Monthly Archives: March 2018

Years Ago & Far Away

I fell in love with a movie which seemed to me to be about the archetypical man and woman. It was visually interesting, but it was a western, and worse, a “spaghetti western.” I also fell in love with the score.

For a long, long time, I apologized when I told people my favorite movie was “Once Upon a Time in the West.” I apologized because I was raised in a household of “intellectuals” almost all of whom, along with my friends didn’t “get” what I saw in the movie.

Then one day about 15 years ago or so, the DVD was for sale at a video store and of course, I had to buy it. The extras were all these other, famous, well-known directors talking about how brilliant “Once Upon a Time in the West” was. And I decided that I didn’t need to apologize any more! My view of the movie was shared by all these people, and it ends up that Sergio Leone  had deliberately used bits from other classic westerns, to make it as much an archetypical western as possible.

OUATITW opening

Why am I telling this story? Because of “The Greatest Showman.” Okay, yes, there are places it falls apart — yes there are plot holes. It is visually stunning, the acting is good, the costumes, sets, etc. are splendid and the music is superb.

So Barnum exploited people? Yes, he did. So did the people who built the railroads, started the automotive industries, the steel industries, etc. We almost all live on land which was stolen from Indians. Going to pack up and move your family back to wherever?

Our values have changed, a great deal. Judging anyone from the past by your current values could be problematic.

Isn’t it also true that all of us at one point couldn’t eat with a fork, use a bathroom or talk? Why should anyone expect us to only take them as they are right now, but judge a movie or other artform both within its historical context AND by current standards?

If you only want to judge something out context, would you allow yourself to be judged the same way? Before you were literate? Still needed diapers, etc.?

Demeaning the movie because Barnum exploited rather than celebrated the people he hired is silly. I’m not saying Barnum was right. I’m not saying he was moral. I’m simply saying he was a person within his culture, like you and me.

I don’t expect to be able to judge his reality from my perspective and find him laudable. He may have elevated the oddities by happenstance, but he did. He gave them jobs, and a family of sorts.

jackman still

And I won’t apologize for liking “The Greatest Showman.” I don’t know that I care if it’s “great art” or not. Like “Once Upon a Time in the West,” I find it interesting to watch, visually stunning in places, and I love the music.

Why apologize?

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The War with Clutter

I have been fighting clutter for a long time now! My big issue remember isn’t getting rid of things, for decades it was living in a cleared space, which gave me panic attacks. That meant I was “wedded” to having clutter. So — I kept trying and before my PTSD diagnosis and work, there was no way I could fix it.

Since, I’ve tried, lots of different ideas (I’ve talked about some, here, for the past 6 years) and attempted to find ways around/through/vanquish my stupid panic attacks.

In the process, I came to a few realizations about clutter:

  1. Clutter gets in your way when trying clean an area.
  2. Removing Clutter is almost always the first step in a cleaning plan. (For anyone who isn’t me.)
  3. Clutter is normally made up of things you can pick up: dishes, laundry, papers, game pieces, bills, etc.

But because I’m me what this all means is that it’s interesting, certainly, but it doesn’t help me declutter.

What works? Well, the same thing that works when I’m knitting: being just slightly distracted. I tried trying to “dance” while I was cleaning and although that was fun, and Gawd knows I need the exercise, the cleaning was subpar. So no.

I tried “writing” in my head, that is storytelling. Except that what would happen is that I’d inevitably go back to the bad stuff, punch that button AND BRING ON a panic attack. No again.

I don’t know about others with PTSD, but math is my friend. Math is concrete, it is almost always the same. It has no emotional good or bad or family or traditions that I know of to punch any buttons at all.

So, I invented a game for myself. It’s 5:1. For every item I use, I have accrued 5 items I need to clean, clean up, put away, etc. I also learned from the 6-5 lists that I can’t carry it forward, or I’ll get too discouraged, so the counter is reset to 0 every morning.

When I get up in the morning, I have a cup of coffee with milk and stir it with a spoon, and that puts me at 10. After a couple of weeks of this, I am doing things like putting dishes away while the coffee gets hot, so I start with 0 or in the + column. Daily flatware (forks, knives, spoons) 3 pieces = 1, most everything else is 1 for 1, so a pot is 1 and putting a serving spoon away is also 1.

I wrote down one day last week:

Description Negative Positive Balance Time
Mug & spoon used -10 -10 7:30 a.m.
Dishes washed +14 +4 10:00 a.m.
Wood stove glass cleaned +1 +5
Hearth swept +1 +6
Wood stove accessories cleaned +3 +9
Wood box tidied & maintained +2 +11
Kindling boxes tidied & maintained +2 +13
Trashcan emptied & put away +2 +15 10:10 a.m.
Shelf cleaned +1 +16
1 item to trash +12 +17
Mug in sink -5 +12
Swept 5 areas & kitchen +6 +18
Cleaned 5 stairs +5 +23
Rag & spray bottle put away +2 +25
Broom & dustpan cleaned/put away +4 +29
2 chunks newspaper trashed +2 +31 11:25 a.m.
8 papers trashed +8 +39
6 things put away +6 +45 11:38 a.m.
1 plate used -5 +40

5 items used while making lunch -25 +15 12:10p.m.
Dishwasher emptied +10 +25
Cooking, serving lunch used 9 items -45 -20 12:39 p.m
22 items washed +22 +2 1:06 p.m.
Package arrives -15 -13 1:15 p.m.
Dishes put away +11 -2
Dinner was provided by a friend. One pan needed to heat it. -5 -7 5:20 p.m.
2 dinner dishes & 2 forks -10 -17 5:30 p.m.
Washed dishes & culled items +19 +2 9:05 p.m.

If you don’t have to make up games to do this sort of thing — good for you! I wish that was true for me, but it isn’t. Also, I only do this Monday – Friday. Weekends are for being with my husband and focusing on US, not cleaning!

If you’re not dehoarding, you might want to try this at 3:1 or 2:1 or even 1:1. I’m trying to get rid of a lot of excess stuff, finally, and this seems to work. Your mileage may vary!

clutter war button

(The image isn’t mine but I got it via images.google.com)

Background Work

The latest anthology is all but done. The (c) page and other formatting sort of things need to be completed. We also need contracts & money from the publisher. So, a bit more work there, but basically, it’s complete.

The taxes are done, or all but, as well. I sent the last number to the tax person after dinner last night.

The background work I’ve been doing is for the new domains and the new idea re this information and other writings I’ve published, are in process, or are complete, but not yet released “into the wild.”

The current plan is to have the book-related website up sometime in April. This is faster, why? Because a lot of what we’re going to do is post links for other people, the books I’ve been involved with, etc. Doesn’t require a lot of original content, just a framework.

The dehoarding piece (a lot of which will come from here) work has begun, but will take some time. Warning: posts may disappear from here altogether when I get the new things set up. What will stay: the how-to posts which are my most popular (how to cook madagascar rice, how to get more books on a bookshelf, ways to stay cool you may not have thought of, and others).

Re the housecleaning/purge? Things are better, although it certainly isn’t perfect. The bathroom counter is staying clean, the dishes are getting worked on, daily, as is the laundry. I’ve decided that when I can keep those three areas clean without it being a battle, then I will have achieved a major goal: that is, to deal with the inevitable addition of mess, daily.

That’s my first goal if you will. To get to where it isn’t something I even have to think about. The dishes are mostly there, DH or I do dishes, daily. We don’t get them all done or all put away every day, so that’s the next piece. The bathroom counter has been getting cleared off for some time, that’s really done. The exception there is that for a while now, the bathroom has been a construction zone. That should end soon. The worst piece of the three is laundry.

I learned that it’s impossible to keep a room clean if you just have too much stuff in it, I also learned that the daily influx has to be dealt with, first. I had this notion that if I just got rid of enough stuff, of any sort, that the house would be cleanable. Yes, that’s true. But when you count a dresser the same as for a piece of paper, as I was doing at the beginning, it doesn’t work very well!

 

No Shortcuts

Apparently I’m not the only one who reacted badly to all the clutter of “shabby chic” or the bald sterility of “minimalist” styles. I found an article yesterday talking about “warm minimalism” which isn’t what I want, but it is a lot closer than either shabby chic, industrial, or minimalism.

I’d decided that whatever I called my decorating style really didn’t matter, although it has been a pain not being able to find things which suit me in a group, instead of piecemeal.

I want  a frugal hygge-cwtch combination. Hygge is a better known term, it’s Danish and means “acknowledging a moment.” Cwtch is a Welsh word. The first meaning I found was “feeling safe, loved, & totally comfortable.” So contemplative, safe & comfortable.

Rather than a decorating style, it’s an emotional state I’m after? This is me, so that figures. Why didn’t I just fall in love with Modern, like my Dad and Husband? Or Shabby Chic, or “Country” or ?

There’s a sign in our living room,”There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Of course, this fits. Here’s yet another attempt to define my style:

Simple lines, industrial/retail, warm & uncluttered —  a hygge-cwtch space.

If I was going to make an image for this? It would be sitting wrapped up warm on a porch, holding a cup of tea or cocoa, and looking out at a lake or other body of water with early morning mist rising from the water.

I grew up a block from the Pacific Ocean: water within seeing distance is just part of what makes “home” for me. Unfortunately, this house has no water within sight, except vernal ponds in the spring.

We have talked, at various times, about buying a lakeside cabin as a retirement home. Maybe.

fineartamerican.com via images.google.com

(Image is NOT mine, fineartamerica.com via images.google.com )

 

We Bought the New Domains Last Night

We started, this morning, updating the “main site” which at least in my mind is the “mother ship” of all the others. If you know that site, it was my old bookstore’s name, it’s broken right now!

  • The new sites will host a stream of the PTSD-related threads from here on one site and hopefully, in the future, memoir sales.
  • Links to book & author material, mine and others (one or more sites).
  • Link to a frugality content, some pulled from this blog and other unpublished work.
  • A “newsletter” with scheduling info for my friend authors, artists, etc.

It’s happening!

street signs

 

Blame it on Hugh Jackman

Might as well, right?

I am anxious to see The Greatest Showman, I have it on preorder at itunes as I missed it hereabouts. This means that once or twice a week I go to youtube and look to see if there’s anything new there about the movie. I think I’ve watched every Greatest Showman related piece and read about the ticket numbers, etc. at least twice.

Okay. I’m a fan. Not necessary of movies or Hugh Jackman, but I’m that type of person. I was a sf book dealer for 20 years, right? And looking for something new while you wait for a movie to show up isn’t being obnoxious? I haven’t written 1,000 emails or tried to get all my friends to see the movie or, or, or… believe me, after 20 years of being an sf book dealer, I saw fandom at its best — and worst.

So, what am I blaming the talented Mr. Jackman for? Those songs. He didn’t write them. I know. It isn’t that. It’s what those songs have done.

I’d decided to kill the memoir, remember? After 10+ years of working on the thing, picking my wounds open again and again – to try and make it both true to my story AND entertaining without turning it into a novel was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it. I’d work on the memoir until I’d start to cry and couldn’t stop. Or, another way: it’s the roadmap to my personal hell. Whether the writing is any good. Even if the story, as such, falls apart and it’s a dead bore. It is STILL, for me, the map to and through my particular hell.

I was going to let it die. I’m over 60. I fought that battle for 50+ years, so why do I need to bleed in public? I don’t.

Except those stupid songs won’t get out of my head. And they’ve got me believing, again, that maybe I can actually do the job: tell the story and make it entertaining, or at least not a dead bore. Maybe. Or, that someone might actually be interested. Maybe.

And so, today, and other days, I’ve been going down that particular path to hell. Again.

And THAT I blame Mr. Jackman for. It may not be a bad thing, but it sure isn’t easy. I keep hoping the movie will show up on itunes so I can just WATCH the silly thing and maybe, just maybe, I can dig up the grave and bury the memoir, for good this time.

Or, I suppose the movie could just make this much worse and I’ll have to actually FINISH the stupid thing and let it go into the world.

I’ll get flamed, I know. I’ll get (again) told I’m a wimp. (I know.) I’ll get told, one more time — or several — that I should just GET OVER IT or GIVE IT TO GOD!

Yes, I know.

 

It’s Monday!

Beginning of a brand-new work week.

I’ve read a story, deleted unneeded emails, figured out a seed order and cleaned the bathroom counter and part of the kitchen counter.

Have a friend coming for breakfast in a couple of hours and want to do a bit more before that. I cancelled, as I’ve been sniffling and sneezed a few times since I got up too, sigh. I do NOT need to get or be sick!

Got the wood stove started making coals at the moment, still just small stuff, I’ll add the bigger stuff in a bit. Building fires is a lot like culling this house. You have to be content with the small, slow steps in order to get where you want to go. Learning to just walk away from a cold started wood stove fire was difficult for me. In my childhood home, the way you started a fire in the fireplace was to put in wood, turn on the gas, add a lit match and a little while later turn off the gas. Absolutely foolproof  and easy. Doesn’t teach you to watch the fire for where it is; doesn’t teach you to build coals starting with really small stuff and lots of paper, first. Didn’t teach or show any of that. I was spoiled, yes, and ignorant too. I learned better.

But cleaning the house or any other really big change for me is very like my experiences with building fires. I expect to see a problem, turn on the change, say “Go!” and I’m on my way. Um — no. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. It requires learning what the small steps are, nurturing those small steps, walking away and letting them seep in/work, (because if you mess with it too much frequently you undo the fire/change). Then slowly doing the next steps, one after another.

I’m in the waiting mode for the stove. The flue temp is 127 right now. It needs to be around 150 before I add anything of size.

I won’t keep flogging the build a fire/make a change analogy, but I’m sure you see what I was after. I have no patience, unless I have had it shoved down my throat again and again, that the only way that works is to go slowly. I want things to happen

Now!

or with little effort; it works far better if I use patience and let it build on its own.

The stove is at 129 now. I’m going to go get the broom and sweep the stairs. The routine I’ve gotten for sweeping the house starts with the stairs, to the entry, to the living room, the hearth and then the hallway. The kitchen is done separately. The sweeping routine is one of the small steps towards cleaning and clearing this place. Frustratingly small sometimes, but of a piece.


Got through my appt. and other needed stuff, finally got home around 5:15. I feel like crap; I’m going to bed!