Short/Long-Term Solutions

Clump #89:  Place some online gift orders; clear garage doorsteps.

I really hope I can learn the lessons of this 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post challenge: Project Enjoy Christmas.  Ordering Christmas gifts in November is much easier than in December.  The likelihood that an item will be in stock is so much higher.  And if there’s a glitch that adds a little more time, no problem.  Wow.

Of course, Christmas is not the only holiday to be mindful of in November. Thanksgiving is coming!  I love Thanksgiving.  Every year the holiday gets pushed farther and farther out of the public sphere by earlier and earlier ads and decorations for Christmas … where the big money is.  The introspective holiday for gathering and giving thanks gets short shrift.

In the spirit of welcoming guests, I took a hard look at the doorway to our house from the garage (sorry for the fuzziness of the photo; hands shaking with sudden awareness):


My long-deceased sister once gave me sage advice about moving into a new house: “Be careful of short-term solutions … they so easily become long-term solutions.”  How many times do I need to live that lesson before it sticks?

New home for boots on a tray I’ve been meaning to make into the “boot home” for ages:


Old, old kids’ video games on left (aww, The Jolly Post Office — loved that), to Goodwill; pile on the right, recycle.


This is the container where they were stored in the garage.  Looks like it was trying to set down roots.  Almost!


The whole garage could use a cleaning, but that’s a clump for another day.  Just getting the entrance swept and the door mats shaken out was a big improvement.  Aiming for better, not perfect.

My husband helped with the sorting.  I told him that in Feng Shui the entrance to the house is very important.  He replied,  “We were all Fenged-Up.”


Three things I’m thankful for: my husband’s help and sense of humor, light rain on red berries,


and color in trees, even though devoid of leaves:


Life Cycle

Clump #88:  Get a move on Christmas shopping; recycle printer cartridges.

Day 15 of my 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post challenge: Project Enjoy Christmas.  Halfway through!  Today I had to remind myself of the feeling I get when I know I only have a couple of weeks left in December before the 25th.  Crunch time.  I’m artificially inducing the adrenaline that kicks in at holiday time.  It worked.  Shop, shop, shop.


I also got rid of a few things.  It’s been a while since I’ve recycled our spent printer ink cartridges:


To the lobby of Best Buy they go.  Not to be too paranoid, but I could imagine someone checking the video from the store, “Yeah, there’s that woman again, dropping off recycling.  No, she didn’t go in the store to buy anything.  Why does she always take a picture?”  If I had the chance, I’d tell them that my husband is the one in our family who buys technical gadgets.  I throw them away.


I saw this great poster in a lovely gift shop on my travels today.  But I couldn’t help thinking that if I bought the poster and put it up, would it become like wallpaper … invisible after the novelty wore off?


One thing helping me “to be wholly alive with all [my] might” is looking at the world more closely through my camera.


As the glorious colors of October burn out …


and fade into November’s grays and taupes …


we don’t need writing on the wall.  The whole natural world is reminding us: “Try to be alive.  You’ll be dead soon enough.”


Today may you live like hell.


Clump #85:  Go through, sort out, and recycle catalogs.

The catalogs are coming — the catalogs are coming!  My 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post challenge: Project Enjoy Christmas continues with one of the most vexing problems of the season.  Just when my mind gets overloaded with extra holiday planning, the volume of mail explodes with catalogs.  Vendors I never hear from the rest of the year know I’m a soft touch for their products in November and December.  But at a certain point I become overwhelmed and let them pile up.  Here’s the current collection, de-clumped from the study where I had guiltily stashed them:


The job: sort through; recycle ones I will not be ordering from; order — now — the gift items I’ve identified.  Trouble comes when I see a good idea, and even with a turned-down page corner, I put the catalog aside and it falls into the void of piled up paper.

Plus, I get distracted.  I have a tendency to look through catalogs and realize I’m wondering about the models rather than the products the company is advertising.  “They’re really featuring her more than the others,” I think. “Are the other models jealous?”  This season’s Lands’ End catalog featured a few models with relationship stories.  Maybe I’m not the only one who wants to know the scoop about these beautiful people.  A mother and daughter pairing was on the cover, in the photo above.

Also, this caption accompanied the photo below: “Colin is used to having his sisters, Anna & Adrienne, put him through the ropes.  But he never expected his wife, Ashley, to take their side.”  I’ll never get through the pile at this rate, Lands’ End!


And then there’s my annual letter from my friend, Robert Redford, on behalf of Sundance.  When I was in my teens, I was driving with my sister one day and we saw Robert Redford driving the other way. Really.  It was over in a flash: “Was that–?!”  “Yes!!”

So, naturally, I feel a kinship to him as I read his poetic (cryptic?) holiday letter:


I think he’s telling me to go outside and experience the wonders of nature, but the letter is prefacing a whole lot of beautiful stuff I can buy to clutter up my home.

I did go outside and this is what the sunset looked like this evening.  And the birds were singing.  Thanks, Bob.


Peeling Away

Clump #79:  Clean out lower, flat drawer in refrigerator; make holiday-related calls.

Day Six of my 30-day, 30-clump, 30-post challenge, No-sweat November for a Dread-free December: Project Enjoy Christmas.

Yesterday and today I tackled a job I never would have had the time and/or energy for during the frenzy of the holidays.  I grossly underestimated the difficulty (and also the grossness) of performing yesterday’s refrigerator clean.

Long ago, in a universe far, far away, I put a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the drawer in which we store meats.  I’m trying to remember why I thought this was such a good idea.  Maybe because I tend to be squeamish about meat.

When I took everything out to clean yesterday, I realized the darned foil was almost fused to the plastic drawer.  I didn’t think there would be a way to get it off, so I put a layer of paper towel over it, and doused it with the super-hero of the cleaning world: white vinegar.


This morning I looked into our blindingly clean fridge, and the foil came off “like buttah.”  Hooray!


In the past, I would have wanted to postpone this task so that the refrigerator would be at its cleanest and clearest for company. The reality is, by the time company is about to arrive, I’m in putting-out-big-fires mode, and it wouldn’t qualify.  Just stuff more and more stuff into that fridge!

Today I also started the wheels in motion to reserve space for a private dining room where my mom lives for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and started researching the timing and pricing of sending a package overseas to our son.  These are two things that have been nagging at me.  Instead of putting them off as usual, I’m being proactive.  Who am I?

It’s strange for me to begin tackling my holiday to-do list while it still looks like fall outside.  Up until just recently it was warm enough that I could sit at my computer with a window open next to me.  Late at night, a bird would always give off a screech that I found companionable, sometimes feeling as though we were the only two creatures awake in the dark world.

Last Friday I noticed that the leaves outside the window, which had been green and in abundance not long ago, had all turned yellow and fallen, except two:


And then there was one:


The rain and wind really picked up, buffeting the tree to and fro (yellow leaf in upper left):


I thought the leaf would be a goner, but it held on and the sky cleared (at this point I took down the screen and opened the window to snap the photo):


Excuse me for getting slightly obsessed with one leaf against the the changing sky and fall colors.


But, alas, one morning it was gone.


Autumn is a big, loud, blazing, flamboyant going-away party for leaves, sun, warmth, and color.


Goodbye for now.

Lightbulb Moments

Clump #78: Clean out refrigerator.


Today’s Baby Blues comic strip made me smile, especially since I was about to give our refrigerator lightbulb a real workout. Holy Guacamole!  (And I did toss out a bunch of that.)

I must start off by saying that it is a wonderful problem to have too much food in a refrigerator.  Sinful to waste so much of it.  But one thing about the holidays, you can never have enough space in the fridge, and the time it takes to really clean it out is never available.

The dreadful — and I do mean full — Before:


We’re going to get a reputation with the men driving the recycling truck.  Not a good one.


And the glorious After:  No more stuff falling out when reaching for that one thing.  It’s the little things that make you happy … like not having food fall on you every day.


I must get out of our refrigerator and close with something beautiful.  I was able to attend a concert recently by the Turtle Island Quartet and Nellie McKay.  It was called A Flower is a Lovesome Thing.  I’ve read that the rose symbolizes the heart.  Here’s one of ours, open-hearted: