Breaking the Ice

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


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,


as well as funhouse mirror shapes on grass.


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!”


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.


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

Another Challenge Takes Flight

Clump #176:  Start Bedroom Blast Challenge; sort out electronics.

This is a post about stuck-ness in various forms.  Some readers might remember the goose with the rotating wardrobe I drive past in Strasburg, PA on visits to my mom.  During the end of winter, and what should have been spring, I had begun to worry about the goose’s clothier … the outfit hadn’t changed in weeks … maybe months?  This photo was taken a week ago, at the beginning of our last (LAST) snow.

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An End and A Beginning

Clump #171:  FINAL sorting, filing, shredding, and recycling of household paper.

Okay, folks … this is the last call.  All hidden piles of paper secretly stashed away during bouts of insecurity before guests arrive — come out into the light of day!


This is big … really, really big.  My darling younger daughter (who, you might remember, made this job manageable by sorting through the mammoth paper-glacier on her winter break) is now home for spring break and, fittingly, helped me finish the project.

In an effort to give each piece of paper a home, these were new file folder titles that my papers fell into: How-To; Possible Purchases; Spiritual/Mental First Aid; Travel; and Writing.  I have separate accordion folders for Recipes, Sheet Music, and Instruction Manuals, plus a box in the basement for “Posterity.” (I know, a deferred clump for a future day.)

Once again, the “Do” pile received some more entries.  I won’t need to wonder what to “do” for my next clumps.


Funny and ironic findings kept us laughing, like the to-do list with “bedroom piles” on the top (not crossed off, I might add) …


And a book I had ordered from Chinaberry called Clutter Busting.  I even read it, to the end.  I am much more apt to read about a problem than do something about it … until now, that is!


Another note about the egocentric sense I’ve had that my slow paper-clearing project has been synced with the insufferably long winter we’ve been enduring.  As of yesterday, I am calling that winter finished.  I say this not only because my piles of white have been eradicated or tamed into submission, but because nature is telling me spring is really coming. I drove by a small herd of cattle on the way to see my mom, and they were definitely feisty:


I couldn’t get a shot of one doing a skip and a hop, which happened several times while I watched.


I was also hearing lots of birdsong.  The animals know.


Poor, salt-sprayed roadsides are finally giving way to brown.


An old gentleman with whom my mom and I dined yesterday started a conversation, in a soft, Georgia accent, with: “Did any of you ladies ever go possum hunting when you were in high school?”  It was that kind of a spriny, spunky day.

Sorry for my (even imagined) part in prolonging this way-long white season.  We might get April-fooled by another snow, but it won’t stand a chance.  The living forces have been stirred, and there’s no turning back. 

Divide and Conquer

Clump #170:  Sort out papers stuck in basket.

So this was the shove-it-all-together basket from last weekend.  Let’s call it my anxiety basket.  Company was coming, I needed to make these things disappear, and I had run out of time to sort them and put them away … my achilles heel habit. On the top, I noticed a business card from a friend who is a professional organizer whose business name is Sorting Things Out.  A little wink from the universe?


Since then, I caught a bad cold and have been feeling under the weather (which is a feat these days!).  But I gave myself a kick in the pants to bust through the basket.  The biggest pile (left) were all  easily recycled, and next to it, a pile of our address labels ready for shredding and recycling.  The other two piles are for my husband and me to look at and decide what to do with.  Since we are both recovering from colds, this seemed enough for now.  I had broken through.


Another little wink was the card now on top of “my” pile:


And briefly, here is today’s update on our endless winter.  Even the snow is trying to form itself into plants and trees:


And a t-shirt vendor’s warm, bright colors defied the jaws of a snow plow:


Victory will be ours!

Raising the White Flag

Clump #169:  Another (!) paper pile is cleared.

Yesterday, while preparing to have company for dinner, we found a bunch of  — PAPER  (Dun-dun-dun!)  — needing to be dealt with.  It was almost more than I could bear.  This is precisely the genesis of my paper problem: get ready for company and, in the cleaning process, sweep together excess papers hanging around, shove them into a hidden space (closet, basement, etc.), and vow to get right to the clearing and sorting as soon as my hostess duties are over.  (Yeah, right.)  Thus the cycle: stash and repeat, stash and repeat … I end up with a paper jam the size of which I just conquered in the month of February.

I had diligently kept my blinders on the twenty-eight piles I’d vowed to get rid of, but other paper had weaseled its way into our house.  I was so discouraged after all that paper-work to find myself in the same darn place.

I came home this evening to find my dear husband starting to sort yet another pile:


Do you remember the song “This is the song that never ends”?  It came on at the end of the television show Lamb Chop’s Play-Along, with Shari Lewis and her puppets.  This is how I feel right now.  (Good Lord, when I googled the song, I saw a youtube video that boasted ten hours of it! Oy!)

I have also been feeling as though there’s a psychic connection to my paper purging and the endless winter we’ve been experiencing this year.  Right now we, and possibly you, are bracing for another big snow.  When will it end?  I thought that instead of a bright color for pigment therapy today, I’d wave the white flag.  Snow on our street looking like threatening waves of ice:


I’m fighting back the tide with my own whites, magnolia:


Iris with just enough color:


Same with a ruffly orchid:


A flower that reminded me of exploding fireworks:


And ballet slipper-colored roses:


My new motto: don’t fight the endless snow (or paper) … grin and bear it.


Thrills, Chills, and Utility Bills

Clump #156: Clear pile number 15 of 28 for each day in February.

This was a pile my husband and I needed to look through together: documents from utility companies.  Like going to the dentist, but less fun.


My husband looked through water, electric, and gas paperwork to see if there were any big usage spikes.  Three piles remained: shred, recycle, and a few: “investigate this issue.”


So much paper, like the many flakes of so much snow outside (sorry to be a broken record), which is still falling as I write.

I was photographing the tree below with cotton-ball-like clumps of snow on its branches recently and felt a sense of deja vu …


I looked through pictures taken last spring and found a photo of the same tree: a diva dogwood who will only appear in white.


Revisiting spring photos inspired me — I will dedicate the next week to colorful photos.  I am sick of this steady diet of white papers and white landscapes.  Pigment therapy stat!

Pile of Paper, Piles of Snow

Clump # 155:  Clear away small pile number 14 of 28; activate Lumosity gift.

Four pieces of paper does not quite fit the definition of a pile.  I admit, I consciously chose an extra-small clump for today.  Here I am at the half-way mark of February, and I’m hitting a wall: tired and uninspired.

The “pile” was a few papers related to gifts we received.  The only one needing action was a gift subscription to Lumosity, the brain training and game site, given to me by my older sister.  It was from 2011.  Yikes.  One of countless things I’ve meant to do … someday.

I was sorely tempted to put it aside again in something like an “action” folder … for another sometime in the future.  I know all too well that “action” folders are paper graves.  The act of filing makes you feel virtuous, as though you’ve done something.  So (drum roll) I forced myself to actually activate the gift.  It reminded me that I tried to do so in 2011 and couldn’t figure it out.  Too dumb for the brain exercises!


One cause of brain freeze: this was the arctic world I drove through this morning:


Beautiful, but dangerous.  Even the street signs obliterated.


Remember this jaunty goose, kitted out in smart outfits?


This is what she looked like today:


Remember the hopeful “Think Spring” Snow-maiden?


Today’s slap-in-the-face to such thoughts:


This is more like it:


Thanks very much, but you can stop now.

Holiday Hold-overs

Clump #153: Change holiday wreaths; shovel out pile number 12 of the twenty-eight pile challenge for February.

Today, while bracing for another big nor’easter, I took our Christmas wreath down …


And put up the trusty Valentine-ish one I bought for $14.99 at Target ages ago.  I have a distinct memory of my younger, now college aged, daughter welcoming a friend from kindergarten for a play date, and her little friend telling me, “It’s time to take down your Valentine’s Day wreath.”  The rest of the play date didn’t go much better, but I’m happy to report that the friend turned into a very nice young woman.  I, however, remain slow to transition holiday wreaths.


Today’s pile from the study was an accumulation of junk I had not dealt with after Christmas.


Most of it consisted of bags and boxes.  Out to the curb you go with the paper documented yesterday.  Health starts here … yes!


The only items left were Christmas gifts I had bought that needed to be exchanged or returned.  Wow, out of sight, out of mind.  I had completely forgotten about them.


I have been doing a fair amount of whining over our incessant winter storms this season.  In the spirit of “Love what you’re doing,” I present the photo below.  The car is one I often pass when traveling to Lancaster County. I adore this car.  The snow on it right now just adds to its allure.  Tomorrow it might be buried in the predicted snow-ice storm. By springtime it might be all rust, or much more disintegrated …


So I’m loving this moment, this day, this winter.

Three Bags Full

Clump #152:  Pile number eleven of the twenty-eight paper piles in February challenge.

Today’s paper pile was petite.  It was a bunch of papers addressed to our older daughter, who no longer lives with us.  One ancient newsletter, bank rate notice, and tax forms: easily filed or shredded.


And speaking of shredding, as much as I’ve been marveling at how easy this project is turning out to be (in direct opposition to the dread with which I approached it), the proof is in these bags waiting to be kicked to the curb and picked up by the recycling truck.  Mama Mia!  That’s a lotta shredding!


In other news, we are so ready to show winter the door.  Another big storm is predicted for tomorrow and Thursday.  Enough!


I was shopping in a store yesterday and a salesman there said to me, “I fired Mother Nature last week.  She didn’t get the memo!”


We’re getting a little winter-weather-wacky.  Help!  (Another Strasburg, PA snow creation:)


Hope you are faring better!

White Out

Clump # 144:  Clear out little pile number 3 of 28; shovel big clumps of snow.

Okay, I admit: the clump today was laughably small for my Flippin February Paper Pile Purge.  Not quite qualifying as a “pile,” it was several papers our younger daughter had sorted together as a favor to me in January; they all pertained to my husband’s credit card. He took a look at them and declared that they should all be shredded. Done.


The big clumps we cleared today were a different type of white stuff clogging our world:


Boulder-size clumps of snow.


This was our eleventh snowfall of the season … with more arriving imminently.


We haven’t gotten so sick of it yet that we take for granted the marvelous beauty it bestows on the landscape.


Even from indoors.


Right now (before we go snow-crazy), the snow is teaching me a lesson in my quest to eradicate our problem paper: small things done consistently can really add up to a big thing.


Like the clearing away of one little pile after another.