Goodbye to Dust Mites and Monochrome


Clump #189:  Decide what to do with bedding from son’s bedroom.

Today’s clump was big and bulky, but easy to dispense with.  Our son said he didn’t need his college back-cushion … so to the Goodwill it will go.  I will launder the bedspread set.  The pillows were as old as Methuselah (do people still say that?), so I threw them out.  Heaven only knows the dust mite colony that likely thrived within.


In keeping with this color scheme, I thought I’d pay tribute to the tans, grays and browns that are quickly vanishing from the landscape.  We’ll miss you? … Maybe just a teeny, tiny little bit.
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Simply Present


Clump #188:  Sort through three bags.  Day thirteen of my 30-day, 30-post Bedroom Blast Challenge: clear out son’s room before he returns home with more stuff.

Today I had a good Skype-chat with our son and we confronted three piles from his room, including the dreaded “Miscellaneous.”  We’ll keep the pile on the right.  The other two are heading out, one way or another.


In documenting my visit yesterday to the tea ceremony at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, I failed to mention the most important aspect: the tea ceremony was a physical demonstration of the concept of being in the present moment, of being mindful.

Each movement was so very deliberate.  Each item in the ceremony had its purpose and was handled with care and attentiveness.  The simplicity of the surroundings made the awareness of each item more distinct.


My friends and I were enamored with the Ikebana style flower arrangements adorning the house.  I looked up Ikebana International when I got home and a definition on the official website read, “In principle, Ikebana aims not at bringing a finite piece of nature into the house, but rather at suggesting the whole of nature, by creating a link between the indoors and the outdoors.”


I know I will never achieve the austere beauty of the Shofuso House, after all, it’s not a real house where people live.  But paring down our possessions will limit the visual field and allow us to more fully appreciate and honor the things we do want to keep …


And possibly link us a bit more to the outdoors.



Clump #187:  Clear out wire basket of assorted junk that had migrated into son’s bedroom.

There I go, anthropomorphizing the clutter again.  Ahem.  I shoved this stuff together when clearing out our kitchen desk.  And it was before Christmas this year, when I was frantically readying for a party.  No need for carbon dating.


Oh, my poor heart strings!  Today is our son’s birthday, and when I turned over the picture frame on top I was overwhelmed.  It was a photo compilation my younger sister had made for another birthday years ago. Here’s a portion of it, a little blurry, like my eyes right now:


My memory of driving our son home from the hospital is of all the trees in bloom.  It was as if the whole world was celebrating.  Today was a gem of a day, and I was fortunate enough to go with some friends to a Japanese tea ceremony at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.


We learned about the four elements to strive toward in the tea ceremony: purity, harmony, respect, and tranquility.  They were all present.


We were served a sweet wrapped in a young cherry tree leaf that had been fermenting for a year …


and a lovely bowl of bright green macha tea.


The beauty of the setting was exquisite.


Even without many leaves.


One tree was perfectly pink against a perfect blue sky.


We were all struck by the elegant simplicity of the place and of the ceremony.  No extraneous movements or things.  I include this photo of a musical instrument in honor of our musician son:


Everything had a place and a purpose.  I will try my best to remember.

Food for the Body and Soul

Clump #184:  Throw out old Easter candy and give away basket.  Day nine of the 30-day, 30-post Bedroom Blast Challenge: clearing out our son’s room one clump at a time.

I really can’t remember what year I sent this Easter “basket” to our son at college.  The bunny pasta has an expiration date of 5/08/14, so one of us should eat it up soon.


So much uneaten-candy … how can it be that I am genetically linked to this guy?  Sadly, at this point, out to the trash it goes.


In other food news, I made 48 of my turkey, lettuce, cranberry sauce, and mayo sandwiches for an interfaith Lenten service and luncheon held today at our Quaker Meeting.


If my husband had been around at the time, I knew he would have been singing, “Sandwiches! Sandwiches!”  I chuckled at the thought.  You know you’ve been married a long time when you know each other’s favorite jokes.  And I guess you’re lucky when you enjoy them.  The origin of “Sandwiches!  Sandwiches!” is a play on the song “Savages” from Disney’s Pocahontas.  The movie came out when our kids were young, so we all enjoyed multiple viewings … it was one of the soundtracks of their childhoods.  In the song, both the Native Americans and the English view each other as savages.


Somehow this theme seemed appropriate for a day when people of many different churches worshiped together.  Too often religions alienate rather than unite us, which has always seemed convoluted.

More than 100 people came together today, worshiped and broke bread.


This was all the food that was left.  More Sandwiches! next year.

Follow Your Heart and Plant Pansies



Clump #182:  Sort through two bags in son’s bedroom.

I enjoyed a Skype session with all three of our kids yesterday.  Toward the end of the conversation, when it was just our overseas son and younger daughter, I said, “I don’t have a clump for you to look through right now.”  Our younger daughter said, “There are two small bags near the door [of son’s room] that would be easy.”

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Take Out the Papers and the Trash

Clump #181: Remove trash from son’s bedroom.

So this was obviously an easy and straightforward clump … call it a mini vacation in my 30-day, 30-post Bedroom Blast Challenge.  Our younger daughter kindly — and willingly — devoted some of her college break to shoveling through the accumulated rubble in her brother’s room while he’s studying in Norway for a year.  She left labels on the sorted-out piles. This one made me smile:


The trash basket on the left, above, was from our son’s college days. The one on the right stayed in his bedroom at home … fascinating, right?  The truth is, that one does have its fascinating aspects.  It was a relic from my husband’s youth.  He says he might have gotten it in middle school, or junior high, as we called it way back then. Little did he know that it would turn out to be a time capsule. Remember the old computer punch cards that couldn’t be folded, spindled, or mutilated?


When this trash can was made, the war in “Make Love Not War” was the Vietnam war.  And I guess everyone in every time period thinks they are living through “nervous times,” but …


the phrase: “Draft The White Knight But NOT Me” (below) makes clear that those truly were nervous times for young people.

“Chairman Mao Is A Fink” is so dated in terms of history and linguistics. When did the word “fink” go out of fashion?


It was the 60’s, man, even the trash cans were radical!

Weighty Books and Horsey Looks

Clump #179:  Send son list of book titles.  Day four of the 30-day, 30-post Bedroom Blast Challenge. Mission: clear out our son’s bedroom before he returns home and deposits more stuff in there.

I sent our son an email listing all 44 titles from the box below so that he can decide what to keep and what to give away.  I added that I would not mind a bit if he wanted to let go of any I had given him.

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Technophobia and Other Clumps

Clump #175:  Get more cyber-storage space and recycle plastic bags.

Good Lord, I am so thoroughly technophobic.  Loyal readers might have noticed a lapse in my clumping and posting, and it’s because I reached the limit of storage space WordPress allows for free.  I’d filled up my allotment of cyber space in the process of freeing up the storage space around our house.

And then I became flummoxed about how to fix the problem … I eventually figured it out, by myself (not whimpering to one of my family members) (well maybe just a bit).  My younger daughter pointed out that this resolution is its own type of clump.

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My Ironing Pile Is Eating My Meditation Cushion

Clump #26:  Conquer ironing pile.

I swear I did not stage this photo.  The meditation pillows are a little hard to see, on the lower left.  My poor Chi!  Here’s a confession about me and ironing.  Subconsciously I know that the minute I iron the items in the ironing pile, they will be put into action, worn, and then — in a flash — will be back to the ironing pile again.  By postponing the inevitable, I stop the cycle for a while.  It’s not a good excuse, but it’s all I’ve got.


Here’s the basket hidden below, with poor Christmas place mats wondering when they will ever see the light of day.  I guess that answers the question of how long the pile has been festering — not the whole pile, mind you, but certainly the bottom-dwellers.


And here is the “After” shot of mission accomplished (part of it), and another, more virtuous confession.  When I finally start ironing, with a fluffy, romantic movie on to keep me company, I actually enjoy it.  I watched The Holiday and Chocolat to help me through this ironing monstrosity.  Another perennial favorite in my ironing movie collection is Pride and Prejudice.  An ironing movie must be one I have seen previously, otherwise I wouldn’t want to look down at what I am doing.  Also, the movie must have a happy ending.  There is something very cozy about getting all the wrinkles out of the fabric at hand as the heroine of an ironing movie, inevitably, gets all the wrinkles out of her life.


I apologize to loyal followers of my blog who have wondered where I’ve been.  I got off-track with a trip through different time and weather zones.  Here are some photos from this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, featuring a recreation of Big Ben (London calling, again!) to illustrate my boggled mind.  On every hour, the clock would flip out in this way: here we are starting at 9:00.


And then the gears would crank the clock face out (digitally) …


To a garden-themed riot of all things British, with British musical accompaniment …


And changing colored lights …


Beatles popping out of the garden …


And other beloved British musicians …


Like Led Zeppelin …


And whoever this is. (?) (I guess I’m not as cool as I thought!) …


Mr. Bean and Freddie Mercury; Benny Hill, Monty Python (not pictured) and so many others …


Book-ending with the Beatles sprouting from the garden again, older and fancier.


Whether it’s stopping the clock, leaving reality for vacation, or avoiding the ironing pile, postponing the inevitable is never a good long-term solution.  Excuse me while I meditate on this for a while.

Old Bags

Clump #25:  Recycle plastic bags.

I’ve got to use our reusable bags more often.  I do need plastic ones for garbage and kitty litter-box cleaning, but this is ridiculous.  I recently read that people are getting food-borne illnesses from unwashed reusable shopping bags.  So, O.K., use them more often and wash them more often.


I was driving the bags to the grocery store’s recycling containers and realized they were about the size of a person … like a houseguest who had long worn out his welcome.  “Thank you, Bye Bye!  This is where you get out.”


The subject of old bags makes me think of the time my husband and I were in Disney World for our younger daughter’s high school choir trip. It was our last chaperoning job for our kids (empty-nest pang).  One morning we were entering the park, and, as usual, I was the one with the tote bag requiring a security search; my husband was free to go straight through the turnstile, unencumbered.

The words “Old Bag” were never actually uttered, but something about the smile and gleam in his eye when he pointed to where the “bags” had to go made the point clearly.  At that moment, a Disney employee said to me, “You can come over here, Princess.”  (No wonder they’re called Cast Members. They’re fluent in fiction.)  I said, “Ha!  This man called me Princess, while you were thinking Old Bag!”  I saw this mug in a gift shop, and enjoy the memory each time I use it.


I’m reminded that both age and Princess-hood are states of mind.