No, not really.

I found a ride to class.  I managed to get enough charge on my phone to make it through.  We had a “free-for-all” art class and everyone seemed to have fun.  Hubby’s bringing home something for dinner.  It turned out to be a dress-up day at school so no one cared what I was wearing.  The washer and dryer are both working so in the sheets go.  The dog puke?  Nothing good to make of that…so we’ll just clean it up and let that go.

And – I managed to find 10 things to get rid of today.

Eight pieces of outgrown clothing from youngest daughter.  Sharing the good stuff with a friend and pitching the worn-out stuff.

And, from under the bathroom sink – not one, but two cans of out-of-date athlete’s foot medication.  Both expired in early 2014.  We evidently don’t have a big problem with fungus around here, but if we do, I don’t think we’ll treat it with medication that is almost two years out of date.  What’s strange is that I distinctly remember cleaning out underneath that sink not so long ago.

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Decluttering is all about peeling away the layers, I tell you.  There is always something else that can go.  Good riddance!

Until tomorrow…

Day’s End

This Sunday is coming to a close.

We had breakfast:  bacon, sausage, biscuits (from scratch, not that I’m bragging), eggs, and grits.  I didn’t do the dishes or clear the table for that matter because…

daughter is home from college and had art homework to do so…

being the supportive mother that I am, I made art with her.

There is; therefore, no amazing “after” photo of the cleaned studio.  No apologies.  I stand by my decision.  Art first.  Dishes later.

I did manage to declutter my five for today:

IMAG1065A storage tote that used to hold something that I don’t have anymore.  I’ve been saving it and moving it from pile to stack just in case I could use it to organize something that I probably don’t need to keep.  Donate.

A pair of scissors that used to belong to a math teacher friend.  She gave them to me at least 13 years ago.  I’ve used them for art classes since then.  They are bent and cut on a curve.  I don’t need a pair of scissors that cut a curve.  Any art students I have don’t need them either.  Why did I keep them?  Just in case I didn’t have enough scissors one day?  Trash.

An almost empty and almost dried up can of paint in a shade of yellow that nobody could love.  Even me, and I love yellow.  Why was I keeping it?  I guess just in case I wanted to do a partial, bad paint job in a color that I don’t like so that I could make something I would end up hating and have to throw away.  Or not throw away because I might be able to fix it.  On the deck to finish drying out and then into the trash.

And a bowl that my oldest daughter found and bought last weekend.  It was beautiful and she was going to use it in her trailer/home as a wash basin. It came home from the thrift store and was carefully placed on the kitchen counter – with a package of hot dog buns in it.  CRASH!  Our master thief and acrobatic basset hound who loves bread in any shape or form knocked it off the counter and made off with the buns.   I saved the pieces in hopes that I could put it back together in some creative way and fix the damage.  In reality, all we would end up with is a patched together broken bowl and a memory of what could have been.  Letting it go.

IMAG1058And number 5:  a door that used to separate what is now the studio/classroom from the rest of the house.  We installed it when the oldest girls used it as a bedroom when they first started school and were living at home.  That was at least three years ago.  We cut it in half because I thought that it might be neat to make a…I don’t know…a cut-in-half-door that didn’t actually close off a room that we didn’t need to close off anyway.  That was almost nine months ago.  Out of here and on the burn pile.

Progress.

Feeling good!

Today is an awesome day.  Hey, I’m not perfect, but I kinda like myself today.  What’s the difference in today and the days I don’t like myself?  Beats me…got no clue, but that’s okay.  I’m just going to enjoy the day!

First thing, got a little confidence in myself and upgraded this to my own personal domain.  I guess that makes me a “real” blogger now.  The main change will be that my soon-to-be Graphic Designer, BFA graduate daughter can fancy things up a bit and make some improvements to the look of the blog.

Next, I just wrote for the first time in a long time on my unearthedart site.  I’m going to start making the art cards again.  It’s been too long and I need to get busy.

And now for today’s topic:  I couldn’t get to sleep last night and stumbled upon a blog, dailydeclutter.com – I stayed up wayyyyy too late reading.  This guy posted every day about decluttering his life.  Every day was a post with a  story about what he was getting rid of.  Sounds boring, but…he wrote well and it was pretty interesting and really funny at times.  Most of the stuff he was getting rid of was stuff I wouldn’t have had in the first place.  Getting rid of any of it would have been a no-brainer for me.  But, we all have our own struggles and no matter what the crap we are surrounded by, the struggle is real.  Why is it all here, where did it come from, what do I do with it, and how do I keep more from coming in?

And, as I am coming more and more to realize, the stuff is just a symptom of other problems and issues.  My journey continues and I will deal with it all…cause and symptom.

Last December was a sort of tipping point for me.  I went into the holidays with a lot of family and guests coming in and a lot of clutter and mess already here.  I vowed that it was time for the stuff to go…it could no longer be taking up space that should be welcoming those I love.

Have I made progress?  I think so.  In my current, optimistic mood, I’m going to say that I’ve dealt a lot with the root issues in the past 10 months.

Am I cured?  Have I reached my goal?  Not so much.  But, I will never become a completely different individual.  The issues and problems that I deal with are part of who I am and not always in a bad way.  I can change and make progress and become better and I will continue to work towards positive growth.

There is no actual destination…it’s a journey!

The new game, project, challenge….whatever you wanna call it – is this.  Between now and Christmas Day, I will consciously declutter 5 items a day and document it here.  I’m always on the look-out for stuff to get rid of, but I’m going to make it a “thing”. I’m going to pay attention to it and share the experience.  Probably won’t be as funny as the blog I read through last night, but that’s okay.  We’ll see what I can do.

Today, finished going through the winter clothing.  Youngest daughter has grown a lot…five shirts and a skirt that we’ll share with a friend.    Also gone – a sweatshirt leftover from an ugly sweater dress-up day at work that my son gave to the cause – going to the thrift store.  IMAG1052IMAG1051Seven things gone on Day 1.

And now since the rain continues and is unlikely to stop anytime soon…I’m going to find a snuggly blanket, a snuggly dog and the company of my hubby and enjoy some Netflix.  Then, I’m going to paint and create.  And that’s just about the perfect day.

I Hate My Life

Yesterday, I was within one load of having the laundry caught up.  We aren’t going to count the uncollected laundry still on the floor in certain family members’ bedrooms.

It was a happy moment.

Then Matilda, the basset hound, started calling from the back door to be let in.

I went and let her in.

This is the part of the story where I mention that I’m allergic to mold and we’ve had twenty-something straight days of rain and I’m congested and can’t smell anything.

So, Matilda comes plodding in and wanders off.  I go back to whatever I was doing.

Next thing, I hear my oldest daughter retching and screaming Matilda’s name (and maybe some profanity).  And then retching some more.

I go running to her room and Matilda is skulking out.

It turns out that the dog has gotten under the ramp that leads from our deck to the back yard.  She has evidently rolled in something really gross.  Stagnant water, mud and opossum den gross.  She smells like something from the middle of a garbage dump gross.

This is all second-hand.  Remember, I can’t smell anything.

Into the tub Matilda goes.  She doesn’t care for baths.  Bassets are hard to bath.  They have dense, oily fur with a fine hair undercoat.  Thirty minutes later, my daughter pronounces her odor-free.

All of my daughter’s bedding now needs to be washed.

I hear myself say, “I hate my life”.

I’ve been working on not saying that.  I don’t really hate my life.  I don’t care for parts of it.  Some parts are better than others.  I mentally re-word what I just said.

“I am not happy that I have two more loads of laundry to do.”

“I am not pleased with your behavior, Matilda”.  (She’s asleep on the deck in the sun and doesn’t really care.)

“I am not happy that I have to go change clothes and have even more laundry now.”

The voices in my head are a work in progress.

Oh, and when I went to get in bed last night, I find that the dog has managed to roll her grossness on four pillows, the sheets AND the comforter on my bed before going to my daughters room.

Laundry load four and five.

Sometimes, I hate my life.

Retreat or Stand Your Ground?

When I woke up today, I already felt anxious.  I felt like I was behind and could never catch up.  I looked at my list and knew that it wasn’t enough.  Those tasks alone would be insufficient to make any progress.

I thought about adding more things to the list.  I thought about pitching the list entirely.  Maybe the list was just a stupid idea.

Then the computer started acting up.  Slow, sluggish, and programs that won’t open.  Our internet has been weird since all the rain started anyway.  Simple tasks that I need to do were taking forever.

Then the dog started barking like crazy in the back portion of our land – the out of the dog yard part – the extremely overgrown and untended part.

I went out on the deck and found myself staring down a large doe.  Weird.  Deer aren’t known for participating in staring contests.  They run.  That’s just the way deer are.  Unless…

Here comes Matilda, running at the deer in full Basset hound fury. She barks and runs between the deer’s legs – and goes flying through the air as the deer kicks her.

Deer don’t stand their ground unless there is a fawn involved.  A fawn that is carefully hidden in the yard somewhere and is being threatened by something.  Something like this (she looked a little scarier in attack mode, really!)IMAG0744

A full-blown battle ensues because bassets are stubborn, if nothing else.

My son runs barefoot through the cactus, mesquite and overgrowth to save the dog.

And what had been an anxious day, is now a full-blown adrenalin rush day for me.

Decision time.

Do I plow on through the day?  Push through the anxiety and keep going.  At this point in an anxiety attack (for me), the tears are at the surface or already flowing.  I feel emotion-full.  In reality, anything can set me off.  Thoughts are running at a million miles-per-hour through my brain.

It only makes sense to take a break…a nap.  Some Sabbath time.  A quiet respite.

But, that’s hard for me to do.  To admit that I’m not stronger than this problem – this actual, medical condition.  I don’t want to admit that it is stronger than me.  I don’t want to give in and surrender to it.

Retreat or stand my ground against an opponent that is bigger and stronger than me?

I took a nap.  A really long nap (with the dog).   My body and mind needed that break – some recovery and healing time.

Now, I’m going to tackle the list.  It’s not a stupid idea as I thought earlier.  What a difference a nap makes.

Oh, and this is what you see if you look out our back door.   Just standing there and staring.IMAG0735

Daisy

Our dog, Daisy, died yesterday.

She was 19ish, blind, deaf, and well-advanced into dementia so death was not unwelcome or unexpected,  but still…

I never got the attraction of dogs until we found each other.  She was a rescue basset and had been found abandoned in a downtown park.  She was probably confined in a small kennel most of her life in order to birth litter after litter of puppies.  Then dumped when she was too old to be profitable.

She introduced herself to me by shuffling up to me and plopping her considerable weight on my feet, rolling over and presenting her belly for rubbing.  She had a large whooping bark whenever she felt the need to call attention to herself.   She was happy in the here and now.

As her dementia worsened and she became incontinent, irritable and disoriented, she taught me about love.  The need to love the sometimes unlovable.  To love her for what she had brought into my life. To see past the behavior and to love the whole being…to love Daisy in the here and now.   To love her because she is a living being that is deserving of love simply because…not for what I might get out of it, but for what she needed from me.  Love is rarely 50-50.  If I’m keeping score in a relationship, it’s not love.

Once, I might have said, “She’s just a dog.”

But, now I say goodbye to one of my greatest teachers.  I hope I can remember the lessons learned and use them well.photo 1 (4)

A bird in the hand…

…or in the ceiling light fixture, or cabinet top or any other place it damn well pleases (please excuse the language).

That’s our wildlife adventure for the day – actually, I’ve been dealing with this freakin’ bird  for over a week.  A bird, possibly a pair of Carolina Wrens, have decided that our home is now the perfect spot for their new abode.

First, I kept telling my husband that there was a bird in the house.  He said in a very patient and slightly condescending manner, “No dear, there is no bird in the house.”  Next thing ya’ know – “Holy shit, there’s a bird in the house!”  We found the nest in the light fixture attached to the ceiling fan in the dining room.  We took the light down and threw the nest into the compost pile.  Situation handled.

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Then…we found a nest in the light fixture of the living room fan.  Took it down, cleaned it out and put it back up.  Next day, another nest.  Cleaned it out.  Left the ceiling fan running.  The bird dodged the fan blades and started another nest.  Took the light fixture down.

This morning, I hear the bird again.  My daughter sees it flying away from atop a cabinet in the kitchen.  I clean up the nest and go to throw it into the compost pile and realize that the bird is reusing the same nesting material over and over again.

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I go run some errands, come home and the nest is back above the cabinet.  I give up.

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I kept thinking that the bird would be frightened away by the constant human interference and presence, but I am sooooo wrong.  Who’s the bird brain here.  That bird is working harder to stay in this house than I am.  I could learn a thing or two about perseverance from this bird.  “Home” is worth fighting for.

I’ve tried to identify the bird,  but I can’t get a picture of it (or them) because it is really fast.  I went online and searched for small brown birds with a yellowish breast, but that leads you to more specific requests for information – like what color are it’s eyebrows.  Seriously?  I’m a relatively intelligent, educated person and I never knew birds even have eyebrows!

You might be asking yourself how the bird is getting in the house in the first place.  Good question.  Our back door is of the sliding variety.  The first week we moved in someone walked through the screen and we just never replaced it.  In pretty weather, we just leave it open and that’s never been a problem.

In addition, we have a 19 year old blind, deaf, incontinent basset hound with advanced dementia.  She will often still go outside to “do her business” as long as there is easy access.  That means everything needs to be the way it’s always been – door left open.  For the most part, we have beautiful temperate weather here, so it’s all worked out.

Now, it appears we’re going to get a doggy door that we really can’t afford.  We’ll never be able to teach Daisy how to use the doggy door.  I had to decide between cleaning up after the incontinent dog that can’t find her way outside or the flock of freakin’ birds living in the kitchen.  The dog can “woof” continuously for up to 20 or 30 minutes, but the baby birds…that would be annoying beyond words!

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Daisy Mae, the Basset Hound

I really love birds. I do.  They are beautiful, interesting, and intriguing.  I like to look at them and hear them sing.  I often use their images in my art. But, like many other things, the idea is more appealing than the reality.

In short, I don’t want to live with them.  I appreciate them much more when they are outside, in the wild where they belong.

UPDATE: I have officially identified the bird as a house wren – appropriately enough since she’s decided to live in my house. I put an aluminum cake pan on top of the cabinet to discourage the bird.  She shoved it out of the way and started rebuilding the nest behind the pan.  I took the nest down and she immediately started rebuilding.  This is one determined bird.

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I’ve decided to call her Cornelia:  it means strong-willed.  My husband has been walking around laughing (at me) all morning. He thinks I’m obsessed and probably a little bit crazier than normal.   He claims the bird is smarter than the dogs and will figure out the dog-door before they do.  Sigh.