Monday 22 April 2019

On being a slashie

I’ve been so busy being secretary for our local art trail I haven’t even got my own art work prepped for sale. And we open on May 4th - a mere ten days’ time. Cripes! 

I take photographs - either with my SLR or with my iphone. When I’ve edited and enhanced the images I download them onto a memory stick for Steve to print. This year I’m having two seaside images made into small mounted prints. The rest will be greetings cards to sell direct to the public. That’s in theory. 

On top of that, while we’re establishing our double ensuite room as a listing on Airbnb I’m still prepping maths worksheets and activities for my pupils. In addition I have yet to make cakes to raise money for charity.

No wonder I feel as if I’m holding down several jobs - I am a modern-day slashie:

tutor/photographer/community art secretary/Airbnb host/ fund-raiser for Sierra Leone schoolgirls/ writer

When I was a full-time head of faculty I cleaned our house on Thursday evenings so the place would look good for the weekend and neat enough when friends came over. I’d shop on a Saturday and do the garden on a Sunday. My life was contained, controlled, defined by my role as SENCO ( special needs co-ordinator). There was little time for anything else.

Now that I’m a slashie - nine years after leaving full time work - I blog as often as I can but where does all the time go? It is so true when you hear folks say ‘How did I ever have the time to go to work?’

I enjoy gardening and running our household but we’ve found it necessary to employ a cleaner. The trapped nerve in my lower back won’t allow me to sustain the ‘spotless’ standards required by Airbnb if we do take on more guests. At least that part of the house will be well cared-for. 

But, with these domestic and tutor-driven commitments, I’m getting NO time to look over critiques of my writing nor to edit my manuscript. It’s been a year since I sent it out to agents and there’s no point forwarding it to others unless it’s been edited some more. Where do I get the time? 

I have no time for making delicious meals either. Thankfully Richard is a good cook and if Airbnb guests want a cooked breakfast he’s up for catering for them. He yet has to perfect his eggs hollandaise.

Last Sunday we made easy money selling books, figurines, bags, shoes and unwanted clothes at our local car boot sale. We were only there three hours. So many vendors arrive at 7 am and dealers buy from them within moments of their arriving. We are far more laid back than that - roll up an hour later and leave an hour earlier. Who wants to get up at 6 am on a gloriously sunny Easter Day when you’re a slashie? 

( ps I’m supposed to be retired). 

Wednesday 17 April 2019

A is for Autism. B is for Bryony. C is for Controlling.

I’ve been wondering whether someone I’ve known, and been infuriated by, for many years is autistic. It’s less usual to find autism or Aspergers diagnosed in females but in this case the woman I refer to suffers from anxiety, depression and is very rigid in outlook. So I wonder whether her reactions to things she doesn’t agree with or dislikes - and that’s almost everything and everyone - is down to her being autistic. I have taught mildly autistic children, but not known any adults with the condition. Well, not knowingly.

What is my evidence? As a child Bryony would be up at 5 am cleaning - no-one told her to - and even now has a meltdown if criticised. It’s very odd for a child under ten to be up early to do something dutiful like cleaning, isn’t it? Up early to open presents, yes, but even so 5 am for any child is far too early in the day.

On the plus side Bryony's home is extremely - excessively - neat and tidy. Everything is spotless as she still - as an adult - gets up before dawn to clean. The garden looks hoovered and not a cup can be left out of place for long before it’s moved and washed up - immediately - it would never be left in the sink to soak. And she's an excellent cook. All her skills are domestic ones.

But on the down-side Brony never goes out for coffee, nor to the cinema and is never asked out to anyone else’s home. Shopping has to be done in a certain way, the car has to be spotless and she seems fearful of new, different people or new situations which she can’t control. She always gets to an event far, far too early and greetings cards are written and sent a month in advance. Bryony’s hypercritical and it’s difficult to have a discursive conversation with her as everyone has to agree with her views or she bangs the table or ‘flies off the handle’. 

Are these the symptoms of autism? Few social filters, the need to control and be in control, being uncomfortable in anything but very familiar surroundings and not caring that she might have upset others with her rigid views. Also the lack of a social life and always having to be home in bed by a set time...

I’d be grateful if anyone who knows about autism in adults could shed light on the situation. I do know I can only take her in very small doses and always feel controlled by her when we do meet. I dislike the way everything has to be on her terms and I've noticed other people have learned not to challenge her. She did have a break down, necessitating early retirement, and took an overdose a few years ago. I’m not sure if she was sectioned under the mental health act but certainly there have been mental health issues over the years, or so I've been told. I’ve only known this person in her adult life and would like to know more about her as a child  but it’s true she’s not easy to be around for more than a few hours - and only every now and then. 

Is this autism or just a controlling personality with a very conservative, rigid outlook? She is self-righteous and very finicky. Trivia, always to do with cleaning, home maintenance, like whether the washing-up bowl has been cleaned inside and out etc, occupies her mind as does being critical of others. She’s conformist and no-one comes up to her ultra-high standards. Nor would they want to. I don’t feel she lives in a happy land and she talks about herself rather than how things affect other people.

Is this autism? Or something else? She's certainly been depressed enough to take an overdose but she's hard work to be around. Bryony isn't well-read and has no formal qualifications. Is she just insecure?
And is being hypercritical of others her way of boosting a fragile ego? 
As far as I know no-one else has autism in her family but Bryony's own aunt was rigid and controlling and 'wouldn't be told.' 

I wonder. Is it mental health, is it autism or just a personality I and many others find off-putting? This in turn leaves her socially isolated.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Losing my blob

Decorating creates chaos - believe me - it does: 
 I've spent too many weeks this year emptying cupboards and wardrobes, shifting furniture, stepping over Henry Hoover, trying not to tip cans of paint on the carpet and living in general chaos. Tonight, now that Richard and I have succumbed to sore throat disease, I nearly - to quote Billy Elliott - lost my blob. 

We only had half a wall, a short skirting board and a third coat on the bedroom radiators to paint today. That necessitated moving an empty-ish wardrobe - no problem I hear you cry. In theory, no, not a problem. But the bed then became covered in bits and pieces from the wardrobe and I couldn't get past it to finish painting the radiators. Fluff under the wardrobe needed vacuuming and the way Henry Hoover was plugged in I looked like a contortionist trying to vacuum whilst balancing on one hand. I had to take control. I unwound Henry Hoover and approached the vacuuming from a different angle and with a new nozzle. In no time it was 'job done'. Richard was ready to paint the skirting boards and every time he bent down to do so I annoyed him - not on purpose - by squeezing past him with a paint brush and pot of satin white for a final third coat on the radiators. Yes, Farrow and Ball is expensive but is such good consistency and nowhere else have I needed three coats...

Finally the tasks were achieved. Richard started coughing and required paracetamol and I opened the windows even wider to get rid of eau-de-eggshell forcing Richard to hide downstairs with the heating on. I was baking hot and he was shivering. He has a cold - but wanted to help doing the decorating - and I wanted the windows open.

 After a friend had been round for nibbles and a glass of wine I redressed myself in decorators' overalls and put a second coat on the skirting board then painted two doors in Farrow and Ball New White eggshell. I couldn't do it earlier as our guest would have gone home with his sleeves covered in paint from our still-wet door frames. 

'Please, Richard, don't shut the sitting room door, it's still tacky and it will stick,' said I as I gathered up dust sheets in the bedroom. 

All was going well until I announced I couldn't sleep in our room along with the paint fumes. Richard shut all the windows again and said he'd be ok sleeping there but I knew it wouldn't be good for his cough. He was certainly suffering from a chill and was ready for bed about 7:30 pm. He elected to sleep in the spare room and helped get the sofa bed down for me. I wasn't ready for sleep, unsurprisingly. I last went to bed at 7:30 pm when I was eight. But I needed the sofa bed - if I shared  the spare bed with Richard, who was coughing well, neither of us would get any sleep. 

In order to get the sofa bed down one chair had to be moved, a table's contents had to be shifted and I needed to get to some bedding. Great! Spare bedding was easily found but the duvet was hidden under all the contents of the moved wardrobe from earlier in the day. I almost lost my blob...

When Richard had gone to bed I re-opened all the bedroom windows to let out the paint smells.(So much for odourless paint). I struggled to remove the duvet without getting it stuck to still-wet skirting boards and went downstairs to switch off the heating. Sadly the sitting room door had not been left open - as I'd requested - and now has to be redone along the edge by the hinge. I left it open.  Finally I was ready to settle down to watch 'The Durrells'. And, just like last week, it was a vain hope: I couldn't get comfortable on the sofa bed. The cat, finding it exciting that the sitting room door was open, found his way upstairs and wanted to come into the sofa-bed-room and I'd lost the remote control. Bugger it!


By my bedtime my throat was less sore but my eyes were itchy, the cat was crying for attention and I needed a pee. I had to give into the cat as he was scratching at the door. Richard was also coughing in the spare room at the top of the house and it felt like 1 am. In fact it was only 10:30 pm and I just about managed to watch 'The Durrells' in a semi- recumbent position on an uncomfortable sofa bed, two hours after transmission. I decided to take something to knock me out. It wouldn't do for the Durrell's friend, Theo, to try to spend any time in our house of chaos. He displayed severe OCD in tonight's episode and couldn't bear a thing out of place.

By sheer fluke I remembered to bring in the geraniums - we're expecting yet another morning frost - I was out there, barefoot, in my nighty on the patio, feeling cold ...Bloody geraniums!  I fed the cat -  to stop him scratching at the door - I took a paracetamol-containing night time decongestant and nicked the Easter egg I bought for Richard. I felt like scoffing it and getting the duvet covers plastered in chocolate. 

By 11 pm Richard had stopped coughing, the cat had stopped crying and I'd eaten  the chocolate egg. I'd managed to get most of the day's paint off my hands and, although I knew I really was quite tired, didn't feel sleepy. Damn it. The only other chocolate egg in the house is an expensive Green & Black's dark chocolate one. Perhaps I should find something else to do...
Like a crossword or read a book like normal people. 

Decorating creates chaos ...

Sunday 7 April 2019

The A-Z of how to ruin your back while streamlining your house

What have I been doing with my time instead of writing my blog? This time last year I was immobile with a slipped disc - and jobs around the house got left. But this January life was very different from January 2018. Jobs HAD to be done. There were cupboards we couldn't get in to as they were SOOO full. And we had to redecorate both at our house and mum's house - which has been empty five years and has had two sets of builders in... And we're tentatively planning to put our master bedroom and ensuite on AirBnB. And I mean tentative ...

During January and February this year I've been:- 
a)Moving furniture for friends and selling it from our garage - in the snow! 
b) clearing our mini-kitchen - it's an ensuite kitchen - attached to our bathroom - yep - odd! 
c) clearing all our wardrobes for future guests 
d) moving our personal belongings to our inbuilt lockable wardrobes
e) chucking 26 bags of rubbish -  to the dump
f) sorting another 8 bags ready for a car boot sale on Easter Day
g) clearing under our bed and moving furniture to decorate our bedroom
h) decorating our bedroom and painting small occasional pieces of furniture - it was beautiful and sunny in the garden in February - yes - February - ideal weather for paintng small tables and chairs outside 

During March I was:
i) sorting and chucking loads of stuff from our transit room - moving our chest of drawers into there - with Richard's help 
j) decorating our bedroom - 3 walls, doors and all the paintwork
k) sorting the guest bedroom on the top floor, sleeping up there whilst we had new ensuite bathroom done - chucking at least 3 more bags of rubbish
l) moving all our personal financial files upstairs - sorting them and labelling them to free up cupboards in our ensuite mini kitchen - we are planning to advertise our master bedroom and kitchen and ensuite on AirBnB - for one season only 
m) moving bedroom furniture - with Richard's help - and hoovering every day for 10 days while we had the ensuite bathroom done
n) travelling up to mum's over the last two weekends in March which made my back ache from the car seat
o) 6 days of decorating at mum's - getting very tired and sleeping on less supportive mattresses than I need BUT no moving of furniture
p) then when the back pain started, last Sunday night - the last day of March - the last day of three months of punishing my discs and trapped sciatic nerve - sweeping and mopping dust and debris in mum's conservatory - it was really left in a poor state after builders had been in - but that truly hurt my back - I thought I wouldn't be able to finish painting at mum's on Monday - April 1 - April Fool's Day - but managed it with 2 x co-codamol and ibuprofen
q) then clearing newspapers and dustsheets, loading our car in a rush to get to the farm shop we like enroute home

During April 
r) collecting a good-sized bathroom cabinet for all the medicines I've moved from our ensuite
s) clearing and cleaning stairs for our new cleaner - to see what needs doing when we start AirBnB - especially getting behind the radiator in the hall - that always hurts my back
t) moving surplus shoes, boots, scarves and winter gloves off the stairs 
u) trying not to do too much as my back started complaining but I had to get rollers, tins of paint and dust sheets to our shed and kitchen cupboards plus the old  fold-up chairs - used while decorating mum's furniture-free house - up to the garage - Richard did most of that while I was on the pain killers and soaking in a warm bath
v) I want to put bark on the flower beds today - to suppress weeds - will my back moan at me? 
w)and - later today - before the rains come -  continue planting up pots, tubs and window boxes - a splash of colour for the patio and the front garden 
x) will I manage to paint the new fence panels? perhaps - if it's a sunny, warm day - I often seem to be doing this on a Good Friday - Richard will help
y) moving remnants of the old fence to the car for the tip - Richard will HAVE to do that - I can't bend and lift wooden posts
z) anything else that hasn't been done yet - like sorting our downstairs loo and breakfast room - we need to get our house to look more like a home and not a place we've just moved into -
 and, finally, getting everything out of cupboards for the car boot sale over Easter weekend - hoping for dry, warmish weather 😏

Then we deserve a holiday - in a place with supportive mattresses and lots of warm weather or a sauna! 
And there we have it - the tale of how to ruin your back A-Z

Sent from my ipad