Thursday, April 17, 2014

De-cluttering - Week 16 Boxed Up and Boxed In

I'm not sure if I can call what we have been doing this week de-cluttering, but there has been a lot of sorting and boxing up of stuff going on, and we've certainly been moving it about. 

My oldest son is getting ready to move from one apartment to another.  He has been living in the current place for at least 10 years, and has been happily collecting tons....and I mean that literally.....of records.  Yes, I'm talking vinyl.

The problem with that is they are difficult to move. You can't put too many in a box because they are so heavy. If you put them in boxes so they are standing on edge, the boxes cannot be piled one on top of another.  Sometimes that's the only way they fit in the box though.

The room where most of them have been kept is on the 4th floor of a building with no elevators.  That means a lot of hauling box after heavy box down an awful lot of stairs. 

My son doesn't actually move until the end of the month, but we knew early on that there was no way we, or anyone really, could haul all that weight down that many stairs all in one day with collapsing before time ran out.  So, we decided to get some of them down and out of there early. 

As it happens, he has transferred a lot of those albums onto CD's now, so he was willing to give up a lot of the records.  It would have been nice to have had time to try to sell them, but that wasn't possible.  So if you are interested in old vinyl records, take yourself over to the Brockville Good Will store, as we hauled two vanloads full over there this past weekend.  It doesn't matter what your musical taste is, I'm sure you will find something.

We also made off with a box full of video movies, some of which we will keep for the grandchildren. 

Just about everything is now boxed up and ready to move.  I'm glad my son was so good at that, though he had himself pretty well boxed in before we hauled away all those records.  We moved him in there ourselves, but it is very apparent that we will be needing to hire someone to help move him over to his new place.  Luckily for all, it's on the ground floor!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Personal Validation

Years ago a strange thing happened to me. I didn't understand what was going on. It didn't seem possible, but it certainly felt real.

In the past I've only told certain people about it, because I figured they would just look at me strangely. But recently I read an article that let me know I'm not the only one who has experienced this sort of thing.

At the time, an elderly aunt was living in the local nursing home. She was a spinster lady, as she often called herself, and had gotten to the point where she needed care. She had phoned me numerous times a day to tell me that, until I eventually found her a spot in the home near me.

Every day I would walk over there and visit with her for an hour or more.  It became obvious that she was suffering from some kind of dementia, as she sometimes forgot where she was or how long she had been there.  Other members of my family either stopped visiting or refused to go because they preferred to remember her as she once was.  But I went, day after day.  She had always been important in my life, and it bothered me terribly to watch her decline. I had no one to share that burden with.

Then it happened.  I was sitting alone in my living room when this feeling came over me.  It was like I was enveloped in love. There is no other way to describe it.  It was absolutely marvelous.  I was overcome with this sensation of being totally surrounded, by nothing but love. It happened a couple of times over the period of a week or so, and then it was gone.

Today I feel like someone, my father perhaps, had come back to thank me for looking after his sister.  I can't be sure it was him, but I do know I didn't imagine the experience. If I could, I'd imagine it as often as I could manage.  It was that wonderful.  There is just no way to conjure up that feeling again.  It came out of nowhere, and then it was gone, as was my aunt not too long afterwards. 

The article I read was in the March issue of Elle magazine. Scientists actually call this type of episode the "sensed presence." Though not necessarily the spiritual hug I received, apparently otherwise normal, healthy people do sense someone with them in times of stress. It lets them know they will be alright if they just persevere. I was certainly stressed as, not only was I dealing with this elderly relative alone, the staff at the home had told me that they could not legally stop my aunt from leaving the building if she decided to walk out the door.  She had not yet been deemed incompetent, and she often asked me which way my house was. 

While this sensed presence, or "third man" as climbers call it, is known to come to people in isolated or dangerous situations, the author soon learned that it could happen to anyone living with stress. Even him.

If you want to know more about this sort of experience, read The Third Man Factor by John Geiger. Actually, I think the excerpt available at the top of the linked page is the same piece I read in the magazine. For me, it was just validation that I did experience this special phenomenon, and it's nice to know I'm not any sense of the word.


Friday, April 11, 2014

De-Cluttering Week 15 - Children's Books

There is a big book sale coming up at the Merrickville United Church in May.  I've got way too many books so I thought I'd start weeding them out.  I have a terrible time parting with books though, so when my nine year old grandson came for a visit recently I gave him a job.  I hauled up several armloads of children's books that are stored in an old china cabinet in the basement,  and had him sort them into four piles:  books he liked; books he thought his little brother would like; books that were too young for either of them, but maybe their two year old twin cousins might enjoy; and books to send to the sale. 

He was really good at sorting them, though sometimes I was a bit surprised at which pile he put something into.  Once he got those piles established, I got some boxes and we packaged them up.  The books for the sale were easy enough, as were the books for the twins. 

There is a general rule though, at his house, that he's not supposed to bring things home, as he and his brother both have more books and toys than any kid actually needs.  I figured we could get the books back to his place if we did it a few at a time though. He sorted through his pile again.  There were some books that he had me put back in the basement because he said he really wants to read them but he'd do it later, however, he did manage to fill a small box full to take home with him.  Those were all for him to read now. 

I wanted him to do the same for his brother.  But he had other ideas. He thought those books should all go in the spare bedroom, so they would be there when the little one came for an over night stay.  I didn't think it would go over well if one kid went home with a box full of books and the other kid didn't get anything until his next visit, so I picked out a few to take to him. He was quite happy with the books I chose for him, especially since there was an old colouring book in the pile.  It didn't take him long to discover the colouring book also had a story line at the bottom of each page.  Even though he's still in kindergarten, he can read well enough that he quickly figured out what story it was too.  He ran off got get some art supplies and busied himself colouring in story pages until we went home half an hour later.

While I didn't get that cupboard empty yet, I did get rid of quite a few books, with others already designated to go to a new home sometime in the future.

We'll tackle the bottom part of the cupboard next time my grandson visits. I think there are games and puzzles down there.  I might even get to use the cupboard as my basement pantry if we keep this up.

Meanwhile, if you have any books you want to get rid of, the Merrickville United Church will be happy to accept them.  You can deliver them to the Merrickville Library, or drop them off at the Church  between 10AM and noon, or after 6:30PM on Wednesdays between now and the 1st of May.   Maybe you will even manage to make room to take home a few you haven't read during the sale that takes place during the three middle weekends in May.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Don't Care, Just Feed Me

Recently, while on Facebook, one cyber friend was hinting that it was time for me to post a new blog.  Just then, I spotted a picture another cyber buddy had posted, and laughingly told him that picture might just inspire a blog post.  He put up a smiley face. That's how these things are born.
The photo was of a bar and grill called I Don't Care.  When I saw it, I immediately thought it was a very clever name.  I'm sure I know how it came about. 
When a couple who has lived together any length of time decide to go out, the man often asks the woman, "Where would you like to go?"  The reply is often, "I don't care."  Now, guys may not find that helpful, since they generally aim to please, and they don't see our answer as helpful.  The thing is, in most families, the woman does the cooking, and the man eats what is put in front of him.  He might occasionally make a suggestion, or put forth a request,  but for the most part, he has no idea what he will be eating until he sits down at the table. 
Women like to eat out because it means they not only don't have to decide what the meal will be, they also don't  have to cook, or clean up afterwards. We're sure, where ever we are taken, we will find something on the menu that we will be happy to eat.  It's a treat just to get out. 
Since men seldom get a choice as to what they are going to be eating, we are often quite willing to let them choose not only what they want off a menu, but what establishment they want to head for.  When we say, "I don't care," when being asked where we want to go, we are really saying, "You choose dear, since you never get a chance to decide what you are going eat the rest of the time."  (Mind you, if the guy comes up with someplace we'd really rather not go, you can be sure we'll set him straight).
I think whoever thought up the name of this establishment needs to open a chain of them, and have them pop up all over the land.  Then, when a woman tells her man "I don't care," when he asks her where she wants to go, he will know exactly where to take her. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

De-cluttering - Week 14: Getting Potted

With Spring's arrival comes a little task I put off too long last year. I needed to plant my heritage tomato seeds.  I put it off so long last year that I only ended up with a few unripened tomatoes by the time the frost came back. I did my best to save the seeds, though I have no idea if they will germinate this year at all. That's a major shame since every one I planted last year germinated.

I went down to the basement to find a container to plant these few precious seeds in. What I found was a messy jumble of pots that had been taken to the basement and abandoned there. My basement is rather cool and I tend to avoid it, so these things can happen easily enough. But we're de-cluttering on these pages these days, so this looked like a job for this week.

First I sorted plastic pots into one pile and clay pots into another pile. Then I took them out to my gardening cupboard in the garage. If you were wondering why they didn't get put there in the first place, it was because there was too much stuff piled in front of that cabinet last fall.  Not my stuff, mind you!  And if you are wondering why I don't just throw them out, well, it's just about time to plant things, or give some perennials away, so I may need the pots.  If I am going to dispose of any, it will be after that time has past.

With the pots put away, that left the planters.  I cleaned out space in that cupboard in the background of the photograph to see if they would fit in there. The cupboard holds craft supplies, and matted photos left over from old art shows.

I got most of the planters to fit on the top shelf, and I'll de-clutter the bottom shelf some other day.  As I said, it's cold and damp down there, and I've had a bad cough for several weeks now, so I don't want to aggravate it.

I did use the Shop Vac to clean up the area though.  Then I used it to take care of a lot of spider webs and dead ladybugs.  After that I washed down the cupboard doors. I think I did pretty good, even if I didn't get rid of everything.  The frog planter will have a plant in it soon enough.  The green pot needs descaling. Our hard water has built up a lot of unsightly calcium along the bottom edge. I'll take care of that soon as I like that pot. It's one I painted myself.  It's sitting on a battery that my hubby promised to dispose of. So other than that, there is just the two other planters that are stacked together that don't have a home.  Oh, and the little tray of square ones that I've tucked beneath the edge of the cupboard. It tends to sit on my kitchen table where I can grow herbs or violets in those pots.  Right now my hoya has that spot as it will bloom there at this time of year.

Meanwhile I did get the heritage tomato seeds planted in the same lined basket as last year.   I can only hope something grows, as I'd hate to lose out on seeds for next year.

I think I did pretty good this week, especially since I got rid of so many spider webs.  I also got rid of a bag of old clothes, and a big bag of magazines.

I have a pretty busy week ahead of me, so I'm not sure what kind of de-cluttering I can find time to tackle. I'll have to think about that.  What spot in your house needs a bit of de-cluttering?  Maybe your ideas will spur me on.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's Official. Spring Has Arrived.

Spring has sprung, or so I'm told. It was difficult to believe that though, with all the snow that's still on the ground.  This is a picture that was taken from my living room window on Sunday.  Does that look like spring to you?

The temperature had began to climb and the warm sun hit the white siding of my house, causing the snow to start to recede near the foundation on the south side.  I saw actual life coming through the ground on March 26th.  When I posted that on Facebook, a few people were amazed that I had bare earth. I explained that this was near the foundation, but it still gave some people hope that spring was not just a figment of our imagination.

Then, on the first of April, the snow melted back a bit further, and I discovered the narcissus had been hiding under the snow, and were also up. I posted that on Facebook too, half expecting someone to accuse me of posting it as an April Fool joke.

Today, even I got a surprise.  The first crocuses decided to bloom, in a spot where I had not noticed life yet.  Yes, they are snuggled right up close to the warm foundation, but now I'm starting to believe spring really has arrived.  There is hope after all.

 My first crocus last year, was on March 28th, by the way, and my records say they were a couple of weeks later than the year before. This year they are a week later than last year.  If this is a trend, then so much for global warming.

At supper time, I saw a mosquito sitting on the window screen.  Not everything about spring is welcome. But since it's still not warm enough to expose too much skin, we may be able to enjoy a few flowers before we start feeding the bugs. 

Happy Springtime, everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2014

It Didn't Feel Like Time Out!

This is week 13 of the de-clutter project, but though I had a project in mind, and really must get at it, this apparently wasn't the week to do such things.

I've been busy doing everyone's income tax. I'm old fashioned enough to still want to mail the darn things in, as I feel I have to print them anyway. I find errors much easier on a printed copy. I just do.  The postage is about to take another leap upwards, so I wanted to get ours done in time to mail this weekend, before the increase. I wanted to get my oldest son's done and printed off for him to sign when I see him this weekend also. That just leaves another two to do.

Meanwhile the booklet for the karate club needed to be retyped.  I had been using the same software for 30 years, and the old files don't open on my new computer.  The old software won't load, and apparently they aren't making it anymore, so I can't even upgrade.  After a lot of trial and error, with a couple of programs,  trying many different fonts and sizes that still seemed to want to make what used to fit on one page spill over onto two, I finally found a way to make it work. I had to get that done this week as several people need various pages from that book by tonight, and I had promised they would have them. 

I had also taken on a one week art course for this week. Not great timing, but it was one I had been looking forward to, and this is when it was being offered. True, I could have done it on my own time, but it's always more fun to do something like this when others are involved in a class, so you can compare your work with what they are doing.

It was Carla Sonheim's Watercolor Transfer Painting class.  I got to paint on a surface I would never have thought of on my own, and then transferred the results onto watercolour paper afterwards.  I could just as easily have transferred it onto t-shirts, and I expect I'll try that one of these days. 

On day one we got to discover what watercolour, does when you apply it to transfer paper.

On day two we added water soluble markers, pastels, charcoal, ballpoint pen or any other media we had handy to the coloured papers we had created. That's more fun than it sounds like.  The dullest, most uninteresting piece from the day before became quite beautiful.

On day three, we learned how to iron them onto another surface, which quickly reminded me that things reverse when you do that.

Day four, we really got to work cutting up the papers into random shapes, and then rearranging them on our surface to create something interesting. You really need to let go of any preconceived notions during all this, and just let things happen.  When I was laying out some pieces thinking of combining some of them to make some silly kind of animal, I ended up with a Dancing Duo. 

Today we'll finish off the course by basically printing plates. That's a multi-layered transfer project that has a look of encaustics when it's done. First I have to figure out what I want to produce and then I have to create the various levels. Later I'll iron one after another onto a piece of watercolour paper and hope things line up. 

So, like Nelly, who is also on this de-cluttering journey,  I guess I've taken the week off from cleaning out cluttered spots. It certainly didn't feel like a week off here though.  I even got a little stressed out for a while yesterday. I'm still not quite over my latest flu, and I did  have to go for some unpleasant, but non-related medical tests earlier this week, so I'm sure that didn't help either. I finally stopped coughing long enough to actually wash the floors, at least. As I said, I do have a new de-clutter spot all picked out, and it's definitely time to get to it. I have another deadline looming, but it's a week and a half off yet, so hopefully I'll clean out that spot in time for next week's check in time.

Meanwhile, the only thing I've de-cluttered this week is the tax file and my cluttered mind.  A bit of fun now is good for all of us.