House Sitting Week 4


The biggest lesson to learn is that time is different

Technically, I’m not on holiday. I’m supposed to be setting up and building a new life, new career, new focus.

It feels like a holiday, and I seem to be operating on holiday time. As a result, things that should take a day or two are instead dragging on … and on … with only a little bit of progress each day. That’s a problem.

Each day starts at the same old work time – even Sunday. That hasn’t changed.

Instead, I’ve traced the problem to two things, both of which can be easily fixed.

Caffeine intake: Fixed.

Planning and scheduling: So much easier now that the caffeine intake is fixed.

I dug out an unused notebook yesterday, a little A5 art book which I now use for mind mapping and planning. As with a lot of things these days, the format has been downsized. I usually use butchers paper or, at the very least, A3.

The trick will be to ensure that my ideas aren’t also downsized. Life must still be lived large.

Cleaning in a way that is not offensive to the owner

One Christmas, quite a few years ago, when I didn’t have the money to contribute to the day’s festivities, I volunteered to clean. A labour of love was all I had to give.

However, things got a bit tense when I took to the body of the cake mixer with cleaning product. If I’d kept to the beaters and bowl, all would have been well. I pushed the kind graces of family just a bit far by implying that the machine itself needed cleaning.

Going the extra mile has generally been a successful strategy in my work life, as long as it didn’t place pressure on fellow team members to do the same. As there are no other house sitters nearby to piss off, it could be a useful strategy to adopt when preparing a house for handing back to the owners.

It might, however, be a problem in this case because one of the home owners also owned that cake mixer.

I can understand. I was in the same situation myself when hosting some international visitors many years ago. I woke to find the apartment had been seriously cleaned while I slept. It was, they said, standard practice for saying thank you. It may have been entirely innocent and very kind, but it made me feel guilty and diminished.

Perhaps that’s why I had a ridiculous surplus of cleaning products when I packed up my last rental.




Boundaries must be set so that, once started, I know when to stop.

So, I will thoroughly clean the rooms I used because I used them (I can’t believe the colour in the wash basin when there’s a dusty dog about – he loves digging in a pile of sand which then gets washed off my hands numerous times each day!).  The rooms I didn’t use only get a light vacuum and dust because that’s all they need.

Outside, I thought I’d try a bit of weeding, even though my last lawn drove me crazy. The more I weeded, the worse the weeds got. Yet, in spite of that, I still enjoy digging up the occasional weed; unexpectedly satisfying. But I stress “occasional”, and only occasionally. No risk of boundaries slipping on this one. Thankfully, the lawn here is top notch.

And the dog …

I dug up a cathead growing at the edge of the cement driveway. The dog stood extremely close, carefully examining the proceedings. I mean close. I had to look around his head to see what I was doing.

He watched me dig up another and also put it in the rubbish bag.

Then, he walked further along to a tall weed and cocked his leg on it.

I’m not sure if he was helping or making a statement of ownership.







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