Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Airing The Linens (CIRS)

I spent most of yesterday doing a task that is not so much in vogue anymore: airing the linens.  I like the idea of line-dried linens, but never did more than hanging sheets to dry. Yesterday included not only the sheets, but the blanket, mattress pad, mattress base cover, and the mattress itself to be aired.

Organ Recital (feel free to skip this part): But I finally received a diagnosis from my doctor on what has likely been causing all of my vague, and not so vague symptoms these past years (asthma, migraines, fatigue, depression).  In a nutshell, I have a problem with mold.  Leaf mold had shown up as something I was allergic to long ago, but I didn't think much more about it, since mold is everywhere, and seemed to only bother me in the fall.  However, one of my symptoms, the asthma, first showed up when we were remodeling our bathroom and showering in the basement in a deck shower.  The doctor found lab markers on me that indicated chronic inflammation in my body.  After running more tests, he determined that my body cannot clear mold the way the majority of people can.  Here is an analogy: when a biotoxin (bacteria, mold, etc.) enters the body, the immune system realizes something is wrong, identifies the invader, and sends in the troops to obliterate it.  In my case, the body recognizes that there is an invader, but can't identify it.  An analogy I read was that it is like a policeman witnessing a crime, taking a photo of the perpetrator, running back to the police station to inform the rest, but the picture is blurry and the culprit unidentifiable.  So, they are all running around looking for this guy, but can't recognize him, so they run around, sort of like the Keystone Cops.  So the immune system is roaming around trying to find it, but can't, and so remains inflamed.  Hence the Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, or CIRS (pronounce "Sirs" as in "Dear Sirs").  I am now on a medication that will help chelate the mold accumulated in my body.  

We are now looking at reducing the amount of mold I come in contact with.  This is very difficult, because mold is virtually everywhere.  What we have done so far is to invest in an excellent air purifier, be more cognizant of keeping the bathroom ventilated and the towels and shower curtains frequently laundered, and started opening windows more, now that the days are warmer.  Future remedies will be fixing the portion of the basement where there is some water seepage ($$).  That's a big job, and fortunately our basement tested out "borderline" meaning I can live with it until such time as we can afford to fix the basement.  I also found a cute craft online for keeping shower curtains mold free (more on that when I get around to making it).  

Because I have read that bedding can sometimes harbor mold, yesterday's work included undressing our mattress from all of its coverings, and having it sit outside in the sunshine for several hours.  We also placed the base cover on the wash line for airing (we are not to wash that, according to the tag).  Then I washed our brand new "jelly head" as Kristin calls the puffy mattress covers, our blanket, and one set of sheets (will do the same process on the other sheets soon).  Thankfully, Robert and Paul were available to wrestle the mattress in and out of the house.  We placed an airtight, allergy-type zippered cover over it.  We also rotated the mattress when we placed it back in the room (can't flip these newer mattresses, because there is a definite top and bottom).  But the rotating was so nice!  Paul and I slept a lot better last night in our fresh, clean bed.  

The first batch: mattress base covers and the new "jelly head".

Second batch: blanket and sheets.
(P. S. Don't mind the little wood pile in the forefront!)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vegan Muffies

So, this Easter I wanted to make a lamb cake again.  But Robert is vegan, so I thought I'd try a vegan lamb cake.  Long story short: the lamb cake didn't work out so well, but the muffies I made with the extra batter were pretty good.  I found the batter recipe here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Organizing The Music - After

My music is now nicely organized, but I would not want to have to do that sort of project again.  I purged quite a bit.  I got somewhat stuck on the arrangement of the files. Alphabetical by composer or title?  A little of both?  What categories go in which file box?  I spent more time than I care to admit figuring this out.  I finally came up with the following categories:

  • Alphabetical Harp Solos - (loose copier copies from friends' books, etc. collected over the years)
  • Harp Collections and Methods - (for example, Daniel Burton's collection of Mozart Arias, and all technique books)
  • Piano, Voice, Flute, and Band Music
  • Harp Solos, Christmas/Church, Ensemble, and Miscellaneous - (the solos are ones purchased from publisher, alphabetical by composer, Miscellaneous are things such as harp repair, tuning, etc. books, programs from concerts I want to remember, and so forth)
I found that I had multiple copies of loose music, so I purged the extras.  I collected a pile to give to my teacher, and if she doesn't want it, it can also be recycled.  Then the "fun" began. Sorting and sorting.  Being that I have selective OCD tendencies, it was important to me that the files be arranged symmetrically.  I had five major colors of file folders.  Each color needed to be used in the same order, with the tabs fanning out uniformly across the width of the file box.  This took a lot of time, but the result was pleasing:

Everything managed to fit into the four file boxes I had designated for music.  I also condensed two broken down binders into one, containing only music that I would regularly play at church or at a cocktail hour.  The Christmas and Church music will at some point need to be subdivided somehow, but my brain was fried after this. The file boxes were then labeled, and placed on the shelves in the basement:

Paul and I moved the love seat and book shelf to the west wall, and the harp and my harp shelf to the east.  There is one pile containing music I am currently working on, the single white binder containing my "standards", and music that I am interested in working on once Easter is done.  It is so nice to be organized in this way:

Here is the new furniture arrangement, which looks so much better.  To the left of the harp, by the east window, will go my Little Oratory:

I'm so glad to have this done.  I now know where to find almost any piece of music, my harp area and sacred space are clean and organized.  The next step is the creation of the prayer table (to be constructed using vintage pew ends that someone gave Paul years ago, and he never knew quite what to do with).  My hope is to have the oratory by Easter.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Organizing The Music - Before

Back in the year 2011, five years ago, I had posted about three areas I wanted to organize: sewing stuff, long hair stuff, and music.  I completed the first two that year.  It has taken me five years to get around to organizing the music.  There was a reason for that; the music was all over the place, in large unorganized piles, and the thought of going there was completely overwhelming.  I had four file boxes that I had started organizing previously, but as I said - it was overwhelming, and so nothing was really done.

But in preparation for and during this Lenten season, I have been reading a book called The Little Oratory.  The book is about creating sacred spaces in the home, in particular a prayer table, or oratory, to be a bridge between church and home.  I loved this idea, and wanted it for my home.  But where to put it?  I considered each room of the house.  The dining room is too crowded, as is the sitting room.  The foyer is too busy of a space.  But the parlor, which is also our music room, seemed perfect: quiet, peaceful, and we even have two small stained glass windows there!  The recommendation is that, if possible, if one could be facing east when at the oratory that would be ideal.  But we had our love seat in that space:

However, I thought that if I reversed the placement of everything in the room from east to west, I could have the harp by the window on the right, and the oratory on the left.  This seemed ideal.  But then there was that pesky little problem of disorganization of the music.  I wanted the room to be worthy of a sacred space.  But this is what I saw:

And this was just the tip of the iceberg.  Besides this and the files already in boxes, I had another stack near the files in the basement, and another huge stack in a small cabinet in the dining room.  The writing was on the wall - I had a big job to do, and do it I must.  

It "helped" that right around the time I decided to do this, I had a small cut on my index finger: one of those tiny, but horridly painful cracked skin cuts from winter weather and handwashing as a nurse.  Small as a paper cut, but infinitely more deadly in pain, rendering me unable to practice harp.  So I gathered everything together: all of the music, the four file boxes, file folders, label maker (for the outside file box labels; the label tabs were done by hand or I would be working forever on this), a Sharpie marker, and a good movie to watch:

It is important to note that I did this gradually, over at least a week, because it is boring tedious work.  Plus the fact that I tried to move everything out of the way once done for the day, do we could still live in the space.  It was important to be by a TV while doing this to stave off boredom, but it was right plunk in our living space.  During, before moving out of the way (I Spy - three cats!):

Stayed tuned for the next post: After!