Posted in Family

If Women Designed Cars

 

Yesterday the sun was shining, beckoning me, like most Minnesotans, out of my stuffy house into the fresh air.  There was enough of an early spring wind to keep my hat pulled low over my ears.  Yet, it was one of those days that reminds me spring is on its way.

As my car now doubles for a mobile office, I’d been hoping for a day such as this to give the old Neon a little spring cleaning.  Salt and sand brought in from boots and dog lined the carpet, which now looked less like the floor of a car, and more like a beach.  Grime collected in the crevices, and coffee (or was that ketchup?) spotted the seat.

Let’s face it, cars are designed by men.  Men sell them to men, with women leaning seductively against the grill.  If they ever placed a car ad with this guy waxing the front fender, I’d have to buy it.  But they haven’t figured that out yet.


Embed from Getty Images

So when I pull out the toothbrushes, rags, shop vac, and steam cleaner to scour the inside of my automobile, it’s likely I’ll have a few sexist remarks to mutter under my breath.

I hate cleaning, and I usually tackle what bothers me the most first.  That way, if I succumb to boredom, fatigue, frustration, or procrastination, at least I have made the biggest difference for my peace of mind.  In this case it was the floor, so I hauled out the shop vac.  Automobile carpeting is a pretty shallow nap.   Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how much dirt it can hold.  And not only does it hold a lot, it won’t let go.  I took those floor mats out, raised them high above my head, and brought them slapping down to the driveway time and again.  I kneeled on them to hold them in place while I vacuumed, little grains of sand bouncing around like it was some sort of disco rave.  And vacuumed.  And vacuumed.

 That was when I remembered.  It doesn’t matter how many times you slam them on the ground, beat them with a bat, or vacuum over the same spot.  There will always be a little sand rave party going on inside the nap of the floor mats.  You just have to get it good enough to look clean when you get in the car.

Then I started on the carpeted floor.  Remember when we all got carpeting in our houses?  It was so that we could get out of bed and not feel the cold hard floor beneath our toes.  Somebody tell me why we started carpeting our cars.  In my house, I can take off my shoes before dragging mud in on the carpet.  Should I dedicate a little floor mat for muddy shoes in my car?  Wouldn’t it make more sense if I could simply run a rag over a vinyl floor and be done?  A woman would have designed it that way.

No, the floor has its own little dance party going on as I vacuum it, and something more.  My long blonde hairs whip around when the windows are open and somehow fall out and weave themselves into the short nap.  The shop vac can suck at that thing all day, but it’s not coming out.  The rug acts like some sort of hair Velcro, which would be great if you wanted human hair carpeting.  I developed a system which involves using the vacuum to lift up the end of the hair.  I then pinch the hair against the vacuum hose while pulling back to draw the hair out of the carpeting.  Once the hair is out, I let go of the pinched end and the hair sucks up the tube.  Apparently a man would rather bitch about a woman’s hair falling out in his truck than design a vehicle with bare flooring.

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These little details looked really cool when the car was new. And clean.

Next I tackled the dash and center console.  Mostly it’s just dust that gets wiped off, but then there are those crevices.  The little cracks that give the car sophistication when it’s new, make great places for grime to collect as it’s used.  This is where I start losing patience and fingernails.  And believe me when I say I don’t have a lot of either to begin with.

If a woman had designed my car, she would have made the air vents removable.  They would snap out, be dishwasher safe, and snap back in just as easily.  The cup holders would do the same.  Those things are never coming clean.  I literally poured Windex in and let it soak before the coins came loose from the bottom.

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This thing should be removable and dishwasher safe.

The lid on my center console swings up and over to double as a cup holder for passengers in the back seat.  It houses a mini tissue dispenser as well.  It is the single best thing about my car right after the sunroof.  I’m convinced some dude was given an ultimatum when he designed it.

Untitled“Either design this lid with functionality, or we’re going to my mother’s for the Super Bowl.”

 

But he could have gone further, and possibly secured his place in bed indefinitely.  You see, the dog seems to think that console was made for her.  She stands on it, sleeps on it, and uses it to reach the sunroof in the summer.  I can see a lot of design options here.  My favorite would be a piece that flips up to make a wall, blocking her to the back seat where she belongs.  The second best option would be a dog-safe place to stand or lay that would keep her from flipping up into the front seat when I brake suddenly.    Of course, the best option would be a boyfriend who wouldn’t have botched my attempts to train her to stay off of it in the first place.

As I clean the paw prints off of the console lid, I am reminded of how it all comes down to flaws in the working of the male mind.

Finally, I drag my steam cleaner out to the driveway, and heat up the water tank.  The seats are thankfully black, and made of fabric which is neither too hot in summer nor too cold in winter.  The length to which I would go for a clean ride surprised Bubba.  He asked, “Next is my car?”

He’s so funny.

The liquid the steam cleaner pulled out of my seats was a putrid brown, like that of stale latte, becoming clearer the longer I worked.  Eventually, the results of my efforts pleased me.  I replaced the tools on shelves and in drawers.  Wiping my feet before entering the car, I drove it into the garage.  I filed the shredded edge of my nails to smooth nubs, and I took a wonderful hot shower.

Fully dressed for some errand running, we decided to take Bubba’s Pontiac because my seats were still damp.  As I slid my foot through the open car door, I saw it.  A banana peel lying next to an empty food container.  “Oh my God!  This is disgusting!”  . . . This coming from the woman who just drew sewage-colored liquid from her car cushions.

I plucked the banana from the rubber floor mat and hauled it to the trash.  After returning to settle myself into shotgun position, Bubba smiled at me.

“See?  I knew I could get you to clean my car.”

Men are infuriating.

Peace . . .

Posted in Room and Board

How I Lost Over 150 Ugly Pounds in One Week

Five days off work, plus two weekends equals 9 days in a row of over-indulgent ME-time!  Some people travel.  Others reconnect with nature or family.  I like to choose a theme.  This week the theme was Decluttering.  If you know me at all, you will know that anything worth doing is worth making a list:

Items that need decluttering include:

  • Coats
  • Table Linens
  • Entertainment center
  • Clothing
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Pajamas
  • Cleaning closet
  • Pet supplies
  • Cookware
  • Beauty and health products
  • Crafts
  • Books

Half Price Books

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.  I decided to start with the books.  Three boxes have been patiently waiting for their trip to the Half-Price Bookstore for several years, so this was an easy beginning.  I dusted them off, trying hard not to fall back in love with any of them in the process.  I only rescued two.  One was a trail-guide to trees, which I’ve actually searched for twice this year.

“Oh, hey . . . HERE you are!”

The other was my How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk book.  I can’t believe I was going to give away the all-time best book on communication EVER.  What was I thinking?

Because today is a beautiful sunny day, I dressed in a lightweight t-shirt.  I checked twice to make sure you couldn’t see the dark-colored bra underneath, finally deciding it was only visible if you were staring at my chest.  At my age, I can only hope for so much!  My brushed hair fell in soft waves along my shoulders.  With my cheeks blushed, eyelashes curled, I looked in the mirror.

“Hello, beautiful!  Looking good!”

On the way out, I grabbed another stack of recyclables harvested from craft supplies and patterns, and a sack of trashed junk from the basement.  Both the trash bin and the recycle bin are nearly full, and the garbage pick-up was yesterday!  My step lightened as I went back in to grab the latest box of culled books.

“Wow!  How much does this bad boy weigh?”

I stepped on the scale with and without the box.  It weighed in at around 38 pounds.  No wonder I was looking so great this morning.  I’ve lost a lot of weight!

Balancing the box against the store window while pulling the door open, I looked down.  The weighty box stretched my shirt, revealing not only my plentiful cleavage, but the black brassiere I had carefully checked for show-through.  I released the door and hauled up on the neckline of my t-shirt.  A chivalrous employee ran from inside to hold the door.  Hiding behind my sunglasses, I accepted their offer and retreated to my car.

George Washington smiled smugly from the ten-spot.  He knew I was taking him to coffee.  There I ran into a friend from work.  She asked how my week of decluttering was going.  After I shared with her the fruits of my labor, she said, “Well, you look . . ”

“I know.  I look great, right?”

We shared a nod and a broad grin before I went on my way.

Clearly the weight loss was showing.  As with any plan, you need to stay motivated, or you’ll be right back where you started — or worse.  The problem with taking nine consecutive days from work, is that nine days is exactly how long it takes to forget how energy-depleting work life is.  Today, on day eight, I’m all like,

“I can keep up this momentum!  All I have to do is to come home from work and spend a half hour each day organizing and decluttering!”

I seem to have forgotten that feeling of wanting nothing more than to put on my p.j.s and melt into the couch.  Not to mention getting ready for the next day,  bedtime rituals, possibly mustering up enough energy to eat a healthy dinner.  And how, by Thursday, I usually just say,

“F*** it, give me a peanut butter sandwich.”

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my time off, but she’s a tease.  Everything seems attainable from this side of the time-clock.

So what’s my plan?  How do I keep moving forward after the success of a 150-pound week?  Maybe these inspirational quotes will be more effective for decluttering than they have been for weight loss.

“This is a journey, not a destination.”

“One pound at a time.”

“When I feel like quitting, I ask myself why I started.”

“Good things come to those who work their asses off.”

“Keep calm and carry a gun.”

Wait . . . that last one I read on a t-shirt at the gas station.

Never mind.

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

Why Cleaning the Bathroom is like Cleaning Up Your Life

Bathroom towels.
Bathroom towels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s face it.  Sometimes the bathroom stinks.  Sometimes life stinks.  It came to me while I was cleaning the toilet; a mundane task that allowed my mind to wander toward more pressing, serious matters.  I got to thinking about the task of cleaning up one’s life.  Not mine.  Mine is sparkly-clean and smelling fresh!  Ahem . . .   Like bathrooms, most lives could use a little freshening up if we really get down there and put our noses to it.

There are different kinds of cleaning, and not all bathrooms need all of them at once.  There is the clean-it-up-for-company kind of clean.  Appearance is everything here.  A quick wiping off of the surfaces, fresh towels, and a swipe on the mirror may do it.  Light a candle if necessary.  We all clean up pretty well when push comes to shove.  A clean outfit, shampoo, a spritz of fragrance, and no one would guess there is anything hiding beneath the surface.  In bathrooms as in life, smiling helps.

Then there is the kind of cleaning you do to get set up for the week.  You scrub a little deeper.  You bleach and scour the shower.  You put a fresh bag in the trash, replenish the extra rolls of T.P., and scrub the floor.  It’s what weekends are for — paying bills, running errands, putting the train back on its track.  It sets you up for the week.  It doesn’t take long, but a weekly catch-up makes all the difference.

English: A bathroom post-toilet papering. I ha...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the course of its use, eventually every bathroom hits a point where it has fallen to ruins.  Someone gets sick and the bathroom is clearly overused.  When there is illness in your life, the washroom isn’t going to be fit for company.  It’s a time to take a break from letting others in and just heal.  When you are stronger, you can run over what needs to be cleaned first and leave the rest until you have more energy.  It is not going to smell fresh, and the towels are going to be laden with germs.  And that is exactly what it needs to be until you can restore your health.

Maybe you are just needed elsewhere.  Sometimes it just isn’t all about your bathroom.  Other people have bathrooms, too.  It’s about helping to cook the community supper, or getting your kids to the doctor, or helping your neighbor clean up after a fire.  You can let your bathroom go.  If someone needs a clean washcloth, they know where to find them.  If toilet paper runs out, let someone else buy it.  Your bathroom is important, but you will appreciate having one a lot more if you occasionally help someone else with theirs.

Every now and then you need to take a look beneath the surface.  The medicine cabinet is crammed with expired prescriptions that need to be thrown.  There are so many near-empty conditioner bottles that you can’t find a place to set your soap.  You need to get rid of the old things in your life before you can let new and improved items in.  You may find things you had forgotten were there when you really start digging.  Finding old treasures is as precious as the gift of new ones.  When you find something you once valued, but no longer find a need, it might be time to let it go.  Not always an easy thing to do, once you have all your favorite things lined up, it is easier to see what belongs and what no longer does.  Traditions are like stale lotion in that way.  Cherish them for what they once were, and let them go.

Old Ugly Bathroom (Before)
Old Ugly Bathroom (Before) (Photo credit: Rick Scully)

Sometimes things have gotten so bad that you will need to ask for help.  You need to look for someone you trust.  He knows his own bathroom is not at all as clean as it appears to guests, and will not judge you for yours.  He realizes that someday his own space may get out of hand and he will need to ask you for help, too.  And he is not likely to go blabbing about your dirty corners to anyone else.

I hope you have a friend in your life that you can let into your dirtiest bathroom.  Someone who has seen your worst filth and will love you anyway.

Oh . . . And don’t forget to flush and wash your hands.

Peace . . .

Posted in Room and Board

SPOT ON CORRECTION: Stain Remover

This is what happens when you are so excited about a post and try to whip it out in about 10 minutes flat on your lunch break.  Yesterday I posted about Lois’ fantastic natural cleaning post, to which I will be referring back often.  Except I gave the link for her wonderful Friday Favorites.  MAYBE you figured it out, or maybe you were just too polite to tell me, but it does give me a reason to repost with the correct link.  Help Lois from Living Simply Free save the planet and keep a couple coins in your pocketbook at the same time.

Change the World Wednesday, Cleaning House / Living Simply Free