Arms Too Short

Stuff. Everywhere. What doesn’t fit, what does, where? Logic and logistics.

I’ve discovered that I am very good at hiding: tucking away in cabinets, behind closet doors, in drawers, file cabinets. Perfunctory parts everyone owns and no one needs to see, those are well-placed for me.

I’ve discovered I’m not very good at upfront, first impression, walk-in.

Not because I’m secretive, but because I want to put so much out there, you’ll know me by these obvious things. I can be overwhelming that way. Throwing all my colorful cards up in the air thinking you’ll get the idea as each floats past in glitter-globe slow-motion. I don’t doubt I’d be more impressive with less; I just don’t know how to do less.

Luckily, I have a secret weapon. A very patient secret weapon who understands I’ve had issues with stuff, and letting go. Who easily skims perfect pieces; they just rise to the top when she shuffles.

I’ve been hauling well over 30 years, with the intention of one day; some day.

Last Saturday was supposed to be the day, but I was overwhelmed with kitchen. A few days of standing center, rotating drawers and cabinets did nothing but make me dizzy. It was where I needed to start. Patience’s imported logic took over, and then it was over. Over and easily done, not so much by me, which I’m sure simplified the process.

Walls. When you don’t own them, you don’t use them. Temporarity makes that make sense. Security deposits and patchwork are too much of a hassle. Patience helped me use a wall the last time, succinctly covering up as much of the cornflower blue and pink flowered shiny wallpaper as possible with color chicken camouflage. I’d seen her work before. I knew what to expect, and I was incredibly expectant, as well as well-rested so I wouldn’t have to crawl to the couch and rest this time.

I’ve been taking my new walls very seriously. I want the vision. I want specific. I want to project well-planned permanence. Pride my collections to start conversations as if I’ve been rooted my whole life. Which meant I would best move aside, step back as assistant to the master, and watch the magic occur.

There is beauty in balance and we can’t easily find that ourselves. It’s impossible to see what our presented lives will look like until we are across the room. Up close and personal isn’t synonymous with open-mined segmentation. So, moved and assessed. Considered and configured. Experiment with ease.

Not everything fit, and probably some of it shouldn’t have,anyway. It was beautiful to watch such intense care taken with my life; and to whole-heartedly love the final presentation.

The overages are still resting, open-boxed on the living room floor. Not great works of art, just magical moments in time. Like the pen and ink inconic – melding star and fish and faith, so representative of exactly where we stood in our lives, different but overlapped. We loved it so much we bought it for the café-wall asking price of $10.00, which was way more than the 2 cents we barely had to rub together. The others hold time equally, as well. Place-cards I never pass without thinking, “There’s a place for these here, somewhere.”

I found that place today, in my over-sized nubby sweater, with my too short sweatpants and my frog-faced non-slip, grippy socks on the way to the basement. A little-used space, needed for necessities, and scattered memories that will make me smile. It actually wasn’t my idea. Nannee Vincze’s basement stairwalls held similar things, utilitarian and timeline. Stepstool, newspaper clippings, hammers, campaign poster. I thought it was odd, but the passage was just that: a daily passage through good times and significant times on the way to the laundry or deep freeze. Daily.

 Quote for the Week:

There is beauty in balance, though not 03 31 2015

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Color balance:

Design balance:

Life Hack balance: My apologies to Patience. I knew about this; I forgot.



The Positive No

The double unfortunate fortune I’ve been spending straddling two living space obligations has ended.

The good fortune of knowing when to say, “No,” means I will be spending close to $1,100 less for the month of April. I managed to convey a common sense solution to the extra month commission (aka rent) stipulation in the rental lease. I point out that I gave them the courtesy of a head-start on re-renting the property as soon as possible. I reiterate to be sure I understand my situation.

“So, what you are saying is that it will cost me more to let you rent to another party for the month of April, than it would for me to simply finish out my lease to the end of April.” I’ll give props for the honest response which was, “Yeah. You’re being screwed.” I offered to rescind my notice, and suddenly there was a “let-me-see-what-I-do” hanging in the air. The wheels finally clicked, and the common-sense train started to roll. Losing an interested renter for April forward could possibly mean loss of many forward rental payments.

There was also a bit of unreasonableness when I was asked to hand over the keys to the future tenant so they could get in and paint while I am still paying rent, while I am still paying utilities, while the lease is still in my name, while I am still holding the required renter’s insurance policy, and before I got my security deposit back. That didn’t happen, either, thanks to the fortunate existence of the word “No” and my remarkable willingness to use it. At last! There’s that long looked for upside of the flooring fiasco – it provided plenty of practice, in that regard.

I’m all for playing nice, but am never willing to be a push-over. I suppose a sweeter, younger person or less aggressive-minded, single old lady might have accepted the situation. I’m not comfortable categorizing this as unscrupulous. The lease says what it says. But, somewhere between maybe trying to take advantage and not recognizing what was being asked was ridiculous, I lost respect.

I will be getting my full security deposit back. No argument was required for that.

Quote for the Week:

There is no common sense in blind acceptance 03 24 2015

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Rental Insurance, Why?:

Read this, Maybe: Sarah Strohmeyer’s The Penny Pincher’s Club, a novel filled with personal finance tips.

Unpacking in One Weekend, Not:



Minimalism is still working its way into my life.

A few chickens didn’t make the move with me. A few more are teetering on making some thrift store shopper happy.
It’s only partially about space. There’s something that feels accomplished in letting go. I like my things. I also know that they were hiding behind the rain patterned door glass in the hutch for the past two years. They made me happy when I was looking for something useful. When the cabinet closed again, we went on living separate lives.

At some point, everything needs to be evalu-packed. Withholding was based on two criteria:
First, do I plan on using this in the next week or two?
Second, could I live without it for a week or two?

Necessary retrievement was based on worth factors. Was it worth it to unseal, paw through, and re-seal every box until I found what I needed? Was it worth it to appropriately bundle sweater, socks over socks, boots, hat, scarf, gloves, do a two-way, twenty yard dash through -22 degrees and potentially painful sneet?

As a first-time home-owner, I was firmly unimpressed by the numerous, slightly-to-majorly ridiculous hacks in place.
As a recent mover, I may have come to understand. Make-do is a mantra. Hack is a solution.

My first hack innocently occurred when I realized that the tuna salad fixings I had lugged over to the condo to save the hassle of extra winter traverse weren’t going to do me any good without a can-opener. Good thing I was a Girl Scout. One million (exaggeration) bottle opener punches sort of did the trick. I was able to mostly drain the water off. Another half-a-million (exaggeration) and the can was open enough to begin the pry. Using a knife to pull tiny chunks of what was supposed to be lunch that might take until dinner to complete tuna was risky to my knuckles and insulting to my stamina. I would win that battle. I have the pictures to prove it.

About five years ago my inherited tool collection was whittled. I couldn’t imagine ever needing 10 clamps, so I kept one, and never used it. This move, I could have used 10 clamps, and of course, couldn’t find that one I kept for no other reason than “maybe.” Lifting counter tops were the problem. Previously unknown because the counter was weighted with weighty chicken canisters, I was able to use the unpacked jars and some slate table tiles to hot the top to the base while the glue dried. The peeling sides, though, called for that one, I repeat, elusive clamp (which also remains unfound, as of yet.)

I’m not sure where the #imakemyselflaugh idea popped up from, but suddenly there I was gazing down at my own hack-handywork, feeling the brag. I just needed a little prop for leverage. I forked it. Thoroughly self-impressed, I have demonstrative pictures.
I lost the lid to my Gatorade – a leftover requirement from the bad soup fiasco. It’s possible I could have refiled through the garbage, but would risking nails, and splintery pieces of wood, shards of glass, sticky un-packing-ed tape, and pan-fulls of fine dust debris. But I had plastic wrap, and I had recently seen a rubber-band. Not the most impressive hack, but notable for the fact that it was another hack.

I asked the movers to remove a six-spot outlet cover from the wall, so that the bed could press against it. I rethought that after they left. Open outlet socket, bed sheets, covers… electrical hazard. I moved a board between the two, angled to not touch, just hover. I found a new cover, 45 cents and a lovely shade a bright-white to match the interior trim, but forgot the assembled bed is almost unmovable. It’s a struggle for two, and I was just one, with a screwdriver that could not and would not be angled in to secure those tiny screws. Even the computer tools were unfit. A toothpick was too wide. I needed something thin and metal and bend able – a cake tester would do it. I have the daring hack documented.

I tossed the ingredients for an overly simple, dietary restricted, impossible pie into the one mixing bowl reserved. For some reason, aka #imakemyselflaugh, I packed away the pie plate, but kept the Bundt pan handy. Yes, I used it. Yes, it cooked fine. In fact, it was beautifully guest servable. I preserved the image for my future cookbook.

The defining get-around-it came from the need for cleanliness without mess. I came up with a way to hack the plumber’s hack. You know, the one where a 58” shower was set into a 60” space. You know, the insult of the ugly wall bump-out that was supposed to, you know, “fix” it. You know, the completely un-functional eyesore, that couldn’t hold a curtain rod, wasn’t fore-ing a stud, and wasn’t plumb, anyway. Short-term more expensive, glass doors resolved. I made sure I ordered the 58” size. I made sure I ordered the fine rain glass. When the home improvement store shipped the ensemble, it came with a note that due to the size of the shower, installation would require… a hack. Luckily, and rather blessedly, too, I had been steered to a contractor who knew what-the he was doing.

Tonight, I’m cushioned on the couch, laptop propped on a pillow, enjoying the orangy-blueish sunset strata through an unobstructed window that gets more noticeably breezy at night. Recycled curtains were hung to cut down the draft, because the super-glued blinds support broke loose. Came down when I pulled the rise cord. Yep. Hacked.

PS: sneet is not a typo- it’s that awful Michigan semi solid snow that it bordering on sleet, because, it too is freezing it’s…. limbs off.
PSS: what-the is not a typo – I’m still actively trying not to curse, but, yeah, sometimes the kitten’s delicate ears do get a bit warm.

Quote for the Week:

Make-do is a mantra March 17 2015

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M.I.T says “hack”:

I am not alone:

Impossible: Hack as you will –


The over-delayed day I thought would never come, somehow bum-rushed me.

I got down to it down to wire, and when it finally came, I was prepared.

It’s obviously been less than roses since last November. However, the last few contractor encounters have been stellar. Handyman, painters and movers; all highly recommendable.

My behavior – perhaps not so much. It has come to my attention that I am not the mega crap-contractor magnet I believed. I’ve heard plenty of ridiculous stories these past few months. Projects gone so outrageously wrong, mine shimmer transparent.

I’m trying truly to be thankful I am here, even as I encounter never-even-considered-things that really need to be addressed. Longtime home-owners have informed me, this discovery path will never end.

Twenty boxes into my undoing, I have found more duplication than I realized. This is good. Some things I will discard, some seem silly to let go. Discards will include one old baking sheet. Holders will include two extra vegetable peelers. Amusingly, I’ve previously discarded a few, the result of Jeff’s never-ending search for the perfect vegetable peeler.

Other parings have included zesters, graters, corers, spritzers. I’m not completely sure why I’ve retained one of each of those, and some other interesting as of yet unused-by-me items, such as the Kniffle-screen. Although, I’ve since learned the proper term would be ‘Nokedli,’ categorically lumped with likewise ‘Spaetzle.’

I’ve never used it for the same reason some don’t use their grandmother’s pizzelle iron or attempt Nana’s apple crumb cake recipe.

For fear it will destroy a delicious in-the-moment memory should our effort not turn out exactly the same.

Defined, that seems a little weak. Especially when placed beside “practice makes perfect,” and “imitation is the best form of flattery.”

Though, neither apply to moving.

(I have to tell you, this wasn’t my original topic for the week. I’ve been following Word Press blogger – Deana O’Hara. This week she posted “The Voice of Truth,” a moving reminder.)

Quote for the Week:

 Never let the voice shouting no 03 10 2015

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Deana O’Hara – Love, Laughter, A Little Banjo and Life after kids @

Prayers for Mark Hall:

And this; just because:


In favor of not looking foolish I often delay good news.

Unfortunately, I reported too soon.

The movers did not come last Thursday.

Because, as hard as it is to believe – I wasn’t ready.

I was on schedule. I was doing just fine. Wall were washed. Floors were next.

In an effort to maximize the weekend, my brilliant Saturday night plan involved me and a sleeping bag at the condo. Just in case I woke up at 2:00 am and wanted to do something, or just in case I woke up without my alarm at 5:45 am and wanted to get started.

Before heading over, I thought, “You know, I should probably eat something.” I responsibly followed through on that tickler. Sometimes, I don’t. Project tunnel-vision often eclipses that.

There’s something remarkably comforting, opening the near empty cupboard door to behold the emergency can of soup. The emergency can security blanket came with the starving-record-company-job in New York City.

Clubbing was required for career advancement; food was not.

For those times when meeting leftovers weren’t available, an event did not feature finger food, or it wasn’t dance-club free buffet with any drink purchase, the choice was usually a cart pretzel, a deli bagel, or home-boiled midnight pasta with butter and black olives. A few times a month, admins and coordinators were treated to an expensed lunch, occasionally allowed to tag along to artist dinners.

For those rare, no-free-food stretches where hunger actually mattered, the cupboard always held a can of tuna or a can of soup. Occasionally, there were both, and I felt rich and secure.

I can account for the emotionabilty, however, in this particular instance, I cannot account for the science. I’ve always been informed and occasionally scorned for disbelieving that canned foods are not subject to absolute spoil dates. Everybody knows you can eat canned foods well past their expiration date with no repercussions. Unless, you’re me, eating a can of recently expired (October 2014) soup. Then, all hell breaks loose. Or doesn’t. Details don’t matter, and are a bit disgusting, but instead of mopping floors on Sunday, I was experiencing Urgent Care, followed by a trip to the Emergency Room.

My emergency can of Chicken Tortilla soup tasted a little metallic, but it’d been a long time since I’d had canned soup, and the soup, after all, had been sitting in a can for a while. It wasn’t tasty; it wasn’t horrible. It just needed to go down so I could go on. It did.

Slurping soup requires sitting. So, I returned a few phone calls, had a few text conversations, and then began to feel very sleepy. Working 8 hours washing walls felt like a good reason to be tired. I actually concluded my last call apologizing, “I cannot keep my eyes open.”

Sluggish persistence stubbornly gathered camp-in gear. A short frigid trek and I’d decided I’d had it. When your body is tired, it’s tired. Mine doesn’t tend to ask – it demands. I shook a quick set-up for a short nap, because I knew I would be up again before the night was over, and I would redo it right, then.

Two hours later, I awoke in pain, in tears and alarmingly in trouble. The trouble with the trouble was that another trouble was making it difficult to get rid of the trouble. It was an extremely unpleasant experience, followed by 48 hours of prescribed bed rest, and no lifting or bending.

If you’ve calculated that out, you know where this is going. If you haven’t, that brings us Wednesday. One day before the movers, three days of carefully coordinated lead-in and lead-out plans went down the toilet. Truly. Thank goodness I know some rational, logical people.

Concentrating on scrambling, what to do first, what to just not do, I missed a major option. Delay.

I have.

I also have disproved the common myth that expiration dates on canned goods don’t mean anything, and have proven, once again, that I really should follow my gut. Always.

Quote for the Week:

That thing you do anyway knabble 03 03 2015

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Who dates –

Well, that’s Souper –

De and Re: