Read Reduction

Used to be I had a reading pile. A to-be-read stack of whole magazines or just torn pages, books I picked up for free, printed online articles I didn’t have time to sit down and devote to immediately and knew I’d never find them again. Links can die, you know. Especially after a few years.

Well, I stopped all that physical periodical hoarding. Inspired by an accidental find years ago. 2014; while perusing positive topics for what used to be an email and US Mail based Midweek Encouragement Newsletter. ME News existed in an era otherwise known as ‘pre-blog.’

In the basest form of self-trickery for knowledge seekers, I canceled nearly all of the clutter subscriptions that lead to clutter. Nearly.

Costco and AAA send me monthly periodicals whether I want them or not. I subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer monthly rag. I could stop them simply, but then, how would I know where all the good stuff is happening in Michigan, or discover why a certain product is better than another? Without endless key-word internet surfing for hours, I mean.

Plus, I’d also lose out on letters and phrases. Grade school, I’ve always loved collage. Went through an interesting and a bit obsessive, huge, collage cut-and-paste phase in college. Began as sorority-sister aimed birthday cards on budget. Ala kindergartener-ish: find a pretty picture, add some happy, descriptive 1500 level words and voila!

I also went through a band-love phase where I would use every print version of the band name I could find and pauperize it into wall hanging. I had a double 8”x14” pair-themed set of Duran Duran fonts proudly displayed in my first dorm room. Hmm. Who am I kidding?

So, maybe both of those things weren’t phases. I’m obviously still in a band-loving stage. And, I still cut out words and phrases. Anyway, the point is, now even just those three founts of info tend to heap on my coffee table. Not a real problem. I break them down, take what I need as I read through, recycle the bulk and end up with smaller piles.

My digital stash is overwhelming, though. I leave large articles unread until I have the time. I gold-star articles that may be of use in the future. I subscribe to a few special interest daily/weekly emails for things I am truly interested in. I’d really like to engage with these lurking lessons. I’m really a little stressed out that I will never catch up and, yet, I continue to pull and hold.

826, 180, 11, 109 emails awaiting my attention. Some are new. About 600 are marked for future, do not delete articles, updates, initiatives. Surprisingly the 826 is not my junk box. It also dates from 2010 forward. Pictures, scratch writing, thoughts – these aren’t a concern to me. I’ll get to them. When? Well, when I do.

There’s def a need to tackle. Do I start with one source and read straight through? Oldest to newest in unrelated order? Sort and scour by topic? By informative value or creative enjoyment? Ugh.

This all sounds way too much like a lot of pre-work to manage my actual desire.

The Minimalists, Podcast 286: Enoughism

Free-Unscaped, Yet

Password? I need a password?

Do I have a password? If I was me, what would my password be?

Dagnabit. One try and I bailed on my brain. Just went straight to re-set.

It’s now a minute or so after midnight, and I’m refreshing every 2 seconds waiting for email prompt.

New password secured. Log back in? For the Love of Pete, just let me into the club!

In. Finally. Fully expecting to be ‘sorry’d’ as in, “You’re too late. Supply is gone.”

Data-entry detailed entered. To my surprise, I when I hit the sign-me-up, it actually went through.

My reservation was confirmed at 12:06 AM. Seemed like a long six minutes, to me.

Here are your reservation details: MYSTERY GARDEN PIÑATA KIT, filled with mystery seed bombs and growfetti.
Date: April 15, 2021, Time: 5:00pm to 7:00pm with curbside pickup.

What kinds of gardenly delights did I get? I have no idea, yet.

Here’s why.

Super cute flower box to be smashed. Neighbors. And super iffy Michigan weather.

Mystery had me stymied as to where I should, when I should. My first thought was to whack at it in the empty bed that gets late afternoon/early evening sun at the height of summer. I wondered what kind of disorderly garden would result from a random seed drop. I envisioned the beating, and realized, I couldn’t.

Too many complications. Could I hold the piñata in one hand and whack with the other? That’d required some extra coordination on my part. How much strength is needed to break it? Suppose I missed and thumped the arm holding it? Supposed they’d get a laugh down at urgent-care about that considering my first two closely occurring visits likely put me on the Jeff-kinda-accidents you’re-never-gonna-believe-this list of odd injuries.

Could I put it on the ground and pummel it there? Standing and leaning down or kneeling next to it? Also, not optimal. Dirty knees or butt in the air? And that’s when it occurred to me. “Oh! Neighbors!” Yeah, they’d get an interesting show for sure. So, nixed.

You know, if you inspect packages, you can find directions and suggestions and stuff. The tag touted a web address that would tell you what you were getting. Ok, then, here we go.

Except, nope. Nowhere could I find a description of what would be random-planted when breakage was achieved.

There were very helpful, detailed instructions. But, wouldn’t have been if you just went along with the vague suggestion of destruction. Never would I have conjured any of them on my own. Maybe, it’s the not-a-gardener thing. Maybe, it’s intuitive to folks who don’t need to intuition because they already know what they’re doing.

Anyway, to summarize:

1. Plant outside in early spring. Or start the seeds inside and transplant later. (head tilt)

2. Soak the seed balls and seed paper in water. Overnight. (head tilt the other way)

3. Place the wet seed paper in a planter. (not the ground? what about the seed balls? shoulder hunch)

4. Water well, especially during the first 4 – 6 weeks. (oh, dear. inside, with two cats… head drop)

All right, time to switch gears.

I supposed I could successfully start ’em in the waterless aquarium where I currently grow cat grass. The set-up keeps it safely out of greenery over-eating, paw-sweeping, this would look better on the floor, kitty fur ball reach.

Curiosity was still with me. As I recalled, piñatas have to be filled, right? So, somewhere on the exactly-as-advertised lovely looking novelty, by reason, there’s gotta be a secret latch or patch or something.

Turns out, it was two pieces, easy to press apart. As promised, there were colorful seed balls and fun growfetti. The 4 round orbs were good-sized, and the pile of fluttery stuff was shredded well.

I haven’t soaked or planted, yet. It was 70 degrees on Saturday, and it snowing on Tuesday. Michigan’s sneaky like that. They call it, ‘false spring’ or ‘second winter.’ I don’t fall for that, anymore.

May Day is coming up. I’ll celebrate appropriately.

I’ll let you know what comes up in 6 weeks, if I can figure that out.

Quote for the Week:

ps. Thank you, Lowe’s!

Annual Despise

I didn’t get the windows done.

Instead, I conquered the annual “That Which I Despise.”

In record time due to:

  1. It actually being a bi-annual event.
  2. A lovely friend willing to haul me out some mulch.

I skipped 2020 with absolutely zero guilt. COVID, and none of the box stores who were just beginning delivery were willing to ship soil or mulch. I’m generally not a fan of gardening, unless it bears salsa.

Last fall, I determinedly dug up the interlocking brick border and moved each about 2 inches further in, toward the building, so there’s be future less to tend.  I also took a good number of bulbs from my oft-trampled only true floral bed. The damage really irked me at first. But, what else is a child supposed to do without siblings or much outdoor supervision? Permitting use of the imagination is a much more important investment, anyway. It’s also a convenient  reason not to attempt to weed amongst wreckage.

The other south-side bed has been mulch, weeds and two obnoxious prickerly bushes.  I’ve tried to kill them three times. Seriously. Chopping as mercilessly as the greenery would gladly prick me, I poured multiple helpings of all-natural, safe for pets, liquid weed killer down the stumpy gullets.

The stubborn regrowth hadn’t gotten very far, when the mulch angel stopped by. A little side comment about how much I really dislike those maroon-ish meanies, prompted an immediate, “I’ll take them.”

To which I promptly replied, “Let me go grab you a shovel.”

I also pulled up two white grocery sacks, a pruner, hand rake and gloves. Happy-to see-holes devoid of dangerous thorns inspired a fiendish grin. Then, What I thought were wild-spreading, brightly beautiful purple-flowered weeds were actually flowering bulbs of some sort. A hefty number of those departed, too.

After that, the only thing left to do, was to thickly cover the rest of the space with dark brown clumps of moist wood chips. My precise method?  Dump a bag, smooth it out. Move on.

I did. I dumped a bag and a half into the two split beds leading up to my real front porch. I did take care to kind of paw some away from plants that I know are plants. Yellow daffodils, orange lilies. I also invested a few moments trimming that something-piney half-bare tree-like thing that lives to the right of a living room window. Probably not the right season to prune it, but every time the wind blows, it stretches an awkward, arm-like branch into my couch-view. It’s especially alarming at night.

From there, I rounded the corner to my new-two-years-ago railroad tie garden space that has yet to become one. I did mostly succeed in deceasing an odd, low-low-to-the-ground viny, yellow and green thing. My friend asked what the lone clump of greenery was. I don’t know, but it sort of resembles daffodil sprouts. Only thinner. I mercifully gave them breathing room, and dumped the rest of half bag I was holding.

Hostas are hardy enough that even I can’t accidentally kill them. Even when, say I didn’t forget to clip the tendrils and cut them back before the first Michigan frost. In my defense, the frost came early and I hadn’t been engaged in caring.

“Do you think I need to clear out all the dead stuff?” It was a hopefully inquiry. The hope was that the answer would be, “No.” Unfortunately, I was, as expected, informed that it would be a good idea.  

That was a quick go, too. A couple of handfuls of dry, brittle, bud branches and leftover fall foliage was all it took. Again, I considerately brushed away bits from just sprouting buried shoots. I’m particularly fond of hardly-ever-need-water and ever-expanding Hostas.

So, maybe I do have a little landscaping desire buried deep within. Maybe, I’ll indoor-pot some poblanos next to the already potted cat grass.

Quote for the Week:

Night Sweep

Unintentional delay.

Click-stream rip tide.

Well by feline feeding time.

Sunless cold, cradled in the dark.

Really should have.

How about just not?

Morning would be meaner.

Not the way to start a day, unless it can’t be helped.

Brain-freeze and should-have bantering,

brooming sets and drifts.

Airborne, played by wind, curtain-carried white.

Slippery banister, lights just right.

Gusted hostas, sculpted ice.

A pocket phone for fear of falling.

Over-ridden, night-cast calling:

melodic whistling, otherwise quiet,

sharpened sculptures by layers and last,

hint back to warmth, pretty in the past.

So gorgeous in present.

Advantages exist for shoveling at night.

A fashion-less show, weather demanded:

bull’s eye red coat, Michigan-Michelin style.

Plus puffed purple gloves, hounds-tooth & hemmed hat.

Photo-ops. No qualms, anymore.

Can’t order pizza, if there’s no path to the door.

Mean Elixir-ing.

The moment I saw it, I knew I had to.

I follow two sites of “I wish I’d thought of that” brilliance. Actually, there are more than that, but these two are specifically relevant. I screen-shoot them both daily. Most of the time I resist. But….

Coca-Cola with Coffee. 

Stop wrinkling your nose and keep your “eew” to yourself.

Coke didn’t create this concoction for me. There had to be at least some sort of wide-spread weirdo-appeal factor in play. You’d best believe it wasn’t likely to have been inside pitched as a mass-marketing loss-leader.

Are you my people?

My choice: Dark Coffee

OMG. Yes! 200%. Yum.

Two things the cracked tab called to my attention.

First, the fantastic smell of coffee.

Second, audibly less fizzy release.

Sip? Yup. Sip! Mmm & Yup.

Closed my eyes trying to place the taste.

Landed in New Orleans. Ah, dark cold-brewed, chicory-cut iced coffee with a touch of simple syrup. Sigh.

This isn’t that, but I like where it takes me.

The can claims ‘powdered coffee’ made from Brazilian beans. No chicory.

High fructose corn syrup. Not simple syrup.

I decided I needed more. More than my current four cans. Well, only three and a half cans were left on Monday morning, so I took the half with me to work.

Stop judging. I like my coffee cold and my soda warm and minimally fizzy. So, a half-sipped overnight in the fridge perched it on the perfect edge.

The original IG feed that caught my eye had a cautious comment. Paraphrased, “I saw it at Sam’s and I’d like to try it, but I’m not gonna buy a case of it.” In case it wasn’t liked.

Well, I liked it. And ‘by-the-case’ sounded suitable.

I checked Costco online. Nada. Not even a hint of it.

I’m not a Sam’s club member, but a friend of mine is. Of course, I asked the favor.

To my horror, it was declared sold out at Sam’s. Sold out? Sam’s, Target, Walmart. What?

What the heck happened between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning?

Was some subliminal advertising during the big, copyrighted (don’t dare use the word) football fan show, lost on me? Of course, not.

That’d have been hilarious, though. Attention redirection from Pepsi to Coke while TheWeeknd performed on the weekend. Yes, I enjoyed that.

Yeah, off track.

I kept scrolling. Angst was replaced with anger.

People are mean. Some rat-bassbird had actually listed a 4-pack for $120.00.

Ah, that special group of people who buy stuff they don’t want and resell it at outrageous prices. Yes, it’s a cycle of retail life. Yes, folks are free to be opportunistic. I suppose I could flip and offer to assess is it as a COVID-induced attempt to supplement restricted income. But, the cruel crafties existed way before this pandemic. And assess is only one letter away from a….

Oh, no. Uh, uh. I’ll just slid my finger over to Meijer and order me up another 3 four-packs for $4.89. Mm hm, mathematically: $1.295 apiece including MI deposit. Not $20.00. Yeah, I snapped that. Inwardly, not outwardly, because that would have been bizarre. -er.

Could I justify a $10 delivery fee for just Cokes? Nah. So, I bulked up my order with a cucumber, cat food, cream cheese and some fascinatingly interesting bake or no-bake Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with Oreo Pieces.  

At that point a little bit of logic chose to lope across my front lobe. Do ya really need to do this?

Nah. X’d out my cart.

I shouldn’t be consuming the contents of any sugared, caffeinated soda on a daily basis. Not on a semi-regular basis, either.  Yes, there is a zero-sugar alt version. No, I’m not planning to go there.

Here’s the close.

I’ve got three coveted cans left. An emergency stash. Or a celebratory stash. Like wine, but with the opposite not-drowsy, super-hyped effect. (Hee hee.)

So, are you my people?