cleaning and organizing


Coat of arms of The District of Summerland

Image via Wikipedia

Summerland, British Columbia is a place that’s name says it all. It’s a place that lives in the warm months and hibernates the rest of the time. Orchards and vineyards dot the landscape. Fruit stand every 100 metres and wineries nestled in any available nook or cranny.

Sitting along Lake Okanagan between another aptly named town, Peachland, and the retirement/summer playground of Penticton, I’ve only really seen summer there once. Most of our visits have occurred during late fall or winter when brown colours and cold air dominate, and even the local inhabitants seem to have snuggled in like bears for the duration.

In an attempt to make our hastily scheduled trip for G and G’s wedding more of a get-away than an obligation, Rob booked us into one of the nicer resorts on the lake, a place that is cost prohibitive in the high summer season.

Whenever possible we go for the suite option because it allows us all some space and Dee is no different from Rob and I in needing space.

It was a lovely set-up. One of the nicest kitchens I have ever seen in a suite with a full range, large fridge and a dishwasher. The cabinets were fully stocked with any type of dishware, pot/pan or utensil if cooking was a must, and the bath had separate tub/shower and an awesome vanity that stretched nearly the length of the room with an equal sized mirror and under the vanity a light that was motion sensitive for night-time use.

It also came equipped with two televisions.

TV is one of those weird things that while I don’t miss not having it on a daily basis, I do tend to check out when we travel.

Mostly, I channel surf. A few minutes here, twenty minutes there or just flipping at the speed of sound. I seldom watch anything from beginning to end because nothing is captivating or creative enough to compel me to do so.  And so much of it is horrifying anyway.

It appears that most television is some sort of reality themed show where the objective is to find the most objectionable representatives of humanity to showcase for entertainment purposes.  One such show – which I had no idea existed or that there were people in the world desperate enough for attention to agree to be a part of – is called Hoarders.

Part extreme intervention with a touch of home improvement via organizing, the show finds people who are steps beyond an Oprah moment in an attempt to help them reclaim their homes from mountains of crap and possibly direct them toward mental health services. The latter is, I suppose, noble. Every person they highlighted had severe OCD in addition to an alphabet soup of other issues ranging from personality disorders to dysfunctional family or intimate relationship problems.

I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes or so at a time, but I kept coming back to it in my meandering in the same why you’d like to not look at the accident on the side of the road but you slow down, block traffic and size it up anyway.

The houses were nightmares. Not an inch of bare floor with all manner of items piled and mixed with garbage. Most of the people had animals, which totally contributed to the unsanitary conditions with their food and waste droppings.

One woman had two small children whose rooms she took over to store her “stuff” which forced one to sleep with her because his bed had disappeared and her daughter to sleep on the floor with her Dad in a child’s size sleeping bag. She was the one who thought there was nothing wrong with cat crap on the kitchen floor and a fridge stuffed with rotting food. Rotting. And she got all up and snarky when the psychologist insisted that she clean it out herself to see what was in it and understand why it was a hazard to her kids.

And that lady wasn’t the worst one the show highlighted.

“We need to clean,” I told Rob as we watched.

“We are not that bad,” he replied.

“Yet,” I countered as I thought about the box of cards I have yet to sort and Dee’s desk in the office which is the repository of anything that doesn’t have a home.

Granted. We are short on space because of the renovation. But the storage room in the basement, which we were able to walk through in the summer is now impassable and I can totally see how people can allow clutter to become hoarding, which flows like lava through the house, solidifying and turning to the emotional equivalent of stone.

My dad was a minor hoarder of tools, car parts and paper, but I didn’t grow up in a house where the floor disappeared for extended periods of time or the sink choked on dirty dishes until we were eating off paper plates. Even the rooms of my siblings and I never reached tornado strewn disaster level like Dee’s does though she isn’t as bad as she was when she was little.

She inherits her laissez faire attitude from her late father, who grew up with a hoarder mother.

One of the issues between my former mother-in-law and I was the perpetual filth and growing mounds of “stuff” in her home. By the time Will got sick, I wouldn’t even sit down when I visited – often because there was no place to sit – but mostly because the house was disgusting.

The dog, which wasn’t even hers, destroyed her backyard to the point that the neighbors were forever calling the city on her in the summer when the smell radiated to street side. When he died in the garage after days of bloody diarrhea and vomiting – she never cleaned it up. It dried and flaked off and as far as I know when the new owners began their renovation (it had to be completely gutted) that mess was still a giant crusted stain on the concrete.

Rob’s sister is a hoarder. The authorities eventually removed her teenage daughter and the girl, who is now a sixteen year old mother, is not allowed to move back in if she wants to retain custody of her son. It’s that bad.

My mother-in-law has a bit of a stuff issue too, but not to the point where her home is dirty. There are too many possession and no space, and one has to wonder why a person needs so much when it sits in closets, drawers and cabinets never to be used and probably often forgotten about.

TV is bad, but ultimately this foray into the kind of voyeurism that makes one want to use a wetwipe on her brain and scrub her eyeballs has renewed my purging purpose.


Australia Day Fireworks

Image by Sam Ilić via Flickr

Top tenning is THE new year eve’s week thing to do in the blogosphere.  Mostly because bloggers need vacation time too.

Thanks to the wonderful tech team at WordPress’s need to constantly justify their paychecks, I have a plethora of data aggregating goodies to help keep track of posts by popularity.

So here are the top ten posts by page views at anniegirl1138 for the year we are about to bid adieu:

10) Brad Pitt shaved the scraggly thing off months ago, but it lives on in my post about goatees and dead husbands.

9) Though I’ve successfully steered my daughter away from the cash-grabbing universe of “dance” studios, my contempt remains. Remember the Single Ladies? 9 year olds hoochie dancing for the dirty old men who troll the Internet?

8) Although I wrote this ages ago and it’s true intent has been repeatedly misunderstood, Angelina’s non-weight problems continues to be a big draw.

7) Another oldie but goldie, Lisa Parker still pulls readers and comments.

6) It’s hardly the only Facebook Meme worthy of scorn (I ignored the equally awful Movember Movement), but breast cancer awareness meme’s, and pink ‘s co-option by Susan Komen for that matter, sparked a rant that people read.

5) Jennifer Petkov was another post that missed its mark but certainly got read.

4) I’d originally planned to write this for Care2, or maybe I did and it got rejected, regardless, young and dumb in America was a huge hit.

3) Jillian Michaels is a poor role model and apparently I am not the only one who thinks so.

2) Musing on my life of plenty.

1) And the biggest post of the year? Women with no basic understanding of dressing for body type.

“You know,” my husband observed as he glanced through this list, “not one of these posts is about your family … or me.”

“Can you believe that? ” I said, “No one wants to read about you guys.”

“I am dismayed, disappointed and disgusted, ” he replied, ” but not surprised.”

Nor am I.  My best stuff is usually not the most popular, but that is the bane of all bloggers.

I hope you enjoyed the year’s effort and will continue to read in the new year.


Antique Maytag washing machine.

Image via Wikipedia

And by Titans, I mean my husband and Maytag.

For the last two years and change, we’ve washed dishes by hand more often than not despite having a dishwasher. I can’t recall the exact date of what is shaping up to be an epic war of wit and will between Rob and the dishwasher(s), but we awoke this morning to yet another mechanical fail on the part of a Maytag appliance, which brings to mind a mental image of a not so lonely repairman hiding in a closet as the answer machine takes message after message from irate customers wondering where the hell he is.

Friday night, we watched the remake of the cult classic Clash of the Titans. It was a questionable family movie night pick with an eight year-old in the picture, but she is Greek mythology crazy and we decided to chance it.

The plot involved a fed up human race refusing to give the gods of Mount Olympus their due obeisance through prayers and sacrifice. A royally pissed off Zeus decides to “release the Kraken” on them as a reminder of the order of things.

It calls to mind that we are not as free of overlords demanding tribute in modern times as we think. Our daily lives are highly mechanized and dependent on gadgets and technology that free us from much of the mundane tasks of our grandparents.

The dishwasher is one I would rank as a chief among the many appliances that have unchained women from household drudgery.

It is not a maintenance free thing however and those with the ability and means to create and maintain dishwashers or washing machines, to name another huge time saver, demand worship in their own way.

After Rob checked to make sure that the power source was not the issue, he put in a call for service. The machine is just a month or so old and is under warranty. He initially met with a recording telling him to call again on Monday during this and that time. A quick Internet search led him to a 24hr line and he managed to secure a technician for a week from Monday. Warranty items are not priority and I wondered fleetingly what a family with small children would do if faced with a week sans dishwasher with both parents working?

Eat out, no doubt.

It’s interesting that this latest dishwasher outage arouses no particular ire in me. Though I was at the weary end of washing by hand this summer when the last dishwasher died and I was back to the sink, my first thought upon discovering the body this morning was to minimize Rob’s stress over it.

“Don’t freak out,” I told him when he got up. “But the dishwasher quit in mid-cycle over night.”

“We need to quit buying Maytag p.o.s’s,” he said.

“Or figure out which appliance god to offer sacrifice too,” I replied.

“This is not funny,” he said.

I guess it’s not. The time spent trying to ascertain if he could fix it took away from time he’d budgeted to putting up stone on the house because “I am not hauling all those rocks back to the truck for the winter.”

Life is never simple. But I guess it never was.