Thursday, June 14, 2018

OUTSIDE ORGANIZING

Well, after talking about our tiny bathrooms last week, I thought I would go more expansive this week - outside our house. 

As you may be able to figure since our house is small, the property it is on is also small.  Technically since the minimum land size to build on has increased since this house was built in the late 1940s/early 1950s we could not build on the land now as it is too small.  It is the sort of property that makes us very close (in distance at least) to our neighbors as their property is the same sixe.  It is maybe 25 feet from our driveway to the door of the house on one side.  The house on the other side is the same distance from us, but it feels like there is more room as neither of us has a driveway on that side.  Their family room starts about 5 feet from our property line.

The house came with a detached one and a half car garage and we added a shed behind it while we have been in the half.  We live on a main road - 2 lanes plus a parking lane in each direction.  The first year we were in the house we found out not to park my compact car (or anything else) in the street - we had to replace the driver’s side mirror twice.  As a result we had a semi-circular driveway put in - that takes up almost all of our front lawn space.  In the early years we made the mistake of planting grapes - we have not really had grapes from it (enough to make a cup of very strange, brown, grape jam), but it has taken over that side of the backyard and between that and the bushes and trees that were planted by the former owner we have a jungle on that side.  We also have for a few years now, poison ivy on that side that husband has to kill every summer - several times.

When we first moved in husband would cut the grass, but his allergies made it very hard for him.  We were both working full time so we decided to hire someone to cut grass and trim the bushes, get rid of leaves, etc.  I contacted 4 companies who work at various other houses in the area - one responded.  He had a problem with our property.  The side of the house (left) with no driveway had no access to the back yard.  The side with the garage did not have a wide enough entry to the back yard for his mowers.  So, we went out and cut a gate into the fence on the left side of the house.  This company took care of our property for some years - doing (and charging us for) much more than we wanted done.  When husband quit his job, we switched to the brother in law of his secretary and were much happier with him, but he “sold” us to someone else.  The new fellow was okay at first.  Since a time when we were almost “snowed out” of our house (we were away on a trip - back then staying in hotels - when an unexpected huge storm hit at home and we were not sure we would be able to up our driveway) we had the each of the three of them clear our snow in winter for us.  (Well worth the money.)  While the last fellow was cutting our grass, we had major storm one winter.   I mean MAJOR - we had not seen that much snow in one storm since we were children - if then.  No one came to clear it.  We tried to reach him.  His phone was discontinued.  We called the fellow who sold us to this one - he managed to find out that the fellow had gone home to South America for the winter - leaving us hanging.  I won’t go into the saga of trying to get someone to deal with the snow that winter - but the next winter the same happened after he said it would not and the following year he did not even come to mow, so we are back to doing the work ourselves.  I posted last winter of our adventures with snow about as big as just mentioned - maybe even deeper. 

So, allergies or no allergies, husband went back to cutting our grass.  Over the years it has gotten harder and harder for him as he does not have enough energy and I have been helping. Now remember, we basically have no front lawn due to our driveway.  We have the grass at the curb and the semi circle of the driveway (now our van is parked there) and the grass on the side of the house without a driveway - at the street end the grass is maybe a foot across, so basically it is our backyard.     

Last year he took stuff to kill weeds and killed the grass (and weeds) along the curb and in the semi circle so we don’t have to mow it.  One year we will get the semi circle paved and that will help in more ways than one.

This year to make it easier we bought an electric mower.  It is lighter and we don’t have to deal with gas for it.  We have used it twice.  It has a piece hanging that one is suppose to feed the electric cord through to hold it in place - to help not run over it when mowing.  But, it is too small for the size cord one is suppose to use, so husband has made an adjustment to it, even so it is a problem with the cord hanging.  So I walk a distance away from where he is working and hold the cord, so it is not on the ground.     

Our garage is actually husband’s wood workshop.  It being a small space for same, we have all of the larger power tools on wheels.  They sit along the perimeter of the garage walls and pull out to be used.  It is a mess in there right now - has been for a few years.  We really need to take time to get it cleaned up and back to where it was when we set it up - nice and organized.  When we first set it up we bought a through the wall air conditioner for it - or husband would not be able to work in there when it is hot.  When the fellow came to install it he was surprised and said that he had never installed an air conditioner in a garage before.  We also had a door put in.  A door put in - huh?  Well it had the large door for cars, but no other door.  We used to store all of the Christmas stuff on boards attached to the rafters.  We would bring the boxes into the house and set up the decorations and put the boxes back in the garage.  One winter it was very wet and very cold - the large rolling garage door froze to the ground and we were not able to store the Christmas decorations until spring - and did not take them down as they would have taken up more room lying about.  So we had a door put in where the window used to be and had a better window put in.  We also had to put in electricity and walls.  (Perhaps that misadventure in construction another time.)  We bought hanging space heaters to heat it winter. 

The shed holds stuff for our craft business for when we used to do shows  - tables, tents, etc.  It has the middle seat of our van (we don’t need it in the van).  It has our outdoor Christmas decorations, although lately we have used new ones which are in basement - along with the other Christmas stuff these days.  (It became harder and harder for him to climb up and take it all down. Just our lights are in the garage these days.)  Garden tools - mostly that we no longer use - are in it.  It also has husband’s toys that he took when his mother died and her house was sold - mostly he planned to sell them, but his electric trains are in there too.     

We have a small shed next to our garage.  It was intended to hold our bicycles.  It does - although we really should sell them.  It also holds our old and new mowers and trimmer. 

Our latest addition is a small shed next to the house in front of the side door.  It holds our snowblower - or else we would have to shovel our way to the garage to get it out when needed.  It also has two gas cans (currently empty as it is warm out) and for now, the snow shovels. 

That leaves a small enclosed area at our side door of the house that we call “the porch”.  It is used for storage of various items for gardening, items for our RV, items for taking care of the vehicles, snow shovels (although new place for them these days) and large garden shovels.  It has a small square garbage pail (the sort one would find inside the house) for our soda bottles for recycling next to the door to the house.  It also has husband’s boyhood work bench.  This has a box in it to collect cans and bottles for recycling and the newspapers are stacked on the top.  I keep cardboard boxes in it to throw out and use same to put out the cans and bottles - and then they take the box also.  It has a large plastic storage piece with doors on the bottom 2 shelves and 2 open shelves above.  This is where the all the small items are kept for the chores mentioned above.  We have a couple of bags of salt for snow.  There is also a large garbage bag.  This sounds organized, but is actually a giant mess. I keep planning to clear it out and organize it - but it is either too hot or too cold to work in it. 
                       
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Where items outside the house are stored is as important as where items are stored inside the house.  One needs to figure out what one needs - or wants - to have and make arrangements for them to be stored and as easily accessible as possible.

It is easier to set up a plastic shed in warm weather than cold as the plastic is more pliable.  (We had to wait a year for the shed for the snow blower as we waited too long and, per the manufacturer,  it was too cold to set it up.)  Think ahead if you will plan to store winter items in a shed and get it set up before it is too cold. 



Thursday, June 7, 2018

TINY BATHROOMS - I MEAN REALLY TINY!

Okay, let’s get back to the idea of trying to get organized.  We have a full bathroom upstairs and and a half bath downstairs.  For those from other places, this means that our bathroom upstairs has a commode, sink, and bathtub/shower, while our downstairs bathroom has only a commode and sink.  They are small.  The downstairs bathroom is just less than 4 feet by 4 feet.  The upstairs one is about 6 feet by 5 feet - the 5 feet being the cross measurement of the bathtub. I am not sure that in some of the new houses being built the “toilet room” in the bathrooms are not larger than our bathrooms themselves.

When we moved in the downstairs bathroom had a decent sink and fairly new small vanity.  At some point the floor had been retiled as it ceramic tile and based on what I know of tile at different points in my life, I would say it had put in within 10 years of when we bought. The walls in both bathrooms have plastic tile - something I have never otherwise seen and I presume is older.  The vanity had a drawer below the door section. 

The upstairs sink and vanity were not that nice - and much older looking.  At some point we decided to replace them.  We then found out that our bathroom sinks are below the smallest standard size.  Back then we had a choice of two, now I am not sure that this size is still made.  We looked and looked and managed to find a duplicate of the downstairs vanity - with a drawer at the bottom.  No other vanities in this size had any drawer and there were maybe 3 of them to choose from.  Understand I don’t mean that we went to a store and the store had 3 of them.  We went to ALL the stores and found 3 total.  We replaced the upstairs sink and vanity, putting in the new setup ourselves.  When we moved in there was no electric outlet in either bathroom - yes, I just said that there was no outlet in either bathroom when we moved in.  We are not sure how the families before us dried their hair and the men must have shaved with blades, not an electric shaver.  We are not sure this would be allowed under the current electric code where we live.

When I read organizing books there is an assumption that there are lots of drawers, a large cabinet and a counter top.  We have no counter in either bathroom.  We also cannot put an “over john” in the upstairs bathroom.  (This is a set of shelves intended to stand around the commode and put shelves over it.) Why?  Well, the window is over the commode and it would be blocked by the over john unit.  What we did end up doing is making a 2 shelved wheeled cart that just squeezes in opposite the sink and next to the bathtub.  It can be wheeled out when one is taking a shower or cleaning the bathroom and then wheeled back in.  The bottom is used for storage and the top for counter space.  Spare towels and related are kept in a small closet in the hall outside of the bathroom.  We also put up a wooden ladder shaped hanging, that we made, on the wall adjacent to the commode - this is for magazines, but they get a bit icky where it is located, so very little is placed there.

The drawer in upstairs bathroom is husband’s.  He has to put his razor and related items somewhere and the drawer is where they are.  Since he gets dizzy when he bends over, it is not the best place, but it is what we have.  In the cabinet I have a plastic shoe box without a lid.  This holds our first aid stuff for upstairs.  It can be pulled out to be taken to where it is needed.  We have spare toilet paper and mouthwash in the cabinet, as well as a spray bottle of shower cleaner.  That fills it.  In the “medicine cabinet” over the sink, husband has his teeth related items on the top shelf in what is sold as drawer divider box.  He can take the entire divider box out, put it on the cart to use it, and then put it back.  Small bathroom related items - including over the counter pain killers - are on the other two shelves.  We do not keep any prescription medication upstairs.  Why?  I have to count it out once a week into boxes (so if one of us says “hey, did I take my pills?” we can easily check if it was taken) and I do this in the kitchen, so the prescription medications are kept in the kitchen.  I keep my teeth related items in the hall closet - it just leads to much less arguing. 

We do have this closet just outside our bathroom and bedroom.  It had shelves so it is used as a linen closet for the bedrooms and the upstairs bathroom.  We put a wire shelving unit on the inside of the door and I try to keep the items there in sections by what they are for to be able to find them - such as all of the “Band aid” type items are on the same door shelf.  Cleaning items for the bathroom are on the bottom door shelf.  A roll of paper towels is also kept in this closet for upstairs use. 

The hand towels in use hang on a towel bar on the door - we went to change this when we moved in, but it is set into a cut into the tile around the tub/shower and could not be changed.  The started shower towels hang on the door of the shower.  I also have 2 “utility” towels in the bathroom. These are towels to wipe up spills and messes. 

I keep the box of tissues on the top of the commode.  Also there and on the window sill are pump hand soap and pump hand sanitizer .  For fun and decoration there are some small “rubber” duckies in a line across the window sill.  There is a holder for small paper cups on the wall between the sink area and the tub.

When it is time to clean the bathroom, I wheel the cart out of it.  I do have to lie across the (closed) commode seat to be able to reach behind it to clean it and the floor.  To clean the tiny space between the sink/cabinet and the tub, I have to kneel in the tub to be able to reach the floor there to clean it.  

The day after we moved in we had an electrician in to put in an electric outlet.  The choices were limited.  It could be on the wall that is behind one, when one is standing at the sink - not convenient. or we could move the lighting fixture and put the outlet where the light had been.  The light was moved to the eave angle of the ceiling and an outlet put in.  I can sort of reach the outlet, but not really.

The upstairs does have ceramic tile on the wall and on the tub surround so they must have been replaced as they are not plastic, although they look older than the ones in the downstairs bathroom.                     

Ah yes - I wanted to mention that we always seem to manage to drip some water off the back corner of the sink onto the floor (on the commode side) and I have started folding a paper towel in quarters and putting it this corner of the floor to absorb any water that drips. 

The downstairs sink has a bit more flat surface around it and I have the pump soap and pump hand sanitizer on the back corners of the sink.  I cut a paper towel in half and then cut it to match the curve of the sink and keep the pieces under the two pumps to keep the sink top clean - I change them when I clean the bathroom.

I also have to lie down on the commode to clean behind it.  There is a perhaps 1 inch to 1.5 inch space between the vanity and the side wall - it is next to impossible to clean.  A damp paper towel folded and shoved in and moved with a yard stick is about the best that can be done.  The cleaners are kept in the vanity.  The drawer here holds some magazines (BBC History magazine to be specific.)  The hand towels and some utility towels (no other towels needed for here) are also kept in the vanity.  I hang a set of hand towels on a towel bar.  The owner before us also had 2 large rings for towels and I hang a utility towel in one of them for wiping up. There is a cup holder attached to the wall with a metal cup in it.  We use this bathroom when cleaning up from doing crafts and the cup holds paint brushes that need to dry.

For an electric outlet in this bathroom we installed (ourselves) a combination piece which has one outlet and the light switch in what would be the second outlet area.  It has not been working right lately (only when I am using it of course) and we have bought a new matching unit to replace the old one. 

The medicine cabinet has more of the same over the counter medicines.  (We keep older bottles of them when we buy new and split the new between the upstairs and downstairs bottles, putting the new expiration dates on the older bottles as we never use them up before they go bad and do not want to buy 2 bottles.)  We get our prescription medications in 90 day supplies and I keep the bottles in this cabinet.  Since it is not a shower bathroom, it does not get steamy so we can do this.  I count the pills into smaller bottles (again ones from earlier prescriptions that match what is in them) of a month’s worth when I use up the month’s worth in them.  These smaller bottles are kept in the kitchen cabinet. There is first aid stuff in this cabinet also - not as much as upstairs, just so we don’t have to always run upstairs for stuff. 

Again the tissue box is kept on the back of the commode.  A basket with “for show”guest soaps is also on the back of the commode.  Over the commode (which is a wall here, not a window) we have a shelving piece with odd shape small shelves for husband’s small glass animals collection.

This room seems to have originally had a window.  Above the plastic tile is wood paneling and there is a ceiling exhaust fan that does not seem to be original.  There was a room added to the back of the house that sits behind this room and we assume that there was a window and was covered by the paneling when it was blocked off by the addition of the back room and the exhaust fan was installed at that time. 

So that is our bathrooms.  Each of them is probably smaller than a closet in the world of organizing books.  Do you have a bathroom like our ours or do you have a nice big one.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

If you have small room you have to figure out how to make them work for you.  When we started we were not sure what to do.  Over the years we have managed to make them work for us.  They are far from perfect or convenient, but they work.  (And, as small as they are, they are bigger and more convenient than our RV bathroom - if you can call it that.)

I would love to hear from you about your bathroom and what you do to organize it.

Both bathrooms are at the back of the house.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

BOY DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG

First of all. I am not suppose to be here.  I mean in our house, not sitting here posting to you.  We used to go away for Memorial Day weekend, but since we have the RV it is easier to go away during the week before or the week after.  Why?  Well, when one makes a hotel reservation (at least when we used to) one could generally cancel it until the day one was suppose to be there or at least the day before.  RV parks usually require a week or more notice of cancellation to not charge for a reservation - if they let you cancel at all.  It is hard to get a reservation for big on season weekends (like Memorial Day) - we make our July 4 reservation for next year when we arrive at the park or we will not get one.  Also it is crowded in Lancaster for the weekend and husband does not like all the “tourists” (yes, we are tourists too, but he considers us regular guests as we go so often) as the tourist places are too busy - and remember we have to park a huge over length van.  But it is easy to make reservations at the last minute during the week before or after and there are less fellow tourists around so we have been doing this.  Last week I had to go to work at a client, so we planned on going away this week.  Of course it is raining almost every day this week in Lancaster, so we did not go.  We may go tomorrow to Connecticut for the day - maybe the Hartford Cabella’s store and then a casino for walking around and dinner - we don’t gamble - I never have and husband no longer does as he has just as much or more fun just walking around and he doesn’t lose any money.

Now, what I did.  Husband (and I) are Type II Diabetics.  Husband takes a once a day insulin.  It comes in “pens” and must be kept cold until the pen is started.  That means, we bring home a box of 5 pens and they go in the fridge.  He takes one out to start using it - it lasts him around 10 days - and then it stays out of the fridge at room temperature.  There is a fixed range for the pens in the fridge, so I have to keep the fridge in range.  I generally keep the fridge at 38 degrees Fahrenheit as it is in the middle of the range, but not so warm as to be a problem for food stored in the fridge.  This allows for variations in the temperature in the fridge from use.  When we travel in our RV I keep the fridge in it at the same temperature - but it is harder to keep it at temperature as it is more weather sensitive - oddly at night when it is cooler, the RV fridge gets warmer.

Normally the house fridge though, stays at the correct temperature fairly easily.  If it needs to be warmer, I turn the dial (on either fridge) until it just shuts off. If it needs to be cooler, I turn the dial until it just kicks on.  In the RV when traveling we keep the remote reader for the fridge in the front while traveling so we know what is going on - I have been known to jump to back to adjust it on trips when we stop for gas or other reasons.

So, Sunday evening I noticed that the temperature in the (house) fridge had dropped 2 degrees to 36 which is the lowest the insulin can go.  I turned the temperature dial until it shut off.  Worried that it had dropped 2 degrees and it was still running I did something I do sometimes.  I opened the drawer in the fridge and used it to prop the door open a bit so it would heat up a bit inside it. 

Only this time I lost track of the time!  Husband came down and the fridge was at 46 degrees - the highest the insulin can go.  We turned the fridge up but the temperature was not going down.  He was convinced that I had broken the fridge.  The insulin will last for 42 days out of the fridge, so 2 of the pens would have to be tossed if it was not working - plus the cost of the food in it and the cost of repair or a new fridge. 

There was a scene - much panic yelling by him and apologies and crying by me.

He decided the fridge was not cooling because it needed to have the vents cleaned - so he vacuumed them - front and back - for me.  (Well, one job less for me to do - not sure when last they were vacuumed.) 

By the time we went up to bed the temperature was 44 degrees.  Rather than both of us stay up all night and stare at the temperature remote, I had suggested we go up to bed and I would come downstairs every hour.  We turned the air conditioner on and the overhead fan and went upstairs.

After we finished getting ready for bed, he went back downstairs and the temperature was down to 43 degrees - he was still in a panic, but I was pretty sure that the fridge was okay.  I went down in an hour and it was at 41 degrees.  I set the alarm for an hour and went to sleep for an hour  - well, mostly I was awake.  It was then down to 39 degrees.  I turned the temperature down, just so the fridge went off.  I went to bed for another hour and the temperature was holding at 39 so I went to sleep.

The fridge seems to be a bit more sensitive - it jumps around within a range okay for use more than it used to.  Husband barely lets me open the fridge to take stuff out or put in - I have to grab everything at once, but the fridge seems okay and stays 37-40 degrees and corrects fairly quickly back to 38.

Why did this happen?  Well, I was on the computer “talking” with some embroidery friends around the world and  ----- forgot!  What I should have done was set the timer in my mobile phone for maybe 5 to 10 minutes to remind.  I do that for other chores - right now I am doing laundry and in 26 minutes (and some seconds) it will remind me to switch loads.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

Don’t count on remembering things to be done - or noticing that it is time to do them.  Use a timer or an appointment in your phone or a mechanical timer to remind you when to do something. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

STARTING TO SEE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Since I “spoke” to all of you last I have actually made progress catching up what fell behind the last couple of months. 

I have all the bank recs done.  I have posted all the checks I had written before.  Papers are filed away. The leak under the kitchen sink has not returned - even when husband used it to wash his hair again. 

Today we installed the new propane monitor.  It involved screwing a piece of wood over the hold the old one left and then drilling a hole for the wires for the new monitor and installing it. It works correctly.  The old one must be returned to the manufacturer - at our postage cost - but since we don’t trust it, we are just glad to return it.  The carbon monoxide monitor is still not replaced, but we have replaced that one before and the new one is a duplicate of the old ones.

Today I just finished backing up my computers - a monthly backup and a quarterly backup since no monthly backup was made last month.  This computer which I am working on was the last to be done.  It is the least important and is very slow and needs a good deal of time to backup.

We managed to find a new insurance policy for our reenactment unit - almost all the board agreed and today the application and check were mailed out.

I did get pushed back a bit today and ended up putting some items into the folder that had held the unfinished items for lack of time today.  I hope to be done with them by Monday.

My embroidery chapter has to send the dues collected from members to our region and our national by the end of the month - and I am sure that you can guess who does this - yes, me.  I will have it done in time.  I also have the June newsletter for the chapter due out next Wednesday.  Thanks to a reminder in my computer calendar, an email went out today to the rest of the board to see what they want to include.  Since we are having our annual end of program year meeting of a luncheon, I specifically asked the member in charge of the luncheon to let me know what people promised to bring so I could list same in the newsletter.  One slight problem I might have is that we have been planning on and off to go away next week for a delayed Memorial Day trip (if we go on the actual holiday the areas which is heavily tourist based, is just too busy for us, if we go during the week before or after - it is much nicer) and I will need to send the newsletter out in the middle of the week.  My plan is to write it before I leave and copy the membership’s addresses before I go away - or if I have all the info I need, it will go out early.

Tomorrow I am going to my client for my monthly trip there.  I have paid the bills to be mailed out on Friday so if I get home late tomorrow it they are ready to go.  It was good that I asked to come on tomorrow (Thursday) as today in the President is in this area - and a relatively short distance away our state Democratic party is having their convention - with the losing Presidental candidate from our last election as their speaker.  All of the roads into and out of New York City in all directions were backed up this afternoon.  Tomorrow should be (at least a little bit) a better drive.  My client does not use the Internet or a computer.  Last month her business telephone company installed a router for her.  I read up on the default passwords during the month as I want to change them for her for general security purposes.  I have an email address which I set up to use for her for assorted business matters.  Since I could not use at her business I never set it up in my business laptop.  I went to do so today.  I have no problem signing in on my home computer - but the sign in screen on my laptop keeps coming up with new problems so I may not be able to use it to sign in on my computer at her place until next month.  My attempts to get the email address set up on the laptop took about 45 minutes of wasted time.

But, I feel as if I am getting back to normal for me.  Little step by little step - or sometimes big jump by big jump I am catching up.

If we do go away next week, there will be a good deal of preparation of the RV before we go away. The RV will need to have the bed made up - as I have mentioned before this is about an hour’s process as the bed goes wall to wall sideways and headboard to kitchen/toilet at the foot with only the head of the aisle at the foot of the bed (less than 2 feet wide) and one basically has to be in the bed to make it up.  The usual fill the water tanks, pack snack foods, pack clothes and such - I will have to remember what packs where.  It really is a lot more complicated than organizing a house - what is in your house does not have to be packed so as not to shift or bounce while moving - the “stuff” in the RV has to be.  And remember, this is not a one of those huge RVs you see on TV (and the road)  - it is a Chevy van converted to an RV - while the roof was lifted and part of the floor was dropped slightly, the square footage is the original van so there is rather limited storage.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -
Slow and steady wins the race.  Working when one can on a back up of stuff to do will get it done.  Maybe not as quickly as one would want, but eventually. 

To those in the U.S .- a good Memorial Day. 



Thursday, May 17, 2018

AMAZING WHAT HAS GONE ASTRAY IN A MONTH AND A HALF

When one thinks that one is sort of keeping up, well... one is not. 

We received the new carbon monoxide monitor today - it looks right.  We ordered a different propane monitor - same company as made the carbon monoxide detector and will send the one we have back - not comfortable with it not indicating that it is working properly. 

So far the leak under the sink has not returned - might have been because husband washed hair in kitchen sink.  We will see.

Spent much time trying to find a new policy for our reenactment unit.  Today we found an agency that gave us a “maybe”, instead of a “no”.  The company they use has written some policies for reenactors, not sure if they still are doing so.  In doing the paperwork for them, I found an ad we received several years ago from a company that did these policies - husband contacted, they no longer carry these policies. 

Yesterday I had a chance to do some of those bank recs which are sitting and waiting.  Again, I started with the more important ones.  I did the April one for our reenactment unit first and then  same for my embroidery chapter. I could not find last month’s bank recs for them.  In a panic I looked through the papers I previously set aside to deal with later.  I checked the file drawers.  I looked in my “to file” section in the stack of holders that sit on my desk (amazingly that has mostly been kept up through all this).  I looked in the stack on desk.  I looked in the financial folder for each in their slots in their sections in the same holder. Not there!  Finally I remembered!  Boy was I stupid.  I don’t file bank statements into the file drawers when I reconcile them.  I put them into my “grab and go” emergency folder and at that time file the one from the prior month.  This is such an automatic repeating thing - how could I forget?  So the ones I was missing were in the grab and go.  Well, the one for our reenactment unit was.  The one for my embroidery chapter was still missing.  I finally remembered that it was set aside in the notebook I use to keep track of the money received for the group.  I had forgotten (until I did this month’s reconciliation) that suddenly the statement shows a calculation of the monthly fees due on the account - all zero so far - and this account is not suppose to have monthly fees.  I set it aside to take with me next time I go to that bank to ask what is going on and forgot.  I will be going in to make a deposit for the group and will ask about the fee calculation.

I also had a chance to reconcile our business banking accounts for April.  They go fairly quickly - very little business.  This time I remembered where last month’s statements were - since I had just done the other two statements.  I even had a chance to do both months of our lesser bank accounts (small savings accounts and a checking accounting to transfer money out of that bank easily).  I did not get to the statements for our IRAs.  They are quarterly statements and came at the beginning of April and are next to be done.

I still have not had a chance to post the breakdown of the bills I paid last month to the computer.  I had posted them quickly when they were paid, entirely to “uncategorized expenses”.  This way I us the program to double check my arithmetic  - my balance and the computer’s balance for any account should be the same, but it saves the time of breaking down the expenses on a busy credit card statement.  These statements are in the folder to have their posting fixed.  By posting them to the “uncategorized expenses” category, one which I did not set up, but is place for the program to post expenses which were not posted by me, I know that when I have the program make me a statement for reference, if there is anything in that account - it was done and I better do it!

I also did not have a chance to backup my computers last month.   I should have done the monthly and a quarterly backup of each (on two different external hard drives).  So yesterday I did a back up on each drive for my main computer.  I had been having a problem syncing my older mobile phone with the computer - it would not attach and I thought it was a peculiarity of the phone which sometimes happen - it is “old” and a pre Iphone or Android.  I decided not to panic and set it aside.  Then when I tried to attach the first external hard drive - it would not attach.  I tried again in a different port - then tried a port on the back of the computer instead of the front as I have a hub attached to the back and the disks on same were fine.  Did not work.  Why should it - nothing else seems to work right.

I still did not panic and did what one does when nothing works right.  I shut down the computer and rebooted.  That did it and it worked.  So I made both backups.  Today I did same to my work laptop.  I have to go back and backup some flash drives of data and then this computer will be backed up. 

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

To paraphrase a saying about setting aside projects partially done - .  “If you don’t have time to finish it now and you set it aside, when will you have time to finish it?”

This is what has happened to me.  New problems keep popping up which are mostly beyond my control. 

Try to get things done in full  - or get back to them right away - don’t set them partially aside.  If by some chance you have no choice (as I did not) make sure you keep all of what has to be done together in a logical way so you can go back and remember what has to be done and how to do it.

    

Thursday, May 10, 2018

I HAVE LOST MOST ORGANIZATION IN THE HOUSE NOW!

Okay I admit it.  Between tax season, warping the loom with husband, dealing with our RV, etc. I have lost my organization.  I have bank statements from a month ago which have not been reconciled (I did our main ones, but not the smaller ones).  I have managed to keep current - barely on paying bills and just realized “How much?” we need to pay the end of the month bills - WOW!  I am behind on things I need to get done as treasurer of both clubs.  Just when I think we are done with all the other stuff we have to do - something else will pop up.

We managed to get the propane detector installed in the RV - but it does not give the signal that it is checking that it is working that the old one did and this one (same company, same model) says it should - manufacturer says that it does not do it as much as people complained of the noise.  We did test it - twice - with the gas from a cigarette lighter and it does go off. 

The carbon monoxide detector was sent back yesterday to the company we bought it from.  It is not only, not the one we were told it was, it also was not the one pictured online and does not work in an RV.  We had to find it elsewhere and order it again and are waiting for the new one to come - again, we can’t go anywhere until it is in the RV and is working.

Now that the weather is nice husband announced it was time to dewinterize the RV.  This is two processes.  First we dewinterize it - we fill both water tanks and run water through the water taps - hot and cold - sink, shower and outdoor taps, as well as into the RV until the water runs clear so that the non-toxic antifreeze is no longer in the lines.  We did this last Friday.  This is a fairly quick straight forward thing to do.  Since we had planned a trip in December which we did not take, I did not bring the bedding in (sheets and pillowcases were washed as I do them all season)  to wash.  I pulled one set of bedding (in a laundry bag in a plastic bag) and brought it in when we were done.

We knew we needed bleach for the next step - but since I don’t use bleach for laundry, we decided to check how fresh the bleach we had was - it was not fresh enough to use as it did not smell like bleach.  Husband was at full crazy panic mode in general over all this, so I could not bring myself to tell him that when I took the bleach out from under the sink - a place I go several times a week - there was water on the floor of the cabinet.  I wiped it up while he was out of the room.  I then traced it and it seemed to be coming from the outgoing pipe - I put down paper towels and tied one around where the leak seemed to be - where two pipes joined.  I had in my mind that he had washed his hair in the sink the night before - perhaps something happened?

Saturday afternoon we packed our van with the items we would need for a reenactment event with our unit on Sunday.  We have a rain date for this event, but the scheduled day for the event is the same day as two other events in the same community - one across the street from where we will be - which brings people to the area and we have more guests than otherwise.  Reports were for rain - maybe in the morning, maybe afternoon, maybe all day - maybe light, maybe heavy... So we packed so that if the event was moved inside our headquarters we could bring much less with us than for a regular event, but had the rest of the stuff with us just in case it is nice.  (In case you are wondering - we have two wooden boxes with rope handles which are storage for our stuff and also seating for us.  We packed what we would need no matter what all in one of the boxes.  Husband portrays a person who is printing and selling period publications so we have his inventory and a table setup - that would not be needed if raining.  Members of the unit eat the cooking demonstration so we each bring period looking tableware.  I bring my embroidery setup - I had just what I needed in the box we would take and the backup stuff in the other)  Sunday it was dreary but dry and the idea of setting up a bit outside and planning to run inside if it rained was decided on.  We brought just the one box.  Luckily the day stayed passable with just some passing showers.  At one point during the day - I was sitting outside stitching and talking to people - husband and our unit commander came to me and asked me to move inside.  Why?  There is a staircase - really a ladder on an angle - which goes to the attic.  We keep it tied off unless we have members (generally two young men who are brothers) upstairs for safety in many ways. Well, apparently people were not keeping track of their children and the children were walking up the stairs.  So I was relocated to sit in the front of the stairs and block them with my box.  I ended up doing tours of the room and house also while there - with the box left to block the stairs.  Oh, I could not find the reproduction cap I bring to events to wear.  I keep an older one that is a bit youthful for me in one of our boxes - in case I forget.  So I brought a new, unworn one that I did not want to use, just in case, but found the old spare one to wear.  Later at home I was talking about the cap I normally wear with husband and he mentioned that the last time I wore it was December when we did the Candlelight Nights event.  I went and checked my older winter jacket that I had worn to those events - safe and snug in the pocket was my missing cap!

Monday we started the second step of the dewinterizing process - we need to sanitize the tanks and system - in case anything grew in anything during the winter.  Again, this is a fairly easy thing to do - fill the tanks with water, add a small amount of bleach to each and then drive the RV up and down the driveway with short stops to mix together.  Normally we would have done this after the what we did on Friday on the same day.  We then run the water through the same taps as we Friday (but not the toilet bowl - bleach cannot go in it) until we smell the bleach in the water coming out of them.  Husband decided to replace the water that had been used from the rear tank (front tank full as the rear tank runs into the front tank).  We normally have a problem with the rear tank after this process as some sort of bubble forms and we cannot put water in it when the tanks are emptied after this bleach process and he thought this might resolve the problem as there would be a full tank in the rear.  Well, the problem was already there and we needed the setup he had made to deal with it - it is a bunch of plumbing parts put together so we can put a long, thin tube (think fish tank tubing) on the end of the hose and feed the tube all the way into the tank and fill it from the bottom/inside of the tank.  He took it out to use.  It was so cold this past winter that parts of the assembly burst.  So off to the home stores for replacement parts.  We went to the “orange” company’s store - no one to help us and no parts that we needed.  We went to the “blue and white” company’s store and the man in the department tried hard to help us - he found where the part should be, but was out.  We walked around and husband came up with an alternate assembly and we bought what we needed.  In the confusion of all this, we forgot to take the insulin (which needs to be kept cold) we picked up at the pharmacy from the car - in just under 80F weather - at least it was in a cold bag, so hope it is okay - this is something I never would have let happen if not for all this craziness taking over my mind.

Tuesday we let the water out of the RV (This involves unscrewing a small cap from underneath the RV - guess who gets to do this.)  We then refilled the tanks - and again ran the water through the lines.  We repeated filling, emptying and letting the water through the lines.  We needed the special setup for the back tank all but the last refill. I brought in the other bag of bedding to wash.

Today we let the water out for the last time and now the water system is ready to be used.

We also received on Tuesday a notice that our reenactment company’s insurance will not be renewed as they are no longer writing the policies in our state - so now I am looking for a new policy for them.  Husband searched online for coverage - all listed the company we had the insurance with.  Today I called our personal insurance broker and asked if they can help - they had me fax the info to them - but of course the fax machine (an all in one with printer, scanner and copier) decided that there phone number was “restricted” and we could not fax to them.  We have never heard of this.  After about 40 minutes online husband fixed the problem - we hope.  In the meanwhile I emailed the information to the broker.  In scanning in the paperwork, I managed to get ink on the scanning unit - all pages had a line down them - and we then spent about an hour finding and cleaning the ink off the scanner - of course the instructions were not in the manual and he had to find them online.  I also sent an email to our national reenactment unit - located in the same state as us - asking them about the insurance they have.

For good measure I burned my hand in steam while cooking dinner last night - and in recoiling from the steam, put a bad cramp in my side.  While my hand is not badly burned, it does still hurt (last night I could only type on the computer with my left hand - not as easy I would figure to do).  Today while we were taking apart the RV electric plug in system that we plugged in to make things easier, I dropped a large and heavyish circuit breaker box on my foot - the opposite side - so now my hand and my foot hurt.

I did tell husband about the leak under the stove last night.  The other night I fit a plastic container under the pipe and since then it has been dry.  We will keep monitoring the box for water. 

Hopefully tomorrow I will be have time to do the bank recs.  Time to email reminders to embroidery chapter members who have not renewed to do so - I have to have them in the mail by May 31.  Send out a check owed to a reenactment unit member who overpaid the family’s dues.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

Sometimes it all just gets away from one.   One can go crazy - as my husband does - or try to keep calm and know that somehow and sometime (hopefully soon) the craziness will end and one will be able to start over and catch up.  Laundry is being done - but some of last week’s was still in the dryer.  Bills are paid.  Garbage and recycling has gone out.  (While we were in the garage during all this I found a good sized cardboard box for next week’s recycling - I need to have a big enough box to include the empty and rinses out old bleach bottle.)  My hand is better, but not perfect today and will recover.  My foot has a small bruise but will recover.  The biggest concern left is finding replacement insurance in the just over a month we have to do so - but hopefully it will be resolved in time and not for much more than we used to pay. 

Does this ever happen to you?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

FINALLY STARTING TO CATCH UP

Husband gave up on his weaving project this past Monday - someday he will try to do this type of weaving again, but not now. 

I have been working on catching up and getting the house and chores back up to date. 

I have stored away the several pairs of boots each of us had out for snow this past winter.  We have a sort of charm that we believe in (which did not work this winter) - once a pair of boots comes out for the snow, it is bad luck to put them away before the winter is over and will result in even more snow.  Yeah, it is stupid and certainly did not work this winter, but we leave them out anyway.  Since my teeth are in their seasonal ache period (spring and fall) and I have my seasonal stiff neck (ditto) I am pretty sure the weather will actually stay warm now.  So I put the boots away.  Our setup for the boots is 2 good sized plastic boxes with lids at the bottom of the front closet.  The bottom box holds the boots for more severe weather - the actual snow boots, a pair each of rubber (plastic?) covered shoe boots and such.  The upper box holds the boots that might also be worn in rainy weather - the leather ones - and a pair of my old sneakers which slip on.  The latter has nothing to do with boots or bad weather.  If I have to run out of the house - take out the garbage, recycling, forgot something in the car - they are easy and quick to slip on instead of stopping to put on shoes with laces to go out.  They sit at the front and top of the top box so they can be quickly and easily reached.  The lid of the upper box becomes a boot tray when we have the boots out - it is placed next to the front door and wet boots are left on it to dry and await their next wearing.  I washed and dried the top of it well before putting it back on the box in the closet.

While I managed to fit in the bank reconciliations for our main bank accounts and those of the clubs of which I am treasurer, I did not get to the other accounts - personal savings accounts and a couple of small checking accounts that are used for money transfers, as well as since it was the quarterly statements, the statements for our IRAs.  At this point the new statements will be here next week - so I will do the two months of statements together as that is quicker than doing one set now and one set next week.  I did find time today to go back and post the purchases and credits on our main credit card statement from last month.  I had matched the slips to the statement and paid the bill - in full of course - but had not had a chance to post it to my computer records - so today I did so.  Providence must have been helping me as the items for this statement rarely comes out even (posts done with what was billed and paid) on the first try - sometimes it takes lots of tries - but this was one of the time that it worked out on the first try.

Right now I am doing my Wednesday night laundry.  Forgot that I had done a load of jeans last week and it was left in the dryer to dry - so I had to bring them upstairs to be able to use the dryer.  I also have 2 extra loads I need to do this week.  I change the bed’s “underwear” once a month.  While I bought new pillow undercovers during the month (as the ones I had were really icky when I saw them - stained and such) I need to wash the mattress pad I took off.  We sleep in winter with two blankets.  Since it is now in the 70s during the days husband suggested that we only need one blanket now for the warmer weather.  I only made the bed with the green blanket and the blue one is waiting to be washed and put on the bed next week.  Why do we have two different color blankets?  When we needed a new blanket after we had the bed bugs we bought the blue one.  Later when it got colder we decided we needed a second one and the store only had the green ones in the correct size.  Since I like blue, I wash the blue one first when we are switching to one blanket and leave the green one on the bed to use while the blue one is washed.  Then I will put the clean blue blanket on the bed and wash the green blanket.  The green blanket will be put in a clear plastic bag when it is clean and after squeezing as much air as I can, the bag will be sealed.  The green blanket will then be store in the bedroom in a piece of furniture (a plastic end table with a shelf under it and a closed cabinet area below that - it used to be in our living room in our apartment). In the fall I will put the green blanket on the bed and again wash and dry the blue one.

Today was my embroidery chapter meeting.  Due to illnesses somehow not only was I the treasurer, but the secretary asked me during the week to take minutes for her and then this morning the membership chair called and said she was ill and asked me to take care of the renewals (our national group sets the membership year as June through the following May, so everyone has to renew right now), getting a sign in list of members, etc. for her. Plus the VP is out of state and she asked me to get the list of who will bring what to her house for our annual party next month. 

After the meeting - which was the first one I went to since January (February and March meetings were canceled for weather and husband’s birthday meant that I could not go to the April meeting).  I ran errands which have been waiting since late January to be done. 

I had packed some items to donate.  Many of them were old computer disk storage items, some were household serving pieces and others were clothes.  The bags have been sitting in front of the office closet door since they were packed in late January - each time I thought it would only be a month before they were taken to Goodwill.  So if I needed our business checkbook, new paper for the printer, my other laptop bag (I have one for travel and one for work - they hold different things) or the box of 2017 paid bills that I temporarily stuck in the top of the office closet until I clear out the 2008 box from the top of the closet and pack the 2017 papers (bills, statements and anything else) in it and put it in the top of the closet I had to move all the bags, open the closet door, take out what I need (or put away what I no longer needed) and then put all the bags back.  So nice to be able to just open the closet. 

Similarly I had not been able to bring back our recyclable plastic (soda) bottles for refund of their deposit since early January.  I managed to get rid of one small bag (10 bottles, 50 cents) when I suggested to husband that we get rid of a small bag of bottles easily and quickly in the interim, but I kept forgetting to bring another small bag and get rid of them. There still is about half a month’s bottles in the porch - if all goes as it should, they will be returned next month along with any bottles between now and then. 

I even managed to fit in a quick trip to the bank branch where we have a safe deposit box and switch an updated offsite data stick drive for the one in the box - also not done since January and intended as a monthly thing to do.  I also ordered new checks as I am down to one book while I was there. 

So catching up is progressing.  I even fit in one of our VERY long telephone conversations with mom. 

I mentioned late last year that we had accumulated and submitted a variety of paperwork to our local township for us to receive a senior real estate tax exemption, which is income based.  I am happy to say that I received the paperwork saying that we have been given the exemption.  This will cut our property taxes for the school year 2018-2019 and our other real estate taxes for 2019.  We have to reapply later this year for the following year - at least now we know what to do and what we will need.  I have already started collecting the papers as some of them come in without us having to request them.  I start contacting the places I will need additional paperwork from either late this month or the beginning of next month - it is all due by the end of the year, so there is time to get it done easily and they will not send out the forms until late August.

For a bit of extra fun, we need to put a new carbon monoxide monitor alarm and a new propane monitor alarm in our RV.  We have actually replaced the carbon monoxide monitor before and did not anticipate any problems with it.  We have not needed to replace the propane monitor before, but the instructions seemed pretty straight forward.  We had to order both monitors.  The propane monitor had to be ordered from Canada.  Husband found the carbon monoxide monitor listed for sale online, but the one he found said “marine” across it and is intended for a boat.  He emailed the company selling it and was assured that it was it the same one - same model number and all. 

The carbon monoxide monitor arrived first at our PO Box.  When opened it did say “marine” across it.  It also has not only different specifications than the one we have, but also they are different than those in the listing it was purchased from.  Husband emailed the company about this on Friday.  On Tuesday he telephoned as he had not heard back.  The employee had him leave a message for the person he needed to talk to and he was assured he would be called back later in the day - today (Wednesday) he called again, spoke to the same employee and was told the same thing and he was a bit less pleasant and she told him that he had written to the wrong email address (the one in their listings) and gave him her email to send the info to - hopefully this will get resolved.

Husband went to take out the old propane monitor - should be easy - push two pieces of plastic on the front together and pull.  Apparently the wire was too short for it to pull out.  While we need the wire to attach the new one, we had to squeeze in a small wire cutter and cut the wires to get the old one off.  We have attempted to remove the piece of floor in this section to get to where the wire connects - but it won’t lift out even after the screws were removed. 

Hopefully both of these will soon work out and be installed or we cannot travel in the RV.  Next we will progress to dewinterizing the RV - a messy job over 2 days to drain the antifreeze in the pipes and tanks out, add a vinegar and water mixture, run it through the pipes and shake it around the tanks by driving forward and backwards (I mean backwards or forwards or there will be a hole in the garage door) and stopping quickly.  Then the vinegar and water mixture is drained out and plain water put in the tanks - then run out through the pipes and taps (3 pairs of taps and toilet) and then the plain water put in again and run out. 

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK - If the work that needs to be done seems immense, do it little by little.                                     

Figure out what is most important to be done and do that work. 

Take what can be set aside “for now” and do so - but put all of the items set aside as same together. 

Then do the next the thing which needs to be done and so on.

It is amazing what will get done this way and you will get closer to catching up, if not caught up completely.