Tuesday, March 5, 2019

5 tips for cleaning out someone’s apartment (not necessarily your own!)


I’ve sought the good amidst the hard work of clearing out thousands of pounds of belongings from someone who was unable and unwilling to do so. Some smiles of sentimentality for the beautiful Christmas ornaments, some groans when discovering 10 years worth of substantial booklets from cruise companies selling upcoming sailings and opera/ballet books offering season tickets to subscribers.
In anticipation of a long and emotionally-laden trip, I planned some strategies to help me get through the days. Ultimately, a loved one living in safety in a nursing home is an answer to prayers.

1.     Are my thoughts true? The full work of Byron Katie is phenomenal- check out her website for worksheets and instructions. Here’s my shortcut: Cleaning out this apartment is going to be awful. Is it true? Well, yes (this is my fear and bad attitude talking). Under what circumstances might is be less awful? Here are my ideas:
2.     I will set a timer so I don’t get burned out - see flylady.net for tips about using a timer. [This is not an endorsed post- I just find these two mentors to be tremendously helpful.] I will immediately place as many things as possible into a trash bag or recycling bag and take those bags out of the house multiple times per day. So far I have not followed the recent trend of thanking items for their service, but you can do that if it helps!
3.     I will bring my own cut up lime and orange to add to the water I’m bringing with me so I don’t get dehydrated. I will bring healthy snacks with me so that I don’t get hangry.  In addition to taking breaks inside the apartment, I will leave for lunch, to take a walk, and for dinner. I will listen to GREAT music while I am sorting through everything- for me, this includes Christian praise music. I will allow myself to decompress in the evening and to get enough sleep so I can do more tomorrow.
4.     Next thought: Is it true that a “nice person” would take into their own home all of the possessions of their loved one? NO! Whew, finally an easier one (for me). Now, on to finding a charitable organization that can help other people who need kitchen items, a sewing machine, etc.

5.     Next thought: visiting someone with dementia in a nursing home will be devastating. Is this true? Well, yeah. Under what circumstances might the visits not be terribly sad? Here are my ideas:
6.     Bring photos of happy times to share with the person who has dementia. I did not have time to make an album. Just 10 photos are enough. Not today's blog post photos!
7.     Set a time limit on the visit. Is it true that “good people” spend hours and hours sitting with their loved one who has dementia? Maybe. Is it true that I am a “bad person” for spending one hour per day with my loved one who has dementia? No. Even though the person with dementia will be sad when you leave, chances are high that they will not remember the visit.
8.     Be grateful for the life of the person with dementia, and their fighting spirit. Sing. In this case, "Dona Nobis Pacem" resulted in a sing-along canon (Latin for Give Us Peace)

9.     First/last thought: is it true that a long drive/flight for this purpose will be hard? Yup. Now that is what I call a first world problem! OK, how can this long journey be slightly better? Buy/borrow magazines, books, bring snacks (I’m sensing a theme here!), bring music and headphones, a pillow, needlepoint or your hobby of choice. Pray, sing, and trust God for all of these situations.

What are your tips for a better experience with cleaning out someone’s apartment or visiting a loved one with dementia?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Making stained glass is hard work and fun

If you can find a stained glass workshop or course nearby, it might go something like this:
Your nice teacher is supposed to offer you a choice of two VERY SIMPLE designs but allows the students to select more advanced designs. We are all thrilled. Each student received a mixed package of glass, and we traded among each other if certain colors were sought.
You are instructed to decide about colors for each part of your design and learn several techniques for cutting glass to approximate the shape you want. You make lots of novice errors, but your nice teacher encourages you. Then you learn how to grind the edges of the glass pieces so they fit well together. If you are not a perfectionist, you piece may be slightly lumpy.
Once all the pieces are cut, ground, and assembled, you learn how to wrap each piece with copper tape. There are more technical terms for all of this, but I didn’t take notes. I was busy wearing safety glasses over my regular glasses and wearing gloves!
At this point, the class time is done and you have to return another day to finish. The teacher’s boss says, “this is why newbies are supposed to do a simple project first!” Our incomplete designs are safely stored and I finished mine two days later. 
Next, you apply a special liquid to the copper tape. Finally, you get to solder! I was pretty nervous at first, but it got to be fun. I mean, holding a thin tube of metal to the soldering iron and watching drops of molten metal fall is cool! Well, hot. You know.
First, drops of solder are placed at each corner to keep the pieces together. Then, strips of melted metal are created between each piece of glass, either in smooth lines or by combining a bunch of drops. I like how mistakes can simply be melted together and it looks ok! Now, I am not working for Tiffany or anything. My heart came out a bit wobbly, but isn’t that what life is all about? Finally, an optional liquid is applied to make the bright solder look antique. That was fun!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Adventures with cross stitch

Once upon a time (1987 or 1988), in a land far, far away (New Hampshire), a teenager imagined that making cross stitch greeting cards would be a good idea!
How did that work out, you ask? Well, many moves later (8 different basements: to MA, within MA, to Germany, within Germany), the cross stitch effort has been found! Less than half of one greeting card was completed before the endeavor went into extended hiatus. The photo above is a hand-stitched GIFT from a friend- wow!!!!!
Current inventory: colored floss- check; greeting cards and envelopes- check; cloth to be stitched upon- check; tutorial sheet on how to cross stitch- check; needle- missing, detailed directions on which colors go where- missing. Um.
So when you live overseas, you can’t always get to all US websites, and the sales website of the cross stitch company is BLOCKED. Unbelievable. However, on the second-hand sales website that starts with an “e”, this same kit is being sold for $19.99…. um, no?
Gift from Jeff's sister, made by hand!
Well, we know for sure that the directions are NOT in any of the Christmas bins, because those have been gone through carefully. That leaves a dozen bins where they might be, though not the box where the other stuff was. Argh! And I had such good intentions!

An initial search yielded a package of needles, two hotel sewing kits (also from the olden days), two large spools of white thread, and a large spool of black thread. Also assorted nails, screws, felt pads for underneath furniture, measuring tapes, etc. etc.

A visit to the US crafts shop on base yielded a package of dull-tipped cross-stitch needles (“no need to bleed all over it!”), and a mini cross stitch to test out if I want to spend another $20 on the same kit I already own, with directions! 
Here is a sneak peak at the new project…. However, I strongly recommend that you do not hold your breath for the finished product!!!! To be continued…

Monday, January 28, 2019

Raclette at home is fun!

We got a Raclette machine from someone who was moving from Germany back to the US, but didn’t take the time to research how it works. I’m going to have LOTS of Raclette this year, after enjoying a wonderful dinner with German friends at their home!
It was really fun- for those of you who are familiar with fondue, instead of a big pot of melted cheese, everyone gets their own mini frying pan, and you decide what you want to put in it.
My friend had about 10 bowls of stuff to choose from, plus 4 different kinds of cheese. You put your meats or veggies in the pan and then a slice of cheese- she had only European cheeses that were really good :).
Then your mini frying pan goes into the machine, which is basically a plugged in broiler, and the cheese melts onto the other stuff in your mini pan.
One German accompaniment is boiled potatoes. You cut up a potato on your plate and then you slide the cooked meat/ veggies/ melted cheese from your mini frying pan onto the cooked hot potato. They also had a nice salad to add a cool and healthy taste.
The top of the Raclette machine was a grill, so we grilled some onions and mushrooms, but the other veggies were raw. I would probably sautee some of my vegetables in advance, such as peppers, but the hot dog/cured sausage pieces and sliced ham were fine cold (to start). Everything was ooey-gooey-hot after coming out of the raclette!
Some people enjoy cheese and fruit, so you can also melt some over sliced pears, apples, etc. We didn’t melt any chocolate over the fruit slices, but that could be a yummy option as well!
When I get back to the US, I’m going to look for a Raclette machine. In addition to tasting delicious, the dinner table felt like even more of a community as we built our individual meals together. You are waiting a few minutes for your cheese to melt, so there is more built-in conversation time.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nuremberg Museum with Historic Musical Instruments


This post was going to be about the December markets in Nuremberg, but I much preferred roving the museum with row upon row of instruments! When we move away from Europe, I’ll list my favorite markets… as of this writing, Nuremberg is fine/nice, but I’m soooo glad to have found a fantastic museum there that day.
A return to Nuremberg is necessary for the somber museums. This day trip allowed me to zoom through the Germanisches Nationalsmuseum in 1.5 hours (after zooming through the markets), but you could easily spend 3 hours in the museum. It houses middle age history and architecture, conventional art, and a marvelous selection of painted items such as closets, household items (pottery, etc.), and a section of clothing through the centuries.
The entire museum is built around a Chapel (not the Cathedral pictured above!), complete with statues and a separate section of religious artwork. There was a small but amazing display of early scientific instruments such as sundials and portable navigation tools.
Check out this double piano (above)! How about a crystal flute (photo below)? Plenty of stringed and wind instruments, along with ancient and unusual ones: walking sticks with flutes and even strings! The cakes in the museum cafĂ© looked nice, but there wasn’t time!
Instead, I stopped in at the Kaufhof department store nearby after the museum closed and had a stupendous piece of apple cake full of fresh apples in the top floor cafeteria. The outdoor markets provide all the usual suspects of food plus some local specialties (sausages and gingerbread, neither of which I had), falafel vendors and crepe stands, both of which I sampled!
Although the weather wasn’t super cold, it was rainy, so I will seek to balance my outdoor time at markets in the future with an interesting museum. Most if not all museums in Europe have lockers where patrons are required to leave backpacks and coats, which is a relief after wandering around markets in the cold/rain.