Gratitude Attitude

Clump #266: Shop for Christmas presents; day twenty-four of National Blog Posting Month.

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It all started with the dreaded (dreaded?!) pink Change Filter indicator on our refrigerator.  I was feeling so put upon, knowing I would have to change out the darned thing, then stand for five minutes letting water run through until it was clear, and, of course, go out and get another filter to have at the ready for the next time.  You could also add a soupcon of “Why am I the only one who notices and has to deal with this?”  Soon I started to laugh with our son about my ridiculous attitude.  Oh my gosh … what a nightmare!

I imagined all the people in the world who endure hardship for water, who would think it a miracle to have clean water at their beck and call for so little effort.  I could see dehydrated children begging me for the bowls of water I was throwing down the drain.  Oh dear, how lucky I am.

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In that frame of mind, I headed to the stores to get some Christmas shopping done.  I might have taken a photo like this last year from the store Pier One.  A statue of a seated female Goddess (?) below caught my eye.

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Immune to the rampant consumerism surrounding her, she was serene in meditation …

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as was her friend who was marked down for quick sale.

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I spotted the “Thankful Wall Decor” item below that included the advice: LIVE SIMPLY.  Of course, one way to live simply is not to buy too much junk, like signs telling you how to live.

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Actually, if you are being thankful, you might not buy the sign, according to an article in The New York Times called “How to Defeat the Impulse Buy, With Holiday Shopping, Willpower Isn’t Enough,” by David DeSteno. He concluded:

“What these findings show is that certain emotions can temporarily enhance self-control by decreasing desires for immediate gratification. While feeling happy doesn’t do much to increase patience, feeling grateful does.

So if you’re looking to avoid impulse-buying this year, take time not only to celebrate with your friends and family, but also to count your blessings. You may find that the easiest way to thwart retailers’ enticements as you peruse the shopping aisle isn’t to try to resist what you want; it’s to be thankful for what you have.”

Later, I received this lovely card in the mail from a friend I’ve known since third grade.

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My cup runneth over!

Not All Clutter Is Clump

Clump #265: Order Christmas cards; day twenty-three of National Blog Posting Month.

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The photo above is of our younger daughter who is studying in Russia. She follows this blog, dear girl, and wrote about the post of a few days ago: “Just read your Little Star post, and I have to say I’m really glad you decided to keep (and even mend) the necklace.  A lot of fond memories with that.  I guess not all clutter is clump.”

As promised, I got my head back in the holiday game (is it a game?) and struggled to order our Christmas cards online.  Even with help from the computer gurus in the house, it was, as my husband said, “a clump fail.” Undeterred, I went out to Target.  All seemed to be going swimmingly, until the clerk informed me that their machine was down … come back tomorrow.  So close.  Oh well, at least the order is in.

I recently found last year’s cards, holiday newsletters, and various clippings in a de-clumping pile:

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I do want to keep a few cards and letters for posterity. And I can’t throw out good envelopes.  The clippings are another matter.

My parents were very good at throwing things out, but I wish they had saved one thing.  When I was in early grade school, we were supposed write a story to go along with a cartoon picture of  “Bella the Ballerina,” a hippo in a tutu, along the lines of Disney’s Fantasia.  I remember my teacher laughing at my paper until she cried, and then I brought it home, showed it to my parents, and they also laughed until they cried. Obviously I was too young to know what was so funny.  I really wish I could read it again as an adult, but, alas, I can’t.

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The article below is one thing I did keep and was able to find for this post!  Proof that a major clutter shift has truly taken place in our house.

Long, long ago, our son and younger daughter were left at home by their older sister who was going to school.  Such sour moods that morning!  I thought I had a great idea to break the funk, and said, “Hey, there’s a new grocery store opening.  Let’s go shopping there and check out the festivities!”  Well, I’m sure the store managers were hoping to get an upbeat photo of the ribbon-cutting, or some other such good PR photo-op.  Instead, the photo that was put on the front page of the Daily Local was of self-conscious me in mom-jeans and my two still-sour-faced kids above the caption, “All Shopped Out.”  No amount of balloons could lift their spirits.

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At the time, I remember thinking, ‘Well, here is my fifteen minutes of fame: pushing a shopping cart with cranky kids in it.’  But then I looked up at the story I shared the page with, about John Du Pont (the subject of the movie Foxcatcher, which opened this weekend), and thought, ‘You know what, there are a lot worse fifteen minutes of fame.  I’ll take it.’ Is it a coincidence that the grocery store is now closed?

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So not all clutter is clump.  This paper will be kept as a family heirloom. The trick is using discernment in de-clumping.

Now to the rest of my holiday to-do list, and getting myself All shopped out.

Sea-sonal Denial

Clump #264:  Bring in items to be framed and drop off magazines; day twenty-two of National Blog Posting Month.

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Oh boy, I have had a terrible time writing this up today.  I did get some clumps dumped, but I have snuck away, mentally, from the things I really should be working on. I’ve been clearing legitimate clumps as a way to avoid the higher priority ones (like Thanksgiving cleaning, or tasks on the Christmas list).

In the spirit of denial, I collected some beach photos from various trips to the sea.  One might call it burying one’s head in the sand … or water.

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The fact is, I did bring a beautiful picture in to the frame shop that was a wonderful gift from my sisters in-law; something I’ve been meaning to do since September.  It captures perfectly our beach holiday.  I cropped out (awkwardly) another item that will require further hunting for the best framing technique … a clump for another day.

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And here’s proof that I dropped off the lovely tea magazines of yesterday’s post to the good people at the Goodwill.  Good tidings!

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But tomorrow I promise to get back to reality; the calendar is imploring me to wake up,

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open my eyes,

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and put my best foot forward.

Ta-Ta to Tea Magazines

Clump #263:  Give away Victoria and Tea Time magazines; day twenty-one of National Blog Posting Month.

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This is a post about finally getting real.  I have collected some very pretty magazines in the two holders below.  They have been taking up space in our bedroom, but today I had to ask myself honestly, “How many times have I looked back through them, looked up a recipe, or even just enjoyed seeing them sitting there?”  The answer is “Zero.”  These two holders and all their contents are now in the Goodwill pile with my fondest blessing (imagine a royal wave in white gloves).

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I think I like to fancy myself as a person fancier than myself.  I’m not going to say that I won’t be tempted by these publications ever again, but they do deal in a kind of fantasy world that is not where I usually live. I adore tea and everything that goes along with it.

But sometimes the most satisfying cup looks like this:

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Cheers!

A Stitch In Time

Clump #262: Mend Little Star necklace; day twenty of National Blog Posting Month.

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This is a very small clump in size.  But, oh, the weight in mom-guilt.  One of our younger daughter’s favorite books growing up was Little Star, by Mary Packard, illustrated by Carolyn Croll.  The book came with a beaded necklace, just like the necklace featured in the story.  It was so loved that it broke … a few times and in a few places.  So our daughter put it in an envelope for me to mend.  How many years ago was this?  I shudder to think.  The picture she drew on the envelope is a clue:

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This is one of the many sticky items that I couldn’t dispense with quickly the other day.  Do I send up the white flag and throw it out?  Every cell in my body resisted that option.  Give it to the Goodwill?  Possibly, if I could mend it.  I opened the envelope, imagining a pile of loose beads, and realized I had been working on it, and I had only needed a few more stitches to make it whole.  Why couldn’t I have spared that time when she was little?  Ouch!

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I wondered whether we still had the book.  Lo and behold, it was in our daughter’s room with books she had brought to read to her young charges at her childcare job this summer.  From the book:

“One day Grandmother Gray Feather presented the child with a beaded necklace that she had made herself.  In its center was a little star.  ‘Keep this with you always, Little Star,’ she said, ‘and your fondest wish will come true.  Just remember to make your wish wisely,’ added Grandmother.  ‘Do not waste it, for there may come a day when you will need it.'”

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Sincere apologies to my little star.  I know just where to put the necklace now.  It’s resting snug in the book,

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waiting to make a fond wish come true.

 

Canning Some Cookbooks

Clump #261:  Clear pile of old cookbooks from bedroom; day nineteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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The theme for today is food.  I yanked a pile of old cookbooks out of our bedroom.  Oh dear, the frantic sweeps and nonsensical pile placements I have made.  Here’s what I found, below.  My husband wanted to keep the bread machine cookbook.  Fair enough. Anything to tempt him to make more of his delectable bread should definitely stay.

I didn’t have the strength to toss the Corny Casserole recipe written in my younger daughter’s younger scrawl.  The homemade cookbook from our babysitting coop is also a sweet relic from the past.

The two piles on the left are cooking magazines to toss in the recycling, and two cookbooks for the Goodwill pile.  Out!

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All this attention on food made me look back at photos from the Idea Garden at Longwood Gardens from our visit in September.  Up above, some kind of funky, pink-tie-dye bean.  And below, purple tomatoes,

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which, while ripening, looked like apples.

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Speaking of purple, have you ever seen the flower of the artichoke?  I’m wondering whether it’s in the same general family as the thistle, pictured a few days ago.

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The wild, wonderful colors of nature.

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Mouth-wateringly gorgeous.  Bon appetit!

Breaking the Ice

Clump #260:  Clean out ice maker; day eighteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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Just when I despair of losing color and texture in the world as the leaves fall, brilliant berries come out and bird nests are visible.  Trees whose branches are almost barren make beautiful pictures on old brick and kelly green shutters,

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as well as funhouse mirror shapes on grass.

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Ahh, I’m trying to accept and embrace winter as a fact now, not just a threat.  And in the spirit of the big freeze, I de-clumped our ice maker today.  We had been noticing a wheezing sound coming from the fridge. At first we thought it was our cat coughing up a hairball (or her latest meal), but she was elsewhere and looking copacetic.  I finally called a refrigerator repair man who was scheduled to come tomorrow.

Then last night my The Voice-watching friend came over for our weekly guilty-pleasure ritual.  She heard the noise and said, “I think it’s your ice maker!”

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So this morning I went into the darned thing and, wow, freed the stuck cubes, which stopped the pitiful noise.  I cancelled the repairman and saved us a clump of money.

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Just call me Rosie!  Hey, that headscarf would be just the thing for the biting wind.