Furnished, Part 1

For two people in their mid-thirties, neither Jeff nor I had a lot of anything.

I had my first-ever moving sale when I left temporarily Tennessee. It took three trips back and forth from Michigan, stuffing my Volkswagen Golf to the gills with books, and music and chickens. Not live ones; paraphernalia.

My first Michigan apartment furnishings were either free, flea or followed me. Free is self-explanatory. Flea is a bit of a poetic reference to garage sales, flea markets and second-hand stores. Only two items followed me from Tennessee.

I moved a hand-made wooden rocking chair purchased at a yard sale, and a coverta-table. Also hand-made and wooden, the table top swiveled up easily converting it into a chair. There was also a nifty little storage area in the bench for linens.

Both chairs had hand-carved and wood-burned sheaves of wheat. I didn’t think about that detail much back then. All I knew was I like the motif, had purchased them at separate times, and they sort of matched. A year later, in Michigan, I found a close-out entertaiment center with sheaves of wheat to match. I briefly acknowledged that with a fleeting thought of “Hm, what a coincidence.”

Among my early Michigan acquisitions were a second-hand orange and brown plaid couch and a second-hand matching orange velvet chair that were stashed in an empty office where I worked. A wood coffee table that needed some balancing help and an old used-to-be-white dresser and mirror came next.

I painted the dresser a yellowish-white to match the yellowed laminate top, then added a few burnt orange accents. I happily accepted a compliment when the previous owner exclaimed, “If I’d known it could look like that, I might not have given it away.”

I purchased an old wood-boxed TV that must have weighed about 100 pounds. Trying to corner roll that into my new apartment building, lead to meeting the neighbor who would later introduce me to online dating.

I also acquired an old copper dry sink, an old three-tiered wooden sewing basket, and a beautiful piece of stained glass art.

Of all those first run belongings, only three remain. The dry sink sits just inside the door of my current home. It’s where I set my work bag down when I get home, and where I pick it up from in the morning.

The sewing box serves a dual purpose as an end table in the living room. The stained glass rainbow hangs over the bureau in my bedroom.

I guess you could say I don’t hang on to much furniture.

Quote for the Week:

2017-02-14-you-cant-take-it-with-you-when-you-move-jakorte

 

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why DO We: Keep It

What To Do With: Sentimental Pieces

On the Other Hand: Minimalize

 

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

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Color balance: http://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/color/combine-colors-like-a-design-expert

Design balance: http://hatchdesign.ca/principles-of-interior-design-part-1-balance/

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

lifehack

Hack-Do

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

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

M.I.T says “hack”: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/a-short-history-of-hack

I am not alone: http://1000lifehacks.com/

Impossible: Hack as you will – http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/product-recipes/bisquick-recipes/bisquick-impossibly-easy-pie-recipes

Social Pockets

There’s a creepy email notice that arrives in my work inbox whenever an internal email address has been deactivated. Actually, there are two. One is oddly from “girlinterrupted.” But, the truly disturbing, one comes from the “bonecollector.”

I admit I’m a collector. Have been since childhood; don’t know why. I like to hunt and group. I like themes and displays, and collections of physical things: books, chickens, art supplies, fabric, which eventually find themselves in a repetitively mobile graveyard of unpacked boxes.

Paring and re-paring from move-to-move-to-move has lessened the compulsion.  Off-loading photographs of people I no longer know, tchotchkes that must have meant something at some time, and passing along books, and dishes and clothing have all helped free-up living space and cut-down on dusting. Now I only have a collection of non-things.

Cyber bogs clog up hours, to the point where they make my to-do list. Delete extra duplicate music files, back-up blog, organize pictures, back-up picture, sift through communications, save the ones worth saving, use or lose lists of sayings. Figure out where the 426 unread emails I have are hiding, delete daily coupons “good only for today.”

I arrived at Facebook after-hours, late to the party. I was tardy to Twitter, undeniably late to Linked-In, intrigued by Etsy, and passively able to lose myself for hours in Pinterest. I haven’t yet Snap-chatted, Insta-grammed, Flickered, Tumblr-ed  or  You-tubed. For a while I was active in Meet-Up; fruitfully engaged in Event-Brite. That’s where I found The Minimalists and the concept of lessening… things. But, as noted, I don’t have much in the thing department anymore, that I’m willing to part with, just yet. I’m against wastefulness and am satisfyingly content with just letting what I have wind its way down to non-replacement.

I’ve got Rocketmail, G-mail, Yahoo, Viber, text and voice mail, and a need-to-check running track rotation Every time I complete a lap, I feel compelled to circle back, start over, travel the same field. It’s honestly not good to check in once a week or a few times yearly to organizational accounts like the non-profit I belong to or my one devoted to my other life, not completely past. Expirations abound.

In the same breath, I know; something’s gotta go. Staying on top of the media cycle that drives publicity and engagement, there are expectations to meet. Rumoured wanings, declinations of non-seasonal Facebook followers may only be made up to lure traffic elsewhere. If it’s true, though, that the summer off-ers aren’t coming back in winter, I’m not sure what way I’ll go. I’m rather fond of Twitter for the conciseness required. The word-game challenge is how to say as little as possible with the most impact.

Having six social pockets is like wearing a pair of complex painter’s pants. Adding one more might lead to the need for carpenter coveralls, just for the extra front-load storage space. My phone has become a travel extension. It’s like carrying a suitcase and stopping every ten minutes to be sure something isn’t broken, hasn’t been missed.

So, I’ve got some research to do; figuring out the mass demographics of age and aim in the cyber info world, and where to find the people I need to find for the organizations I support. I’m pretty sure, following research will be a calendar not dissimilar to the one I have now, only more… filled.

Monday: One Brick Detroit Newsletter.

Tuesday: Knabble blog.

Wednesday: Condo Chronicles (updates forthcoming).

Thursday: One Brick Facebook audience engagement.

Something’s gonna win Friday, possibly even Sunday.

Not Saturday, though. There’s life to live.

 

Quote for the Week:

Choose your Moment jan 21 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Word Paring: http://zenhabits.net/pare-it-down-cut-away-the-extraneous-to-leave-the-awesome/

Post-Gift Pare Down: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/30980998/list/5-ways-to-pare-down-your-stuff-before-it-gets-in-the-door

Wear It or Pare It: http://www.crumbbums.com/?p=5903

Owe and Own

I own and owe; for the next 30 years.

The last time I made a long-term commitment , it turned out to not be so long. Still, the fact that I was prepared to honor that commitment is mighty considering my track record of temporariness.

My un-commitments have been more a more solid bet: jobs, towns, hair color. Not only have I never been bothered by change, I’ve looked forward to it, craved it. The forward-to part hasn’t always panned out positive. When you’re beginning an adventure, and everyone else has already been stuck there for years, your point of view isn’t always appreciated. I’ve found myself an unwelcome short-term outsider who only now can appreciate how my just being there could upset a hierarchical apple-cart, especially one of the preppy-kind. Doesn’t make me feel any better about that year, but I can teeter-totter rationalize forgiveness; some days more than others.

I’ve only recently concluded there are more minutia commitments than grand-scale. We commit every day. Sometimes it’s a job, or a promise to study harder, or play harder, or practice harder. We commit and recommit to exercise, intelligent eating, saving money.

We commit to brushing our teeth in the evening, showering in the morning, and something doesn’t feel right if we don’t. Rote is solid; solidity is commitment. I’ve moved so many times, I don’t despise it. It’s a habit. I might miss that moving feeling in short-time, weigh-in will come later.

This is long-term true. I want to get it right. Once. I don’t want to have to go back and rework. I don’t want to be paralyzed by having to get it exactly right, either. These days define as ups and downs. Some sway longer than others.

“Now” spends a lot of time fighting with “whenever,” which is completely irrelevant because resources are limited. I am uncomfortably staring down a 14-year sprint to retirement savings. “Have-to” is going to win over “want-to,” because I still haven’t ever matched more than one number in the Mega Millions lottery.

I’m spending so much time arguing with myself that I simply don’t have the energy to argue with anyone else.

Some people are liking this new trend; others appear to be loving it.

Quote for the Week:

There’s an art to successfully arguing with yourself 11 18 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Keeping Commitments: http://elitedaily.com/life/stop-breaking-commitments/

Historical Mortgage: http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/helpful-advice/american-mortgage-history.php

Arguing Opposites: http://www.unlearning101.com/fuhgetaboutit_the_art_of_/2009/12/argue-with-yourself-its-not-debatable.html

 

No Substitution

Ok. Getting back on track, there is no such thing as presto-chango. There is habit breaking, weaning, paring, elimination and hopeful non-replacement. Budget, body, mind; substitutions are as plentiful as the problems we leave behind.

I have completely convinced my minimalism-desiring self I do not need anything. Except for new tires, or a rim, or not; still working on that. Four different businesses; four different diagnosis. As soon as I find one untried business that comes up with a plausible reason that corresponds to any one of the others, I may be able to do something about the perpetual low-air tire light.

In the meantime, as empowering as it is to say “no” to instant material gratification, I have moved directly into substitution. The new move isn’t a positive one, either. In fact, it may be more detrimental. I have deeper, longer arguments with myself over my replacement gratifier: deals.  The struggle is more constant than ever. Most email and post advertisements are easily disqualified, deleted. The ones that tempt are the “deals” sponsored through sites offering deep discounts. Advance commitment is the new barbed selling lure.

For example, there’s a new frozen yogurt spot that popped up near my regular market, that hasn’t actually been my regular market for very long. The new grocer won out over my previous market mostly by convenience. Closure of the store nearest me, numerous construction projects on the way to the other two sort-of-close-by, much better produce offerings and a cash-for-schools incentive that donates 10% of my purchase total to a program that will assist a friend’s child in taking a school-sponsored marching band trip abroad this coming winter, also played into the decision.

Ok, Getting back on track, I’ve been successfully avoiding that yogurt establishment, so far, using the carrot method. I drive by to pick up fruit and yogurt and mile and promise myself when I hit my next goal, 4.6 pounds away, I will indulge. I’m pretty sure I won’t succumb even then, because that would be monstrously counterproductive.

Then along comes an offer: $6.00 will get me $10.00 in frozen yogurt. I don’t need $10.00 in frozen yogurt. I also don’t really need $6.00 in frozen yogurt. However, if my finally-made-it-to-my-next-goal treat is going to cost approximately $4.00 anyway, it makes economical sense to go for the coupon commitment. The coupon will likely require an accomplice; preferably one who advance commit and will split the difference.

It’s ok to snicker at that idea. I know it’s ridiculous. The chances of me waiting to reach my next goal, which could be a month or more, are pretty slim. Which is what I am still trying to be: slim. So, I throw up my hands, close  my browser and decide I’ll decide tomorrow.

Hopefully, the almost irresistible offer will have expired. I’ll be disappointed, but fiscally and healthily responsible.

There’s no substitution for that.

Quote for the Week:

substitutions are as plentiful as problems

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.forbes.com/sites/carriekerpen/2014/05/13/seven-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-for-a-happier-existence/

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8647/5-ways-to-retrain-your-brain-into-a-positive-powerhouse.html

Retrain Your Brain: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/04/ep.brain.crave.cohen/

 

 

Bulk Down

Bulking – it’s a new term I’m hawking; coining, if you will.
I figured I’d better claim in in the poor man’s patent kind of way; in writing. I could go the whole mail-it-to-myself route, but seriously, I don’t think it’s going to earn me. Expirable; might as well add that one to the list, as well.

I also have a back-up vice. Sometimes, even I can find it amusing. Sometimes, even I cannot. I’ve got membership to one of the big ones. The most appealing part is cheaper gas. It’s usually only pennies, perhaps a nickel or a dime per gallon savings. I fill-up twice a month; on occasion thrice. During the holidays, I might even hit weekly. It’s not exactly around the corner, but then again, not much is. A trip over, almost always turns into a trip in.

I’ve got a budget and an analytical nature. Self-posing questions abound. Here’s an interesting one:

Does someone like me need to purchase bulk?

Financially, it makes sense for the hard goods: toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap, moisturizer, Q-tips; purchase cost savings may not add up, but the advantage of non-repeat market stops helps me live within my means. Less shopping means less temptation, excluding, of course, anything that escaped my list, but aims for my cart, anyway.

Soft goods are good only if there is commitment to their longevity. Experience has revealed there is no way I could consume a bulk amount of straight-up fruit in one week. However, sliced and tray-frozen, vacuum-sealed and clearly labeled, I have an extended supply for alternative use. Adding to oatmeal or yogurt, using as slow-melting flavored “ice” for my water, or as a thickener for fruit smoothies – are logical uses. I have used some in illogical ways. Like, hmm, defrosted strawberry mush stirred into hummus. Think of hummus as chickpea butter, and defrosted strawberries as alternative jelly. Not exactly Paleo, but not white bread PBJ, either.

Extended-life goods, pouches of quinoa, cans of tuna, chicken, boxes of black bean burgers, control portioned cheese, hummus; the freezer is our friend. Good buys aren’t always great ideas, though. Checking dates on yogurt is a solid determinant. If there’s no chance I will eat 24 single cups of plain yogurt by an expiration date, there’s no chance I’ll buy it. Bulk can bring you down, too. I’ve back-fired away from Greek for a while.

Milk, produce, and whatever yogurt happens to be 10/$10.00 (or less) wins; items best left to unfortunate fall-back “Hello, Darkness, my old friend” I-can-only get-there-on Saturdays or Sundays. Of course, if the choices were toenail clippings or an over-abundance of Greek yogurt, I’d go with the Greek. I think. I don’t know. Multiple senses rebel just considering taste and texture; characteristically thick, bitter curdle. A non-gourmet fact is some people do chew their nails. That makes me think there must be something to it. It also makes a magnificent argument for bulking down.

Quote for the Week:

Expirables demand a commitment jakorte 10 21 2014

 

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Smithsonian on Expiration Dates: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/sell-and-best-dates-food-are-basically-made-hard-get-rid-180950304/?no-ist

Conditioned Taste Aversion: http://psychology.about.com/od/classicalconditioning/f/taste-aversion.htm

Items Worth Buying Bulk: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/03/18/15-items-always-worth-buying-in-bulk