Saturday, June 8, 2019

Goodbye, Junk. Hello, Joy!

Yesterday, June 7, my husband and I had two people, a man and a woman, do several hours of garden clean-up for us, mainly dealing with the big, longstanding mess behind the two giant evergreens that are at the far end of our back yard. They raked up two truckloads of pine needles and pine cones and carried away lots of junk: old boards, an old hose, some broken concrete, scrap metal, and more. The man got only $9 for the scrap metal, but at least it will be recycled, not junked.

This is a mess that has plagued us for years, and it's stuff that we really can't deal with, meaning that the work would be too much for us physically. So we are thrilled to have the help. They each charge $25 per hour -- not bad at all for such hard work. And we would have had no idea how to get rid of the pine needles. I don’t know what the man did with them, but they are gone, as is the other stuff. 

There are still three piles of pine needles and branches to be carted off, as well as the broken-up concrete. Once that job is totally done, plus some major bush-trimming elsewhere in the yard, the woman of the pair will also do some weeding and flower-planting for us. So we expect our whole yard to look way, way better in another week or two. Looking at the impressive results so far and pondering what is to come, I feel a wonderful combination of relief and joy.

Last night, I wrote notes about all this to various family members and friends. One person commented, “Decluttering has such lovely mental benefits.” Indeed it does. Whenever I manage to collect even a single paper bag of things to give away to a nearby thrift shop, I feel relief and satisfaction when the truck driver comes and picks up the stuff. Thereafter, both the house and I feel lighter, happier.

I hope that our lovely big trees feel lighter and happier, too. I hope that having all that junk and all those pine needles gone will let them breathe more easily and let more of our too-scarce rain get to their roots. I imagine that if they could say “Thank you,” they would. I can hardly say it enough to these two energetic helpers.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

“David Liberation Day” #10–May 19, 2019

It's hard to believe that 10 whole years have passed since the fateful morning of May 19, 2009. I was in the college library where I tutored languages when my husband called to say that he and almost all the others in his largish group of tech writers had been laid off with no warning. What a shock!

It was not the first time David had been laid off, but he was 65 years old at the time, and it was the height of the Great Recession, so he had little hope of finding another full-time job. Nor was he able to do so. Thus, before too long, he gave up looking for another job and simply started taking Social Security. He had hoped to work until age 70, but the economy had other ideas.

At the time, we had no idea that 10 years later, we would have such a thriving business: DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, with over 70 books by other authors put out so far, and with half a dozen or so new ones in the pipeline right now. Our website is here: 

Just to clarify for everyone: While our total present income does not equal what David earned by himself back then as a Senior Tech Writer for a large company, we are doing pretty well here in our mid-70s. We have the editing business, Social Security for both of us, and my modest but steady income from teaching weight training classes (which I’ve done since 1976) and from teaching several languages (which I’ve done since 1988). Every bit of all that work is done here at home.

We have two paid-off cars and a paid-off house, which we bought in 1971. We have no debts and no dependents. We both enjoy pretty good health. So we are much better off than many in our age group, and we're very happy with our present lifestyle.

We've been married for 51 years, since April 9, 1968. We LOVE being together almost all the time and working here at home. I especially like sharing the editing business with David, given that our working lives were so entirely separate before 2009. Yes, as David noted in his humorous Facebook post today, various joints hurt, and we do have a few other health problems, but overall, we are way better off than many others in their 70s.

The bottom line is: Never assume that your working life is over or that you will remain mired in  misery and worry because you got laid off.  You can never know just what the future will hold. And hurray for self-employment. No one can lay you off from that!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

In Praise of Good Men

On 3/8/19 at Costco, the nice 40-ish man at the door when we were exiting wished me Happy International Women's Day. I smiled, pointed to David, and said that every day is a good day married to him, and that we have been married for almost 51 years (as of April 9). He said, "Wow, that's longer than I've been alive!" He and another, somewhat older man who overheard me seemed delighted with what I’d said.

But I take every chance I can to boost good men. Men get put down by women way too much and way too often these days, and so I wish to defend them as much as I can. The vast majority of men I have known have been good, kind, responsible, hardworking people, and all my current female students have been married for decades to good, loving men as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Three-fold Progress in the House

(This is from a letter I sent to friends on January 8, 2019.)

Clutter-clearing progress:  Today we gave away three more boxes of old VCR tapes, a bag of clothes plus a couple of books, and an old bathroom scale that we no longer use. I hope they’ll find good new homes. Two of the items of clothing are very pretty, velour, long-sleeved tops, barely worn. One is bright red and one is black. They simply didn’t fit me quite right. Some lucky woman should be delighted with them if they fit her better. 

For the extra bedroom, we recently purchased two white bedside tables, the kind with a drawer and a lower shelf. David got them set up the other day. They look great, and were a real bargain for about $35 each. It’s nice to have a matched set, and they harmonize well with the chest of drawers, the two bookcases, the blinds, and the two lampshades, which are all white. Now to attack the mess in the closet! Step by step…

I read an interesting tip. It said to use the last 15 minutes of every working day – which would be from 9:45 to 10:00 p.m. in my case – for tidying up. I’ve been trying to do that, and am currently using the time to deal with the paper chaos on my large, office-style desk. At this point, still, only a few square inches of the surface are visible, but it’s improving. The stacks of paper are losing height. I anticipate at least another two hours of work on just this task. Wish me luck!    

Thursday, November 22, 2018

My Thanksgiving Day Teacup Disaster

Darn. After a pretty good day, albeit one with too much food, I just had a stupid accident. David was collecting the trash for pickup tomorrow, and when I was handing him my desk wastebasket, I knocked a large cup of tea off the side of my desk. The tile floor here in my study is the hardest in the house, so it shattered all over, plus spilled tea over a wide area. What a mess! I'm not sure I got it all with paper towels and the broom, but I sure hope I got most of it. I don't ever walk around with bare feet, so that's something, at least.

Well, some good may come of it. It has been quite a while since I've really cleaned this floor, other than sweeping or vacuuming it. That's partly because the room, while large, is so crowded. Besides my office-size desk, a file cabinet, seven large bookcases, and a folding table, there are several big cardboard boxes on the floor. Those are filled with books and papers that need sorting. All those boxes, over a dozen in all and most of them heavy, will have to be moved out for a while if I am to do a good cleaning with a mop. But it needs to be done, and this is motivation. The floor tiles have a recessed pattern in them, and I'm sure that some of the tea is in there, so even using a scrub brush on my hands and knees may be required.

This is clearly a case that calls for an attitude adjustment. I need to look at this coming task not as something to dread, but as something necessary and ultimately beneficial. My back and knees will no doubt take a while to recover after I'm done, but I'm sure I'll be pleased with my much cleaner floor. And from now on, no more putting my teacup in that vulnerable spot. There are much safer places for it here on my desk. So there's a good lesson learned.

Wish me luck, and good housekeeping to you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Care is the Opposite of Selfish

I am writing this post one day after my husband’s 75th birthday. As I’ve said to many people, it’s a little hard for us to fathom that David has reached this landmark birthday, given that he was only 21 when we met and 24 when we married on April 9, 1968. How time flies!

Yesterday, I reported on Facebook that David does not eat or want sweets, so there was no birthday cake or any other kind of pastry for him on his big day. Every morning, he prepares a very healthy breakfast for the two of us; it includes a variety of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. So yesterday, I stuck a single little birthday candle in one-half of a strawberry, lit it, and sang “Happy Birthday” to him. He thought that was fun and funny.

A few hours after that, we went to a good, local café that offers senior discounts. The waitress told David that he could have a free birthday sundae after his meal, but he refused it. She laughingly offered it to me instead, but I refused it, too. She seemed more than a bit surprised by that.

After  lunch, as a present to himself, David took the day off from working on jobs for editing clients of ours and worked on his own writing; that’s his 29th book. He also worked out in the basement for a couple of hours, as he does at least nine or ten hours a week. He mainly lifts weights, but he also stretches and uses our Schwinn exercise bike. I am filled with admiration for him and his amazing self-discipline.

It occurred to me yesterday, more strongly than ever before, that taking care of one's own health, as David does so well and consistently, is also the best gift that one can give one's spouse and other loved ones.

Here is my reasoning behind that statement.

Self-indulgence in things that are bad for us, like sweets, alcohol, and smoking, while pleasurable for a few minutes at a time, can actually be very selfish.  That is, those things are harmful not just to us and our own bodies, but also to the health of our closest social units, given that they contribute to long-term illness (such as diabetes or liver disease or lung cancer), often saddling us and others with long-term financial burdens and shortening our lives.

David has remarked more than once that he cares for his body not just for himself, but also for me. Perhaps if more people started thinking the way he does, pondering the fact that self-care is also care of one's loved ones, we would have much better health in our society as a whole.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Clutter-Clearing Equals Satisfaction

(This post was originally composed as a letter to a friend, Patty Fletcher. She liked it so much that she suggested I  re-work it as a blog post, then send it back to her so she could re-blog it. Thanks again for your interest, Patty.)

Yesterday, October 6, I took the day off from editing and taught Spanish, did the dishes, did some laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, and then packed up a sizable box of old VCR tapes for a second-hand store. I also cleaned off all the shelves of the bookcase they were on and organized the VCR tapes we are keeping (for now) and many DVDs of movies.

That last task alone, all the work with the VCR tapes and DVDs, took me at least two hours and was very tiring, as I have a VERY hard time getting down on the floor and then back up. It is quite literally painful for me. But I figure that I need to practice. We do get down on the floor and then up again in the exercise classes that I teach, a few times per class, but there, I have a nice foam exercise mat and a weight lifting bench to push myself up on, using my arms. I'm sure it would be easier if I could lose the 20 or so pounds that I need to.

Anyway, David (my husband) praised me for what I accomplished yesterday, and that made me feel good. Sure, it's fine when you can figuratively pat yourself on the back for a hard job well done, but it's even better when you can get praise from another person.

This was just one small step toward my gigantic total job of clutter-clearing, but it was a significant one, and getting it done made me feel good. Also, it's a bookcase right next to the front door, thus highly visible, so it's good to have it a lot neater.

Tonight we go out for a nice dinner with our son and his girlfriend. David's 75th birthday is tomorrow, the 8th. We will go out again next Sunday with two friends. They are old friends with whom we almost always celebrate our various birthdays: in January, May (two of us have May birthdays), and October.

It’s hard for us to believe that David is about to turn 75. That’s because we met when he was just 21 and I was 19, and we married when he was 24 and I was 21, close to 22. We were married on April 9, 1968, 50 years ago this April. How time flies!

My two-part birthday gift to David is a vow to take better care of my own health (with him as my inspiration) and to keep working steadily on clutter-clearing. Here’s to many more years of good health and happiness, plus a cleaner, neater house for the two of us!