Short Thought 236 (shocking memories)

When I was a kid girls babysat and boys got paper routes or cut grass to make money. I babysat often. One particular memory remains vivid. I don’t remember the particular people or even what kind of kids they had except that the kid or kids had gone to bed. I perused the family’s bookshelves and noticed a small book that had a racy title, something with the word sex or possibly nudes. I took the book down and opened it, only to get a bad shock, the literal kind. There was no sex or nudes, just a hollowed out space with a contraption to give curious readers (or hapless babysitters) a shock.

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More minor home updates

I’m on a bit of a tear lately, so far as tidying, decorating, and updating on the homefront. When my home is clean, organized, and attractive, I feel like my whole life functions better. It’s calming.

I keep an informal list of when I do certain things, particularly chores that are done infrequently. Unlike Martha Stewart, I don’t have a calendar scheduling when I should do them; it’s more of a retrospective that I consult to see how long it’s been since I did a particular chore. Things like washing curtains or area rugs, or window washing. I should perhaps mention that the place I live is old and it just seems like it needs more attention, more than a shiny new place anyway. (Keeping the aged bathroom tiles looking halfway decent, for instance, gives me a fit.😬)

This is on my my mind because I thoroughly cleaned out & tidied the shed on Saturday. The link is to the outside of the shed only; the inside is not worthy of photos except for the one pictured below.IMG_20190715_112208
This is one list I keep separate in the shed itself. (There was a previous list but it got filled up & I started a new one.) The shed tends to get habitually messy and I have a middling sense of time. If someone had asked me – and I don’t know anyone who would – when I’d last straightened up the shed, I wouldn’t have guessed as far back as 6 months. I noticed it was looking messy & my Jan 6 notation was further proof.😐 You might wonder why I’d clean an unheated, un-air-conditioned shed in the middle of winter or the middle of summer rather than a more seasonable time. Well, I do things when the spirit moves me.

The living room caught my attention and I got a few little ideas since I rearranged last year. I really like having the couch this way (facing both a TV and double windows) but having a small table with a lamp plus two plants at its side, although it looked nice, seemed sort of in the way.  I wanted the lamp for reading at that end of the couch but it provides poor reading light and I never use it for that. It was time to get it out of there. Let’s do before & after! (You may need to click for captions.)

I am still super happy since I pulled the couch off the wall and into the space last year I angled the 8×10 rug to mirror it and did the same thing with the square dining table; angled it and the 8×10 rug it’s on. There’s still plenty of room to walk around with the furniture this way. The two plants were trickier to relocate because they have to be with a lamp that I leave on since they are light lovers, but I found spots for them.

Green & White Grass Plant gets a little help

I really love my huge “Silver Arrow” grass plant and have posted photos in  2014 and in 2016. Since then, for whatever reason, people searching the term “Green and White Grass plant” regularly arrive at my blog – where I probably have not much useful to tell them.😐

Each successive year the plant has grown, enough so that two years ago I dug part of it out ( NOT easy) and planted it in a pot. Unfortunately that piece didn’t survive. Because the original plant has grown so much it routinely flops over which is why I started staking it with a perimeter of bamboo sticks and dental floss (as string). Nonetheless for the last two years I did this one or more of the stakes would eventually keel over & I’d return to wrestling with the plant to get it to stand up nicely. Let me tell you that although the plant looks innocent enough, the blades of grass are sharp. Last year I was sufficiently annoyed with the grass plant falling over that I prematurely cut part of it and then didn’t get to enjoy all its tall, striking rust-colored blooms late in the season.

All this is by way of saying I’ve solved my problem this year and forevermore! By stuffing the now-grown plant into a large, red tomato cage!

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You’ll stand up & you’ll like it!

 

 

Improvements to my bedroom “decor”

I’ve been tweaking my room for a long time. It was more or less okay when I last posted photo updates in late December but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what I had on the wall over my bed. Last week I bought myself a present from Ross, a wonderful 30″ wide smiling, metal sun wall decoration for $13. My thought was to hang it over the bed and it did look really good there. However, I got another idea. 

I found a 5.5 foot long painted white board (where else but curbside?😊) and got inspired to make it a shelf high up on the wall behind my bed. I eliminated a shorter lime green shelf from another wall and took objects from it for the new shelf. It’s perfect! I then took one of my favorite framed prints, Anne Worthington’s Sunflower and centered that under the shelf. I flanked the poster with two small mirrors I already had on the wall but just moved them out a bit for balance.  I put the large metal sun to the right over my chair, where it looks terrific and at night is lit by the wall lamp near it. i hung my two long tealight holders on either end of the shelf.  I repositioned every picture & piece of wall art I have for better effect. Want to see it all?

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I feel compelled to smile back at him

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The hanging moon & Maxwell Parrish print in their new spots

The corner on the left of the bed has long challenged me but I’m much happer with this. Here’s the lamp I found a number of years ago which gave me the overarching co!or theme for the room. Prior to finding this lamp and getting inspired by it, everything i hadwas fairly random and nowhere near as appealing as it is now. The lamp highlights the poster, Morning Bouquet, a print I’ve had – and loved – for decades. My painted lime green long mirror is now in a good spot too. Eventually I’d like to get a nicer long mirror, something more substantial, but this works now.

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Lastly, this hasn’t changed, but it’s the opposite wall, the one with the door (and puny closet), which I see every morning when I wake up. It makes me happy and now everything kind of fits together.

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Update on my 2019 “resolutions”


It’s over 6 months – yikes over half way – into 2019. Time for an update on my kinda, sorta resolutions. This is my second year nailing down specific, simple things I’d like to accomplish. I consider it a positive new thing. It gives focus and a certain order to my year.

I have read 25 books. The goal, which I expected to exceed, was 20. The most recent was the 400+ page Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s part memoir, part nonfiction, a fascinating book for anyone psychologically minded. It gave me a lot to think about. It’s the longest book I’ve read since I got serious about reading again (less internet, more books).

I have slacked entirely so far as continuing the Italian language cds I started in late 2018. I think it’s because I didn’t feel successful. I never felt I had a knack for languages and I can’t say my opinion has improved! I will try again but maybe a different cd set. I can’t give up this easily; I mean, geez, I should nail down a few phrases at least.

I have kept up my crossword puzzles hobby and, as planned, got a hold of several New York Times Sunday papers so I could try theirs. I really like the NYT puzzle. The puzzles increase in difficulty over the course of a week (one of my commenters pointed this out to me but I didn’t know which day the NYT “week” officially started). The puzzle is easiest on Monday and most difficult Saturday,  with Sunday’s puzzle being equivalent to a Thursday in difficulty. Having that measuring stick is useful.

I didn’t do as well on all the puzzles I tried as the one pictured but I’m still pecking away at them (without using the internet for solutions). The puzzles are created by different people and a short bio is included. A 25 year old named Erik Agard, a professional puzzle maker, had, as of June 2, contributed nine puzzles to the Times this year, more than anyone else. Professional puzzle maker! At 25!! I look at the puzzles and (very) vaguely wonder if I could make them. I don’t see how you’d even begin. Daunting. Which makes the 25 year old maker that much more impressive.

My favorite thing from the NYT however, is “Spelling Bee” , a challenge of making words from proffered letters. I don’t know exactly what it is about this but I love coming up with words. I need a framework though, and as with “Spelling Bee” a way to rate my progress. The Times has: Good, Excellent, and Genius scores. Naturally I’m striving for Genius! And occasionally with actual success! (So why aren’t there JOBS that need such a skill?😕) Useful or not, I always enjoyed finding words from random letters but now I see the importance of such word games in keeping your mind sharp, more so as you age.  Mental (and physical) challenges were part of 2019’s resolutions.

My self-instructed yoga got off to a good start. I’ve done the “sun salutation” – a five minute pose set – 21 of a planned 50 times. Additionally I’ve done 30 minutes plus of yoga 12 of 25 planned times. I haven’t been doing yoga recently because I’m very active outdoors in Spring and Summer and I really don’t need extra exercise. I’ll plan to pick it back up later in the year. Since I’ve done just about half, I think I should hit my goals by December’s end. I’m intent enough that I bought a DVD player for the TV in the living room – the only spot in the home big enough – where I “practice” yoga, primarily using library DVDs. I tried different ones to see who I’d like. I’ve never used exercise DVDs so this is new. It kind of makes you feel like you have company although I wonder if repeatedly watching the same one or few would get old? (I won’t pony up for classes and don’t feel the need.) I think if you get bored of hearing the same things, you can turn the volume down and just follow the poses.

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Sun Salutation (simple 5-minute set of poses

 

I regularly de-clutter and get rid of stuff – and have been at it for years – so at the end of December I made a modest goal to get rid of 15 things. What was I thinking?! I’ve already let go of 125 things. I surprised myself. Getting rid of stuff is addictive, though. And really, I’m down to almost all little things. It feels awfully good to shake off debris that no longer serves you. Keeping a list makes it more fun. Same with the other numerical goals.

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A sample selection

 

I have not made any Thai food (yet). A Thai-inspired Cole Slaw prompted that goal.i

This wasn’t in the January post but after an unusual year of indulgence of sorts (relative I assure you) I wanted to bring my food spending down. I was prompted to spend less as a goal because the  $2,200 I spent on food in 2018 seemed like a lot and was decidedly more than I’d ever spent. I have markedly cut my food spending in the first 6 months of 2019 but I wonder how much of that owes to the fact I had, I see in retrospect, the equivalent of a small grocery store in my home! I had quite a stockpile going on. You’d think a stash like that would just last & last but no, it seems I ate most of it.😐

In the first six months I spent $766 on food, which, if doubled and divided by 365 is about $4.20 a day. I did this NOT by dieting or going hungry but by eliminating pricier products or prepared foods like the $5 pound of hummus I treated myself to occasionally in 2018. (That hummus is now $5.50 and shouldn’t a home cook like me be making her own hummus anyway?) I bought only fish (frozen or canned) and shellfish, no other animals (which is not to say I never will but as of now have no thought to). Other than Olive and Sesame I haven’t bought any fancy oils, such as the delicious Avocado oil I bought a few times in 2018. I’ve eaten well, nutritiously, and plentifully (I have to for my activity level), no complaints. At this rate, one I’m not sure I’ll maintain, I’d spend $600 less on food this year than last. I’ll be satisfied if I cut it by $300 (more beans, less pasta.😁) and that seems like a realistic or probable savings by year’s end.

The only real indulgence I’ve kept – so far – is an occasional bottle of Kalamata Olives. The point of cutting my food spending isn’t to be a martyr or self-punishing in any respect. I ADORE food and its importance in my life can’t be overstated. It’s to see if I can spend less and still be happy with my food and to get myself to make even more foods at home.

I’ve watched (or watched again) two Marx Brothers films. Who said goals can’t be fun?! I know I need it, more levity, and the Marx Brothers are a sure thing. I have watched A LOT of movies and several series this year but I’m not too concerned so long as nothing more important is short-changed. This is the first time I’ve kept a list; I simply had no idea how many hours I spend watching DVDs and I wanted to know.IMG_20190708_122736

Lastly, I ‘m maintaining my physical health and with the yoga earlier this year, definitely challenging myself. I was pleased to find I kept up with everything the instructors were doing in the DVDs. On other fronts, I haven’t mastered a chin-up or pull-up 😁 – something I’ve mentioned – but I don’t really expect to.

Photo #2 of my found hydrangea (plus a little introspection)

I know I just posted about my free hydrangea blooming but I felt I had to show it to you again. The first photo was June 27. Here it is today after lots of rain this week. It”s so beautiful it doesn’t seem real. I am besotted. How does such a color exist??
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On June 27 the bloom looked like this. Nice, but clearly not at its peak.
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See, I never thought I could have such beautiful things. I know it’s a plant not a thing but it fits a larger theme in my life. Growing up, beauty wasn’t appreciated in my family, not really. The vibe for pretty much everything was good enough. In fact, I think beauty for its own sake would have been, or was, considered suspect, frivolous even. It wasn’t about money but attitude.I had to grow up – in every sense – and embrace beauty, most especially as something I deserve, which has been the hardest part, and is ongoing. Anyway, these are a few of the thoughts I’ve been having, spurred by the presence of my stunning hydrangea, that had been left curbside for dead.

My free hydrangea blooms

In March I found a potted hydrangea by the road.  It was the pot that attracted me; I only discovered a small, sad hydrangea surrounded by weeds in it when I got closer. I thought: who throws out a hydrangea?! (A plant that would not be cheap at the garden center.) Hydrangeas are early summer bloomers that basically look like ugly dead sticks in winter. In season, however, they have large colorful blooms of various hues (which depend on the soil makeup).  They don’t always bloom; a hard winter can kill off potential blossoms.  From one year to the next, I never know which of my hydrangeas – I have several – will put on a good show. There was no guarantee this free one would bloom but it did!

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And what it looked like in March. You can see why nobody else had bothered to snap it up.IMG_20190328_174726_kindlephoto-334240