housekeeping tips

Just another Monday in paradise…

The toilet has a ways to go before it looks like that again…

Do you ever get an urge to tackle random cleaning projects? Sometimes it happens to me. Like, for instance, my urge to clean the oven door a couple of weeks ago. I spent a few hours on that, scrubbing with baking soda and Reynold’s Wrap, trying to remove the baked on gunk on the door. Today, I’ve been tackling the upstairs toilet, which is covered with hard water limestone deposits. Germany has very hard water. Wiesbaden is especially bad. There’s a never ending battle against the chalky gunk that builds up because of the mineral filled water.

I got tired of looking at the lime on our commode, so I grabbed a bottle of vinegar detergent, which is widely available here. I’ve gotten some of the limestone to go, but there’s still more work to do. I may have to break out some steel wool.

Using vinegar on hard water stains is just one handy household trick I’ve learned since we moved back to Germany. There are certain things we have to deal with here that we don’t in the States. I do remember my parents’ house in Virginia, circa 1980, had a septic tank. Our water came from a well, smelled of rotten eggs, and had a lot of rust in it. It was the same when we lived in Georgia. Our house there, and the one in North Carolina, had septic tanks. We had no water bills, but the water was pretty nasty. The toilets in the Georgia house had tons of rust in them. I found a miracle cleaner to get rid of a lot the rust. It really was amazing.

I wish I could find something as effective as Whink Rust Stain Remover to rid the toilets of lime. So far, all of the DIY sites recommend vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice. While I appreciate the non-toxic effects of these remedies, they still require plenty of elbow grease. Somehow, I’m going to have to clean the new shower head, too. It’s starting to get lime deposits. That will mean breaking out the stepladder, because I’m too short to reach the shower head.

Sorry… I know this is a boring topic. There are certainly things I could write about, but it occurred to me that a lot of my posts are kind of negative and depressing. Every once in awhile, I like to write things that are helpful or even positive. I have, at least, managed to get rid of some of the lime scale, anyway. And I just ordered some citric acid and pumice stone to try to get the rest of it gone.

I don’t know why I get spurred on to do certain things at odd times. I’ve always been like this. I’ll let things go for a long time, then suddenly go into cleaning mode. Sometimes I’ll clean everything. Sometimes, I just tackle certain annoying projects. The toilet has had lime scale on it for a long time, but I saw a picture of it when we first moved in. It was brand new, and obviously recently installed. There was no lime build up to speak of. And that just made me feel like going into cleaning mode. Monday is a good day of the week for that, since I don’t usually plan specific chores for Mondays.

I do have a topic in mind that is a bit more substantial than this toilet cleaning saga is… but I’m not quite ready to put it down yet. Maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow… after I clean the bathrooms.

For those of you in the United States with a rust problem. Whink Rust Stain Remover is truly amazing stuff. I am an Amazon Associate, so I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

complaints, disasters, dogs

See you next fall…

Many years ago, when I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, I had a friend who worked on the Rhine River cruise ride. He was a big, strapping guy who sweated profusely and carried his lunches in Igloo coolers. I knew this guy, not just because we worked in the “German” part of Busch Gardens, but also because we were both from Gloucester, Virginia. He was the eldest of a large Irish Catholic family. I think he had eleven brothers and sisters, but I can’t say for sure. ETA: A mutual friend says that Shawn is the eldest of fourteen.

Anyway, this guy, name of Shawn, used to get a huge kick out of me. One time I asked him why he was so amused by my comings and goings. He said it was because I was always hurting myself somehow. And because I could swear a blue streak that would make a sailor blush.

This morning, I’m not so proud to admit that I did both of those things. The sad thing is, this morning’s injuries come almost exactly a week after my last significant injury… significance being a relative thing. I’m not talking about broken bones or even sprains. I’m talking about scraped knees and sore muscles from breaking sudden falls.

Last week’s accident happened when I was about to walk the dogs. It was cloudy and a little rainy. I was preparing to walk the dogs when I decided to check the mailbox. Noyzi has been getting a lot braver lately, so he followed me outside. Suddenly, I had a flashback to about a year ago, when the beagle we tried to adopt escaped the pet taxi driver who had brought him to us. He panicked and took off, as we watched helplessly. Hours later, he ended up getting killed on the Autobahn, which is very close to our house. Watching our would-be family member run to his death was devastating. We had been so looking forward to having him, only to see him take off running before we even got to pet him.

Noyzi runs like a locomotive. I don’t think he wants to run away. He seems to enjoy being a pet. He has his own big bed, doesn’t have to fight over food, and loves to take walks. He also seems to like me a lot, although he’s still afraid of Bill. Still, I knew that if he got spooked, as he occasionally does sometimes, I might be shit out of luck in getting him back. He is really fast! I panicked a bit when he came outside. I made a grab for his collar, but missed. I fell down, having lost my balance, and made another grab for him, which I missed. He quickly hit the deck, peeing submissively in the process. I tore off part of a thumbnail and badly scraped my right knee. I also got a big bruise.

It hurt. Falling down is not as painless when you’re middle aged. I literally saw stars and felt nauseous after I fell. Like, I might have been in danger of fainting from the sharp pain. I yelled a bit, because I was pissed off, humiliated, and hurt.

Healing takes longer, too. That knee is already pretty badly scarred from other spills, including one that happened during the summer of 1991, when I was working at Busch Gardens. That was by far the worst knee scrape I’ve ever had. I had just finished work and was taking my till to the cash control office when I slipped on the pebbly walkway. Because it was dark outside and had just rained, I didn’t realize how badly I was hurt until I went into cash control and handed over the till. I looked down and saw blood streaming from my knee. I asked the teller if she had any paper towels. She got a load of my knee and called the first aid office, who carted me off to the first aid station and patched me up. It took weeks for the wound to heal and I still have a deep scar.

So all last week, my knee has itched, bled, stung, and throbbed. My right thumbnail hurt like a motherfucker, since I broke the nail at the quick. As of today, it doesn’t hurt anymore, since the nail has grown. I’d say that injury, at least, is about recovered. But then I renewed my clutzy woes this morning.

Arran woke up at about 4:30am. He wanted his breakfast, since I didn’t have much of a dinner last night and he got few scraps. I got up, let him and Noyzi out, and fed them. Then I went back upstairs, but noticed that Arran hadn’t followed me. I know this trick. Arran will often stay behind and stealth pee if I don’t watch him. Not wanting to clean up an unnecessary mess, I went back downstairs to get Arran. Somehow, I tripped on a shoe. I remember feeling horrified as my ankle wobbled and I went down on my nice rug.

Mrs. Fletcher and I have something in common.

“FUCK!” I screamed. For the second time in a week, Arran was looking at me with a mixture of concern and fear. The expression on his face was like, “oh dear… she’s fallen and can’t get up!”

Yes, I literally screamed and wailed, in part because I was hurting, but also because I’m angry and frustrated. Because now, not only did I reopen the wound on my right knee and undo a week’s healing, but I also now have a scraped left knee and my left big toe is fucked up. This time the scrape is on the top part of the knee. It’s more of a rug burn, so I don’t think the flesh wound will take as long to recover. However, I also have a big bruise on top of the knee, and walking hurts. Add in the normal pain and stiffness I experience just for being old and fat, and you have someone whose Monday has gotten off completely wrong!

The kicker is, I’m supposed to drive somewhere today. It’s literally been months since I last drove anywhere. Like, it’s been so long, I don’t remember when I was last behind the wheel. It might have been in 2019, it was so long ago. And I have to drive the Volvo, because my car’s tires are low on air and even if I wanted to drive on low tires, I’d need to move Bill’s car anyway. Bill has been trying to find a working air pump at a gas station, but for some reason, the Wiesbaden area is low on functioning air pumps. We’ll probably end up ordering one.

Fortunately, the Volvo practically drives itself, and I only need to go about two or three kilometers. But the reason I have to drive is because I need to drop off a sample of Arran’s shit at the vet’s office. That just seems like a perfect Monday morning chore, doesn’t it? I still need to collect one sample before I go, too… and I’m not sure I can manage our usual walk today. My left knee really hurts. But the sun is out, and the dogs need the exercise. I need it too, but maybe only after I put on knee pads and elbow guards. Shawn would be so proud to see that nothing has changed since the 1990s, except now I’m older, heavier, and even more profane.

I haven’t even had an alcoholic drink since Saturday afternoon, so I can’t even blame this on being drunk. At least I finally finished binge watching Growing Pains.

You’d think I played rugby.

Poor writing abounds. Wherever we are.

Yesterday morning, Bill got an email letting him know that he had been purged from “the system” at work. Someone down in Stuttgart thought we moved back to the States instead of Wiesbaden, so they wiped out his information and sent him an email demanding that he turn in his official credentials. Obviously, we haven’t left Germany, so this meant Bill had to take me to get a new ID card, as well as a new SOFA card. SOFA stands for Status of Forces Agreement. It’s what allows us to live in Germany and not be “ordinary residents” or pay German taxes.

This was a pain in the ass for Bill, since he had stuff to do today. Things are getting busy for him at work, so this chore meant he’d had to sacrifice a couple of hours taking care of this paperwork. We showed up at the ID office at about 7:50am, ten minutes before they opened. I was looking at my phone and immediately got annoyed by someone’s meme.

Do elementary schools not teach kids about apostrophe use anymore? How about punctuation, spelling, and sentence composition?

Yeah, I know. I sound really petty. I was a tad irritable, though. Thursday is vacuum day, a chore I really hate doing. Despite my former landlady’s erroneous assumptions to the contrary, I do regularly clean my house. Thursday is when I vacuum each week. And if I need to do it on another day because of an unusual mess, I will. The sooner I get my vacuuming done, the happier I am. Having to be at the ID office simply delayed my post vacuum joy.

We sat in the waiting room, where someone had tuned the television set to AFN Sports. AFN stands for Armed Forces Network. It’s basically a U.S. government run television channel for Americans overseas. When my dad was stationed in England, we did not get AFN. We got the usual British stations. I’m sure AFN was available, but I guess we didn’t use it because in England, most people speak English. My first introduction to AFN was in 1995, when I first visited the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia. They had a bar and a restaurant there, where there was a TV showing AFN. I used to watch the really horrible PSAs of the 1990s. I had no idea that just a few years after coming home, I’d be re-entering the wonderful world of government service/military.

Anyway, on the TV set, there was a sign. I noted in a recent travel post that the U.S. military is very fond of posting signs. Sure enough, the waiting room was littered with signs of varying quality. On the television, someone had posted “Please, do not touch.” I was slightly amused by the use of the comma, which I guess was technically correct. But then I got slightly grumpy at the sight of an official poster advertising the American right to vote worldwide.

Why, oh why, did they not simply make that one sentence? “Americans can vote wherever they are.” There, I fixed it for you.

We were soon called in to make a new ID card for me, since Bill had his done yesterday. The lady who took care of me was pleasant enough, although not particularly friendly. We went back into the waiting room to wait for phase two, having my new ID turned on so it would be in the system. I asked Bill who decided that the TV set should be tuned to AFN Sports. We were watching some show about the Oakland Raiders football team and I was getting really grossed out, since they kept showing pictures of the players’ torn up feet. Think huge blisters covering the whole sole of the foot, torn open with dead skin hanging. It was pretty nauseating, although in fairness, I guess I might be just as nauseated by being forced to watch “The View” or something like that.

Bill just kind of sighed and said, “This sucks.”

I said, “It could be worse. You could be at a proctologist’s office. Hanging out with me is only one form of ass pain.” Just after I said that, I noticed several children’s books on the shelf. There were maybe six of them. The most interesting title was “Once Upon a Potty”. I actually considered picking that one up and reading it, but then thought better of it, since there were others in the room and 47 is a bit old to be reading about the wonders of being potty trained.

The second lady called me in to be helped. Bill was already annoyed with her, since she and some Lieutenant Colonel were sitting there bullshitting about their travel plans when people were waiting. I was less annoyed by that and more annoyed by her choice of clothing. She wore a short dress, cardigan sweater, and pink leggings with polka dots. However, I have seen much less professional attire in government offices. I remember one lady wore grey spandex leggings with a beige, polyester blouse. It was kind of the clothing equivalent of a mullet– business on top, party on the bottom.

She was inputting my information in the system as I was admiring the funny poster showing how to properly take an ID photo. There were all of these examples of what not to do. Some were pretty funny. For instance, I learned today that you’re not supposed to open your mouth when you take an ID photo. The poster looked like it might have been fun to make, although it appeared that the person who made it could use some diversity training. Almost all of the people on the poster were white. Sorry… it’s not a huge deal, but something I did learn about when I used to have a job.

So anyway, the lady asked me if my recorded weight was correct. I, of course, hate it when people ask me about my weight. I have not been weighed since 2007. I do not get on scales and don’t even want to know what that number is. She said, “If your weight isn’t correct, you might not be able to get on the installation.”

I said, “Well, I don’t know my weight, and I almost never come on post.”

She said that was fine, took another photo, then took one of Bill. Then, she asked him his proper weight. He gave it, probably more accurately than I could even guess mine. Meanwhile, I was noticing the super old “boom box” that had an actual cassette player. Haven’t seen one of those in a long while.

We were soon finished with lady number two and back in the waiting room, where I noticed another sign. Someone had put it on a table that held a DVD player. The sign read, “Please do not sit or climb on railing.” I’m assuming the person meant the little table, which had a lower level that people must have sat on at some time. The table appeared to be AAFES quality and probably can’t bear much weight.

I didn’t have much time to think about that, though, because a very courteous and friendly young man called us in to update our SOFA cards. He left me with a very positive impression. I was feeling grumpy when we entered the office, but he was so nice and efficient that my mood improved as we were leaving. We were talking about how I don’t tell anyone my weight and Bill explained that there’s an automated side gate that removes the need for a live guard. The gate weighs you as you come through, and if you are not within fifteen pounds of your stated weight, it won’t let you in. Aha! Well then, that makes sense. Good thing I don’t live on post and never use the side gate.

Bill wanted to get me a donut because I was so crabby, but the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on post is being renovated. So we got in the car to come home. We continued talking about the gate and how I never go on post. I said, “I’ve only come because Bill made me. And he doesn’t make me come enough, which is probably why I’m so grouchy.”

Naturally, that bit of tasteless humor made Bill crack up. I think my penchant for crude jokes is why he keeps me around. I make him laugh by saying inappropriate things, particularly in front of unsuspecting strangers. Bill is, himself, one of those people who is very trusting and always sees the good in everyone. I am a bit more of a cranky pessimist. I expect people to try to fuck me over. When they don’t, I am pleasantly surprised. And when they do, I usually end up being better prepared than most.

Posted on a conservative friend’s Facebook page. I don’t usually agree with this friend, but in this case, I concur. However, once again, punctuation is essential!

Well, I’m glad to have that little bit of bureaucracy taken care of… at least until June, when we’ll have to update again if Bill’s job continues. Now, I think I’ll go back to reading my latest book, so I can write a new book review for y’all.

good news, nostalgia

Some good news…

My cousin writes that yesterday, my Uncle Brownlee got another try at the swallow test and did well enough that the staff brought him dinner. He was able to swallow some pureed food and drink tea from a straw.

Hopefully, he will be taken to his home tomorrow, which I know will make him feel a lot better. He’ll still be on hospice, but he no longer appears to be knocking at the pearly gates. Looks like he’s going to make it to his next birthday after all. He will be turning 78 next Friday, the day after I turn 47. Like me, Brownlee is a musical person. I have many memories of being accompanied by him playing his organ and listening to him play with his band, The Flames. He really is talented… plays entirely by ear. Passed on his musical genes to his son, Justin, who is a professional musician in Nashville.

I got bored yesterday at about 4:30pm, so I asked my friends to give me a song to sing. One person asked me to do “Walking on Sunshine” or “My Favorite Things”. To be honest, I never really liked the infectious pop ditty “Walking on Sunshine”. Even when it was a hit in the 1980s, it got on my nerves, probably because it was always on the radio. Then years later, it became a staple of commercials. I miss the days when jingle writers would come up with original song hooks rather than recycling pop songs like “Walking on Sunshine”. Much to my surprise, SingSnap only had one version of that song anyway, and it wasn’t a particularly good one.

I decided to try “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, instead. It turned out pretty decently, although I shared the first version. I probably could practice it and make it better, but time was getting short. I like to do my recording before Bill comes home. I was further inspired by Julie Andrews, so I gave a stab at the duet, “Something Good”, and even scored a couple of good male partners.

Speaking of jingles and pop ditties… yesterday, while I was watching old episodes of The Price is Right, I took notice of the jingles. There was one for Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (blecch) that had a very distinctive male voice. I was suddenly jolted back to the 80s for a moment as I remembered that voice was on so many commercials back in the day.

Jake Holmes… sang this and wrote the lyrics to this jingle, as well as so many others back in the 80s!

In the course of finding out who was singing the jingles, I learned that Jake Holmes is also the real composer of the song “Dazed and Confused”, made famous by Led Zeppelin. For many years, they never gave him any credit; Jimmy Page was listed as the composer. Holmes finally sued years later, and now gets a nominal credit… “inspired by Jake Holmes”. Shitty! I lost a little respect for Led Zeppelin after reading that, especially when Holmes contacted the band and they rebuffed him.

No… this was NOT written by Jimmy Page!
Looks like he made a nice living singing jingles, though…

He also did that infamous Army “Be all you can be” jingle I referenced the other day. His voice reminds me a little bit of the late Glenn Frey’s. Just a little bit, mind you.

A classic!

I could probably sit here all day and listen to Jake Holmes’ jingles from the 80s. It seems like they don’t make ’em like this anymore, although I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I was last subjected to American television. In a different world, maybe I would have followed a similar path, like the late Ukrainian American singer, Kasey Cisyk. She was famous for this jingle.

What a voice! Hard to believe she made her career in jingles! And she was also the original singer of “You Light Up My Life”, which was made famous by Debby Boone. Kasey’s version was in the movie by the same name.
Lovely… and Didi Conn did a great job lip syncing it to make it look like she was singing it.

Well… it’s Thursday, which means it’s time to vacuum. I hate vacuuming more than any of the other chores I do, but at least when it’s over, that means the weekend is coming. Hopefully, my uncle will continue to improve and we can have him around for a bit longer. He truly is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve been thinking about him all week. When he does depart this life, it’ll probably hit me a lot harder than when I lost my own father.


Persistent spammers…

Boy, are they barking up the wrong tree…

This morning, I found two pages of lesbian porn spam in my Google mail account. I’m kind of amused by this, because I’m definitely not into women. I kind of wonder what causes this phenomenon. Does this spammer have a glitch that causes him or her to send out dozens of lesbian porn spam emails? Or are they just really enthusiastic about getting people to sign up?

Something tells me that this method must be, to some extent, relatively effective. Why else would they do it? There must be lesbians out there in Internet land who want to view this shit. Or maybe there are horny and curious males who want to see it. I don’t want to see it because lesbians aren’t my thing. I mean, I have lesbian friends, but I am myself straight.

Ah well… this is a problem easily dealt with with a push of a button. I won’t be viewing any lesbian porn today.

What I do hope to do is cut the grass. We have nice sunny weather this morning and my new lawnmower and weedwhacker are here. The only issue is, it’s a robotic mower, and although it will save me a lot of tedious time cutting the grass, the set up is going to require some work. We have to lay down wires around the yard that will tell the mower where to go. We have to fill in potholes and remove obstacles. We have to wait for the grass to dry. What’s really funny is that my new mower is made by a British company, but they didn’t send us any manuals in English. We have them in Spanish, French, Dutch, and German. Fortunately, I found a very helpful video made by McCulloch, the manufacturer of our mower. We watched it last night and it gave us more of an idea of what needs to be done.

Bill is working this morning. Hopefully, he’ll be finished by noon so we can get this project going. Despite my hatred of housework and substandard skills, I do like a neat yard. I probably should have just bought a plain old lawnmower, since our yard is so small. At our first German house, we had a non-motorized push mower. It did the job. We could have opted for another one at this house, but I don’t really want to hassle with it. It wasn’t very easy to use, although it was quiet, clean, and needed no fuel other than my muscles.

At our last house, our landlady insisted on doing the yard work. She did a good job, but frequently let the grass grow too high for my liking– especially during our last year in her house. More than once, I wanted to cut the grass myself, but knew it would cause her to freak. We never did complain about it, but I have a sense that she knew she was shirking her duties, since she showed up to mow the day Bill asked to stop by to speak with her. I think she assumed we were going to complain about the lawn, but actually, Bill served her notice that we were leaving. I was oddly happy to hear that we’d be doing our own lawn work at this house. It means more privacy and less bad juju coming from a resentful person.

So far, I’ve spent the morning mopping the kitchen floor, doing laundry, and cleaning one of the bathrooms. For such a filthy person, I sure do a lot of chores. I probably should do more of them, so my house will be sparkling clean… only to get dirty again.

March has been a pretty crappy month. I spent most of it by myself, watching too much TV and not reading enough. I also got hooked on Sims 4 again. It’s kind of fun, although my favorite of the Sims franchise was Sims 2. It had more quirky humor and more interesting gameplay. The original Sims was fun, too. I didn’t like Sims 3 and never even bought any of the expansions.

Hopefully, April will be more fun. I’m ready to go see some more stuff and remember why we left Texas.