Just 15 Minutes....

I'm sort of working on following the suggestions of FlyLady when it comes to cleaning up my house and accomplishing tasks I really don't want to do. She recommends starting small, rather than trying to get everything cleaned, organized and fixed in one massive attempt. The big attempts tend to end in failure, mostly because they're unrealistic. The messes didn't accumulate in a day or a weekend, so they aren't likely to be cleared away in a weekend. So, set a timer for fifteen minutes and start in. Work at whatever it is (she recommends picking a particular room or area) until the timer goes off and then do something else for the rest of the day. It's really a lot like starting up a new exercise program. Start small and easy, then build up as you go. If you go big too early, you burn out and quit.

With that said, I had a hard time today getting myself motivated to spend 15 minutes doing anything remotely cleaning-related. I removed the cover to the bathroom exhaust fan to clean it, then didn't want to bother with vacuuming the guts of the fan. Now the fan cover sits on the back of the toilet, waiting for me to finish the job. I also have a clean set of sheets to put on my bed, but I don't want to do that either.

Part of my cleaning up aversion is based on the volume of clutter I'm facing and the lengthy list of things to be done. I have come to the conclusion today that I need to just ditch the things I've been meaning to do (sort through magazines, etc) and just ruthlessly start over. Yes, in an ideal world, I would find happy homes or recycling places for everything, but I can't just hold the whole process up until I can do it perfectly. It just needs to be done, regardless of how imperfectly. *Some* progress must be made. It's not a good sign when you're thinking that your house burning down might be a good thing because you wouldn't have to decide what to keep or throw away. So I'll review the Fly Lady Baby Steps and re-read the book Clutter Control by Jeff Campbell. Then decide what room I'll start with (I'm leaning toward the kitchen, followed by the living room) and get started with the big purging, followed by 15 minute cleaning binges.

Books of the Week:
I have finished both The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry and The Smart One and The Pretty One by Claire LeZebnik. I was completely sucked in to The Lace Reader by the time I was half way into the book. The ending was one I absolutely did not expect, but was very good. Towner's quite an interesting character and the rest of her family is just as complex and complicated. I had great difficulty putting it down at the end of my lunch breaks when I was reading it at work. This one I will definitely read again and I may just have to buy it too. I'm also once again interested in the art of lace making. I've actually got a book about needle and shuttle lace. Bobbin lace looks far too complex at the moment, though bobbin lace is what is featured in the book.

I wasn't sure I'd like The Smart One and The Pretty One. I mostly picked it up because of the name. Growing up, I was the smart one and my sister was the pretty one. These labels drove me nuts and I'm sure my sister didn't like them much either. Anyway, I expected stereotypical, unidimensional characters. At first, that was what I found, but as the book progressed, the writing improved and the characters developed into distinct personalities. Even the male characters had substance to them (as opposed to just being a flat romantic interest). The amusing plot feature is that the "smart" sister had been jokingly "betrothed" to a neighbor kid by their parents when they were little kids. The "pretty" sister decides to reintroduce the two, just to see what happens. Since the book featured two sisters, the end of the book had a list of other interesting sisters, both fictional and real. The list included the March sisters, the Bennet Sisters, The Bouvier sisters (Marge, Selma and Patty), the Bronte sisters and the Gorgon sisters (Medusa, Stheno and Euryale). Now I feel the need to track down Ms. LaZebnik's other books--Knitting Under the Influence and Same as It Never Was.

I'm very pleased that I found two excellent books in one week, but now I feel a bit empty without a new book waiting to fill that spot. I'm pondering diving into One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I started to read it in college lit class, but, like most of my school fiction assignments, I didn't finish it. The other book idea I had is to re-read A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. This is one of my favorites, painting a magical picture of a time and place that probably never quite existed. Mr. Helprin's writing so vividly describes the people and places in his world that the book becomes utterly engrossing. One book I have been meaning to read for about 15 years is H0w to Read A B00k by M0rtimer Adl3r. (Pardon the alternative spelling, I'm trying to evade the irritating person who keeps spamming the comments trying to get me to buy their products related to this book and author.)  It was actually recommended by my college lit teaching assistant. It is, alas, one of the many books that I own which I have started reading, but never finished. (I have a terrible habit of buying books and then never reading them.)

Laugh Out Loud Dialogue for the Week:
(From The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik)

"Howler monkeys," Daniel said. "Turns out they really do howl." He noisily sucked up the dregs of his drink.

"Does that mean that screech owls screech?"

"Yes." He set the glass back down with an unnecessary thump that suggested his hand control had been somewhat compromised by the margaritas. "And fire ants build tiny little campfires."

"Oh my God," she said, opening her eyes wide. "You just made a cute joke. I didn't think you were capable of that."

"I'm not. I can't believe I said that either. I must not be myself tonight."

(and now I have a picture of fire ant colonies spreading their arson tendencies across the landscape, plus coffee in my sinuses)

Three Grateful Things
A programmable coffeemaker greeting me with steaming hot coffee when I wake up. (Yes, the smell of brewing coffee *can* wake you up.)

Lazy afternoon naps on the couch under a warm blankie

A scented candle gently spreading the delicious aroma of apple muffins through my house


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