Minimalism Progress Report: Week 5

BE MY GUEST!

I just started the fifth week of the 12-week class Uncluttered, run by American minimalist Josh Becker. It’s the wardrobe clean-out week. I figured I could skip it after the autumnal closet-cleaning.

Looking again, I found scarves and a thermo-insulated gloves that other people could use. I also tossed a beautiful blue-and-pink sweater. It’s comfortable, warm, and matched other articles of clothing. I have worn it weekly since December, but keeping it presentable is too much work. Every single time I wore it, let alone washed it,  loops of yarn came loose and had to be pulled to the reverse side with a crochet needle. 

It’s interesting to see photos of other people’s homes and swap stories. Many people thought all Americans live in big houses, until a “shutgun house” owner and a NYC resident posted photos.  I will say this: we like big living rooms even in small homes. 

An Englishwoman explained what “two-up-two-down” means. When we compared our respective square footage, we weren’t surprised that mine is bigger – but not by much.  Our proportions differ greatly. My kitchen is luxuriously spacious; her two bedrooms are larger than my three (one of which is technically a nursery).  

When I posted “after” photos of the guestroom (above), everyone commented on the black-white-and-red color scheme. Evidently, oxblood is unusually bold. 

 A funny aside:  The more we minimize our belongings, the more we rationalize purchasing more.

Our instructor and our peers reminded to hold off on buying anything – organizers, paint, etc. – until we finish the course.  The impulse was certainly running through in our group, like a bargain-hunting phantom. 

I’m glad I committed to another year of Mindful Buying. Temptation was trying to talk me into  purchasing a really nice belt to replace the cheap ones I threw out. I already have a nice belt. Just not a REALLY nice belt!

The Importance of Word Choice

When yesterday became too dark for gardening and too Friday for housework, I decide to watch a movie from my half-forgotten watchlist. I chose Inception, a ten-year-old blockbuster I hadn’t seen. As usual when watching music-heavy videos, I put on closed captioning. It certainly helped in certain scenes. However…

*spoiler ahead*

As the story reaches the climax, the protagonist holds his dying wife in his arms and gently kisses her face. Or as the caption puts it: Smooches.

Smooches? Smooches!

After I stopped laughing long enough to stop the film and go back, I watched it in a completely different state of mind . Disbelief, suspended until then, came roaring back with its drinking buddy Hilarity.

“Kisses tenderly” or “gently kisses her face” or plain old “kisses” would have been better captions. Why use a word completely out of keeping with the mood?

July 2020 Progress Report

Mindful Spending: Despite the triumphant feeling of paying off the mortgage, the month ended with a “dog ate my homework” moment when I realized I shredded July’s  purchase list and receipts instead of June’s.

However, I know the biggest lapse in Mindful Spending: about $40 for costume jewelry. Perhaps it displays a terrible shallowness, but I successfully combatted the Shutdown Funk by forcing myself to dress up every morning. Call it “Slob Prevention,” if you will, or “Getting Dolled Up,” in the lingo of my grandmothers. By any name, it helped – and revealed the sorry state of my jewelry box. (Some people have Sock Gremlins taking one of a pair; I have an Earring Gremlin.) Continue reading

Saturday Night Check-in

Writing: Meh. I spent a lot of time sorting files, looking for handwritten notes on the next chapter. I have  a LOOOOTTTTT of notes. As a result, only about 1500 original words this week.

Work: Two weeks after the contractual end of the year, The Factory finally closed for two months. I’ll be heading back early. The second week of August is a training session in, ironically, Kagan Cooperative Learning.  So far, the CDC guidelines for reopening schools don’t allow students to be facing each other and advises that social distancing be maintained in the classroom.

Garden: A single radish plant has supplied me with three harvests of seedpods. The first squash blossoms have appeared – on the plants grown from the last-minute seeds carelessly tossed into a sinkhole, naturally. A dearth of landscape fabric forced me to use cardboard boxes as weed-block around the shed, which looks terrible but can’t be helped.

La Casa de Tontería: Inside, the house looks like a cyclone hit. I returned the last box of work material to The Factory, except for two boxes of reading materials I purchased to supplement a class. This weekend, I’m tidying and deep-cleaning – a real chore.

Mindful Spending: I was privately messaged about this, but a blog-answer is best. I stopped posting monthly updates because the Shutdown changed the cost and availability of everything. Not to mention a new category of expenses appeared: working-from-home. I begin July anew.

 

 

Project Complete: Reindeer Glasses-Holder

This project grew from disparate things:

  1. Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
  2. A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
  3. An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
  4. Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses

     

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    Christmas decoration (after removing plastic wreath from neck).

Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture. 

It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I  laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen,  I played around with the paint pens.

It took me roughly four weeks to finish. 

Voila! A deer for all seasons. 

Be Concise

The Boss figured out that we need regular “office hours” every day, rather than compulsory check-ins multiple times throughout the day. He also set a class schedule for our young humans, so they know when lessons become available and when they’re due.

I’m grateful.

Too bad we can’t figure out a platform, or how to get me access to my locked Google account (which was locked 6 years ago and I’ve been using another school account). Another day, another vexation.

Last week I started getting blinding headaches, the kind in which water seems to be streaming down in the corners of my eyes and slowly moves forward until my vision blurs completely. Something similar happened a few years ago and I was told it was a migraine.

Why now? I have work to do! Continue reading

Shutdown: Shut it ALL down…

My state’s governor is working on the final wording of the order to completely shut down schools, from public to parochial. Although it’s my vacation week, the depression has set in.

I became a teacher because I love teaching students, helping them, and watching them grow. The only thing I dislike about teaching is the paperwork. Now it’s all paperwork.

Shutting EVERYTHING Down

Last week, the county library system announced that all eleven branches were keeping their regular hours. Monday it and every other library, bar, restaurant, gym, and the like were closed. Although I knew my library card-carrying students can check out e-books and other electronic materials, I still felt sorry for anyone finishing up a book in a series.

Today while I was getting ready to purchase an Easter dress* online, there was a sudden hiccough and the entire website was unavailable. I reloaded and it routed me to a message from the CEO: the website and all brick-and-mortar stores are closed until  at least April 5.  So it’s time to take needle and thread to an old dress.**

I went for a drive to pick up potting soil for the seed germination I’m starting Saturday. Odd shops here and there were open; an auto glass repair shop,  a fabric store, and a candle-and-soap emporium, among others.  An electronics store had a very busy parking lot; techies have to tech.

The home improvement store manager assured me that they’ll be open tomorrow at 6 am, as usual.  However, I’m not sure I believe her!


* Made in the US, so I was certain it would be available.

**I have enough experience with sewing to be afraid of using scissors for anything except cutting thread. Mistakes are permanent!

Working From Home, Day 4

Yesterday was not productive, so a new plan was needed. Usually I prioritize the onerous tasks – like grading essays – but today I identified what takes up the most space.

La Casa de Tontería, aka The House of Nonsense, is too small to have this much visual clutter.   When the livingroom furniture is clear again, my mind will be, too!

My co-workers also struggle with the work-at-home routine. As a particular married lady wrote yesterday, “I’m going to report my co-worker to HR* for sexual harassment.  😂🤣” 


*Human Resource Department.

Working in the “Home Office”

This weekend I was apprehensive and, frankly, disgruntled by the mandatory closure of The Young Human Factory. Emails were trickling in from worried parents; piles of paperwork, books, and folders covered all horizontal surfaces in the livingroom; and my social engagements were canceled.*

But today I was anxiety-free as the wheels fell off.

First, I forgot to reprogram the furnace from its routine 14 Celsius/58 Fahrenheit setting. I slept an extra hour and felt refreshed… until I sat up bad flipped back the quilt and woolen blankets. I dashed to turn up the thermostat, then read in bed for an hour.

Then I tried using the scan function of my new-ish printer. It did not go well.  Luckily, the public library is keeping normal hours! The “library lady” gave me good advice. (And  checked out gardening books.)

Better luck tomorrow.


*The MET cancelled Der Fliegender Hollander, which meant no simulcast in a nearby theater. It would have been my first “real” opera, as operettas don’t count. However, I already had a disappointment when Bryn Terfel broke his ankle and was replaced by Evgeny Nikitin, a baritone with whom I’m unfamiliar.