Making waves

What a ride on the ocean! My sea kayaking trip with Audrey was fantastic. The sea was royal blue, the kayak was yellow, we held our paddles in perfect position and paddled in perfect coordination! As you can see from the picture, I was all smiles. that's not me, that's a paperdoll, and that's not our kayak, it's a Christmas kayak ornament, and that's not the ocean, it's a blue potholder. I don't have a picture to post yet and that's the best I can do until I buy another scanner.

As for the rest, well - the sea was gray from an overcast sky, and we weren't in perfect unison in our paddling and our technique was not flawless. But our kayak was yellow, yes siree!

The main part of the description is absolutely on target, though. It was a wonderful experience and I was all smiles! We got some waves from a passing whale watching boat, which delivered an unusual sensation as we bounced around in the ocean. Our guide was a hoot, and we didn't turn over and we didn't drown, and we managed to get where we were supposed to be when we were supposed to be there. We only bumped other kayaks a couple of times, and at the end, Audrey thanked the other participants for their patience with us "2 old ladies."

We finished off her visit with a 2-hour hike in Acadia National Park and then we returned to shop in Bar Harbor, the site of our so recent achievement.

Alas, Audrey flew home this morning. Last night I was complaining that while she was here, I ate out too much and had too many sweets, etc., and I vowed to get back on track when she left. At that point, I realized that her departure was imminent, and turned to Audrey and begged her to extend her visit. She had no intention, unfortunately, of staying a few more days just so I could gorge myself on inappropriate foods. Some friend, huh?

Thanks to Audrey for a memorable and exciting week! Except for the small cans of blueberries she had in her suitcase that the airport security feared were potential explosives, everything went very well. Gotta watch those blueberries.


As I mentioned earlier, getting older means getting comfortable with routine and predictability. Every once in a while, though, something (or someone) will come along and nudge us just a little into other possibilities.

Ed has always tried to get me to try new foods. I have always balked. He wonders aloud how I ever got weaned. He wants me to try various mushrooms and stinky cheeses. He wants me to taste buffalo and lamb. No thanks, I'm fine - really, I am.

This week we are hosting an old high school friend of mine, Audrey. We have known each other since 7th grade, were close in school, but our lives have diverged, as is often the case, and we have not kept in touch as we should have through the years. She works at the library in Memphis, but she is licensed as a massage therapist, and one never knows what Audrey will do next. When a mutual friend died a few years ago, we both realized that life will not wait for us to take time to see each other, so Audrey flew up to Maine from Memphis, and we are having a grand time.

And today, we are going sea kayaking.

Unless you know me well, you probably did not get the inflection in that previous sentence. AND TODAY WE ARE GOING SEA KAYAKING! By the red capital letters and exclamation point, you may infer that this prospect excites me. You would be wrong. This prospect terrifies me.

Audrey wanted to go kayaking while she was here, and I reluctantly consented. You see, I can't swim. It's one of my many limitations. I can't even tread water. I've never been in a kayak before. All this was dismissed by Audrey. "You'll love it! Don't worry! You'll be safe! Nothing will happen!" My first inclination was to respond with a resounding NO, but then I thought about stretching.

I have always believed in two kinds of stretching. The first is the kind where you lift your arms and lengthen your muscles, extending every fiber and tendon, repeating the exercise with your legs and back until every portion of your body is relaxed and content.

The second kind is what they used to do on the medieval rack. That's called torture. Whenever I "stretch" myself in life, trying something scary, I obviously choose the second definition.

Nevertheless, in less than 5 hours I will be sitting in a kayak in Bar Harbor with a 10-minute lesson on paddling, in a strange device that, with a few modifications, could look suspiciously like a casket. Everyone assures me I will have a wonderful time. I certainly hope so.

I guess this is another opportunity for me to stretch a little out of my comfort zone. Audrey is willing to take the accolade or blame, depending on how the adventure goes, because she is responsible for my stretching today. That reassured me until I realized that as a professional massage therapist, she has patients who, although they feel better in the end, are relieved only after considerable pain has been inflicted on their poor, tense bodies.

After the kayaking, Audrey wants to go hiking. You will understand, then, that as we shopped yesterday around the sports store, I hid the rock climbing brochures. No sense in giving her any more ideas.

Signs of Life

It occurred to me the other day that road signs are full of life wisdom. Construction Zone, for instance. That could describe my sewing room. In a state of disarray, tools lying about, with danger in every square inch - scissors, needles, pins, rotary cutters, hot glue, hot iron. (I still remember the time that I sewed through my finger with the sewing machine needle.) Construction zones are pretty much dangerous territory. They're full of productive activity, but you have to tread carefully. When I'm in a Construction Zone mode, I have to remember to be cautious.

Many road signs are just warnings. Slow Down reminds me to do just that. Watch Out for Falling Rocks reminds me that life is full of treacherous, unpredictable events. Junction Ahead signs suggest that I prepare myself for the next step toward my personal goals. Moose Crossing can work both ways - a hope of catching a glimpse of one of those fascinating creatures, or the nightmare of having one crash into my windshield at 60 mph. Signs that warn of sharp curves in the road or steep downhill inclines demand that I adjust my driving (and living) accordingly. Scenic View signs serve as magnets, urging me to stop for a few minutes and enjoy beauty.

I thought about all this as I was driving to Winterport to see Rachel et. al. last weekend. I always take the same route. It's comfortable and familiar. It may not be the shortest way, it may not be the prettiest way, but it's the way I've always done it. She made it easy for me when she moved a few years ago. I take the same route to get to her new house as I did to get to her old house, up until a certain point. At that point, the end of a divided highway where I used to turn right, I now turn left and continue the rest of the way. There are no surprises. I know every mile of the trip, every road sign, every house for sale, every store, and every pothole and frost heave.

That day, however, as I pulled up to the intersection to make my usual left-hand turn, I was disconcerted to see a man in a construction vest waving at me. As I turned my head to the left, I saw a crowd of people lining the street. My heart sank. A parade. Oh, good grief!

The man waved me on. There was only one way to go. I had to make a U-turn. Was he asking me to turn around? He certainly was. I made the U-turn and found myself heading back the way I had come - in a state close to panic. I had met the Enemy, and its sign was Detour.

The older I get, the more I like ritual and routine. A change in routine greatly frustrates me. On this day, however, I was more than frustrated. I was extremely distressed, because in essence, I was lost. I was fine as long as I stayed on my regular route, but a change in course threw me into chaos. I had never driven around in that area before. You might as well have picked me up and set me down in the middle of Iraq. I had no idea where I was driving or how to get to Winterport.

I turned onto the first street to the right, pulled over in a parking lot, and called Rachel, explaining the situation. She told me to continue on that side street to see if I could get through there. I couldn't, of course. But I found a kind lady in another construction vest who took pity on my lost self and tried to get me back on track. She too directed me to make a U-turn, and suffice it to stay I went several miles out of the way in unfamiliar surroundings before I found myself back on the main road at an intersection that I recognized.

I could say here that because I took the detour, I was able to see a flock of wild geese, or a gorgeous flower garden, or some other wonderful thing that I would have otherwise missed. Well, I didn't. The detour was boring, uninspiring, and nondescript. Nothing beautiful happened and I wasted a lot of gasoline and a lot of time.

When we were moving to Maine from Tennessee, we usually received two reactions. Half of our friends asked why on earth we would want to do that, and shook their heads. The other half claimed it would be an incredible adventure for us, and they wished they had the guts to do it themselves.

Detours are like that. There is a certain comfort in methodical planning and a nasty shock when sudden alterations in the plan are necessary. On the other hand, there can be an ennui to methodical planning and a rush of excitement when one realizes that there is unchartered territory here, and maybe - just maybe - a few surprises. I guess we all need shaking up once in a while to remind us that we are still alive.

I have never liked detours on the highway or in life, and that fact has not changed. I am reassured, though, that when the detours come - and they will - I can emerge unscathed and continue on my journey.

Excessive Spending

really irks me. Yes, I've done it, and yes, I will most likely do it again in my life. But, it seems to me that it is a norm in our society, and it's just disgusting.

"I really don't *need* it, but it's on sale", "It was really cute, so I bought it even though I don't *need* it"...blah...blah...blah.... Running up a credit card debt for things that are completely and totally unnecessary because you are bored or want to impress your friends. I throw "bored" in there because as a stay-at-home-mom, I know how easy it is to get sucked into the computer and tempted to buy things for the thrill of it.

I know people who consider shopping a HOBBY. What the ... ??? How about reading? Writing? Playing an instrument? A sport? Crafts? But no, shopping. Spending money. I just don't get it. I seriously think anyone who considers shopping a hobby needs a psychiatrist. Now.

Go to the mall. Walk. Get some Exercise. Window shop. That's cool. Enjoy looking at new things, but you don't have to actually buy them all!!!

I find it harder and harder to live in normal society as each day passes.

I need inspiration

You know when you are rolling good and then just hit a brick wall? This is how I've felt 2 days now. Not sure what happened, but something has thrown my off my groove. The Living Room is a wreck, but the rest of the house if clean enough, the laundry is under control, the sink is clean. And yet, I feel like something is 'wrong'. I'm stressed and fussy for no reason.

Well, maybe there's a reason. The baby is cutting 3 for sure, possibly 6 teeth all right now. He is pissy and fussy, and I think it's wearing off on me. I have a slightly big order I need to get cracking on of diaperpail liners and wetbags, I have another order lined up for washcloths and breastpads. Geez.

My husband got in a car wreck yesterday morning, nothing major, no injury, truck is drivable, but maybe that's what started this?

Whatever it is, if anyone has the 'right words' to get me back on track, I'd appreciate hearing them ;) (well...reading them).

On a positive note, I'm almost finished reading a great simplicity book by Elaine St. James. Are the rest of you doing any reading? If so, I think we need a book swap lined up for when we finish books so we can rotate them to each other instead of taking up more space on our shelves.

My answers!

I saw this on my friend's blog, and instead of answering in her comments, I thought I'd put them here ;)

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops? No, but I've been "questioned" LOL
2. What color are your eyes? Brown, dark brown.
3. When was the last time you went sledding? Never.
4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone? Depends on who's offering.
5. Do you believe in ghosts? Yes.
6. Do you consider yourself creative? Not really.
7. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie? Jolie.
8. Who was your first crush? Matt James
9. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you? Probably.
10. Have you ever been ice skating? Yes, once as a child.
11. How often do you remember your dreams? ~3X a week
12. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Don't remember, but not very long ago.
13. Can you name 4 songs by The Beatles? Hard Day's Night, Blackbird, Fool on the Hill, Help
14. What's the one thing always on your mind? Nothing.
15. What talent do you wish you had? Knitting
16. Do you know anyone in jail? Not right now.
17. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew? YES. Several times.
18. Have you ever been punched in the face? Yes.
19. Do you own any stuffed animals? Yes.
20. Do you have a major crush on someone? Not right now!
21. Do you miss someone right now? My Granny.
22. What are you listening to right now? Spongebob Squarepants
23. Has the death of a celebrity ever made you cry? Princess Diana
24. What color underwear/boxers are you wearing? White
25. Where do you work? Home
26. What ended your last relationship? My common sense.
27. What food do you crave right now? White Turtle Ice Cream from Brewsters
28. What was the last TV show you watched? Before Spongebob? Wonderpets. Sad, huh?
29. What is the last thing you ate? MAc and cheese
30. Are you on any medication? No.
31. What side of the bed do you sleep on? Right if you are facing the bed.
32. What color shirt are you wearing? White with Orange and light blue stripes
33. What is your favorite frozen treat? Ice Cream
34. How many tattoos/piercing do you have? Ears pierced. That's it.
35. Can you imagine yourself ever getting married? I guess so...since I've done it twice.
36. Have you ever done something to instigate trouble? Yes. I'm kinda a shit-starter.
37. Do you like your nose? Yes.
38. What color is your bedroom? Blue
39. Where do you live? Georgia, southside of ATL
40. Are you an aggressive driver? Sometimes.
41. What color is your car? Bright blue.
42. What do you smell like right now? Sweaty kids.
43. What is your favorite color? All earthtones
44. What character from a movie/TV most reminds you of yourself? The mom from Malcolm in the Middle.
45. Do you enjoy giving hugs? Yes
46. Do you own a digital camera? Yes
47. What books, if any, have made you cry? Where the Red Fern Grows. Odd Thomas.
48. Are you a jealous person? Yes.
(deleted was kinda naughty)
50. What shoes are you wearing right now? none
51. What is your major weakness? pajamas
52. Do you suffer motion sickness? only when reading in the car
53. What's the best pizza? pepperoni and black olives
54. Longest relationship? 5 years, my ex-husband.
55. Are you afraid of thunderstorms? No
56. What do you want to be when you grow up? I am grown up, and I think I'm doing pretty good as it is :)
57. Have you ever given or been given an engagement ring? Yes, twice.
58. What was the last gift someone gave you? A gift card to Joannes fabric
59. Who would you call first if you won the lottery? My husband
60. Can you cook? Yes, very well I think
61. What is your favorite jelly/jam? Elderberry
62. Can you swim? Yes, very well.
63. What is your first memory? Getting stuck in the bars of my crib.
64. What item would you like to have buried with you? I don't know, I want to be cremated.
65. What are three things you're dying to have right now that would make everything just about perfect? 1. a Million dollars, 2. a clean house, 3. Calm kids!

In praise of books

Rachel called me this week to tell me she found some of her diaries from junior high and high school. Together we laughed uproariously as she read to me some of her entries, which held all the angst-filled and love-smitten prose an adolescent can create. She apparently was infatuated with a boy in her class whom I will call Brian McDuff. From an episode of "eye contact," she was certain of her future and had her whole life planned out. She would marry Brian McDuff and they would have wonderful kids. She had even named the kids. Ah, yes, Brian McDuff would make the perfect husband. So much for Brian McDuff.

I wish I had diaries from my childhood. They would make some funny reading, I am sure. Actually, I have tried to keep diaries on and off since I became an adult. I've recently been reading aloud parts of these to Ed, especially the entries I made around the time we bought this house and then about 2 years later, when we finally moved to Maine and got to live in this house. Matt (then 13) and I had driven up first, then Ed and Rachel and the dog followed a week later. So Matt and I basically lived in the house with very limited furniture until the rest of the family arrived with the movers close behind.

I faithfully recorded our trip up here, then continued to write about our days together - days without TV, VCRs, radios, or computers. We spent our time wandering around downtown, playing darts, and assembling jigsaw puzzles. Of course, we had to eat every meal out because we had no cooking utensils. We still had use of our car, though, so we drove down to the ocean one day and enjoyed sitting on the rocks. As today I read my scribbles and jots, I can relive the anxiety of looking for a job here. I can remember the relief when the rest of the family arrived safely and we were together again. I can feel the joy of finding my transcription job. I can recall the sense of wonder and miracle that we were finally living in our dream house.

In my life, I have kept journals and diaries intermittently. Usually I went to the office supply store and got a plain red book with a lined page for each day of the year. On the front of the one I am reading now, it says, "1996 Standard Diary. " Then on the bottom of the cover, it says, "Daily Reminder." There were a few times when I found this plain red book aesthetically lacking, and bought a journal which had calligraphy on the front and the page layout was more artistic. But I usually returned to the faithful red book. I guess "standard" described my life well.

It's been a few years since I kept my journal. When the kids went to college, it seemed as if my daily life just consisted of writing, "Went to work. Watched the news. Had chicken for supper. Called Mom." Not very much seemed to be happening that was worthy of recording, so I just dropped the whole thing.

When I started this blog, I once again wanted to keep a journal, and this time, it would be a virtual diary! What could be more appropriate? How easy would it be to sit down at the computer, where I usually am anyway, and type my thoughts and activities in an ordered, clear fashion? I downloaded the appropriate software and started typing away. But it wasn't the same. Oh, I had plenty to write about...but I guess after typing all day in my job, it wasn't as much fun as I thought to type more into my computer diary. Besides - my posts ended up in, well, cyberspace. They weren't on the Internet, but they were somewhere floating in my computer's brain. I could access them, but I couldn't touch them. I couldn't turn the page. I couldn't take them and sit in the living room and read them to Ed. They somehow didn't feel real, and they certainly weren't satisfying.

There's just something about a book. The feel of it, for one thing. I can run my fingertips over the gold "1996" and can actually feel that the numbers are a little embossed and rough. I can read from January 1 directly to December 31 and relive all the events and adventures of that year. I don't have to punch keys or nagivate a mouse. I just turn page after page after page. I can tell by my handwriting exactly what mood I was in when I wrote each entry. Some days, I was obviously hurried, and each letter scrambles to identify itself before the next letter overtakes and sometimes obliterates it. On other days, each word is well formed and my thoughts in perfect coordination - I must have had plenty of time to record my day. Without the use of bold, italics, or changing the font name or color, I still managed to solidify my daily life and thoughts for posterity.

When I put the "1996 Standard Diary" back on the shelf, I get a tiny thrill of placing it in its chronological order, and as I do so, I mentally and emotionally place that eventful year in a special corner of my heart. I have found that the whole experience is for me so much more fulfilling than "File - Save As - Close."

Don't get me wrong - I love my iMac! When my last computer crashed, I went crazy trying to figure out my checkbook, bills, addresses, pictures, blog - all which my computer and/or the Internet so faithfully stored. The computer has its place; however, nothing can ever replace a book. (But apparently somebody can replace Brian McDuff.)

Cloth Diapers

Today I made big boy (the kid...not the hubby LOL)a new long-sleeve shirt for Fall. It came out amazing, I'm really proud of myself! I condensed the girls' wardrobes down last week to 10 or less outfits each. The oldest, who isn't privvy to all the hand-me-downs has the least, about 6 outfits. I paired it all up in their drawers in outfits to make getting ready in the morning quicker and easier. It seems to be working very well so far. I kept all the leftover seperates. For now, they are on top of the dryer, and I hope to make a few pants/shirts to match them up with. If they are still sitting there in 2 weeks...they go to a thrift store. I promise.

I worked on the playroom today. We acquired a free very nice full-size mattress last week, so we took the computer desk out, put it in the free corner of the living room, and set the "playroom" back up like a guest bedroom. My oldest gal slept in there last night, so we hope she is moving towards getting her own room and a little more independence from her sisters. Anyway...hubby set the bed up this weekend, and today I went through the toys and crapola on the floor. Throwing away the pissy-smelling rug. After I cleaned through all the toys week-before-last, I've been watching the toys and which get *really* played with. I put those that have had zero activity in a big black bag for Goodwill.

It's really AMAZING how much we have gotten rid of in the last month. Amazing, and frankly- DISGUSTING. With what I have given away, an entire family could cloth their children and set up a small house. It really puts in in perspective for me. Have you ever noticed my link over on the right for Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots? I went there 2 summers ago and volunteered. Every year at tax time, I've said I'm going to sponsor a child, and something has always come up. NOT ANYMORE. This will be the year. I've slacked on it, too, because it's a true commitment. It's a sponsorship that you really need to maintain until the child graduates. But no more slacking- this is the year! When I think of all the money I have wasted on crap in my lifetime, it makes me want to cry. There are people in this world starving of hunger and living on the streets, I don't "need" a freakin' laptop (my last big stupid purchase that I regret).

We all have those big buys that we regret later on- the car we traded in on a whim, the laptop when we already had a perfectly good desktop, the extra tv because "it was a sale I couldn't pass up". Do you have big purchases that you are PROUD of? I do. My sewing machine. Best damn investment I've ever made. I got my first machine at age 12. JCPenney's store brand basic, and I used that baby through High School. I graduated, went to college, and thought more of boys and weed that the domestic life and forgot my love for the sewing machine. After college, I got pregnant and married. Still missing "something", but not sure what! When I became pregnant with my 2nd daughter, I realized that diapering 2 babies at the same time was going to be REALLY expensive, so I had the idea to sew my own cloth diapers. Well...I never sewed the diapers, but it did bring me a new sewing machine for some holiday. Basic Kenmore this time. After a few more years, I DID actually sew that diapers, and thousands more on that machine. When it finally pooped, I bought another basic $200 machine, and it broke 3 times in the first 2 weeks. Figured I had a lemon, so I traded it. Nope, apparently, they all sucked. So I returned it and made the biggest investment aside from house and car of my lifetime- a Viking sewing machine. The first thing my Father asked was "where was it made?", I replied "Sweden", and he said, "That sonofabitch will outlast you." It was then that I KNEW I'd done the right thing ;)

So when I get depressed over all the waste I've caused in my life, I try to remember the good things, too, the smart choices...which as luck would have it are waaay farther apart than the dumb ones.

Of course the BEST purchase I ever made was that $50 membership to eHarmony ;) Best $50 I ever spent.

It's been a week

since I posted. Oops. Progress has slowed down around here. The girls started school last week, so I've been taking the time to do some sewing and some website/advertising duties for my businesses.

As far as cleaning and purging, the Living Room and playrooms are now complete :)

When things lighten up...

My dad was a busy man. He worked as a bank teller for a full work week and also directed the church choir, which took over Sundays and Wednesday nights (as well as other nights for meetings at the church, for he was also a church leader). That left Saturdays, which was usually devoted to grocery shopping and chauffering his father-in-law to various destinations, as well as for years an every-other-Saturday trip to see his mother-in-law who was confined in a mental health facility two hours away. Weeknights would find him driving my sister and me to and from the Ellis Auditorium, where we ushered for the Metropolitan Opera, the Memphis Symphony, concerts, and Broadway shows.

In other words, Dad had very little time for himself or his hobbies. He never complained; in fact, he was always graciously willing to sacrifice his time for others. Every once in a while, though, we would catch a glimpse of longing in his gray-blue eyes as he dreamed of spending more time on traveling, more time on his stamp collection, more time on his home movies, more time on his reading, and he would say his mantra: "When things lighten up, I'll...."

Well, they never did lighten up. There was always more choir music to plan and practice, more meetings, more obligations. There were the parents' nights at school, which he always made sure he attended, even if it meant canceling choir practice. There were funerals and illnesses, weddings and birthdays, things that needed done around the house and yard, and hours spent trying to figure out how to send his two girls to college.

So he squeezed his hobbies in where he could and came, I believe, to accept that life was all about the journey and not the destination, and he understood that his life was fulfilled in many different ways. He never did get all his dreams accomplished, but then, who among us ever does?

I find myself saying the exact same thing. "When things lighten up, I'll..." and you can just fill in the blank. Get back to quilting, cross-stitching, sewing. Practice piano, harp, singing. Learn how to use Photoshop, Garage Band (a Mac program on my computer), and get all my books entered in Delicious Library (a book cataloging system on my computer). I'll focus more on healthy eating, get some exercise, try to commune with nature, read those books, learn geography.

Alas, things don't lighten up. At least not for very long. I have so many things "on the back burner" that I'm about to overload the electrical circuit.

For instance, I said, "When we sell the house..." The first step has been taken in that goal, because I am pleased to announce that we HAVE A CONTRACT! As they say on the TV informercials, "BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!" Lots more, in fact. We have to get a general inspection, we have to replace 3 window panes, we have to have a radon inspection, we have to get the furnace cleaned, we have to get some trim painted, we have to open up a door that has been caulked closed - and that's just for the house we are selling. The list is just as extensive for the house we are building. Decisions to make, plans to finalize, loans to organize, then we spend the rest of the time hoping the contract holds and the interested buyers will not back out for some reason so we will not be left "holding the bag."

So I say, "Well, when we close on the house..." Nope, things won't lighten up then. Because it's then we will have to MOVE. I don't want to even think about how much fun that will be.

I keep moving my timeline to when I think things will lighten up, but deep down I know, being one of Ensley's daughters, that I am just kidding myself, and that instead of wistfully dreaming of the time when things will lighten up, I will just have to plan my life around stress and chaos and obligations.

I'm hoping my new book will help. It's called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One. The title described me perfectly, and I am anxious to read it. And I'm not even going to wait until things lighten up to do so!

Fortune cookies

Some of the best advice I've ever gotten has been from fortune cookies. Here is today's: "Even if you are on the right path, if you don't keep moving, you will get run over." I thought that one was especially appropriate considering what I'm trying to do with my life right now!

My all-time favorite was "The truly generous give even to the undeserving."

And then there was the great confirmation of "Someone is watching you from afar."

Hello Goodwill!

My husband took an entire truckbed FULL of things to Goodwill today!!! And he doesn't have one of those shorty beds, it's a full-size truck bed. I've been collecting things up for 2 weeks now from all over the house, and today it is GONE! I know the smarter thing would have been to have a Garage Sale, but let's face it...I'm a serious procrastinator, and it would have been sitting here this time next year.
I feel like I just lost a bunch of weight. It feels good. And there's still more to come, only the kitchen, kids' room, and front closet are 100% done. What went today was from all over the house, but I've been concentrating on one room at a time but still doing *something* on every room most days. I have left:
Living Room
Sewing Room (all extras have been scrapped, just needs to be organized again)
Bathrooms (2)
Master Bedroom
Not necessarily in that order :)


I love this article. I read it every so often to remind myself.
Click Here

When Worlds Collide

Anyone who knows me realizes that I am not a nature person. It's a defect I readily admit. I would be more appreciative of the outdoors, but so far all my hobbies and interests are effectively enjoyed indoors, not to mention the fact that I'm supposed to stay out of the sun and I'm allergic to blackfly bites.

Of course, because we are selling our house, we have to consider its outdoor appearance, and that, unfortunately, includes the presence or absence of weeds. Our driveway needed to be repaved when we moved here 10 years ago, and we never did anything because it was something we could live with, and we instead decided to invest our house upkeep money in other things that needed to be done.

So we have the usual cracks and potholes that a driveway in Maine frequently boasts. Winters can be hard on asphalt up here.

Anyway, I finally got so tired of looking at all the weeds growing through the cracks in the driveway that I decided to mount a full invasive assault on them. It was not pretty. It would have helped to have a little knowledge about weed destruction before I started. I went in with the naivete of a nature novice. In the process, I learned a few things.

  • Prepare yourself with the necessary equipment. I don't garden, so I didn't have any equipment. After first pulling up weeds with my bare hands, I finally remembered I had a pair of gardening gloves hidden in a drawer somewhere that I used last winter to help Ed bring the wood in. I wore shorts, though, and didn't have kneeling pads or knee protection, so I spent all of the time in the battle either with my back bent over or squatting. Not good. On top of that, I wore sandals. Every time I pulled up a handful of weeds, the dirt came with it, which promptly landed between my toes. Along with whatever insects had made that pile their little home.
  • Timing is everything. Score one point for me - I waited until the heat wave was over to do the dirty deed. Score one for the weeds - it had just rained and the dirt was, well, let's say "moist." I don't know the measurement equivalent for volume of dry dirt versus wet dirt, but those weeds tried to hang on to every last molecule of the messy stuff, and wherever the soil plopped, it stuck.
  • Don't look under a rock unless you are fully prepared for what you will see there. No explanation needed, but suffice it to say I won't be having spaghetti anytime soon.
  • Even "useless" things can serve a purpose. Stupid me, I thought weeds growing out of cracks in the pavement were just unsightly. Too late did I realize they had embedded themselves in the cracks because the cracks needed to be filled. After the first huge handful of weeds brought with it a barrage of dirt, I looked down and the crack suddenly looked like the Grand Canyon. Oops.
  • Know your enemy. Ed has always belittled me because I don't know a weed from a flower or a bush from a tree. Hooray - my ignorance didn't matter in this project. If it was growing in my driveway, it was going. It was that simple.
  • Don't understimate the enemy's strength. Some of the weakest-looking weeds had the longest roots. They reminded me of Matt's tooth-pulling incident. He used to multitask when he was little. He would suck his thumb, hold his blankie to his face, and try to walk down steps at the same time. One day he fell down the steps and hit his lip. The trauma killed one of his baby teeth, and the dentist said it had to be pulled. How much root could a teeny tiny baby tooth have, anyway? Turns out a BIG one. Apparently its root gets smaller and smaller as the child grows, until the root is gone, and without the root, the tooth falls out. You can never tell from appearances who or what has the greatest tenacity.
  • It will hurt you as much as it does them. After my almost-52-year-old body had endured an hour of non-stop bending and crouching and pulling, I tried to walk up the hill back to the house. I am sure the neighbors thought I had been taking drugs, as I swerved back and forth, trying to urge my leg and back muscles through one last heroic effort of exertion. I had certainly had my share of "weed," but it was the yard pest kind.
So that was my learning experience for the day. At the end of the hour, I hoisted the trash bag over my back like Santa Claus, and I paused for a moment of silence to remember the various bugs whose neighborhoods I had uprooted. My time with nature was at an end. That'll do me for a few months at least.

Today's accomplishments

Closet by front door- done. Took some of the winter coats out for Goodwill, cleaned the floor of fabric- saved some, some to Goodwill.

Business Inventory- done. Took a good count of what I have and sent a "liquidation" email to my retailers to buy them cheap and get 'em outta here. Everything left at the end of next week will go public on my outlet site.

Got the pool cleaned and drained. One more fill for the summer then it's retired.

Watched a Veggie Tales movies on "Being Thankful" and talked to my girls extensively about what they have to be thankful for and the material things that they have being nice but not necessary. We aren't Christians, but man, those Veggie Tales sure are cute.

Not a ton of accomplishment today, but enough, and a good day :)

Wearable Attitudes

When I receive a copy of the Reader's Digest in the mail, I immediately turn to the jokes. I'm a firm believer in the power of humor. I love to laugh - at Ed, at my kids, at my relatives, and at myself.

Sometimes I laugh uncontrollably at odd things. Frequently when Ed and I are lying in bed at night, trying to get to sleep, Ed says something completely normal, and inexplicably I just crack up then and there. Ed, who has no idea of what could have possibly set me off, just lies there silently. Gradually my laughter returns to a chuckle, and I breathe deeply, trying to get control of myself. Finally, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I calm down, at which point Ed usually will say something else, and his disembodied voice coming out of the dark invariably makes me laugh again, this time even more hysterically. I can't explain it, but the whole episode usually ends with Ed saying, "I'm glad I amuse you."

We get another publication in the mail that sometimes gives me a laugh or two. It's the catalog called "What on Earth: A Collection of Fun Wear and Delightful Diversions." Their specialty is T-shirts with witty sayings. Some of them are indeed witty, but I have noticed a disappointing trend lately. Most of the T-shirts in this catalog have insults on them.

I realize we like to express ourselves at every turn. We have to get covers for our iPods that "express" who we are. We have personalized license plates and bumper stickers. We have to find that perfect hairstyle that "expresses" our essence. Half the books in the Self Help section of the bookstore will help us find ourselves, and, once we have accomplished that worthy goal, we can turn to the rest of the books to learn how to express ourselves. Our appearance, our clothes, our accessories, our cars, our houses - they're all extensions of us as individuals, and as such, need to be chosen with utmost care.

T-shirts seem to be a popular way of voicing our opinions to the world at large, and, unfortunately, the T-shirts I am looking at right now reflect very self-absorbed, intolerant, and snobby people. For some reason in our present society, we can't even have a fleeting thought without needing to broadcast it, regardless of the effect our decision might have on civility. Whatever happened to "Some things are better left unsaid"? I suppose with the means of expressing ourselves being practically unlimited - from T-shirts to text messaging to chatting to blogs - we can be rude a lot more easily.

Here are some of the T-shirts I have noticed:
  • Just keep talking like I wasn't here.
  • So...when did you get out?
  • Looks like your airbag didn't deploy in time.
  • I'm a good judge of character and you don't have any.
  • Keep talking. Don't let my snoring stop you.
  • I get your point and it's stupid.
  • Is it me or is this place a festival of idiots?
  • Everyone has the right to be stupid, but you're abusing the privilege.
  • I can't be bothered by you.
There's even a web site called "YouHateMyShirt."

I guess the makers of these shirts think they are funny. I just don't. I have to wonder why someone would feel the need to insult everyone he/she comes across in a day. With all the hopelessness in the world, I would rather see some positive energy come across as we present ourselves to others in our daily lives.

As for me, if I have any negative thoughts, I'll just leave them in my head. They can't stay in there long anyway. The laughter will win every time.

One of my very favorite songs of all time

Just thought I'd share :) It's by Chuck Brodsky.

The Ballad Of Me & Jones

Jones & I were classmates back when we were kids
He lived around the corner, had the same friends as I did
I traded my Marv Throneberry for his Yastrzemski and his Mays
Now he can't believe what those baseballl cards are worth these days

Jones & I ran neck & neck in almost every race
In every high school track meet we took first and second place
I'd have to say he's faster now, but strictly off the cuff
Long gone are the days when I was trying to keep up

Jones went to the Ivy League & me I went to State
We got the same degrees, but they don't carrry the same weight
Jones, he climbs the ladder & he's almost to the top
Me, I ride the elevator up & down & up & down & up & down & up...

And now I can only guess if I might ever cross Jones' mind
Does he ever stop to wonder, does he ever look behind?
Me, I'm looking forward to that place around the bend
When we can catch up with each other's lives like a couple of long-lost friends

Jones, he got married early on in life
He's got beautiful children, he's got a beautiful wife
And what more could I ask for than to know that kind of love
Well...maybe just one or two things from some of Jones' stuff

Jones has all the gadgets, gets his electronic thrills
Remote control on everything in his house up in the hills
Me, I'm like that tortoise, carrying my shell
I keep on moving, but it's sometimes hard to tell

And now I can only guess if I might ever cross Jones' mind
Does he ever stop to wonder, does he ever look behind?
Me, I'm looking forward to that place around the bend
When we can catch up with each other's lives like a couple of long-lost friends

At our 25th reunion, if Jones & I should meet
Over by the punchbowl with the dips & stuff to eat
I wonder how he'd take it, and the look upon his face
If I'd write my name & number on the back of Willlie Mays

The Hubby is Officially On-Board!!!!

My husband agrees with the concept of Voluntary Simplicity and has been supportive in all this for me, but he wasn't really that "into" it. Until yesterday.

He bought me a book- "Living the Simple Life" by Elaine St. James for my birthday. My birthday isn't until next week, so he took it to work to read before giving it to me. He called me after lunch all excited telling me that he just HAD TO go ahead and give me my present. He gave it to me when he got home and said he had read it on his lunchbreak and was totally into it now. He started giving me ideas and suggestions, and we looked at some web pages together. He said that after reading that book, he made a mental list of the things he is going to work on first: 1. Getting more "fit" physically and spiritually/mentally, 2. Looking for a job closer to home to shorten his commute. He was sitting here holding our baby and telling me that he realized that he drove for 3 hours every day- time wasted in the car that could be spent with us, and 3. Not staying late at work just because someone "expects" it of him and everyone else does it. He stays late because everyone else does, and he says he's going to stop. He'll do what he has to do and go home- nothing above that.

We decided that our first goal financially is to get an adequate savings account in case of disaster. After that, we will stop saving for a little while and pay off the cars as soon as possible so that our only debt is the mortgage.

I feel totally different now having him on board. I *thought* I could do this before, but now I *know*.

So....My house purging is slow but steady. We haven't brought new things into the house, so as long as I continue purging, I'm making progress, even if it is a slow journey.

I worked on the kitchen a little more this morning. We have 4 types of coffee cups- a nice set my mom just gave us, a set my husband brought when he moved in, the set that came with my dishes, and random novelty cups. I put everything in a box except the set my mom gave us and the cute novelty ones. I took all the "specialty" serving stuff (like Chinese soup bowls & a pretty tea set) and put them in a cabinet up high, for use only in special occasions. My kids had 4 sets of plates, I decreased it to 3. I could go further, but they are pretty destructive, so they will whittle away on their own over time. I breastfeed, but I used to work outside of the home and had bottles. I boxed them all up except one, for emergencies. My son refuses babyfood and purees, so I boxed up all the baby bowls. We had 2 sets of glasses. I put one in the box. I have another set in my car that my mom gave me, so I'll be going through that later.

Now I see how much wasted space my kitchen has because of cabinets and storage! After I post here, I'm going back to do these things:
  • Go through pots and pans and get rid of what we don't use. Put the "specialty" ones in a seperate space under the counters.

  • We have about 8 of each bowls, plates, little plates- I'm keeping out 4 of each and putting the rest up high in the cabinets in case of company.

  • Yesterday I also washed ALL the kids' clothes and started going through it. I matched up pants and shirts and put the rest on top of the dryer. I'm going through that today to see if I can match up any other sets. Everything left will go to Goodwill. Or Shana- do your girls *need* them? It would be mostly sizes 3,4,5. And Kamrin- I still need to send you some unpaper towels! I don't know anything about your kids and what their ages/sizes are, so if yours need anything like that, let me know. My children have a "unique" clothing situation. Their Grandmother has an obsession with shopping. Seriously. When she visits, she will bring EACH of them at LEAST 5 new outfits. At Christmas and birthdays, double that. I once told her I needed some onesies in size 6mos. She sent me TWENTY TWO onesies. All brand new. All namebrand. CRAZY!!!!! So when I offer clothes, I am serious!!!!!!!!! Their Dad has an entire closet of dresses they've never worn.

    My progress thus far

    Money: I will be almost debt-free at the end of the month. All doctors/hospitals have been paid as of this month. We will have mortgage, utilites, cars & car insurance.

    Clutter: I still struggle with this. I just can't maintain. I'm trying, I swear, I'm trying, but I keep falling off the wagon. This morning, I realized the Living Room has been bombarded yet again with toys. I recently have a toy clean-a-thon and thought progress had been made, but they made their way back to what was not their space. Anyway, I took care of that this morning.
    I also cleaned the kitchen cabinets partially. We had an entire shelf of medicine. What? 90% of it was expired or something that would never be used. So I threw it away :)