Category Archives: Life Lessons

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. via

(Image is NOT mine, via )



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


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!

New Monday List!

Okay, this is a restart of my 6-5 list idea. This is the six things on Mon and 5 each Tues – Fri, and catch up on the weekends notion.

Also I will redo the larger, long-term “to do” list sometime this week.

This will make THREE chore lists! The backlogged 6-5 lists, the current 6-5 lists, and the long-term list. Either I’ll just get overwhelmed and quit, again, or I’ll get it done.

What’s really likely is that I’ll get some of it done, for a while, then get overwhelmed and quit. That’s my pattern problem. Somehow, being organized about getting things done eventually leans on the PTSD and I panic and stop. Since many folk seem to get overwhelmed  I guess I don’t feel so bad about not being able to stick to it.

This blog has been a many-year long set of experiments to get me to be able to set a goal then get to it, ‘eh? A tidy house doesn’t seem to make most people panic like it does me, it makes them feel good. It makes me feel good too, but if I do it too consistently? I panic.

The problem has always been the panic. It took me until I was in my mid-50s to be well enough otherwise (not hurting/running scared) to be able to see that what happens to me in a tidy house is panic, and that because of that, it is instantly overwhelming. Telling me “ignore it,” [I can’t tell you how many people have said that to me!] is really useless. Telling myself that is equally useless.

The only real answer has been to find ways to turn tidying into habit, so that I don’t think about it, I just do it. Fine. Except that the process of doing that causes me to panic too — and the rat wheel goes around — again.

So. Here I am, again. With another shot at it, again.

Monday’s 6:

  1. File something. 5:11 p.m.
  2. Clean the front of the kitchen cabinet that hasn’t been cleaned the longest (I put stickies in the drawers/cabinets that tell me when I cleaned them last.) 6:30 p.m.
  3. Clean the cat food bin. 10:28 p.m.
  4. Straighten an underwear drawer. 10:20 p.m.
  5. (fill in). Bathroom floor & counter clean up. 1:40 p.m.
  6. Get the planner started.

Backlogged Backlog!

Here’s what remains of the old lists. These are going to be used as “fill ins” when appropriate, or if I just get them done, they’ll be noted.

My plan is to start anew, Monday 1/8, and see if I can’t get this idea to work the way it is supposed to, that is, NOT have lingering chores, for months. The malingering list indicates to me that the tasks were too intensive, too time consuming, or ?. As I’ve said before, the idea is that the tasks are short, simple things to do, not involved or complex.

Here’s the outstanding backlog. If I eliminate a task, I’ll note why or if I complete it, I’ll do the usual line-through and date.

  • Send the family pics, etc. to the cousin and school who want them.
  • Cull the veggie seeds and Done sometime in 12/2017. figure out what to order.
  • Make the first patterns for the chair reupolstery effort.
  • Work on the back storage.
  • Oil the sharpening stones. Done, date unknown 2/2018.
  • Put up the new pantry labels.
  • Design the pattern for the hearth rug. Has been designed and redesigned, and redesigned, several times. May still be changed, yet again. 2/2018
  • Measure some area for the “house book.”  Done some time in Dec. We measured how big the backsplash was because we thought we were going to buy a new one. (We didn’t.) We also measured the bathroom vanity because we were going to buy a new one of those (We did.)
  • Research the newspaper job idea.
  • Get the floor waxer into the attic.
  • Data entry on the accounting or food planning idea.
  • Work on the new food inventory/planning idea.
  • Swim, at least once and pick up your swim ticket.
  • Eliminate more duplicates. I do this all the time. I have a box of dupe books going to a friend at some point already made up.
  • Get the junk OUT of at least one defined place.
  • Open the Christmas trunk, see if you want to keep it all?  Done sometime before Christmas.
  • (fill in) Get the accounting up to date, so you haven’t got a panic for the taxes! (MONTH: 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12)
  • Get some of the cleaned laundry hung up which isn’t. I’ve been doing this almost daily for a while now.
  • Do a short inventory of the meat in the big freezer. (Probably something like 1 chicken, 3 lbs ground round, and 1 other package of mixed chicken parts. . . but I don’t know exactly!) As of right now, 1/12/18, there are exactly 1 package of meat in the freezer, a package of pork chops. I don’t need a list! 1/12/18
  • Get the rice in one place, instead of 2-3, as it is now.
  • Clean, wax, organize the snow scoop, shovels, etc.Not sure when this got done, but it is. Christmas 2017
  • Use the commercial napkins for their intended craft, or get rid of them! Pulled from the 2 places where they were stored. Still have to be bundled up for resale or donation 2/27.
  • Get the odd pieces of insulation into the basement.
  • Check the water heater’s filter, does it need to be cleaned? DH did this sometime in Dec., not sure when?
  • Sand some of the marks from the floor, at the edges.
  • Update linked in.
  • Work on the house binder.
  • Clean out the small ice box.
  • (fill in)Put laundry away.
  • Eat the last watermelon.
  • Clean the couch.
  • Get the coffee ad framed.
  • Clean part of the upstairs that hasn’t been touched in some time. Bathroom closet: demoed, patched, primed, painted…. 1-2/2018
  • Put away the canning supplies if not in use.
  • Put up the 3 missing hurricane clips
  • Clean the office chairs.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed. closet/niche done 1-2/2018.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away. Should go in the drawers in my office where the tshirts, pieces of jeans, and the commercial napkins were stored. The tshirts are being used, the jeans and napkins sold or donated. 2/27/2018
  • Find a new home for the cat towel basket. (Old towels used for car washing, spill clean up, whatever!)

    Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason

Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish. Down to one container 12/7/17, when that is low/out, I will make up the Naval Academy polish, if I can find the recipe again!

Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30. Washed Tues. 10/24 a.m. One pair to go. Two pairs to go.

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

6/35 or 17.1%


My Rose by Any Other Name is a Cacti

Came up with a name for my personal style, not that it will help me find things!

I guess it’s not supposed to? Newer decorating books talk about people’s decorating styles as “raspberry coolatta meets Bullwinkle,” well, no not that, but you get the idea!

If the name doesn’t actually have to be *useful* in telling others what you’re looking for? Well, mine could be:

Funky industrial/retail meets modern, or functional & simple lines are best!

( If you put that into google? You get a bunch of pinterest hits for industrial decorating, which is nice, but . . . .)

An example could be our hearth: the wood box is an old crate we bought at auction: on one side it has a label which reads “American Consulate.” On another it says “Mrs. (somebody) and “silverware.” Who the woman was, what kind of silverware, which consulate? There’s history and an untold story in that crate.

We use it for firewood, 2 wine crates for kindling, an old leaky pressure cooker holds fire starters, and a counter display for carborundum blades holds matches. Oh — and two steel US Quartermaster’s bins hold paper.

The club chairs were bought used at an antique store, the table between is a small library catalog, with a step stool behind it with a plastic cube on that we got as a wedding present, lo those many years ago. The end tables are picnic baskets, also from an antique store.

That’s my style — whatever it is!


repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/frugal/industrial — or functional & simple lines are best

Almost none of the stuff in the room was new when we got it. Exceptions: the plastic cube, the ash bucket, the hearth materials and the stove.

So, another revision:

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/industrial/frugal —

or used & functional: simple lines are best

The last bit is the reality, really, I don’t go looking for the industrial or military or retail things. When I find one? It’s a plus, but not a requirement. That makes it:

Used & functional: simple lines are best

Put that into google? You get info about linear regression. NOT helpful!


(You can find the first description of this problem here.)

Becoming OCD: Symptoms

I have many indicators that I am slipping to the other side:

  1. I’m scraping off the “dirty” part of the soap bar and using that when I wash my hands.
  2. I’m thinking that scissors and other tools with dark handles save cleaning fingerprints from them.
  3. When I toss something, almost anything, I think, “One less piece of clutter . . . “
  4. I started wrapping the cord to the upright vac with crossed loops. Fewer loops, much neater!
  5. Our TP holder has room for a 2nd roll behind. I stopped putting the 2nd roll hole forward and instead put it the same way as the roll we’re using… less visual clutter.
  6. I’ve been cataloging, pricing, and tagging items before I leave home. No more wondering if I’d paid $2 for something or $4? I know the mark-up is adequate, and since I know my pricing schema, I know enough when I start mark downs what I likely paid for the item.  $3 is my bottom price, if I can’t sell something for $3 in a week, it’s not worth bothering with. That is the hard-won knowledge of years of retailing and my old inclination to keep things. I’m getting ruthless!
  7. Becoming OCD is catching, did you know? DH is reorganizing his workshop. He’s using a Space Budget (although he doesn’t call it that).
  8. I’ve decided that I love contractions, abbreviations, ampersands & question marks: shorter and tidier writing. (I really am OCD! Tidy writing??? )

Any minute now, I will become that monster: the woman who won’t go outside because her hair gets messed, who wipes the table whenever anyone lifts a cup from it!

If you know me IRL, please TELL me if when I go too far. Please! How do you avoid falling off a cliff?