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.

Ironing and Jane Austen: The Perfect Marriage

Clump # 249:  Conquer ironing pile in bedroom…again; day seven of National Blog Posting Month.

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I took the photo above by the roadside on a walk today.  I just googled “large bright green tree seed” and it looks like an osage orange.   I wonder where it came from? Also, I wonder why I can’t keep up with our ironing pile, another wrinkled blob.  (Smooth transition.)  The only way I could face it was by turning to one of my favorite “ironing movies,” Pride and Prejudice.

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I sat the pile down in this rocker and got the movie started. The last big clump of ironing I documented here was sped along by another Jane Austen story, the movie Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. Fun fact: in real life, Kiera Knightley dated the actor who played Mr. Wickham, the villain; also in real life Emma Thompson married the actor who played Mr. Willoughby, who was the bad apple of that movie. Hmm.

I know true “Jane-ites” disapprove of this movie version of Pride and Prejudice.  Not wearing bonnets in public? Shocking!  Mr. Darcy and Eliza kissing? Scandalous! But I absolutely adore it.  I know Colin Firth is the ultimate Mr. Darcy, but this is a movie I can watch in one sitting, or standing at the ironing board, as the case may be.  The music is sweeping, the photography is gorgeous …

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And those trees!

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Where did they find trees this size:

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Much like the size of my ironing job.  Just the napkins alone.

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This summer we started using cloth napkins for almost every meal.  But they do have to be washed, pressed, and put away.

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So many clothes we’ve lost touch with for so long … welcome back!

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And if that wasn’t cheering enough, I had a “I didn’t kill it!” moment with a pansy orchid that was generously given to me this past Spring, and about which I was beginning to worry.  I noticed a brand new flower!

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And a new, wrinkled leaf that I don’t have to smooth out.