It Pays to Ask

Clump #246: Finish inner paper pile; day four of NaBloPoMo.

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Today was another day of getting fired up on the telephone to resolve issues from deep in the molten inner core of our huge paper pile.  Some examples: a magazine subscription notice of payment due, when I don’t remember renewing said subscription.  I googled the name of the magazine and “customer service number,” and spoke to a young woman who seemed embarrassed by the question.  I told her I wanted to pay for magazines I received, but she kept saying, “No, you’re good.  I’ve terminated your subscription.”  I got the distinct impression that this is a way to get forgetful people (like me) to assume they had signaled a renewal … and send in money.  I know the magazine business is bad, but really.

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Another was a bill for a medical test at a “doc in a box” for my younger daughter that I had thought I paid at the time of the test.  They said they’d call me back yesterday, but still haven’t.

Inspired by this raft of successful calls, I ordered a Christmas present online, and was trying, unsuccessfully, to use a googled coupon for the store.  I ended up calling the store for help, where a very nice operator told me the coupon wouldn’t work, but said, “I can offer you free shipping.”  I’m saving a lot of money by playing the squeaky wheel.

I took the photos above and below this morning, in an effort to capture the state of transition in the outside world.  Last bursts of glorious color. In the grocery store the seasons were transitioning, too.  I couldn’t decide whether it was a changing of the guard between Halloween and Christmas, or whether it was a war, with Santas and snowmen overpowering the pumpkins.

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Ready or not, Christmas is coming!

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But please let me soak in the watercolors of autumn for as long as I can.

Pumpkins, Piss N’ Vinegar

Clump #245: Work through inner, inner paper pile; day three of NaBloPoMo.

Oh my, my.  I just caught myself starting to read an article entitled: How to Stop Procrastinating — For Good, while procrastinating writing this post.  I really didn’t even notice for a while; the irony is pretty thick.

Here is a great tip for hapless housekeepers: invite a neat-nick friend over once a week.  My dear friend and fellow The Voice t.v.-show-watching partner came over again tonight for the show.  One week ago she set off the clump that I’m finally peeling back to its essence.  Funny thing about last week: I dumped all sorts of paper in an ugly pile, stashed it in the corner of our study, turned the light out, and pretended that it didn’t exist.  But sometime during the Adam-Blake-Gwen-and-Pharrell-fest I wanted to mapquest a destination for this friend.  She came with me into the study where our computer is, I turned the light back on, and, well … my clumping shame was exposed.  But she came back again this week.  By the end of the Voice season our house should be immaculate. Or maybe I’ll allow myself to relax and be okay with the way things are.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this dichotomy between the public and private self/home.  The pumpkin I carved for Halloween made for an unexpectedly funny illustration.  Private, raw, and untamed:

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Public, neat(er), smooth, and composed:

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Dark night of the soul:

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Put on a happy face:

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I got through a bunch of phone calls today from the inner, inner paper pile that I had been putting off, but when confronted, felt very good.  I vented my spleen (where in the world did that expression come from?).  I was full of piss and vinegar (again…?) by the end of the paper pile calls. Not as big and grand as the mammoth herding of newspapers and catalogs of a few days ago, but in terms of sense of accomplishment, it was great.

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Small, but far-reaching in impact.

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!

Plunging Into the NaBloPoMo Challenge

Clump #243:  Vanquish paper dragon, yet again.  Day one of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).

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Hello again … I’m back from Baking Land!

Some big things happened when I was gone from the blogosphere.  First, I had a “big” birthday.  To mark the occasion, I was determined to take a dip in the lake where my family and I were staying for the celebration.  Yes, it was October.  Oh, yes, the  water was cold.  My older daughter and youngest niece joined me.  Here are some of the wonderful gifts from the experience:

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  1. My very wise daughter said, on the day we were to take the plunge, “Mom, it’s not going to be any warmer or more light outside than it is now.”  Me: “So true.  Let’s do it.”
  2. I had a very strong image in my mind of exactly what I wanted to do: walk, walk, walk in, with no stopping, then dive from there, float on my back and kick up a big ball of splash (below), the way my mom always did, then get out.  Done and done.  A clear, rock-solid goal is a powerful thing.
  3. My hot, outdoor shower afterward felt like heaven!  Gotta have the cold to fully appreciate the warm.
  4. The whole experience shook off every speck of dust and cobweb (old-lady-ness), inside and out.  Invigorating!

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Also, I completed a writing task that has been hanging over my head for a year. I was aided by life lesson number one, above.  I told myself, “I will never have more time to do it than I have now,” as the deadline bore down on me.  Later, I read said writing in front of a group, which was very big for me, given my history with public speaking.  A flashback to the “presentation speech” I was required to do in junior high or high school (blocked out the year): I had made the mistake of choosing to demonstrate how to make a tissue paper flower, not realizing how much my hands would shake in front of the class.  I told myself that it was loud to me, but maybe the other kids couldn’t hear the rattle of tissue paper shaking — until a class comedian piped up with, “It’s a good thing she’s not working with a knife!”  Ah, memories!

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Now, down to business.  The clump. With all the Fall Festival baking, going away to upstate New York, and the big writing project to fret over, the paper-build-up in our house again reached danger level.  My good friend came over to watch The Voice with me last Monday night, so I swooped up all the paper and dumped it in a corner of our oft-beleaguered study.  If its walls could speak they would be crying, “Help, I can’t breathe!”

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But here you go, old thing, my work in progress:

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And after.  Pile on the right is the clump for tomorrow.

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The study breathes a sigh of relief.  Enjoy, indeed.

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A happily ever after.

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Until the next time …

Big thanks to my sister Jean for the lake photos!