Well-written and quite gracious? Certainly not. But Goat gives credit where credit is due. At least Rat hand-wrote something. With your superior brain and manual dexterity, besting Rat should be a cinch. Pull out pen and paper and say what needs saying. Write now.
Well, this isn't the best thank you note ever. A little white lie would have been better than unvarnished honesty. But at least Rat wrote. Maybe promptly. Be like the rat!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
We recently went on holiday to the Portuguese island of Maderia. It’s a beautiful volcanic island with the tallest peak rising over 6,000 feet and the land plunging precipitously into the Atlantic. The terrain and climate are perfect for growing the grapes that made Madeira famous. And the craggy cliffs make perfect homes for the beloved swallows, Andorinhas. The swallow is the country's national icon. You'll find it on flags, manhole covers, shop signs, even tattoos.
Our intention was to drink the wine, hike the hills and swim the sea. And we did. And all lived up to our expectations. We heeded Proust (who favored the French Madeleine but would surely have relished the Portuguese custard tart as well). The new land delighted but the seeing with new eyes is the more enduring story. And it's a story told through the swallows that seemed instinctively to know what Proust believed.
The swallows were soon to commence their seasonal migration to Africa. As they swooped around the rugged cliffs, it was as if they were surveying their Madeiran homes with new eyes. Appreciating the comfort and familiarity of their nests. Knowing these would be a place of rest when they returned the following spring to raise their young. It was easy to imagine the swallows understood that traveling and nesting are not incompatible, but perfect partners. Full of energy and content with calm, these birds knew that both were part of a rich life. And likewise, for us.
So we emulated the swallows. We were busy and still. The busy part came naturally. Like the swallows, we swoop and circle and delight in doing, even on vacation. Ben Franklin provided an oft repeated family wakeup call. "Awake sluggards, waste not life. There's time enough for sleeping in the grave!" As I said, doers. At first, the being still was a bit unnatural. But as new eyes opened, the still, delighted. Even the spirited swallows needed to rest. And so did we.
The ceramic swallow, resting on this nest is not just a travel trinket (perish the thought), but a little reminder to slow down and really see that often the best part of voyaging is coming home to a familiar nest with companionable nest mates. We're just like the swallows- travelers and homebodies. An excellent combination!
Proust was right. Seeing with new eyes really is the true voyage of discovery.
For one who is deeply devoted to getting things done, this comic hit the mark. Maybe my devotion to “done” was the very thing that sharpened the point- sometimes not doing something is exactly the right thing to do. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Waiting to see how things play out is can be the smart choice.
The trick is figuring out the right things not to do. You might not be as lucky as Wally. When the pointy-haired boss tells you to do something, it’s probably a good idea to do it or persuasively disavow him of the notion that it needs to be done.
One of my muses is a devoted doer. One is a devoted “let it perk-er”. Even the doer admits that sometimes the effort is for naught but more often, doing is worthwhile. And the perk-er is quite content to let foolish or unimportant things sink to the bottom of the pile and be swept away in an occasional fit of tidying. Dire consequences seldom manifest when you thoughtfully decide what not to do. For the gambler, this risk is worth taking.
I'm not much of a gambler.
Forty printed pages, and one day later… A small, inconsequential example of when waiting would have been better. In a stew to get all the tax documents to the accountant, I logged in and printed a many-paged 1099 that had not arrived in the mail with the others. Had I waited one more day, all that hurried copying would have been unnecessary. Getting this thing done was a poor choice.
Doing or not doing? Make a decision. Both have consequences that dithering won't eliminate. Decide. Then live with the consequences without too much kvetching.
“Focus is often a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack
“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” John Ruskin, Late 19th century English art critic and thinker.
This Englishman probably didn’t known about lagom, the Swedish concept of enough. It’s the national cultural ethos that is based on fairness and cooperation- without abdicating independence and individualism. Swedes describe it as “everything in moderation” or finding the middle of the middle path.
If you’re overworked, overstuffed, overcommitted, and over contacted, lagom might sound pretty good. And the way to practice lagom is to have more of less.
We often use the expression ‘more or less’ meaning basically, generally, or approximately. Change one little letter and you’ve got something new to ponder. Something more interesting. Something less obvious.
Less stress. Less mess. Less hurriedness. Less multitasking. Less stuff you don’t love. Less stuff you don’t even like!
The balance between more and less is enough. I’m a self-proclaimed “enoughist- my pushback on minimalism. I am one with the Swedes. I love lagom.
Enough evens the score. It is the place of balance, equilibrium, harmony. It’s a contented place. Not stuffed or starved. Not frantic or bored. Not too hot or too cold. Just right.
Like the two crows, find your balance. (And maybe a little more light!)
Spring arrives in a few hours- at 12:15 pm on March 20, 2018. With apologies to Tennyson, “ Hope smiles on the threshold of the season to come. “ So this Robin is up, with both shoes on, looking for her “worms”.
The picking is easy when you’re an early bird. You’re fresher and more focused. There are fewer distractions and less competition. The agenda is more yours to set than if you dawdle and let others direct the course of your day. When you give yourself time, you’re not playing catch-up all day. You’re not stuck in a rut. You’re not thrown for a loop when someone needs your help.
Minutes matter. Time is an equal opportunity bestower. Are you a squanderer or a good steward? Time can’t be stockpiled. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Two little minutes were all that separated the first robin of spring from the fifty-first.
You’d be amazed by how much you can do in two minutes if you practice getting things done. Fill the bird feeder. Make your bed. Send the reply you’ve been meaning to send for days (or weeks). Become a doer rather than a ditherer.
“It is never to late to begin a new ending.” Anon Find your worms!
Note: This was written in the waning hours of winter, but by the time it comes to you, it may be the second day of spring. How and when it reaches you is something inexplicable and not worth even a minute of worry.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember back-to-school shopping. The tags were off as soon as you got home. And even if it was still summertime hot, the prospect of wearing the new wool kilt, Peter Pan collared shirt, and saddle oxfords was almost impossible to resist. It was unthinkable that any, much less many, new purchases might never be worn. But all this happened when we entertained ourselves with things other than shopping. I’d make the case that shopping isn’t that much fun if you don’t enjoy your purchases enough to wear them even once.
But many are of a different age and the words 'back-to-school shopping' sound a little quaint but mostly antiquated. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about “virgin” clothes, several women offered reasons why they had things in their closets that were not only unworn, but still tagged. Very recent purchases could get a pass, but that’s not what this story was about. We’re talking about clothes that had been hanging around (literally) for long enough that they shouldn’t be called virgins. These women’s excuses (more charitably called answers) were honest and insightful.
From the ‘Careful Shopper’. She bought the perfect dress, not for one particular event but for many future occasions. These occasions hadn’t come along yet but they would. Her motto –“Be Prepared!”
From the ‘Aspirational Shopper’. She bought a dress that was obviously too small as a motivation for shedding pounds.. The carrot was missing the stick! Her motto- “Optimism should be tempered with reality.”
From the ‘Alternate Reality Shopper’. She bought harem pants that looked fabulous on the runway model but were decidedly less fabulous on her. Her motto- “Call me gullible.”
From the ‘Closet Chaos Shopper’. She bought lots of things, willy-nilly and eschewed any sort of organization. “What’s a return receipt and who has time?” Her motto-“ Call me crazy.”
And what about clothes that have been de-tagged but still never worn? Maybe a bit better, but only a bit. There is nothing virtuous about virginal vestiture. Take stock of your closet. Tagged or tagless, with few exceptions, if you haven’t worn it, it probably should go. Admit your shopping missteps and learn to step more carefully.
If the shoe fits, wear it. Please!
I can almost hear a chorus of Pollyannas protesting that I’ve confused the lyrics. It’s ”Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”. Except for card-carrying curmudgeons, accentuating the negative is not generally a recommended strategy for a happy life. But this seemingly mangled expression is quite intentional. Sometimes the negative is the main attraction.
These negatives are worth accentuating.
* Knowing what you don’t want makes knowing what you do want so much easier.
* Getting rid of not just the things you used to like, but the ones you’ve always disliked is a capital idea.
* Sometimes not getting what you want is a marvelous stroke of luck.
The first two are mine; the third is from the Dalai Lama. Sidling up to one so wise is rather daring, but I suspect his good humor would prevail if he happened to get wind of this. But the point is, these statements all emphasize the negative to surprisingly positive results.
Whether a car or car coat, identifying the features that you don’t want at any price (including ‘free’) can be a good way to come to a decision through the back door. Stick to your guns. If you don’t want something, remember it’s not a feature. It’s a problem. The purveyor is wrong- free will be costly.
Be brave. Can anyone truthfully say that you own nothing you’ve always disliked? If so, you should be writing a book. Getting rid of things we used to like can be hard because the item carries some happy memories. They may be old memories but at some point, the item in question mattered. But getting rid of things we’ve never liked, or maybe always hated? If you’re honest and call it by what it really is, letting go should be pretty easy. It’s not a gift. It’s not a remembrance. It’s a mistake. And cleaning up mistakes always feels good.
The Dalai Lama’s words are akin to “Be careful what you wish for. It might come true.” Who hasn’t breathed a sigh of relief or proclaimed gratitude for having “dodged a bullet” when initial disappointment becomes best thing that could have happened? Appreciate when you’ve stumbled on a marvelous stroke of luck that didn’t initially feel so marvelous.
If Pollyanna is the always sunny, optimist, her counterpart is the termagant. It’s a good word to know if you’re taking the SAT or making a wager. Our four-leaf-clover-finding daughter can attest to that. This word popped out of her mouth one Christmas Eve. All ears were cocked for the explanation. With complete confidence, she defined termagant as harsh- tempered woman- sort of the feminine equivalent of the curmudgeon, which has a more masculine feel. The hour was getting late and we’d long since abandoned Moderation and invited Excess to the Eggnog Party, so I suggested calling her high school English teacher (who fortunately was on PS Time) for corroboration. A guitar was resting on the outcome.
Guitar buying is not a traditional St. Stephen’s Day activity, but it did prove a worthy exception to the Lama's rule. Getting the guitar was a marvelous stroke of luck!
“The beautiful is as useful as the useful…perhaps more so.” Victor Hugo
What is beauty? This question has burned for millennia. Is beauty an absolute, with order, symmetry, and proportion as its hallmarks? Or is it relative, as filtered through the eye of the beholder? Maybe beauty transcends a single explanation and to be really understood, the objective qualities and subjective perceptions must both be considered.
Art, architecture, music, and nature are replete with examples of objectively beautiful things. The Parthenon, Pyramids, Palladio’s Rotunda, Bach’s Fugues, the pinecone, the sunflower, and the nautilus shell are standard bearers. Beauty in the human form is much admired as well. Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is a classic example. We delight in the human form in motion- Balanchine’s ballerinas, long and lithe; the short stop, strong and nimble; and the Masai woman, erect and steady with water bucket perched on her head- a skill just as remarkable as a grand jeté or a double play.
Classic, objective qualities matter, but ignoring the considerable influence of culture, background, and education in our interpretation of beauty makes for a tale half-told. Our subjective filters are hard at work. And they are malleable and responsive to retraining and refinement. An appreciation for the classic characteristics of beauty can be an excellent companion to our raw, unvarnished personal tastes.
Can we recognize and appreciate beauty without being beautiful? The answer to this question seems quite clear. We don’t have to go on pointe, or make a gaming winning play or balance a water bucket on our head to appreciate the form and function that make these things beautiful. What a relief! Just like a reader of cookbooks who never intends to cook. Or a lover of music who listens but never learns to play. Or the art lover who can’t draw a straight line. Appreciation without aspiration isn’t a shortcoming, but rather an affirmation of the universal transcendence of beauty.
A wise and kindly reader offered this reminder, in the person of King Lear speaking to his daughter, Regan (who was not an appreciative audience). If we’re dressed only to stay warm, we don’t need pretty things that probably don’t keep us warm at all. But without beauty, man’s life is no better than beast’s. Let’s elevate our condition and strive for even the useful to have a measure of beauty. In doing so, we’ll join the lofty company of the Bard of Avon and Monsieur Hugo.
This is a trilogy of doings. Doings, not thinkings. Large is first in line. That’s what happens when you’re the biggest. Medium is like the good middle child. And Small is little but not insignificant. Every step, every action, matters.
Meet Large, who speaks for himself.
“After 30 years of living in a home, raising three kids, leading busy lives - Sh#t accumulates! Drawers fill with junk, closets are loaded with children’s clothing of adult kids no longer living here, and file cabinets are filled with tax returns so old they will never be audited by the IRS. But worst of ALL are the dreaded attics- the “out of sight, out of mind” places. This is where junk goes to die! Everything from boxes of “sentimental” baby clothes and toys and cribs to notes from Sociology 101 with Professor “Whoever” were dying a slow death.
Over the years, we have helped clean out homes of parents who have passed away or moved to retirement homes and have transitioned kids from apartment A to let’s-start-again apartment B. Those projects were work and each case involved significant decluttering. But a lower priority has always been us. We’ve not moved for 30 years and having not one, but two attics, there has been no catalyst or urgency for throwing things away.
But through reading and embracing Robin’s Rules, we realized the longer we went without a “Big Purge” the harder it would be to tackle; and heaven forbid burdening our kids with our clutter. So, two weeks ago, my better half said, “Let’s do it! We are going to be here next weekend. Let’s get a dumpster and attack our junk BLOB!” I quickly said, “You’re on!!”
The “Bin There, Dump That” lime green dumpster arrived on schedule Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, after procrastinating for as long as possible, we headed to the attic knowing this was going to be our most challenging task. Before the purge began, we shook hands on an important deal – if either one of us wanted to save ANYTHING, they had to the count of 5 to come up with their critically important reason why. There were other things we needed to agree on too and we constantly found ourselves adjusting our “rules for engagement”. We pulled down the steps to our third floor attic with enthusiasm. But that enthusiasm was knocked right out of us by running into a wall of “decisions deferred”. I will confess to being in a complete state of shock upon seeing, for the first time in a decade, the accumulation of “stuff”. After a few “You’ve got to be ‘expletive’ kidding me” it was time for our second agreement – to the dumpster without complaint or bellyaching for it would only drain our energy and possibly bring us to blows. We needed to be a team.
Sunday evening, 16 hours of really hard work behind us, 20,000 steps/day on the Fitbit (who knows how many flights?), we collapsed into our chairs to watch the Eagles surprise the Vikings. Over take-out, some much deserved wine, and Foles’ many completions, we recounted our weekend, praised our accomplishments, and discussed lessons learned.
· “The purge delayed is the purge betrayed” – the longer you put it off the more painful it will be.
· Don’t save those baby clothes, cribs, bedroom curtains, or whatever – your kids are not going to want them and besides they will probably have dry rot or be out of fashion! The ones that have life left in them can be donated. The lifeless one- toss now!
· Don’t use the attic as a “burial ground” – the pain in the ‘back’ to get that stuff down from there is way worse than the forced decision to get rid of it to begin with.
· Less is More – if you remove the clutter as you go, it frees up both space and your mind.
We are not finished with our de-cluttering project, but we have made huge strides. Importantly, we are inspired to finish because we see how really good it feels with each clean and organized space we create. We’ll keep you posted”, says Large.
Say hello to Medium, who is patiently waiting her turn.
Some might consider pantry-purging to be a strange way to recover from the flu, but that’s how it happened. Ending a bad bout, my friend, woke up perkier and feeling more herself. Having already successfully edited her closet using Robin’s Rules, she set her sights on the pantry. The kitchen was going to be repainted, so everything would have to come out of the pantry, and rather than simply move it all to the dining room table and floor, in a flash, she decided to really deal with all the stuff that was lurking behind closed doors. And what was lurking was a surprise. Not the good kind either. Expired cake mixes, jars of jams and spreads from Christmases past, spices that she knew she’d never use, containers of white stuff that could have been baking soda or baking powder, sticky syrup and honey bottles… you get the drift. And in pretty short order, all of the things that had been skulking, were exposed and banished. It took a few hours, but it didn’t cause a flu relapse. Quite the contrary, it was a shot in the arm. She says she’s yet to miss a single thing that she let go and she’s actually using what remains. Bravo Medium!
And last, but certainly not least, greetings to Small.
This friend has been on the path of enough for quite a while. She is quick to thank me for inspiration, but it is really more a case of preaching to the choir. But I do love our shared encouragements. She decided to clean out her junk drawer after reading one of my comic strip essays. The nubby pencils, broken clips, stripped screws, old calendars and coupons, and tangled strings were not long for this world. She’d had it with fishing around in a messy drawer for something that should have been easy to find. She was tired of thinking about cleaning out that drawer rather than actually doing it. By her own account, she’d spent way more time procrastinating than she spent doing. The doing was measured in minutes (about 20 of them). Once all the unnecessary stuff was gone, there was plenty of room for the keepers. A drawer reassignment- junk to neat! Well done, Small.
Inspiration is a two way street. Embracing Rules paved the way and Writings inspired actions. And those actions inspired more writing. So to the threesome, grazie, grazie, grazie.
“The purge delayed is the purge betrayed.” Brilliant. I wish I’d coined it.
Bunny Mellon- heiress, designer, and style maker was a noteworthy advocate of Wabi-sabi, or as she called it, imperfect perfection. And it’s a concept that merits consideration, especially for someone who has long worshiped at the altar of perfection.
Ms. Mellon had an appetite for objects whose most extravagant quality was often their simplicity. She knew what she loved and what she loved could be characterized by scale, proportion, and balance. In a word, she loved beauty. With unlimited resources, Mellon could have anything her heart desired. Apparently what she wanted were things that deflected rather than attracted attention. “Nothing should be noticed.” But for nothing to be noticed, one must be always attentive to the things that one hopes will not be noticed. It’s a great irony. To have it look like you’re flying at 36,000 feet, you have to get down in the weeds. The details matter. They enable the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Mellon’s imperfect perfection, Wabi-sabi, (not to be confused with the incendiary mustard, wasabi) encompasses the Japanese aesthetic sensibility. It’s integral to things quintessentially Japanese, like Zen gardens, tea ceremonies, ikebana and bonsai. It’s where imperfection and transience are inevitable and intentional. Desired, not despised. To its adherents, Wabi-sabi awakens the senses and informs how we experience beauty.
The realization that perfection can masquerade as imperfection is something I guess I knew, but hadn’t articulated with any conviction. So for the record… Imperfection can be beautiful, particularly when it arises from fond use, not negligent abuse. Witness the well-loved Windsor high chair. The footrest is scuffed. The arm ends are worn from frequent run-ins with the table. But these and other imperfections mark this chair as perfect-a possession that was fondly used and is still loved.
This well-worn chair is a keeper of family memories and traditions. Like previous generations, we skipped the plastic highchair. From the time a child could sit upright (very young) until they grew too big (surprisingly old) this chair cozied up to the family dining table. There was no splat mat, no plastic bib, and no sippy cup. And to the surprise of many, we did very well. There were plenty of messes, but we carried on with the Windsor. Anyway, the messes were not the fault of the chair but of the chairs’ occupants. Chairs, plural. When the need arose (the first sitter was not ready to vacate his chair when the next sitter was ready for hers) a second Windsor chair was made. Its occupant spent nearly ten years (I told you, surprisingly old) making it as perfectly imperfect as the original. And because the chair was sturdy and handsome, there wasn’t a trace of embarrassment about learning long division, perched in a high chair.
Zen Masters and Bunny Mellon knew the wonders of imperfect perfection. We can too. A garden, a chair or something wholly different? Find the beauty in the imperfections in your life.
Wipe out Waste. This snappy slogan greeted me as I entered one of the county landfills. The bed of our farm truck was filled with trash that had been dumped on the roadside by our house. This trash consisted of a fiberglass shower stall and a wooden bed frame. Both were mangled and broken into a bunch of pieces. The shower stall had been part of our viewscape for some months and I’d been waiting to haul it to the dump until I was pretty sure that any serpents who had been calling it home were hibernating elsewhere. I hate serpents. The bed frame was a holiday addition to the roadside trash.
I’ve learned a couple of things from years of picking up roadside trash at our farm. First, trash begets trash. When passersby who don’t want to use their own trash bins or who loathe paying the fee to discard at the landfill see trash along the road, it’s tacit permission to add to the litter. Second, picking up trash is risky business. Honking, accelerating, and swerving seem to be a sport for many motorists. Thankfully only a few are brazen enough to toss their trash as they speed by- implying “Just making it worth your while.”
The landfill was hopping. Cars and trucks were queued while drivers paid their fees and were directed to the correct dumping zone. I’m sure she didn’t care, but I made certain the attendant knew that my trash wasn’t really mine, but compliments of unlawful passersby. She was unimpressed with my good citizenship and with a bored voice, simply directed me to Zone B. I had to wait my turn to get a spot close enough to the mountain of trash to be able to heave mine out of the truck with hopes of it landing squarely on the pile. I planned to dump in a neat and orderly way. I needn’t have worried. As soon as there was a break in the action, an enormous bulldozer scraped up the expanded margins of trash, making the mountain even taller.
As sad as this picture is, the dump was even sadder in person. The waste of material goods is obvious. But wastefulness is much bigger. It encompasses time, effort and resources- natural and monetary. The sight of all the squandering that this landfill represents was astounding. And this is just one of literally thousands of licensed landfills in the US. Which makes one wonder- why do we have so much stuff? What has spawned this culture of consumption? Is it keeping up with the Joneses, who were at the landfill in droves; class warfare- rich v. poor, tasteful v. tacky; or endorphin rush from excitedly buying something new when the old version was just fine and maybe none would have been even better?
With the proliferation of books and blogs on de-cluttering, organizing and simplifying, our preoccupations with getting rid of too much stuff has twisted our sanity. Being able to waste confers wealth. Being able to consume conspicuously confers status. We’re missing out on the opportunity to de-clutter and dump if we don’t have enough stuff.
I am on the path of learning that is enough is often enough, that newer doesn’t necessarily mean improved, and bigger isn’t always better. I write about it as a way to sort my thoughts and to be accountable, if only to myself. I do want to wipe out waste. But not by visiting the landfill or the donation box. These are just temporary way stations for trash- a relocation service. To really wipe out waste, we have to quit being wasteful.
Let's take if from a generally accepted genius. Simplicity is not simplistic. It's simply, simple. When a toss will do the trick, do you really need a laser targeting system? You're smart enough to know the answer. Don't let complications spoil simple.
You remember the unfortunate Mr. Dumpty. A fall from the wall rendered him broken, and despite best efforts by all the king’s horses and men, broken he would stay. It’s a cautionary tale but the warning is not about the dangers of fragile eggy figures perching on walls. The lesson is about how we deal with things crowded, mangled, and obsolete. As the English would say, Humpty Dumpty had become a dog’s breakfast. We’ll just call him clutter.
It feels a little harsh to call Humpty clutter, but once he cracked, that’s exactly what he was. No longer any good. Just a mess to be cleaned up and disposed of. That he was such a good egg and looked so dapper before his fall makes it even harder to admit that afterwards, he was reduced to clutter. And such is the case with our things. (You knew this wasn’t just a nostalgic bit about Mother Goose.)
Some things are born as clutter, like the oversized sombrero that looked fun in the marketplace but looks less fun as you struggle through security and truly regrettable as you angrily stuff it in the overhead bin. But the path to clutter is typically more gradual. Fully functioning is downgraded to balky. Balky becomes broken. Important parts go missing. Cords vanish. Mated pairs get divorced. Sparks fly when the switch is flipped. It doesn’t take any special training or talent to make the diagnosis: Clutter.
The physical brokenness of the possession in question is usually obvious. Our emotional attachment to the “clutter-in-waiting” is more complicated and harder to admit. The progression from “love” to “disgust” goes something like this. (To help with this staging, I’m thinking of the clutter formerly known as “bread machine”.) Love fades to ambivalence. Ambivalence becomes disregard. Disregard mutates into disgust. And disgust should spell the end of that bit of clutter and in the case of the aforementioned bread machine, it did.
When we use terms like serviceable, all parts together, and good working order to describe our possessions, you can be certain they are not clutter. They are things we need, use, and likely love. They are things for which we have adequate and appropriate storage. They are our valued possessions- the inanimate equivalent of our peeps.
As an antonym for clutter, there are oodles of verbs, but I come up empty-handed on the noun. So maybe an antidote for clutter will suffice. Consider this a refresher on a topic that often needs refreshing. Be as careful about what you let into your home as whom you let in. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Clutter is an intruder, so bar the doors and ignore its insistent knock. As to the intruders who made it in before you improved security? Pack ‘em up and send them packing.
Even Mother Goose knew Humpty was hopelessly scrambled and had to go. And while Ms. Goose is silent on this, I imagine that the king’s horses and men turned things over to the king’s ladies to do the mopping up. Minimize your mopping by confining the dog’s breakfast to the dog’s bowl.
An enormous sign on a busy secondary highway suggested we “make room for life.” Big was probably justified, given the competition for drivers’ attention. Competition was stiff- car dealerships, fast food joints, big box stores, personal injury attorneys and the almost endearing palm reader and psychic advisor crowded the built landscape.
All of which made me think that “making room for life” sounded like a good idea. But the solution being advertised- self- storage- was really a way to make room for clutter.
Storage warehouses are referred to (disparagingly) as “ground cover”, or (gleefully) as “cash cows”. They are cheap to build and operate and return tidy profits quickly. They turn vacant commercial land into a cash machine. And there seems to be no end to demand for them. If you build them, we will store.
Multiple Choice: The number of self-storage facilities in the US compared to the number of McDonald’s restaurants is roughly:
b. One third
The correct answer is C. Turns out something Americans love more than Big Macs is hoarding. Self- storage is a $35 billion a year industry and forecast to grow about 3% for the foreseeable future.
If we’re not careful, the real cows will be out of edible ground cover. Do your part for the bovines. Move over self storage. Make room for life!
As we approach the threshold of the year to come, maybe we should follow in Tennyson's footsteps. Whether you're Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Henny Penny matters not- hopefulness doesn't discriminate. But hope isn't just a matter of idly wishing. It's planning, striving, doing whatever needs doing to make hopes real. This velvety rabbit reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit who learned a lot about Real from Skin Horse. "Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has fallen off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all. Once you are Real, you can't become unReal."
Real is work. Real is resolve. And Real is just on the other side of the threshold.
Happy and Hopeful New Year. Really.
Know what "features" you don't want (and certainly don't need). Learn to call them by their proper name: Mistakes. Doo-dahs, add-ons, upgrades, extras... watch out!
What in the world does the title of this essay have to do with the picture? And how can this possibly be relevant to the Rules? It might seem I'm way out on a limb, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is about as close to the trunk as it gets. Rules are precisely about being bold. They provide the structure. Nothing is bolder than doing things your way, especially when you've given a good deal of thought to what your way actually is. We go weak-kneed when we let someone else dictate the way. Most everything I write is a suggestion, not a mandate. The only imperatives are that you think about how you want to live and then you execute the plan. Your plan.
The suggestions the article offered for fashion, parties and events left me cold as a corpse. But the headline warmed me. I like being bold. "Fierce fashion' yields to the style that suits me. I'm lukewarm on 'can't miss' events. A lot of 'can't misses' are 'should misses'. If you're doing it against your better judgment, maybe you should appoint best judgement the keeper of your calendar. But a wow-worthy party- that's something that I love. Mine is nothing like the ones the article suggests, and maybe wow is too exuberant, so let's just say, a party that works. My style, my way. Find the skeleton that supports your lifestyle. Then put some flesh on that bony framework.
It's called being bold.
Our kitchen junk drawer just became decidedly less junky, thanks to Frazz. What was in mine was a stack of coupons for "Klutterhaus"- a store that I have not visited in years. A new coupon comes almost weekly, so there is little chance I'll be caught without one, should one ever be needed. While I was at it, I tossed a few paper calendars-purported thank you gifts from schools and charitable organizations. I got rid of the ink pens that we don't like and the stubby, eraser-less pencil. A few tired birthday candles went in the trash too as they were insufficient in number for any upcoming birthday, and even less sufficient in appearance. A couple of questionable batteries in strange sizes that look like they went to something we no longer owned were recycled.
I've learned my lesson. The "Klutterhaus" coupons won't be a problem anymore. They're going right into the recycling bin without a stop in the neat drawer. What a strange thing for me to have had trouble throwing away. What are the crazy things that give you trouble? Show your drawer who's boss so you can honestly say "I had a kitchen junk drawer."