There’s Still Time and Paper

Clump #244:  Inner pile of yesterday’s clump; day two of NaBloPoMo.

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Ahhh, the gift of an extra hour, or as a friend put it, getting back what was taken from us last Spring.

I had a meeting early this morning and thought I was running late.  It really brought out the inner two-year-old brat in me (“No, I don’t want to!”), until my husband tipped me off to the fact that I was operating on daylight savings time.  Whoa!  Suddenly, all dressed and with the requisite papers printed out, I had a full hour in which to luxuriate. I made sure I didn’t blow it by luxuriating too long and having to rush out the door for a second time in one morning.  I left a little earlier than I normally would, and was able to marvel at the beauty of the day, above, taking photos along the way.  I left my cup of tea in the car, but had time to retrieve it.

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I was the first one at the meeting (ha!), and even had time to take photos from inside:

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It was what Winnie-the-Pooh would describe as a blustery day.  Clear and bright.

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And as promised, a clearing took place inside our house, too: the inner core of the massive paper pile documented in yesterday’s post.  I organized it all into logical sub-piles, filed the fileable papers, and will work on the “action” pile tomorrow during business hours, since many items require a phone call.

Does everyone know that Bed Bath & Beyond coupons can be used even when expired?  Just checking.  Keep stashing them away and never buy anything there for less than twenty percent off.

Also, speaking of time, I’m currently not feeling love toward Harry & David, who we’ve done business with in previous years, and who kindly send us our gift giving history and catalogs, below.  Let the record show that on September 9 I received an email from them with the title: Judy, There’s Still Time To Order From Your Gift History.  Well I should hope so!  Bah Humbug!

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This pile of old notes provided a surprising mash-up of messages.  I was happy to find I had jotted down three things to buy in bulk when on sale this year for a holiday giveaway for the needy: Barbies, nail polish, and wrapping paper, hot items last year.  I must have written “Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in Heaven has in store” from the song “One Day More” from Les Mis for this blog; the penultimate day of a previous challenge?

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NOW I’M HERE; DON’T STOP ME NOW sounds like some kind of desperate ransom note, but they were the two Queen songs I jotted down (quickly and messily) that my older daughter wanted me to call her and let her listen to when I and our younger daughter attended a Queen with Adam Lambert concert this summer.  The words away from the concert became oddly inspiring for me today in this challenge.

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Don’t Stop Me Now!

Horse Sense

Clump #86:  Wrap more presents; make dining room reservations; reconnect with gift list.

Today I reminded myself how easy it is to get a few, or even a big clump of tasks done early for the holidays … and then fall into a false sense of security.  And then … AHH!  The days have dwindled down.  Emails, catalogs, and flyers are blaring the words “There’s Still Time To Order,” but what you had in mind will be more expensive with extra shipping charges, or is no longer in stock and back-ordered into the new year.  I might have to have this little talk with myself a few more times before the end of my 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post: Project Enjoy Christmas challenge is over.

I did get a few more gifts wrapped and written on The List, which was a good memory jog for other things I still need to do/buy.  Remember, remember!

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One item on my to-do list that felt checked off was reserving space in a private dining room where my mom lives for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  I had called the woman — twice — who helped me out last year, but no answer. Was she afraid to tell me someone else had beat us to it? Yikes!  So today while visiting, I made a point of asking in person.  Turns out the woman I spoke with last year is no longer working there.  Finally, the job is done and a big weight is off my mind.

Visiting with my mom is such a delightful experience.  She is compromised in ways common to people her age, but she has the greatest attitude.  Her favorite thing to say, about anything, is “Wonderful, wonderful!”  I really hope I’ll be able to face old age with even half her grace and good cheer.

As usual, when driving through Lancaster County, I got onto a photo-taking binge.  Regular readers will recognize this goose in the town of Strasburg, PA, who has different outfits for every season.  She, let’s call her Lucy Goosey, had broken out her woolens.  Highly appropriate for the cold weather we’ve been experiencing.

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No matter the weather, Amish farm wives hang out their laundry to dry:

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I was taken by a lawn blanketed with fallen ginkgo leaves and a plastic snowman (upper left corner) holding forth.  To capture the photo, I had to pull into a street quite a distance away.  I was pleasantly surprised by a woman who stopped her car and asked whether I needed a ride.  “What wonderful people out here in the country,” I thought.  My rosy-eyed view of the locals quickly changed when a man (non-Amish) came out of the house next door to this one, shouting, “What’s going on?!” with a threatening tone.  I shouted back, “I was just taking a picture.”  He didn’t look satisfied, so I added, “The leaves are so pretty,”  to which he turned and retreated.  I thought, as I high-tailed it out of there, we say “taking,” not “making” a picture for a reason.  An element of trespass is part of the act.

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My mom has a deep, longstanding love of horses.  When I got closer to home I couldn’t help snapping these photos with her in mind:

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As I was walking away, I saw this leaf on the sidewalk making a horse-shaped shadow.

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Wonderful, wonderful!

Seasonal Journey

Clump #84: Mail card; recycle paper from study.

The greeting card, below, was one I’ve had for quite a while.  I bought it to send to two dear people we know from our Quaker Meeting who have been trying to sell their house and move.  The drawn-out process has allowed us to slip into denial that they would really leave.  But yesterday was officially their last Sunday at Meeting before taking off.  The card is made by a company called quotable cards.

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My sense of loss was echoed by a great weeping cherry tree that stands outside our meeting house:

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The few leaves left seemed like teardrops.

From the study, where I had recently let clutter creep back in, I pulled out a big pile of papers.  Exhibit “A” of “always some object in the way” from the greeting card quote.

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Life’s journey seems easier in the Spring (the same tree earlier this year).

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But even in my sad state of mind, I thrilled to the sensation of rustling through fall leaves.  “Happiness is the way.”

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Unlikely Box of Seeds

Clump #72: Clear out wire box of stashed clutter in bedroom.

Oh boy, have I been dreading this box, or cage, containing a mess. Here’s a good tip: don’t buy organizational equipment before you purge, recycle, shred, and — finally — see what you really need/want to keep. The temptation is to buy spiffy organizational tools and feel like you’re addressing the problem.  In this case, getting a cool box just made things worse; it turned into a procrastination bin with a long shadow of guilt.

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For anyone familiar with me and this site, you know I have a propensity for stashing away inspirational quotes. Though mostly filled with shreddable and fileable stuff, this box didn’t disappoint.

Below are two quotes that were stuck in a notebook from the box.  A three year old calendar page with the beautiful message from The Buddha, and another passage I wrote down on a receipt (maybe in a waiting room of some sort, who knows where or when?) by Sister Wendy Beckett.

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The one from Sister Wendy shocked me, because just a couple of days ago I brought the book, Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces, up from our basement.  I was looking for a big, impressive book to slip some papers in to help with a neighbor’s Halloween party scavenger hunt-type game.  Kids would come ringing the doorbell, with one in the group suffering from a comical malady, and I would read an incantation for the cure.

The book fit the bill, and I’ve had it upstairs since with the intention to read through it.  My sister gave the book to our mother, and then generously allowed me to have it when we were going through parental stuff. Amazing.

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Here is what I wrote down in my messy handwriting:

“Again and again I’ve taken quick glances and then for some reason … it’s opened up like one of those Japanese flowers that you put into water and something I thought wasn’t worth more than a casual, respectful glance begins to open up depth after depth of meaning.”   Sister Wendy Beckett

Lately I’ve been pretty drunk with the capturing of brilliant fall colors like this:

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Soon after I took that photo, I glanced down at the ground, took this one, and as Sister Wendy so perfectly described, it opened up “depth after depth of meaning.”  Something about the label of weed; the delicate down, like a gorgeous ballet costume from the Nutcracker; and the indefatigable imperative to set seed, even in the face of frost and suburban herbicides.

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This quote from a Dove chocolate, wedged in the box, wrapped things up:

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“Blessings only come to those who notice.”   –Jean, Houston, TX

Wedding Preparations

Clump #64: Iron wedding costumes for Fall Festival.

Oh yes, it’s that time of year again.  Even though the weather has been a bit of Endless Summer lately, I have to face facts.  Time to get ready for the Fall Festival at our Quaker Meeting …

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Which is like a mini-rehearsal for Christmas in that: it’s the same day/time of the year every year (no surprises there); I tend to (trying not to use the word always) put everything off until the last minute; and I end up tired and frazzled by the time the big day arrives.

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I was having a conversation last year on the day of the festival with a couple of friends, along the lines of, “Next year I will do better!”  In a having-been-put-through-a meat-grinder-feeling haze, I said, “What if I try to make the whole experience easy for myself, first and foremost?” One very wise friend retorted (sarcastically) “Then no one would love you!”  Ha!  Where would the badge of courage be?  The martyr to the cause?  I’ve been thinking about that ever since.  I’m sure it’s a malady especially common to women.  (I just noticed the word malady has the word lady in it!)

So here is my first stab at making festival prep easier for myself (sorry for the fuzzy photo):

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Every year I have costumes to iron for a reenactment of the first wedding held in our meeting house over 200 years ago.  People often wonder how Quakers get married, without priests, ministers, or rabbis. In the same way Quakers believe everyone has a direct connection to God, the wedding couple believe they are married by God.

Within a silent worship, the bride and groom take turns saying aloud, “In the presence of God and before these our family and friends, I take thee (bride/groom’s name) to be my wife/husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife so long as we both shall live.”

My younger daughter is pitching in to play a young man in the wedding party (not enough male volunteers).  I could make a joke here having to do with trans-vest-ite, but that would be highly improper.

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Every year I procrastinate the ironing of the costumes until, often, the morning of the festival.  Today, roughly a week early, I ironed them at a leisurely pace!   Incredible.  I always forget how time-consuming the fabrics are to de-wrinkle.  And look what I found, the fastener of the knickers was missing a safety pin.  It’s something I’d likely overlook in my usual rush … a tiny, crazy-making detail.

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I was able to remember to pack bags of safety pins and bobby pins (can never have too many of these), and stockings in my wear-them-to-the-wedding shoes.  How old are these shoes?  Really, don’t ask.

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This seems like a small, ordinary thing, the accomplishment of a task early and with so much foresight.  But in my world, it’s big enough to make me very, very happy.

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Banished Snake Pit

Clump #59:  Unwrap and clean plates.  Recycle old, broken laptop and wires at Best Buy.

Within spitting distance of 30 days in my month of September, 30-clump, 30-post challenge!  The study is almost all cleared out. It’s a little echo-y … might take some getting used to.

This was a gift from my husband a long time ago.  Smaller plates to make for smaller meals and healthier bodies.  He had told me to take them back and see if there were others I might like better.  Since then they’ve been stashed in the study.  Today I decided that plain and simple was just fine with me, and popped them in the dishwasher.

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I thought this wicker waste paper basket was a nice relic from my parents’ home … and then I looked inside and saw the snake nest of jumbled wires.  Also, an old, hidden, broken laptop from my father’s valiant, but doomed, effort to get my mother to join the computer age. Back to Best Buy!

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I think I’m getting recognized there as the woman who brings things in to recycle, but never buys anything.

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While I was out today, I noticed that the fall season has suddenly fallen upon us.

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Everywhere I went, the signs were glaringly obvious.

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Aww … I miss getting costumes ready for the kids.

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Here I am, cloud-crazed again.  This was the view from a cart corral in a grocery store parking lot:

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I’m feeling very grateful for the impetus this blog has given me to take more photos.  As a result, I’ve become much more attuned to the beauty around me … and above me.