Monday, June 30, 2008

Welcome Guests Leave, Unwelcome Guests Linger

I've had to drive to Reno more in the last few months than I have in the entire year before that and we have another trip planned this week for a doctor's appointment. I've actually run out of "things to do for fun since I'm in the big city". There's some sort of gremlin wind in the universe that appears to react every time I try to stay home, blowing me back into the driver's seat.

We drove Elena (DIL Lisa's sister) to Reno to catch a flight home on Friday. Lisa and Joli left on Saturday for a visit and baby shower with her best friend in Redding before driving back to southern California today. Sam came for the weekend and left yesterday and then I drove Joe to Reno for his flight home. William is back home from football camp and he's home, but not a guest. And he's back at work. Hubby is back at work. Just me and Rosie laying around getting not much done this morning before we tackle the aftermath of so much family togetherness - a heap of towels in the laundry, pots in the sink, stray toys and stuffed animals scattered about the house, beds to remake...

I think everyone is a teensy bit happy at the thought of getting back to their regular routines, but I was sad to see everyone go, especially the wee girl who spontaneously broke out into smiles, song, and dance routines a dozen times each hour. Sigh. Well, only a month before we see her again at Faerieworlds. (SO EXCITED!) I guess I can't count hubby as thrilled about the getting back to routine thing - as he got ready for work today I heard him say "Back to work - UGH" Only a few more years before he retires and can become a full time lawn waterer. Well, maybe he won't, but he'd probably be happy to do so.

The unwelcome guests I mentioned who are still here - the heat, the smoke, the fires. It's hard to get anything done when one or more of these punks drag you down, melting your bones and pounding on your head. The news anchors warn that it's best to stay indoors to avoid them. Not possible when you live in a house with no air conditioning. And many people are in the same situation as this isn't a community where you necessarily need A/C to survive.

Today, knock on wood, conditions are a bit better. That's not to say that the fires are out or even contained yet, it just means the wind direction favors us. So I should probably get some tasks done before that changes again. I'll leave you with a few family photos.

I just got a kick out of this photo. Cat was chasing another cat, which set off the chain reaction. Joli is chasing the cat (don't know which one, it's the black streak in the background). Rosie is chasing Joli. And I'm chasing Rosie.

Here are the three boys (plus a tiny girl holding two make up brushes). William is NOT naked. You can't see he's wearing shorts. But just like the other three boys were as teenagers, he's "too sexy for his shirt".

Another shot of the three boys listening to Hubby tell some fascinating story that involves moving your hands at the speed of light (He talks at the speed of light too). We were hiding from the smoke again, this time eating at a Mexican restaurant. We all agreed it was strange, just the original family (although of course Noel and Joshua are absent) as it's been a zillion years, or so it seems, since there hasn't been spouses and partners and grandkids and friends and accessory people of all sorts in the mix. We spent the time around the table remembering family stories, some from the kids I hadn't heard before and am happy that I was blissfully unaware of at the time! My hair is graying fast enough as it is, thank you.

One more photo of me and my boys. I think I did a good job with the handsomeness factor, doncha think?

I might put up some more photos from last week's adventures later this week, but now I'm off to make a new jar or two of iced tea. (This last week with so many people here, a jar of tea was lucky to last a half hour! I bet we went through at least a dozen jars a day.) The quiet in the house feels odd. Nice. But odd.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hiding from the Smoke

We're doing the best to enjoy our kids' visit home under less than perfect circumstances. In case you haven't watched any news in the last week and missed the story, most of northern California is burning, and I think we're getting the bulk of the smoke right here in the valley. Mostly we're all getting headaches from it. Joe tried to do some jogging outside but the combination of altitude (he usually runs at sea level and we're over 4500 ft.) and smoke convinced him that the indoor gym was a better option. If the smoke isn't enough, we seem to be passing around a touch of flu or food poisoning or whatever. So we're moving slow and trying not to spend too much time outside.

We made plans to go swimming today but by afternoon we swapped the idea for dining at a local air conditioned, smoke free restaurant.

To pass the time waiting for our food to arrive, Joe showed off his special nose talent.

It turns out that Elena is also skilled at spoon balancing.

Joli.... well, she put her own personal spin on the trick.

More thunderstorms are expected in the next few days - that's what started most of the fires already burning - but with any luck at all we'll manage to get some rain as well as lightning out of this coming round. They're also expecting the wind to change direction, so we can hope for some clear skies and a second chance to spend a little time at the river.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

And Then She Sat in Baby Bear's Chair

A story told in photos with an inevitable end.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fire Moon

All the smoke from northern California's fires turned last night's moon orange.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Morning Farmer's Market

I'm still reading and enjoying Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about the pleasures of being a "locavore". It's my daytime book and daytime has been busy lately, so I'm reading it a few pages at a time.

I used to go to Farmer's Market's regularly in my young adulthood, fresh with the newfound fervor of my new organic, vegetarian lifestyle. As years went by and my garden space as well as my gardening skills grew, I didn't have much need of farmer's markets. I grew almost all my food. Sigh. Those were the days. Although even then I remember missing the pleasure of a trip to the farmer's market, the fun and companionship of getting together with others who loved the asthetics of buying and cooking with real food.

The last decade I've had very limited gardening space, less and inconsistent time at home during our short summer growing season and fewer people at home to eat what I grew. The last few years I've been lucky if I have vegetables and fruit in my house and doubly lucky if those vegetables and fruit managed to be eaten before they turned slimy or fuzzy. Things change. But this year I'm determined to get back to my roots. And leaves. And seeds. And... you get the idea.

We have a very small farmer's market that got off the ground about twelve years ago. (At one point I was asked if I wanted to be the director in charge of the new market - gosh, I'd forgotten all about that!) In the beginning they were lucky to have even a couple of vendors show up to sell anything. Things have been picking up in the last few years. I tried to attend regularly last year but always seemed to forget until it was too late. It doesn't help that they are there at the crack of dawn and most vendors are packed and gone by the time I usually get out of bed.

This year I'm making it a priority to attend. I missed the first week entirely, remembering later that same day. Last week I forgot until the clock showed ten more minutes before closing time, but since we only live a few blocks away I jumped in the car to see if anything was left. Surprisingly, there was enough for me to bring home fruits and vegetables for most of the week! The fruit, usually ignored by everyone but me, was exceptionally sweet, and once William realized this was no ordinary supermarket fare, it disappeared quickly. We even had fresh tomatoes which I had to assure my family was safe and salmonella free, as it was grown locally - well, 100 miles away. We'll be lucky to have red tomatoes here by August. It was such a treat - instead of veggies that sat in the refrigerator bins growing old, we ran out of everything I bought last week a few days ago and I've been anxiously waiting for the next market day!

This morning I had to get up disgustingly bright and early, as William had to be dropped off at the high school to travel to football camp. So I went straight from there to the farmer's market and discovered that if you get there early, there's LOTS of people! I had to park across the street!

Don't get me wrong, it's still not a huge market. Here's a photo of it, set up in the parking lot of the historical Depot and trailhead. There were about a dozen vendors.

A new Mennonite community in the area is making beautiful baked goods for the market. The prices are a little steep for me since I know how to make it all myself. I've been able to resist so far but one day I think I'll be buying some of their apple or cherry turnovers (out of the photo to the right of the pies). Don't the big chocolate cookies look like giant macarons?

This is the "fruit lady", over from the hot Central Valley. She was the most popular vendor there, with a line across the parking lot. Look at those awesome Doughnut Peaches. I bought nectarines, pluots, three kinds of peaches, cherries, and tomatoes.

This is my friend Hannah. She's a very cool lady because.... well, she's a cool lady for lots of reasons, but what I was going to say was because she comes from a long line of women ranchers. She has both sheep and beef cattle. I don't usually buy beef but I bought a package for making fajitas because I figured it was healthier to eat the local beef than who-knows-what from the supermarket. Plus, Lisa and Joli will be here this coming week (Squeeeee!) and I didn't want to force them to eat tofu for the entire visit.

It was a toss up between the strawberries and the blackberries. But then I thought of all the fun (not) of picking those blackberry seeds out of my teeth and went with the strawberries. I want to make some old fashioned homemade biscuits for them. So much better than the store bought sponge cake ones.

We're down to half of one tiny jar of apricot flavored honey so I bought some local honey. These beekeepers (this gentleman and his wife) live up in the woods so I'm betting this is a strong honey from the manzanita and sage that grows as underbrush up there. Oh, (smacks head) I forgot we have a half gallon jar left of honey in the pantry - oh well. Honey lasts forever.

I love to snack on radishes. I was tempted to get the extremely spicy white icicles but chickened out at the last minute and bought a bunch of white globe and a bunch of red globe. The leaves on these were so pretty, can you use radish leaves in salads? Anyone know? Speaking of chickening out, he also had hormone free, free range chicken for sale last week but he was completely sold out for the entire summer. Today I asked if he had a waiting list and indeed he did so I signed up for any cancelled orders.

I also bought two bunches of beautiful baby turnips from another vendor I didn't turn my camera on. I grew some one year and they were melt in your mouth delicious. I hope these will be even half as good. I'll get two meals out of them, one of the turnips and another of the large green tops. I wonder if Lisa eats sauteed greens? I'm sort of doubting it. Oh well, more for me.

Do you have a farmer's market near you?

Friday, June 20, 2008

La Madeleine

I don't have much time today so I'm putting up a quick tour of the Madeleine Church, La Madeleine.

I already showed you this photo in my montage of street scenes, but I'm sharing it again before we go inside. I wasn't sure which arrondissement it was in, turns out it's the 8th. It doesn't look very church like from the outside, does it. If you click on the La Madeleine link above, you can read about the many different intentions people had for this site and this building before it became what it is today.

The church is dedicated to Mary Magdalene so I assume that's her front and center. I thought the long banners were beautiful, carrying the light down from above, as if they were indeed shafts of light themselves.

Here's a closer look at the altar statues.

I already showed these little cherubs on Laume's Studio, they were near the back of the church.

The other Mary, this is one of my favorite photos from the trip. I loved the informality of the long tapers, the beautiful statue, the palms and flowers, the colors, light and dark... just everything about it.

Here is the same statue from another view point.

There's a name for each of these little altars where one can light prayer candles in front of a specific saint. I can't remember the name for them... stations? No. Hmmm. Well, anyway, here was one dedicated to Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa. I thought that was rather lovely as they are examples of people who take their beliefs out into the world to try to create a better world. The don't just talk their talk, they also walk their walk.

I'm assuming Mary and Jesus. I'd never seen statues with Mary standing on the head of a serpent before but there were many of them in the cathedrals and churches we visited. I'll have to look into the symbolism of that although I can probably make a good guess. A beautiful statue although a bit creepy looking with the lighting.

These photos would make a good Shades of Inspiration post for this week's color - white/cream. So I'll make it do double duty for me today and now I'm off to fix the vacuum cleaner. Or, if I can manage it, convince my hubby to fix the vacuum cleaner while I do some other task.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running Hot and Cold and other Fashion Fun

It seems hubby and I are the proverbial Jack Sprat and his wife. Polar opposites in so many things. Temperature for one. The nights recently have been glorious. Mid-40's with a cool breeze. In my mind, perfect sleeping weather. I pull open both the windows and the curtains to catch the breeze and last night, that beautiful full moon. Although I slept so well for a change that I missed her late morning swing round to the eastern window.

Last night I put on some cotton capri p.j. bottoms and a cotton tank top and alternated between no covers and just the sheet and one blanket over the bottom of my legs when I got too cool, or when Miss Rosie needed a place to burrow. She gets very frustrated when there's no hobbit hole for her to disappear into. You should see her when I am sitting on the bed with my laptop and she wants to be under the covers under the warm laptop. If I don't rearrange my legs and a blanket or two, she'll shove herself directly under the laptop, which of course is then precariously doing a see saw dance atop a tiny chihuahua, Rosie glaring at me for forcing it to come to this.

Anyway, last night, I'm thinly dressed and sighing happily at the beautiful night and the breeze caressing my bare arms and legs. Not two feet away on the other side of the bed, hubby is wearing a pair of polar fleece p.j. bottoms, a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a robe, a fleece nightcap, and is covered up with a flannel sheet, a cotton blanket, a double layered polar fleece blanket and THREE quilts. And, as he has every night this week, he's come in before bed and shut all the windows and curtains in the bedroom, hoping once again that I won't notice and will leave them shut. Of course I do notice and fling them all open even wider before climbing into bed myself. He complained about it being FREEZING outside and how I'm trying to kill him by hypothermia.

A few nights ago, along with my ordinary high running body temp and residual power surges (hot flashes), I had the whole sinus/bug/allergy thing running my interior thermometer up and so I was reduced to a pair of boxers and a really, really thin, loose spaghetti strap tank top. I woke up in the morning to hubby bringing me coffee in bed with a big grin on his face. I sat up and noticed that turning and twisting in bed had popped my breasts out the top of the tank top where they were swaying happily free and loose in the morning air. Good thing it was hubby and not William (who sometimes comes in to drape himself over the bed and say good morning) who first came to wake me up. Although it's not like my kid hasn't seen my breasts before. But really, he hasn't been interested in the pair since he was a nursing toddler. Now the sight of these old ladies would probably just scar him.

Yesterday evening I went to a meeting of my reading club. I was running late and a friend came by so we could drive together as it was over in the next town, and so I changed quickly into something more appropriate than the work clothes I was wearing. I was almost out the door before I noticed the new tank top I was wearing proudly announcing the shirt size in a multiple string of "XL" running down a plastic strip. (I had to buy XL because I bought it in the junior section, I will vainly point out).

Have you ever done an unintentional Minnie Pearl and worn something with the tag still attached? I caught it this time but there are many times I have not. Last year I bought a pair of jeans that fit beautifully, dammit it. I say that because it annoyed me that it was a brand that had a big ol' adhesive label that said "Will magically make your fat ass look a size smaller" - okay, maybe it really said "Instantly slims you!". But we all KNOW what they really meant. And yeah. I forgot to take the label off the first time I wore them, letting everyone know that my butt was really much bigger than it appeared in the rear view mirror. Sigh.

Of course everyone has had the skirt tucked into your underwear incident coming out of a restaurant bathroom. Or the trailing toilet paper on the shoe. Unzipped jeans, tag sticking up outof the back of a collar line, shirt button undone between the boobs. Or the horrifying experience of wearing a pair of jeans a second day and after walking around in them for a few hours, seeing yesterday's underwear inching out of the bottom of a leg. One of my regular routines is to pop open the button on my pants when sitting down to a big dinner out on the town and forgetting to button it again before I stand up.

Once, long ago in my early twenties, flying home from a vacation, the plane my ex and I were on was running late and we were cutting it really close to missing our connecting flight. Who wants to miss their connection, right? So I said "Let's run for it." I got off the plane and ran. Hubby, and another man who needed the same flight, were behind me shouting for me to stop. I assumed they were resigned to missing the flight and wanted me to give up trying to change fate. They continued to yell for me to "slow down", "wait", "stop" and I just kept running and occasionally yelling "NO! NO!" behind me.

Well, we finally did all arrive, huffing and puffing, at the gate, just in time to watch the plane pulling away out the big wall of windows. Hubby was more than huffing and puffing, he was beet red and looked furious. The extra guy grabbed at his chest, breathing heavily while desperating trying to cover up obvious laughing with case of pretend coughing. Turns out that they'd been trying to get me to stop because......

my wrap around skirt had come apart and I had run through a major international airport with nothing on my backside but a pair of pantyhose and the tiniest colorful strip of bikini underwear. With my clothes torn asunder it made the two men behind me look like evil would-be rapists and me the desperately fleeing heroine. We had to wait hours for the next fight and the ex refused to talk to me for the entire time. In fact I vaguely remember he went and had coffee with the other guy and left me to sit by myself. Thank GAWD thongs were not invented yet.

My hubby's favorite Fashion Faux Pas is to wear his shirts inside out and sometimes backwards so that the tag hangs in front. My kids.... well, they are all too cool to appear in public without carefully orchestrating their outfits and checking it carefully for casual but perfect chicness. Although now that I think about it, I remember the time we discovered that my DIL's teenage sister had worn two completely different sandals all day long without realizing it.

Your turn - What are your wardrobe stories? Different colored socks? Bent over and split a seam? How about sleeping - are you a scantily clad hottie or a bundled up eskimo? While you come up with some good stories, I'm going to go take a shower and then get dressed. I'll try not to put my underwear on over my shorts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Abbey Road

Hubby and William are in the other room listening to one of our family's newest music obsessions, the Across the Universe soundtrack (that's a link to the DVD, not the CD) and discussing The Beatles. So I thought this would be a good time to share our adventures on Abbey Road.

Now, to understand the meaning of this little "road trip" (ha! I'm funny!) you probably have to be old enough to have owned vinyl, ie. record albums. Alternative criteria - you can be younger if you are also a big enough Beatles fan to know something about the band beyond the music. Specifically, this record album, the famous cover shown below.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

It never occurs to me to take "tourist" photos. Y'know, like holding the Eiffel Tower between your fingers, or holding up the Golden Gate Bridge, or pushing over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I just take regular photos, or maybe artsy photos, until or unless I see other people doing silly photos and then hey, I'm not above joining in the fun.

So, I can't say it occurred to me to go to Abbey Road much less try to recreate the album cover. The credit goes to Sam, who said it was a "must do" while we were in London. There were four of us but since I was unwilling to hand over my new, expensive camera to a perfect stranger, that meant I was the photographer and we were down to three "Beatles" for the shot. (However other lone tourists had no qualms about handing their cameras over to ME and I spent about a half hour being the official photographer for travelers from many different countries.)

Along with being one Beatle short, I was also handicapped by the fact that I only vaguely remembered what the album looked like. I never owned this record album. Now that I think about it, I never actually owned ANY Beatles records! I had them in cassette and now in CD, but I didn't own the albums. We might have a few of hubby's old Beatles records though, I'll have to go check that out after I'm done posting. So, anyway, which way were the Beatles walking? From which side of the road was the photographer standing? (in the middle of the road, as it turns out, which wasn't something I was willing to risk my life doing because it's a very busy street!) How much background was included?

It was a very busy street and there were about a dozen other fans there all attempting the same trick. I bet the well-to-do locals just love this phenomenon - NOT. Or maybe they do. Maybe they're Beatles fans too. We gave it several tries, here is the best series of shots. Shot #1, they aren't in the middle of the street yet.

Shot #2, they're in the middle of the street but only hubby in the middle has the swinging arms and legs thing going on. Also, can you tell he's taken off his shoes? Guess which Beatle he identifies with the most?

Shot #3 has the best leg and arm positions but alas, they're almost to the other side of the road.

Apparently one of these buildings is the famous Abbey Road Studio. Do you ever watch Abbey Road Live on the Sundance Channel? Some good music. Fans leave their mark all along the left side of the road.

On the brick wall.

And the wooden fence.

And most of all, the white wall. It doesn't look like a lot of writing from this angle, but there's more of it down towards the other end. Whenever it gets completely filled up with messages, they paint over it and start anew, so we saw it somewhere between the clean slate and full canvas stages. It's amazing how many different languages the messages are written in. Their fans circle the globe.

Here's hubby standing in front of the end of the wall.

As we were leaving, heading back to the tube station, I realized we'd have to walk across the road again so I ran ahead and quickly snapped off one more photograph, which turned out to be the best of them all.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Colorful World

I wanted to share some photos from our day in Reno last week. Even though it was scheduled full of appointment and errands, we enjoyed the day. We don't often get the timing right to eat at a nice little Thai restaurant in the most unexpected spot - a shopping center on the edge of town between an Albertson's and a McDonald's. You wouldn't think you were in a suburban strip mall inside though.

Isn't it pretty. I love the colors. Hubby looked around and said "Hey, these are the colors in our house." Well, yes, that was the plan when I started painting. Although my original inspiration wasn't this place, it was a restaurant in Ashland Oregon called Pilaf's.

We splurged on big glasses of Thai sweet tea. These babies each have about a cup of cream in them - definitely to be considered dessert in a glass.

I visited a fabric and foam supply place in an industrial area near the Truckee River. A new building had been built next door since the last time I'd been to this place. I was intrigued, it was quite an attractive building with large columns painted with animal tracks on the front of it. It turns out that it's a regional tribal medical clinic. I didn't take a photo of the front but as I drove past it, I did a double take at what had been done in the back of the building.

All around the building someone had landscaped it with trees, rocks, and wildflowers! Instead of large water thirsty lawns that were never meant to survive the high desert, they created a beauty out of natives. How wise! How clever!

Do you imagine a girl, a scarecrow, a lion, and tin man nearby? Aren't these poppies beautiful?

And pink, I think they're called a clarkia, and yellow California poppies. I like the shadows on the rock in this image.

And a bit of blue.... as you moved around the corner of the building the palette changed.

Blue, and white, splashes of yellow.

And just across a back courtyard and entry, the beautiful Truckee River. You wouldn't know from these pictures that this is less than a mile downriver from the lights and glitz of downtown and the casinos. You can see the buildings peeking through the framework of the bridge.

Do you prefer a calmer palette in shades of white? Check out the photos for the Shades of Inspiration challenge I've put up on Laume's Studio.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just Write Something..... Anything....

That's what I'm saying to myself right now, just put my fingers on the keyboard and start pushing some of the keys down. I'm forcing myself to type because I still can't break this strange resistance I've developed recently to posting anything here. I've been absent for a week and I can't really tell you why. It wasn't intentional, but it's not the first time this has happened. Sometimes I just get in a place where I can't think of anything to say that seems interesting, even if the week before the very same ideas sounded downright fascinating and I could hardly wait to get time to post about them.

Plus, I've been fighting a "something" - I think it's a combination of seasonal allergies (which I've never dealt with like this before!) and a sinus infection. I'm getting better, but slowly.

And I've been "getting stuff done". Slowly. But at least I'm working inch by inch. I can't seem to find a project and stick with it, so I'm chipping away at a dozen projects at one time. I've sorted out magazines in the living room and tossed some. I've weeded some but not all of the garden. I've cleaned some old bottles and jars out of the bathroom. Yesterday I sorted two boxes of books and magazines that have been sitting homeless in my bedroom since last year. Of course I still don't have a permanent home for some of it, but at least it's sorted. Remember What About Bob? "Baby steps."

A couple of days this last week we had a lot of smoke in the area, blown in from a forest fire on the other side of the mountains. Hot smoky days and me, we don't get along so well. So that slowed me down a bit too. This fire was in a community that we're familiar with and sadly, seventy four (at last count) homes were destroyed. That was on my mind a lot, while I was sorting and repiling and trying to make sense out of my overabundance of "stuff". Seventy four families lost all of their stuff and here I am with more stuff than I can comfortably manage. I felt sort of guilty about that. Next I thought " I wish I could give these families some of my stuff" and then I felt guilty about that! Because if my stuff is causing me to feel overwhelmed and dragged down and confused, why would I want to foist it upon unsuspecting, innocent people already in far more serious and legitimate crises than my petty personal angst about clutter. And then I thought, this is sad and I'm pathetic, to be stuck in such a problem of my own making. Well, not entirely my own making, and I have a whole stack of justifications and rationalizations for how I got here and I'd be glad to drag them all out and share them with you, but the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter now how I got here as much as it matters that I can only get out of this mess (literally, pun, weak haha) by myself.

Somehow, suddenly, with no effort, this year I've shed a long habit of bringing new stuff into the house. It feels so good. And it's made a big difference already, just not adding more crap to our home, regardless of whether it's lovely crap, or oh-so-shiny crap, or useful crap. I even went shopping while we were in the city, to celebrate this new found freedom. Hold it, I can see you getting very confused by that last statement. But, you see, I'm not aiming for purity of action, I only want some sort of workable compromise between things and me. So I went shopping. And I was tickled pink to discover I didn't want to buy things even when they were right there, on the shelves, jumping up and down and saying "Look how pretty I am don't you want to take me home I'm on sale and I might be the last one and you won't get another chance and tra la la la la!" I only bought some fabric and supplies I needed for a specific project and .... well, the point here is, I only bought a couple of things that weren't on my list. And that's plenty good enough. AND, I didn't feel deprived at all. I didn't feel empty. I felt full and satisfied and happy.

And oh, speaking of feeling happy about not buying things, I feel like a celebrity because Crazy Aunt Purl mentioned me in this post! I enjoy her humor and her warm, heartfilled ponderings but she was definitely a phenomenon before I ever discovered her and I think I've only left a comment on her blog a half dozen times in all the years I've been reading her. I have this thing about not wanting to act like a stalker (unless you're currently famous but I knew you before - then you're only famous to other people and just a crazy friend to me and all bets are off - mwahahaha) and she gets more comments per day then I get daily visitors to my blog. So when she reposted my comment about nonconsumerism in the body of her post and then wrote a wonderful personal essay about her own efforts, I was honored. The only thing is, if I'd known so many people were going to read my comment, I would have been more eloquent. And I would have spelled "hundredth" correctly. Blush.

So, I've got the not bringing things into the house part of the equation worked out pretty well. The surface layer of stuff is pretty easy to deal with too. It's out in the open where I can see and use it and so I already know which stuff is sitting there unused. If it's visible but turned invisible, it goes. If it's useful, it just needs to be put away (if it isn't already). It's the layers underneath that are my newest logjam.

As I uncover and unpack I'm always thrilled when I pull something out and my first thought is "WHY do I have this?!" That's an easy toss. But then there's other stuff. I pick it up and exclaim "Ooooh, I forgot about this!" or "I love this!" or "I've been looking for that!" So, here's all this stuff, right. And I haven't seen or used it in ages (weeks, months, sometimes even years). The question is this - which of these things, if they are properly stored or displayed, will I now use or enjoy? Have these things been ignored simply because they were out of sight? Which need to be found a storage or display spot and given a chance, and which should be passed on? The slow way to answer this dilemma is to let these excavated items sit around awhile until they become the surface mess and the answers will become obvious. But that would take ages and I don't want to spend the next decade of my life decluttering. I have to come up with a faster solution that's emotionally painless enough for me to execute.

One thing I uncovered yesterday was a gift from my sister, still in the package. It had been unwrapped, but then wrapped back up and slid onto a shelf. I couldn't, for the life of me, remember receiving it. So I called my sister up and asked her. She remembered giving it to us but couldn't, for the life of her, remember when exactly. I said it was kinda cool because I don't know if I liked or thanked her for the gift then but it was something I really liked now, and it was like getting a gift all over again. We had a good laugh.

I felt a lot better after talking to her because she TOTALLY sympathized about how overwhelming clutter can be and how she's surrounded by boxes and stuff and can't seem to get ahead no matter what she does. I felt like I had a comrade-in-arms in my fight to downsize. So, okay, I forgot to mention that my sister had a tree fall and cut her house in half last year. And then had to have much of it rebuilt. But hey, I've been to her house and I know that some of her stuff issues predates the house-slicing-with-timber incident. (Literally - "Timmmm-berrrrr!" Except, thank the heavens, no one was home at the time to yell it. Except the cats. Who, apparently, all had some of their nine lives left.) And although she might have had her tree, I have my five kids and that's got to count for at least one measly falling tree. Too, I probably have a genetic predisposition towards this sort of thing because my mother is.... oh, wait, we share the same mother. So I can't count that on my side only. The point is, I felt better after talking to my sister. (Our other sister has the good sense to move every couple of years, which seems to have purged any and all pack rat tendencies straight out of her personality. So, she's not on my list of people to call for sympathy.)

In the meantime, there are still plenty of spots in my house with easy fixes to work on while I wait for a solution to the more compacted areas. And no, now that you're thinking of What About Bob, dynamite is NOT an option.

Monday, June 09, 2008


About watching that wonderful movie. Here's the trailer. If this doesn't make you want to watch it, I don't know what will! In fact, good idea, I think I'll be making popcorn and watching my own copy again tonight.

Getting Around Paris - the Metro

Everyone seemed to enjoy our walking tour of Paris the other day but if you're going to spend more time seeing the sights, you really need to know about the best way to get around the city. It's easy. All you have to remember is to look for the "M".

No, no, no! Not that "M"! Blech. (Although that is a good place to find a toilette!)

This "M"! Which is short for Metro. Which is short for Metropolitain. (Sam and Kyla in the foreground)

Well, actually, along with a good eye for "M", you'll need a couple more things.

A ticket. It will look something like the paper ticket on the right if you buy a one ride or one day ticket. This particular kind of ticket slips inside the back of the Carte Orange, that plastic thing on the left with the oh-so-lovely photo of me. (You can get your very own gorgeous mug shot in a photo booth at any train station in Paris. Have you watched the movie Amelie yet? I keep buggin' you, if you haven't yet, rent it this weekend!) This is a week long ticket, by far the cheapest way to go. Be careful though to buy it for a full, or almost full week. If you buy it midweek, you'll only get until the next Sunday out of it.

And you'll need a map. You can get a tiny one that will slip into a back pocket and has the metro, train, and bus routes all in magnifier needed sized print. Or a larger one like this that fits into a coat pocket is available for tourists, travelers, and oldish people with bad eyes, with a big map of Paris on the backside. As you can see, my map got quite a lot of use.

I've ridden on four metro systems. San Francisco's BART system, New York City's Subway, London's Tube, and the Paris Metro. Paris' underground is my favorite.

The signs vary but after a short while your brain gets used to picking them out of the detail of the city easily. Here's one done in red. There's also another verson that I thought I took a photo of but couldn't find - maybe it'll turn up - that says "Metro" in red.

Ah, here it is - (borrowed this off of a Paris tourist site)

But my favorite are the old art deco Metropolitain signs. Isn't it gorgeous!? Here's one up in Montmarte.

And another in Montparnasse. Even the poles and fences are graceful artwork.

I kept meaning to take photos underground as well, but for some reason never did. I am getting better about it but still haven't completely learned that you always have to snap the photos when you first think about it and never ever let yourself agree with the thoughts in your head that argue "Oh, I'll do it later" or "I'll do it when we come through on our way back" or "Next time, we're in a hurry now" because 95% of the time, you forget or come back another way or it's dark by the time you return. Sigh.

But, even in the dark....

You can find your way home in Paris. Just look for the "M".