Every so often people ask me what I do with my time. It's a valid question, and one which is quite difficult to answer since time seems to rush by these days. I wrote a post in March describing a typical day in long and very tedious detail, but of course no day is truly typical. In the Summer - July and August - I deliberately do very little. I know from experience that heatstroke or heat exhaustion are no fun, so I spend most of my time in the air conditioned room.
Besides, summer is when people here slow down even more than they do the rest of the year, so it seems good to follow suit. I do minimal cooking - we make a special summer menu of quick-and-easy evening meals, using ready-made food or cook-in sauces, and things which can be prepared in the minimum of time. Our kitchen gets very hot in the afternoons and I'm just not built to cope with it. If and when we move, a/c in the kitchen will be a priority!
But, as I keep saying, it's now September. So I've returned to our ordinary menu - a three-week plan we drew up in May, to replace the previous four-week menu that was getting a bit old. Even then I don't cook anything too elaborate or complicated, but I suppose on average I spend about an hour cooking each evening. Now Dan's home I make a veggie option as well as something with meat most days.
Still, an hour or so of cooking and an hour or so of washing-up (washing dishes) through the day doesn't constitute my entire life! Sometimes I make lists of things to be done and try to schedule my time, sometimes I just go with the flow. The latter usually works better, so long as I don't forget anything crucial!
So what happened this week?
On Monday, I knew we had to pay our electricity bill. One day we'll get around to setting up online banking, which is now a reality in Cyprus, but currently we have to pay bills at the relevant offices. Most are walkable, but the electricity authority moved from just down the street to about 4km away. It's still walkable in theory, of course, but not something I can manage when the temperatures are still in the thirties (which is nineties, to those who think in fahrenheit). So Richard drove me there before going to work. Before that I'd put on a load of laundry from the weekend. When I got back I made a batch of lemonade, hung out the laundry, and then made some ice cream. And helped Tim draw up his academic schedule for the autumn.
There was a guest staying in Richard's office for a few days, who was coming to supper Monday evening. So I did some tidying and vacuuming and cleaning. Not that the house was particularly messy, but having a guest usually motivates me to clean up somewhat! In the afternoon it was too hot to do much early on, so I read email, then later on prepared the food. I think the evening went well.
Tuesday is when Tim woke with a migraine again. I had to go out and pay the phone bill, so he came too; then I took him to see his optician as Tim thought he might have an eye problem, but he didn't. We popped into a pharmacy, collected mail from the PO box, and went by one of the music shops where we browsed a huge selection of sale items and bought several. I suppose we must have walked 4km in all, but when it's a bit at a time (and in company) it doesn't seem so bad. Still, I was exhausted and very hot by the time we got home - and it was nearly 11am even though we'd left the house shortly after 8am. I spent most of the rest of the day catching up with email, and also researching migraine and its causes online. Oh, and finding out more about buying houses in Cyprus. We pinpointed biltong as the most likely culprit for Tim's migraine.. and as it disappeared once he stopped eating it, I'm standing by that hypothesis.
Wednesday - a bit of gardening, more laundry, and a batch of yogurt to be made. I'm really not quite sure what happened to the rest of Wednesday. Richard flew to Egypt in the evening.
Thursday - I went out to the supermarket early as we needed some more fruit and a few other things. Pulling the trolley behind is quite warm work, even at 8am, so after I'd unpacked and put everything away Dan and I spent most of the morning finishing the last of my jigsaws for this year. As described below. And somehow Thursday passed too. I expect I read and wrote more email.
Friday was a thorough cleaning day. The church house group that meets in our home resumed for the autumn in the evening, so I usually clean, vacuum and mop on Fridays. However for some reason I decided to give the cooker (stove) a good clean. It's not very heavy so I pulled it out of its position to wipe down the sides, and realised that a lot of junk had fallen down the back and the floor underneath looked awful. So it turned into quite a lengthy job, and after that I moved the microwave and other appliances to clean all the work surfaces totally. Somehow that took the entire morning although I'm not quite sure how.
In the afternoon I cleaned the bathroom, washed out the bathmat, dusted, vacuumed and mopped everywhere - which shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but as it was hot and sticky I interspersed it with sitting down to read every half hour or so. I didn't even switch the computer on until half an hour before the group was due to start, having cleaned the kitchen after supper and taken a shower. After the house group I prepared this week's church bulletin on the computer.
Today I did a couple of hours of gardening (yardwork) - watering all the trees with the hose, sweeping the patio, and a fair amount of weeding in both front and back. Not that it makes much noticeable difference. I was going to cut the 'lawn' but by 10am it was getting too hot once again. I did manage a couple of loads of laundry, went out to photcopy the bulletin, and even had a short siesta this afternoon as I was so tired. It didn't help that Sophia woke me at 5.30 this morning to let me know that an intruder cat was in the kitchen. I never can get back to sleep if I'm woken at that time.
It doesn't sound much at all, I know. Of course on the days I do laundry, I also fold and put clothes away. I keep our accounts updated in Quicken, and I write blog entries! I spend time just talking with the boys (and Richard when home) and I have time to myself for an hour or so each morning - sometimes more - to think and pray and read, and to drink my first cup of coffee. I've prepared a Sunday School lesson for tomorrow (that happens two weeks out of four) and kept digital photos up-to-date.
As for the email: I keep in touch with family and friends, I send out updates each month (usually) about Richard's work, I co-ordinate the local church email prayer chain, I answer questions about home education in Cyprus and elsewhere, and I take part in four or five yahoogroups mailing lists on different topics.
But I still don't quite know where all the time goes. There doesn't seem to be any more time than there was when I was involved in the boys' home education for three hours or so each morning. Or when we were in the UK, and I was volunteering in their school two days a week. Or even when, before they were born, I worked full-time as a programmer and did two hours travelling by bus each day to and from work.
Oh, all right then. I do also spend time reading other blogs, reading books, and - every so often - playing a most addictive online game called Babble - a variation on Boggle. But not for more than about an hour or two, other than at weekends.