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!

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.

Clutter Cleans and Castle Dreams

Clump #259: Bring bags to Goodwill; day seventeen of National Blog Posting Month.

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I have to confess that yesterday’s clump was a rough one, not only to do, but also to write about in a way that wasn’t a total bummer.  I felt like the pumpkin above.  But prying off such long-neglected clumps has given me a new confidence and toughness. How much worse can it get?  If I can dispense with ancient girl scout relics, I can handle pretty much anything, including a cute toy crane, below, doing its own heavy lifting. This was part of a donation to Goodwill.

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Keeping the endless paper flow under control is relatively easy, even with the holiday catalog blizzard, compared to those bedroom clumps.

I had a funny moment today when looking through this week’s The Week magazine.  One of my favorite sections of the magazine is “Best properties on the market.”  Every week a different category of real estate is featured, such as properties with ponds, or properties in the desert, etc.  This week it was “Castles in Europe.”  Ooh la la!  After perusing the castles and dreaming dreams, I turned the page and thought, ‘No, I’m not interested in any of these.’  Ha!  Like Darcy (who actually lived in a European castle) in Pride and Prejudice, “…not handsome enough to tempt me.”  

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Just think of all the clutter I could fit in one of those things … there would be no end to it.

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De-Clump Where You Live

Clump # 258: Thirty minutes worth of bedroom de-clumping; day sixteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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Above, the thistle, thorny bane of most gardeners’ existence.  Pull it up and it roars back tenfold.  Good symbol for today’s job: the clumps I have never been able to eradicate from so many sweeping-ups of other areas in the house.  Somehow they always land in our bedroom, where guests won’t see.  But what does it do to our psyches that the place where my husband and I live and sleep is our dumping ground?

It changes today.  I set the timer for a half an hour.  Believe it or not, the piles below have a certain logic.

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Most appallingly old?  Girl Scout paraphernalia from when I was scout leader for my older daughter’s troop.  I always imagined myself donating it all back to the place where I purchased it, but today I stuffed it in a Goodwill donation bag. Phew.  I hope some other mom or girl will appreciate it.

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I want to say … “See?  All gone!”  but I still have pesky remnants to contend with for another–long–day.  But at least this area looks better:

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These three remotes have been waiting to go to the recycling place at Best Buy for way too long, caught in the stuck energy of all this stuff.  Well, they’re out of here now.

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This clipped Cryptoquote solution came fluttering out at one point.

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A nod to imperfection that tamed, somewhat, my bubbling self-recrimination and gave me hope for imperfectly cleared space beyond.

Always Ask Yourself: “Is It A Clump?”

Clump #257:  Resist buying clump; day fifteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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Once upon a time, on a lovely late summer day, my husband’s two sisters and I were visiting gorgeous Longwood Gardens, a place impossible to sum up with one photo.  Thus, I’ll intersperse a few of my many to illustrate this story.  (I learned that day that the water lilies are actually growing in pots, concealed by black dye in the water!)

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By the time one leaves Longwood Gardens, senses filled with all manner of beauty, an irresistible stop on the way out is the garden’s wonderful gift shop.   While I was purchasing soap and hand cream with an elegant fragrance, the clerk started selling me on the merits of a thick flannel picnic blanket sitting conveniently on the counter.  It had a leather-looking strap and a flap with the Longwood Gardens logo stamped on it (‘Nice souvenir,’ I thought). “It’s waterproof,” said the cashier. (‘How practical.’) “And it’s half off today for members with any purchase,” her trump card. (‘Wow, I’m a member and I’m purchasing something right now!’).

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Before I could say, “I’ll take it,” I became aware of my sister-in-law Judy (on the left in the photo below) standing next to me. She was mouthing the word “No!”  I leaned closer to her, and she whispered, “It’s a Clump!” Suddenly the spell was broken. You’re right!  I have any number of blankets and towels at home.  I did not need this one clumping up our linen cabinet or crammed into a drawer.

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So today when I asked my husband whether he might want a towel warmer for Christmas, an idea I had warmed up to (sorry), his response was, “What does Judy say?”  My weakness for the idea stems from warm towels given to me in the hospital this year, and the indescribable comfort they imparted.  But I know he and Judy are right.  It would be another piece of clutter on our floor and in our lives.  Even though G. from UT can’t live without it … I guess we can.

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So this clump is of the Zen koan variety.  If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  If an item of clutter is not bought, does it qualify as a clump?  I say yes.  I did toss out some actual stuff: a lot of catalogs, including this one.  I’ve been telling myself that I don’t go out shopping and think, ‘I have to go into every store here.’ Same with catalogs.  Just because it was sent to me, I do not have to look through it.  I have been known to call the vendor’s customer service number and ask to be taken off their mailing list.

Admittedly, many catalogs have undeniable entertainment value.  Our son and I got a good laugh at the glove phone below.  He said they should advertise it as a great way to embarrass your kids!

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But my favorite catalog photo today was the one below, touting the importance of good sleep during the holidays, thus the need for their mattresses:

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And on that note, I’ll wish you a good night and go to bed!

How to Avoid Winter Depression and Exhaustion

Clump #256:  Wash and iron winter duvet and put away ironing board; day fourteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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Look what happened overnight … I watched the movie White Christmas yesterday, and the Snow, SNow, SNOw, SNOW came down! No, this is not Pine Tree, Vermont, and no, my spirits did not lift at the sight.  In fact, I could have written: “lift mood” as today’s clump.  Bah.

Maybe I’m hitting a wall with the daily posting.  But one thing I did figure out was that connections between ironing and gift wrapping are many. Both are fairly mindless, thus the mindless-type movies I watch while doing them; both take up a lot of space in the house; and both seem endless … there’s always another and another item needing either pressing or wrapping coming up.  Because of this, I tend to keep the ironing board out way too long, and now the wrapping paper containers are becoming squatters in our family room.

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Okay, I know a case can very well be made for weeding out these containers.  A clump for another day.  Today I just had to admit that, though getting a head start on Christmas wrapping seems like a good plan, the idea of these containers hanging around me for six weeks (what?–six weeks??) is kind of depressing.  Yes, Christmas wrap is depressing me.

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Here’s why.  I read the article below in this week’s People magazine.  I’m a big reader of  tips, so, of course, “Amazing Holiday Tips” are right up my alley.  Molly Sims’s rule number 23 is: “Do all your shopping in one day.  Afterward you’re exhausted, but you’ve done it.”

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The enormity of that one tip blew me away.  Granted, Molly must have personal assistants and, so far, one small son (she’s pregnant … I know everything about people with People).  But I began to think that maybe I operate under the assumption that holiday preparations have to be a long, drawn-out, exhausting ordeal.  I’m having a The Grinch Who Stole Christmas moment.  One day?? Onnne Daaay???  I’ve really got to recalibrate my expectations for the holiday and myself.  Wait, I think I’m ready for tip number 8, “Have a signature cocktail.” Yes, please.

True confession: the wrapping paper is still out.  The ironing board is put away.  I washed and pressed our winter duvet cover, and I’m sure you are sitting on the edge of your seat to hear about that!

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The dark winter berries (?) are replacing the light seashore motif.  (Sighhhh.)

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I think I need to get out into the sunlight a little bit more.

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And, if I have such powers, find a movie called “World Peace,” and wake up to a world truly transformed.

Count Your Blessings (and Presents) Instead of Sheep

Clump #255: Start Christmas list and present wrapping; day thirteen of National Blog Posting Month.

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It’s that time of year when the holiday season is creeping into the picture before all the autumn leaves have fallen.  Though I’ve purchased a number of gifts, I needed to write them down to see where I am.

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One gift I’d gotten that makes me happy is this copy of Anne of Green Gables for a young niece.  I wrote a note to go with it reminding her that when her cousin, our older daughter, was her age, she started reading the book and quickly tossed it aside because the language was too old fashioned.  I don’t know what possessed me, but I told her she couldn’t leave the cabin where we were vacationing until she had read at least two chapters.  (Mean Mother!)  She ended up loving it so much, she read the whole series and kind of turned into Anne.  I had trouble keeping a straight face when we we’d be having a heated discussion and she would assert, “For Pity’s Sake!”

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Here it is, ready to delight another generation … I hope!

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It’s only mid-November, so to get myself into the holly jolly spirit I turned to the reliable old chestnut, the movie White Christmas.  It’s my “ironing movie” for present wrapping: lots of good songs, and visuals I’ve seen so many times I don’t need to keep my eyes on it.  I started wondered how much of an age difference there was in real life between Bing Crosby and “The General,” Dean Jagger (just learned the actor’s name), who was such a source of pity because he was being put out to pasture.  Turns out they were the same age … fifty-one!  In the scene below, the General keeps calling “Bob” son.  And Rosemary Clooney, Bing’s romantic interest in the story, was only twenty-six!

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She, with her deep, mature voice.  Such an elegant dress in the “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” number.

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I challenged myself last year to organize my holiday preparations so that I might enjoy the Christmas season.  So far, though it’s still early, I’m doing pretty well.

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I took a picture of the sign above — in a shop where Christmas decorations were edging out the fall ones — as a helpful reminder.

No More Wire Hangers!

Clump #254:  Return wire hangers to the dry cleaner; day twelve of National Blog Posting Month.

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I was on a lucky streak today.  Not only was the sun shining in lovely Lancaster County, PA (my shadow joining the tree’s), but my mom and I, between us, won three games of BINGO.  I blew through my winnings pretty quickly:

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And if that wasn’t enough, big news for loyal Clump A Day followers: I got to meet the Strasburg goose owner … clothier … costumer!  This picture was overexposed, and does not do her justice.  She was just the nicest person in the world.

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She and her husband were outside doing yard work when I stopped to snap a photo of the goose in its fox stole.  This is either the third (she said) or fifth (he said) goose they have owned.  The others were stolen (!!), thus the chain around her feet.

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She apologized for the hat covering the goose’s eyes, but said it would blow off otherwise.  I was so happy to be able to tell her how much I have enjoyed driving by and seeing what the goose might be wearing each week.

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And, oh yes, the clump.  I returned a load of wire hangers to the dry cleaner.  It looks like a modern art installation: hangers descending the back seat.

I feel a little guilty because this was such an easy clump.  But it has obviously needed doing for quite a while.  I have to tell myself that it’s not the size of the clump, but the consistency that matters.  Just Keep On Clumping.  Every. Day.

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Meanwhile, my heart went out to flowers I saw today that were refusing to give up, despite frost and impending winter.

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A brave gerbera daisy sending out rays of red to the drab world:

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And the leaves of that red, red, red Japanese maple:

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going out in fiery glory.

Two Ways to Deal with Clutter

Clump #251:  Clear out storage containers from car; day nine of National Blog Posting Month.

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I finally got the darned clanging containers out of the back of my car today and returned them to our Quaker Meeting.   It’s about time! We had brought them home from the Fall Festival a few weeks ago so my husband could tally money and tickets. Note the metal cash boxes within.

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This evening we got to go to our dear friends’ place for a bonfire.  They have permission to light their burn piles on non-windy days.  How I wish I could do the same with much of the clutter in our house.  Very efficient … poof!

My first sight of the fire was its reflection in the window of a springhouse on their property.

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A mesmerizing inferno.  If you look at this photo for a while you see an angel, or fire goddess, with the last burning bright fall leaves in the distance.

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Natural fireworks …

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from the ground up,

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and from the sky down.