Friday, December 21, 2012

Kindness is... Doing one thing at a time.

A few days ago, as I went into my usual pre-holiday panic, I had an opportunity to do a brief meditation on the subject of kindness.  In particular, my thoughts turned to kindness towards oneself, and how often it gets put on the back burner (and, on occasion, off the stove altogether, out the back door and down the stairs).

At this time of year, the mood at Astrejurhof tends to be a bit lively for all the wrong reasons.  Some people's seasonal traditions involve putting up ornaments.  Mine generally involve some noble but questionable attempt to do an Extreme Makeover on the entire house, starting at the last possible minute and going into double overtime... Or until I collapse in a corner in a sweaty, cursing heap with paint in my hair and a back pocket full of drywall screws.

Drywall screws are very sharp things to sit on, by the way.

This year, things were just a little bit different.  I still spent an inordinate amount of time running around to lumberyards, and on more than one occasion caught myself mucking about with drywall mud at a quarter after one in the morning.  I did, however, make a bit of progress in the kindness department with this one simple aphorism:

The greatest kindness you can show yourself is to take things one at a time.

Stay in the moment, and stay with what you're doing.  Multitasking is worse than useless -- It's evil.  In fact, it's technically impossible.  At best, it's task-switching; at worst, it's abandoning work in progress to start something that may not even need to be done.

The more it sunk in, the more I tried to make it work.  Mix one batch of cookie dough before starting another batch.  Take that box all the way to where it's going, instead of leaving it on top of the shoe rack till later.  Finish sanding the corner of the wall all the way to the floor, then do the next corner.

It works.

It works very, very well.

Best of all, I was able to make more realistic time estimates and know which projects not to start.  When my Yule party went 'live' this evening, I didn't have a half-installed electric fireplace in the living room or a pile of lumber on the front porch -- just a clean house, a nicely-set table, and my sanity.

Gleðileg Jól to one and all!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Think Like a God Day 2012: The hands-on deity

Happy Think Like a God Day!  This year's question is a simple one, but perhaps not so simple to answer. How involved do you want to get with the physical world, and with your followers?

In My case, I'm definitely not averse to getting down there in the trenches with mortals. As I'm not the omnimax type of deity, I see no harm in a bit of tinkering now and then -- I see it as the divine equivalent of holding the door open for someone who's struggling with an armload of groceries.

You may see it differently: Perhaps you see your role as akin to the Marvel Comics character The Watcher, and want to observe, record but not intervene directly.

Underlying this is a deeper question: What is your personal motivation for wanting to be a god? Do you crave power for the sake of having it, or do you get more of a kick out of applying that power in creative ways, or do you enjoy it when someone says "Thank you, {insert divine name here}"? (Recommended reading: Human Motivation by David C. McClelland. I don't think he's got a version for gods, unfortunately, but give it a try.)

While you ponder that question, I'm going to see if I can chat up the local weather deities and order a few centimetres of rain for My garden... Either that, or fill up a watering can and do it Myself. Ta!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Social engineering doesn't work on pigeons.

I have some uninvited houseguests -- The feathered, cooing kind -- bunking down in the eavestroughs and soffits on the south side of My home.  The eaves are slated for repairs this year, but in the meantime I'm trying to figure out how to evict these dulcet-toned squatters without resorting to something drastic and/or lethal.

So, as I am the kind of Goddess who thinks pigeons would be Real Cute If Only They Weren't So Messy and Destructive, I'm trying the holistic approach.

To wit:  How do I, Astreja K., go about convincing a clan of pigeons that the eaves of My house are not a good place to raise their young?

Well, the obvious answer (to Me, anyway) was "Try to sound like something that eats pigeons."

So I started out by making skittery noises up and down the wall with a pair of rubber gloves, trying to evoke images of a really, really hungry rodent that eats pigeon eggs in mass quantities.

That shut the pigeons up for, oh, maybe 30 seconds.

Then I remembered that pigeons allegedly have an aversion to owls, and occasionally to plastic scare owls.  Rather than installing an owl-shaped hunk of plastic on the roof, I gave a hoot or two to see what would happen.

The pigeons quieted down; then I heard them muttering to one another:

"'Zat an owl?"

"Nah; it's that weird lady who stands on the back stairs at midnight and yells "Kittens!  Greyscale!  Waaaalter!"

I think they're on to Me.  But I'm not ready to dial 1-800-DED-BOID just yet.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's on!

(Springy G stands in Her leaf-strewn front yard, garden rake in Her hand)

Dadada DA da, dadada DA da, dadada...

Uh, sorry; got a Wagnerian earworm stuck in My head there.

Welcome to Spring Equinox 2012, Northern Hemisphere edition!  May the rains be soft, the sunshine warm and the nights balmy.

Oh, and don't take any guff from those crows up there in the...

*CAW*

...elm tree.

(Sighs heavily and waves rake in general direction of the crow) Okay, then, mister, *you* rake the leaves and *I'll* sit up in the tree and supervise.

Uh... Can someone please give Me a hand with this extension ladder?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Do not want.

As I was walking home from the bus this afternoon, I came to an odd conclusion: I don't really want a Chinese straight sword.

And I don't particularly want a Stratocaster XII electric 12-string, either.

Not all that long ago, I thought I did. One of the reasons I wanted the above-mentioned things is that I used to possess them and lost them.

I don't need them any more. I no longer practice Chinese martial arts and in fact have not done so for at least 14 years, so what would I do with that jian?  I've already got a perfectly good short sword, made of much better materials, in a homemade scabbard with Futhark runes that clearly identify the sword as Astrejureldingblót.  And a dagger called Thorn.  (And the Staff of Magius -- Long story.)

As for the electric 12-string, I'm barely playing My guitar Dr. Venkman and My bass Spiny Norman... And, right now, there are a lot of instruments I'd rather have:  A French horn; an alto sax (wouldn't mind a tenor sax, too); and All the Clarinets There Are (a professional-grade B♭; an A clarinet; an E♭; a bass; and perhaps even the wily alto clarinet).

Y'know, decluttering is a lot easier when you get rid of stuff before it arrives.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

She who laths last laths best.

Note to Big Box stores everywhere:  We don't need you.  Especially when you can't supply Us with what We want in quantities less than Ludicrous Size.

Earlier this week I attempted to purchase several pieces of plastering lath in order to close off the large gap in My kitchen wall... The one I had created when I removed some old iron pipes.

I needed three pieces.  The store had a lovely bundle of 24, which would be just the ticket if I were, say, constructing a brand new old-fashioned wall.  I certainly wasn't in the mood to buy eight times as much as I actually needed.

So today I made My own.  I started by cutting up a piece of ¾" plywood I had in the basement.  Then I used a chisel to split and plane the strips down to the right thickness:


Plywood is good that way:  All I have to do is take out the layers I don't want. 
 

And then, rather than run out to buy suitable short nails, I just cut down some longer galvanized nails I already had:


By cutting on an angle, I also gave the nails a nice point that made them easier to drive.  Dare to compare:


This is what the wall looked like after I nailed up the homemade lath:


And this is what it looks like currently, with the base coat of  plaster well underway:


Looks like I do need that store, after all:  I've run out of plaster.  Hopefully they sell it in something smaller than a 50-pound bag.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reciprocating saws are full of win.

Today I tackled a problem that stood between Me and Nice New Kitchen Cupboards.

Behold the Wall of Doom!


This was lurking under the old cupboards, which were removed last fall.  Bad enough someone painted the wall such a ghastly shade of dark salmon -- The thing that stood between Me and new cabinetry was this:


Mysterious iron pipes, jutting out of the wall.  This will never do.

So I took the liberty of attacking the plaster and lath with extreme prejudice (plus a claw hammer).


To My relief, one of the two pipes had already been disconnected.  That meant that the pipe on the right was the one connected to this thing:


Já, that's yet more Mysterious Iron Pipe jutting out of the basement ceiling... Through a cold air return duct, no less.  It, too, had apparently been out of service for untold aeons but no one could be bothered to finish removing it.


Of course, it didn't help that both the upper sections of pipe continued above the kitchen ceiling.

So, this is what I did Sunday afternoon:

  • Pulled down the 2 remaining ceiling panels in the kitchen, which I had to do eventually anyway.
  • Got My trusty reciprocating saw out of the basement tool storage and installed a 14 TPI metal-cutting blade.
  • Started cutting.
There were a few interesting moments, such as when I opened the cold air return duct to cut a lower section of pipe:


Wait, what?  A cold air return grate is not supposed to lead to a solid wall.  No wonder there's so much cold air lurking around the kitchen floor; it has to queue up to go down that itty bitty slot right at the bottom of the wall.

*reaches for claw hammer again*


Well, I had to open that wall anyway.  *reaches for reciprocating saw and resumes cutting and removing pipes*


And this is the last bit of the pipe on the right, duly plummet-proofed so that I could safely cut it free from above.

 Total elapsed time:  3 hours, 40 minutes... Including cleanup!  Mission accomplished, and I still had some Sunday left at the end of it all.