August 2018 Progress Report, Part I

I had possibly the worst circumstances I’ve ever had for progressing on my goals. The antibiotic I took at the beginning of the month made me photosensitive and lightheaded. The final one gave me side effects that interfered with digestion and sleep.

As much as possible, I rolled with the punches. Wide awake at 2 am? Time to spackle the bathroom walls. Too dizzy to stand on a ladder? Work at the table.

In the end, I got quite a lot done.

House Projects


The Old Man, aka my father, adjusted my front door which had been pulled askew last fall. He also helped me remove tree branches, bag them, and take them to the collection site.

I haven’t done much in the way of gardening. Yet. I drew a plan for moving various plants and digging out dead hydrangeas, but I need about two bags of potting soil and 24 or more cardboard boxes to create a preventative barrier.


Before my parents visited, I finished repainting the bathroom and installing a new curtain rod. (The old one kept working itself loose so that I never knew when it would fall. It is nice not to put an arm over my head every time I enter or exit the tub!) Unfortunately, the “machine washable” curtain liner melted onto itself when I washed it, so I had to find another quickly. I installed it the day they arrived.

I will not lie. Despite the problems with the contractor, the end result is more functional and beautiful than I dreamed.

Book Nook

I donated books to the community rummage sale early in the month, but I still managed to fill five bags for the library fundraising sale.

It’s rather difficult to get rid of books. Many are available in the library, but I still want my own copy (e.g. the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Others represent classes I took or – to be embarrassingly honest – the person I wish I were.

There’s also the problem of old books, such as the Emerson essays owned by my great-grandmother. Charities may want them if they are collectible, but what if they’re just trash? I wouldn’t throw them in the garbage, so I didn’t take the chance that others would.

On the other hand, I tore apart and recycled the pages of old reference books. No one wants them when the contents are updated often or can be found online.

In the end, the bookshelves contain volumes of poetry, philosophy, and art. I kept about a dozen books in other categories, such as short story collections and cookbooks. Now there is room for decorative items and photo albums (my next long term project).

The Shed Saga

I found out that the previous neighbors did NOT get a permit for the privacy fence. I have to hire a surveyor to figure out where the shed can be built, so I am also paying to make sure the fence isn’t on my property.Currently the fence is sagging into my yard, and the “new” neighbor will not fix a thing. When my parents visited, my father brought an electric pole saw to trim not only my trees but the overhanging branches from next door.

The fact that he’s let brush grow wild against his house is just the icing on the cake. It has now been over two years since he took any trash out of his house. If his fence is one my property, no doubt I will have to take him to court in order to force him to remove it. Then I’ll spend years seeing his backyard.

My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

American Life Cleaning

Yes, I’m making fun of Swedish death cleaning. Heck, I’m making it a new searchable category!

After reading and listening to various methods of cleaning, minimizing, and organizing one’s possessions, I decided I would rather focus on the here-and-now than imagining my relatives digging through La Casa de Tontería while questioning my taste. (Especially my sobrinas!)

A couple circumstances really helped me clean my closets and give away useful but unnecessary things.

First, hearing the worst-case scenario of my leg infection really put me in a mood to get my house in order. I don’t often get sick, let alone have physical injury that limits me. I found myself looking with fresh (if bleary) eyes at my everyday routines and what I wish to accomplish long-term.

Second, my dear friend Cathy decided to hold a storage-clearing sale. I will not give details – her story is her own – but suffice to say that she had a career she absolutely loved and hoped to return to it. The paraphernalia of that time no longer moved her life forward, but rather became an anchor.

So she got rid of it.

I helped her move boxes and set up, but really she inspired me.

As a result, I took two carloads of outdoor equipment, clothes, and household goods to charity.

I also decided to rearrange space for the various CDs and records I’ve collected.* Music is my favorite pastime, whether it’s playing the piano or dancing to the oldies. Even the most comfortable earbuds don’t compare to background music drifting through the rooms.

*I inherited some of my late grandfather’s records, as well as a dear lady’s wonderful show tune albums.


2 thoughts on “August 2018 Progress Report, Part I

  1. List your show tune albums!!!!


    What I mean to write is that “American Life Cleaning” is brilliant. There is an American minimalist who blogged about living with only what you use, well before the current tidying and deathcleaning craze. Freddie says she wrote a book called “The Joy of Minimalism” (and he remembers because it sounds like “The Joy of Six” that he found and secretly read! Naughty!)

    I do hope your leg is better and your survey goes well. Freddie knows terrifying stories of old estates which had large stones (!?!) to designate the property lines. People would move the stones under cover of night and steal property. Yankees are thrifty and full of skullduggery.

  2. The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay. I listened to the audiobook while painting the bathroom! It was very good and geared toward couples and families living with less clutter and keeping what they used.

    A really odd one was Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki. He kept selling and giving away his possessions until he owned about 150 things. It was a bit repetitious, but he agreed with our philosophy that if you have a neighborhood hangout, you don’t need a livingroom and a tiny apartment is perfect if there are safe outdoor places.

    Naughty Freddie? I may need to sit down. 😉

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