A Whole Lotta Shreddin Goin On

Clump #226: Sort massive clump of papers and start doing something with them; day 22 of the 30-day challenge.

Just as seasons do not change in a day,


so, too, our killer paper pile will not be vanquished today.  But my husband and I made substantial progress.


I’d say over half of it is either filed, ready to be mailed, or …


SHREDDED!  (In my head I’m hearing a lead guitar shredding out a lightening-fast solo.)


Yesterday’s comic strip, Dustin, by Steve Kelley & Jeff Parker summed up our previous state of affairs. (“Seriously, Kudlick, what are you looking for in all that mess?”  “My organizer.”)


The sense of knowing where every piece of paper might be in our house right now is downright thrilling.  (Please don’t laugh … Clump A Day thrills are real thrills.)


Must hold on!


Paper Chains

Clump #225: Tackle box of swept-up papers and other clutter; day 21 of 30-day challenge.


I must confess to a Clump A Day roadblock.  I was dreading clearing out this container of (mostly) paper all day today.  The task was especially onerous because much of it was culled from previous clearings … a core clump, one might say, dense in its stubbornness.  One might say many other less polite things, but I’ll just add that I spent most of the day doing anything else to avoid it.  (“These plants need watering … immediately!”)


I finally got it pretty much sorted out, but there are a few piles I’ll need to consult with other family members about, and a “Do” pile, which will take a bit longer to make go away.  More work for tomorrow.  But two full bags of paper for recycling are inspiring.

This continues to be the hardest part of my Clump A Day journey: I perform a herculean paper purge, feel victorious, and then the tide comes roaring back … and I’m pulled under again.  It’s been especially challenging this summer to keep up with the paper flow while away on vacation.

One such trip was to Boston, where my older sister and I spent a wonderful day at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  In a fairly new “Monk’s Garden,” pictured below, circuitous paths — almost labyrinth-like — wound through beautifully varied greenery …


evoking lessons learned over and over again in an endless (?) loop.

Antiques, Oddities, and Pretty Flowers

Clump #223:  Comb through and recycle ancient file folders; day 19 of 30-day challenge.


The photo above of a blue poppy (from a botanical garden in Stavanger, Norway) is for two-year-old twins who, I was told, viewed this blog today.  Crying “purple pretty flowers” over and over for five minutes while resisting a nap is the best “like” I’ve ever gotten.  Babies were the theme of the day, like this shop sign my husband and I passed by, both sweet and creepy:


But then, it did go along with the general Antiques and Oddities motif of the store:


So … to the clump!  An old, old, yes, antique, box of file folders, hideous in their out-of-date-ness.


They contained quaint things like preschool contact lists and actual written directions (before the day of the GPS):


I saved so many magazine and newspaper articles I know I won’t ever reread.  A good lesson for the present and my continuous clipping habit. And speaking of clipping, a bit of sweet and creepy of our own: hair from our older daughter’s first hair cut (Awww):


And, finally, the box is empty and a pile of papers is ready for the recycling bag.


I vividly remember having tried the sunflower house, above.  The idea was to sow sunflower seeds with morning glory seeds to make a cozy little house.  I believe there’s a reason it is shown in a drawn illustration. It never looked this dense and wonderful, just leggy and ratty.  Unlike the flowers that grow wild.


Purple pretty flowers!

Freeing Chi

Clump #221: Clear away piles of paper; day 17 of 30-day challenge.


Here’s proof positive that a clump can be cleared on a day of lethargy and low incentive.  I really had to push myself for this one, but was rewarded with a few hidden gems:

I hadn’t remembered that I’d put aside the April (!) newspaper section containing an obituary for Mary Scottoline, “Mother Mary,” the mother of my favorite Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and mystery writer, Lisa Scottoline.  I’d read about her for years through her daughter’s column, but I loved learning more facts of her life from the article.  For instance, she was the youngest of 19 children.  Wow.  Understandably, she had to fight for attention.


This little snippet also lightened the work:


And the feng shui chi is saying “Merci …


we may now flow free!

Scaling a Mountain of Clumps

Clump #219:  Clear one pile of papers from the party runoff.  Day 15 of the 30-day challenge.


Oh, the terrible feeling of backsliding on this Clump A Day journey.  With guests coming to our house yesterday, I fell into the old habit of corralling all the loose papers together and shoving them into a currently unused room, in this case our older daughter’s.   This room had recently become the repository of basement stuff still needing decisions and/or to be given away.  A photo of the whole room would be way too embarrassing and overwhelming right now.


The loose papers on top of the plastic containers were the first to go.  I have to give myself a teensy bit of credit that I did get right to it today, rather than giving way to those infamous good intentions that pave the way to hell.


I took the photo below when my husband, our son, and I were climbing Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, in Norway.  I had serious doubts about whether I’d be able to make it.  My son said, “Just take it one rock at a time,” and then we both said  “A clump at a time.”  I wanted to remember the exact moment.


There were sooo many rocks.


My camera battery had given way by the time we reached the top.  I bought this magnet later on in our trip to remind me that, unbelievably, impossibly, I had made it there …


one rock, one step, one clump at a time.


Clumps Happen

Clump #214:  Clear one more quarter of kitchen table.  Day ten of 30-day challenge.


I almost started this post with a different photo, but thought better of it. Our mudroom is the domain of Pumpkin, our cat.  Her litter boxes (yes, plural) are in there, where her rule is law.  One rule is that anything falling on the floor is fair game. I had put a bag of plastic bags on a shelf in there with the intent to recycle the whole bunch, but this morning it was on the floor when I, half asleep, picked it up … too quickly to see the puddle of cat pee that immediately splashed onto my bare feet.  Oh man, the wake-up call from Hell!  Welcome to “one of those days.”

Okay, I just searched back for a picture of Pumpkin, and found this one … another very different morning, and offering, exactly as it was, untouched by humankind.


I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how bad a day, how many insults and disappointments, a clump can be cleared and a bit of order restored.  More kitchen table clutter:


And now a full half table of usable space is available.


I feel the need to pretty-up, or freshen-up this post.  Last week I saw these lovely pink flowers popping out by the roadside:


I learned they are called surprise lilies, from the amaryllis family.  They bloom after their leaves die, thus, another of their names: resurrection lilies.


Hope springs eternal.  Tomorrow is another day.

Tabletop Tribulations

Clump #213:  Start clearing kitchen table.  Day nine of my 30-day challenge (has it only been nine days?!)

Now that our kitchen island is clear of clutter (yesterday’s clump), we may enjoy the abundant fruits of summer collected in its center, a changeable work of art.


Aaaand … right next to it is the kitchen table, full to bursting with the fruits of our negligence.  ACK!  Is it my imagination, or is Neuroscientist Richie Davidson on the cover of mindful magazine laughing at me?  Or maybe it’s a grimace that says, “How can I meditate in all this clutter? Get me out of here!”


I found and payed some bills, which felt like detonating land mines, then rifled through part of the daunting task until a clear space was born.  I didn’t want to make myself crazy.  Just one clump … one step at a time. The less onerous the clump, the more motivated I’ll be to tackle another tomorrow.


Now the reward: two library books that seemed to be put out on display just for me:


Excuse me while I put the kettle on.

A Mean Paper Pile Subdued

Clump #210: Power through paper pile — part two.


I figured I’d put a photo of a tree on this page to commemorate the trees who gave their lives to make the newspapers I scanned through today. I started timing myself to keep up the pace and sense of urgency.  The photo, below, was a misfire, but it’s actually a good impression of the way the process felt: scan, scan, skim, and toss:


I dutifully cut out the sudokus for my husband …


and bagged the whole lot for recycling.  Four of the bags already contained shredded paper.  With any luck, the piles on top will stabilize the shreds and prevent them from escaping and turning our street into a ticker tape parade on trash day.


Oh, Mo’ne, I hope you have your head screwed on tight!  Front page of The Inquirer?  At age 13?


The urgency part of getting through the clump quickly was the need to get out to a screening of the movie “Mean Girls” tonight.  It was a benefit for the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, with a live interview with Tina Fey by TVGuide Magazine Writer and fellow Summer Stage Alum Damian Holbrook.  Tina Fey was just as funny and down-to-earth as you would hope.


Another great female role model and Philly girl setting the bar high.

Throw Out Like a Girl

Clump #209:  Rake through and recycle newspaper pile — part one. Day five of 30-day challenge.


Okay, enough with the basement clumps … for now.  While we were staring down monsters from the depths, our actual living space has become atrocious.

I’ve experienced a surprising behavior change since my surgery in May: a decrease in television watching (to almost none) and in newspaper reading.  For anyone who knows me well, this is shocking.  I find I don’t want to get wrapped up in all the negativity and brought down by the junk.  I really don’t want to hear about Iraq, Gaza, the President, Congress, or any of the other cast of characters I used to closely follow as my favorite soap opera.  You might accuse me of being superficial or not caring about the world’s problems, and you might be right.  I can’t seem to get out of my protective bubble.  In the meantime, the pile of newspapers continues to accumulate, like weeds or dust.  It has been a clump I never have enough time to take care of in a day, so I started with just one stack.  Why not toss them all out, sight unseen?  I still have a need to scan through and find those gems that, for me, make the whole enterprise worthwhile.

Here’s a great example: today I read an article that filled me with hope. A team from Philadelphia, the Taney Dragons, is in the Little League World Series, which is exciting enough.  And like the lone pansy in a field of petunias, above (sorry, I’ll do anything to include one of my flower photos), their ace pitcher is a girl in a “boy’s field.”  Mo’ne Davis, below (next to a dour Meryl Streep in an unflattering wig), certainly gives lie to the taunt, “You throw like a girl.”


Excerpts from the article: “Tai Shanahan, one of the team’s outfielders, said she ‘is one of the guys that just happens to be a girl.’  Davis said her teammates’ acceptance of her as a girl player ‘makes me cry.’ ‘Just kidding,’ said Davis. ‘I don’t really feel anything.'” …

“Mo’ne has to ride an hour and 20 minutes on the bus each way to from her home in South Philadelphia to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Chestnut Hill, where she has been given a generous scholarship and received an award for academic achievement. ‘She is the leader without trying,’ Bandura [her coach] said.'”

Well … the uplifting story does not balance out the one below it about Ferguson, but it helped.  Here’s the first clump (looks bigger in person–really):


Late-breaking news:

Mo’ne Davis becomes first girl to throw LLWS shutout

 Go Mo’ne!!!

Lighten Up, Clean Up and Head Out

Clump #186:  Find the one Billboard magazine our son wants to keep.  Day eleven of the 30-day, 30-post Bedroom Blast Challenge.

This afternoon I was not liking my 30-day challenge.  It’s Friday.  I’m tired.  I want to cut loose.  My editing daughter needs my words earlier so that she can do the same.  Then I received a text message from our son saying there was just one Billboard magazine he’s interested in keeping: “one on DIY topics.”  And I’m off and running, not able to resist the pull of ridding ourselves of a big clump.  I spent a good amount of time looking through all the tables of contents, until — Woo-Hoo — I spotted this one:


The rest could be stripped of their address labels for shredding and tossed into bags for recycling.  I hope the men who pick up the recycling will be impressed that they’re in order by date (yesterday’s clump).  Big weight out of the room!  Not to mention our son’s life.


I’ll leave you with a series of photos I snapped while getting my car washed.  Fun and a certain surreal beauty in a commonplace setting.









And … I’m I out of here.  Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are!