New Year’s Day and Two-Year Day

Clump #230: Basement paper piles shredded and recycled; Coventry Carol sheet music refiled.

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Hello wonderful readers.  Not only is today the first day of 2015, it’s also the second anniversary of Clump A Day!  Amazing.  I am living and typing proof that anyone can fulfill any New Year’s resolution, even one as outlandish as this: a disorganized technophobe publishing on the web and clearing a clump of clutter every day.  Yes, I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon more than a few times, but have gotten back on and kept rolling.

I very much hope you enjoyed wonderful holidays.  I have been savoring the closeness of family the most.  Our older daughter was here and gave us the clearing of clumps as a Christmas gift.  My husband put her to work in the basement with some very old piles of paper.  The one below was spared shredding.  It was obviously a school project for our younger daughter, a menu, possibly created to use spelling words? “A guarentied smile when you leave” was her restaurant’s slogan, which could mean its customers were happy to leave :-).

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Inside, menu items included “roast beef – the savory and tender meat matched with the stupendous flavorful juices will brighten any horrendous day.”  And, “green beans – these crispy fresh green beans with a lively bright color will give you a reasonable amount of the important folic acid that you need.”  Sold!

Ah, some things are just too good to throw away.  But many, many more were not.  I placed newspapers and flyers strategically over the bags in the foreground, below, to stabilize the shredded paper within.

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Sometimes I feel my progress is not as dramatic as I would wish.  After two years of de-clumping, I still struggle with the holidays.  But I experienced one very clear victory: every year my husband and kids sing a quartet at our Quaker Meeting’s Christmas Program.  Like clockwork, late on the day of the program, someone utters the question: “Do you know where we put the music for the Coventry Carol?”

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And just when they should be running through the song so we can get in the car and go, a hunt for the sheet music ensues.  This year, for the first time, I said, “I know exactly where it is.”  I had made the culling of sheet music a clump sometime last year.  “It’s in the pink folder with the whole notes on top.”  And, lo and behold, there it was.

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And furthermore, there is where it was returned.

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Without the early Christmas to-do list work that this blog inspired, I would have really been in trouble.  I had received some bad news about my mom’s health (she seems to be doing better) and about two dear friends during the lead-up to Christmas.  I was driving to Lancaster County much more often, and even at night.  The Santa I had photographed last year (at top) looked so different in the dark, as if he had come alive and was ready to go.  Me too!

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Wishing you the very best of health and happiness in the New Year, and may your resolutions bring you comfort and joy.

Challenge Conquered in Cape May

Clump #279: Purchase and send gifts on husband’s list; day seven of seven-day holiday challenge … Woo-Hoo!

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Well friends, this is me crossing the finish line of a week that really tested my resolve.  I am here to say that, having stuck out the clumping and blogging of this past week, if I could do it, anyone could.  It’s been a very tough week, so while the daily grind of: what clump to do and how to write it up has often been difficult, the flip side has been my gratitude for the structure of the enterprise, which kept me on track, also gratitude for your support and encouragement.  Thank you.

Today I conquered a clump that usually gets put off to the point of painfulness.  I purchased gifts for several great people who work with my husband.  I turned it into a very pleasant activity by buying the gifts while on a day trip to Cape May, NJ with my younger sister.  We had never seen the town in the holiday season before.  The photo above was taken at The Virginia Hotel, an elegant establishment and one of the lovely examples of Victorian architecture the town is known for.  My sister and I noticed that many window boxes around town were adorned with large, shiny ball ornaments.  The ones at the bath shop below looked like soap bubbles.

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This shop window contained smaller ones, with a notice of a sale …

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make that a monster sale.

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Like this monster week … tamed and subdued.

May I Have Fun Too?

Clump #278: Power through bunch of online orders; day six of seven-day holiday kick-in-the-pants challenge.

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Here’s a secret: I really don’t like spending a bunch of money all at once, which is part of what most of us have to do at this time of year. Thank goodness for this blog and challenge.  I forced myself to sit down and order some gifts I had been putting off.  In two cases the items were on back-order. Drat!  I have known I wanted them for quite a while.  Why did I wait until peak shopping time?

Don’t be like me!

And speaking of that, I’m still simmering about this advice from Martina McBride in last week’s People magazine.  You’ll notice at the bottom of the page: “Tip No. 1: Plan ahead so you can have fun too!”

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So many obnoxious comments flooded my head: “Really?”… “Thank you Captain Obvious”… “Ya Think?” … Sorry to sound snarky, and I’m sure Ms. McBride is a wonderful person and country singer and holiday hostess, but … she might as well have written: “Rewire your brain!”  It’s not so easy for some of us.  And the idea that everyone else is having fun while you are stressing and slaving away sounds sad, but often so true. Thanks for listening.

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P.S.  An astute reader of this blog correctly identified the elegant white flower in the previous post as a gardenia (not jasmine). Thank you!  I’m still thinking of (and posting photos from) Longwood, and won’t even guess at the name of the pretty puff flower pictured above.

Reality Check and Dumb Presents

Clump #277: Fifteen minutes of list-checking and strategizing; day five of seven-day holiday pre-crunch challenge.

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Today I performed the de-clumper’s equivalent of a douse of cold water to the face: set the timer for fifteen minutes to analyze “the list.”   Confronting my holiday to-do list is now feeling like looking straight at the sun.  Ouch!  Avoid at all costs.  But I did it and feel much, much better.  I don’t mean to scare you, but we’re now in the holiday season … no more smug sense of doing things way early.  It’s time to dive right through.

(As an aside, the photos above and below were taken at Longwood Gardens.  Forgive me, I can’t stop.  Also, If you want to impress a slightly jaded sixteen-year old, tell her/him to smell a jasmine flower, like the one above.  Oooooh!  I wish I had a scratch and sniff app here.)

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Speaking of a certain teenager, who I don’t believe reads this blog, I will add a section on “dumb presents I have purchased.” First, a bubble calendar for someone who loves to pop bubble wrap and might have a little problem managing time.  You pop a bubble for every day of the year.  The only question is whether, like eating potato chips, you can stop at one.  I might have to include more bubble wrap to quell that urge. Have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?  Packing bubble wrap in bubble wrap?

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Well, maybe more ridiculous might be the gift of soap-on-a-rope I gave to my husband last Christmas, documented in previous posts.  It served its purpose for several hilarious moments.  Now we realize it has an obvious fault line where the rope is, or was.  Who ever thought this was a good idea?  And the soap is not very good.  So … sorry, but goodbye.  The soap-on-the-rope is broke.

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In conclusion, aim for useful gifts, but, if not, make sure they’re worth their weight in fun.

Bag O’ Barbies

Clump #276: Deliver Barbies to food pantry holiday giveaway; day four of seven-days of holiday to-do list.

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Today I got rid of … gave away … a bag full of Barbies to the local food pantry’s annual gift giveaway for people in need. Interestingly, when I went to the register at Toys R Us, the woman who was ringing up my purchase was obviously interested in why I was buying so many Barbies.  I told her that I was donating them to the food pantry’s giveaway, and she said, “Oh, I use that food pantry.”

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She tried to allow me to use as many coupons as the register would, well, register.

I’ve heard that Barbies are losing popularity to Monster High dolls, which sound weird, except for their body proportions, which makes Barbie the more unnatural.

Here are some “Fast Facts About Barbie” from the Barbie website:

  • Barbie® doll’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts
  • She is from (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin where she attended High School
  • Barbie® doll’s official birthday is March 9, 1959 – the exact date she was unveiled to the toy industry during New York Toy Fair
  • Barbie® first appeared in the now-famous black-and-white striped swimsuit
  • Barbie® doll’s debut look was polished off with her signature ponytail – a hair style representative of the times (1959)
  • Barbie® doll’s first pet was a horse named Dancer
  • Barbie® doll’s signature color is Barbie™ Pink (PMS 219)
  • Barbie® doll stands 11.5 inches tall
  • The best-selling Barbie® doll ever was 1992 Totally Hair™ doll, with hair from the top of her head to her toes
  • The Holiday Barbie™ Doll continues to be the number one selling Barbie® doll year after year. In 2013 the annual collectible line celebrated its 25th anniversary
  • Barbie® doll has had 150+ inspirational careers
  • Barbie® recently announced she will be celebrating women in business with her new role as entrepreneur
  • Barbie® first broke through the plastic ceiling as a business executive in 1985
  • Barbie® traveled into space in 1965, four years before man walked on the moon
  • Although she has never won an election, Barbie® has run for president 6 times since  1992
  • Barbie® has been a muse to many artists over the past 5+ decades – including Andy Warhol and Peter Max.

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I love the fact that her middle name is Millicent.  She traveled to the moon before man, but still hasn’t succeeded in winning a presidential election.  Even with 150 inspirational careers!

Flying Through My List

Clump #275: Finish Christmas newsletter; day three of seven-day Christmas To-Do list push.

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So I’m probably going to be posting more of my photos of Longwood Garden’s holiday display (above and below) even though they seem lacking in capturing the splendor there.

An update on yesterday’s unsticking of myself and my bad attitude:  I finished the holiday newsletter … yay!  It’s emailed off to my husband and three kids for final approval and changes.  A big step done so much earlier than usual.  Hooray for de-clumping!

I even had time to watch Peter Pan Live tonight with Allison Williams as Peter and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook (great casting).  I pretty much loved it.  But I have to say I was having strange, conflicted feelings viewing the females’ roles (responsible, jealous) versus the male’s (clueless, carefree) … but then again the boy who never has to grow up is played by a woman.  I wasn’t prepared for the sadness in the final scene when Wendy is a grown-up mother, Peter is still the same, and he flies off with Wendy’s daughter, Jane.

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At least it wasn’t Carrie Underwood (sorry).

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Did you see it?  What did you think?

Fifteen Little Minutes: Like Magical Elves

Clump #274: Fifteen minutes of Christmas newsletter writing; day two of seven-day holiday power-prep.

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‘Twas the night after declaring a Christmas challenge, and all through the house not a creature was clumping … yeah, I was feeling like a louse. Oh wow.  Tired, headachy, uninspired.  Right after declaring to the cyber-world my great intention of tackling the visions of to-do lists nipping at my head.

So I fell back on the old foolproof, laze-proof method of setting the darned timer for fifteen minutes and starting to move, in this case my fingers over the keyboard in service to the Christmas newsletter that we send out with our cards (traditionally my most procrastinated holiday chore). When the bell rings, stop.  Done.  Starting really is the hardest part.  I now have two solid family news paragraphs and the urge to finish at another time.  Priceless.

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And now to settle my brain for a long winter nap.  To all a good night!

(With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)