Better than food

We headed over to watch a movie with a friend recovering from hip replacement surgery. On the way out, I grabbed up my knitting — a scarf-for-a-serviceman project I want to finish soon.

Our friend’s new wife is one of those hyperkinetics who needs to be doing.  All the time. Generally this takes the form of plying guests with mountains of delectables far surpassing any adult’s actual nutritional needs.

I refused to be fed.  Three times.  I’d already had lunch.  I got out my knitting.

She began to watch. “I don’t know how to knit,” she admitted.  Yet the fascinating movements had caught her attention.

Quietly, deftly, I pulled out a second pair of needles and a fresh skein of yarn.  “Oh No,” she demurred.  But she was hooked.  She took hold of them.

Under the sounds of the movie, without words I began to cast on. Her eyes glued to my hands.  She began to get the motion and soon she had cast on fifteen stitches.

Picking up my own work I knit a stitch in slow motion. She made her own first stitch, then with great focus made her way through her first row.  Talking softly to herself about the necessary motions, their objectives, and improvements to her technique, she knit two more rows.

I asked my husband for the car keys…

…drove the two miles home to snatch up remnants of pink and maroon, a complete skein of variegated white, fawn, and gold, a spare pair of my grandmother’s old needles and an extra carrying bag for it all.  I returned to see her triumphantly display a little rectangle of very neat stitches.

By the movie’s end she’d latched onto her new needles and the pink and had begun to make herself a scarf.

Clutter to treasure!

Advertisements

I cleared that giant shelf. It’s mine.

Would you just LOOK at this room! I’m standing in the rear corner looking diagonally toward the door and would you just LOOK at that acreage of clear, freshly vacuumed carpet!  After eight days of shoving stuff into boxes, shoving boxes out of sight into storage, and running the trash to the dump, this room finally spells (to misquote an old ad) POSSIBILITIES.

On the left side of the photo is the giant media shelf I cleared down to the bare shelves for the first time in….  Ever.  It was so stuffed and covered with jumbles buried behind other jumbles when my then-new husband moved me into our California home that I couldn’t actually see it.

Here it was a week ago, after I’d finally gotten almost everything out from in front of it and about half the stuff off it.  A lot of what you can see are piles of old calendars, ancient old school books, old worksheet duplicates and an entire shelf of crumbling piano music.  My husband’s deceased first wife was a school teacher and an accomplished pianist.

At this stage the shelf is a temporary staging area for, on the bottom right, the unsorted piano music; on the lowest two left, the useless school texts; on the wide shelf, the books my husband wanted to keep; and on the top, about seven bottles of fuel for a propane camp stove, two bottles of candle lamp oil and a box of household wax all of which had been buried for decades…

 Then we took all the textbooks to the dump.  I moved my husband’s keepsake books to other shelving.  The fuels got properly stores and I boxed up and hid the music in storage.

At this point I declared, “I cleared it!  I claim it.”

Do you think I’ve got enough onto the shelves to stake my initial claim?

Decluttered Time

I’m a mathematician by trade and I love patterns.  As a kid I could spend an hour organizing a box of dominoes into satisfyingly ordered arrays.  I loved connect-the-dots puzzles, find the hidden objects puzzles, tracing out the maze puzzles…

I enjoyed crossword puzzles for years until my stalled cultural literacy stopped my understanding half the clues.  Then I discovered Sudoku.

I moved online and began to seek out the videos that explained Candy Crush Saga goals and strategies…

But when I discovered Bejewelled Blitz it was all over.

I loved playing the changing boards again and again as many times as I wanted.  I loved the explosions, the bonuses, the accumulation of coins to spend on options for bigger explosions.  The first time I achieved a “blazing” level I was thrilled.  I developed a feel for how to keep track of more of the board at once and to work out a bit of strategy.

Best of all, unlike with any of the other games, while playing, I could unwind parts of my mind and tap into creative mental space and work out strategies to apply to other goals.

But I had to face it.  The ideas weaving themselves in imagination weren’t coming to fruition.  Thinking about my plans and goals had become the background for the pursuit of more bonuses, more coins or higher levels.  The relaxation provided by the game was no longer in service to honing my plans.

So I woke up and just said no.  I stopped playing and deleted the apps from my devices.  And I found….

Decluttered time!   Time for Decluttering…

I cleaned up two of my email accounts.
I planned and started a new blog.
I thought through a work situation, wrote up my thoughts and sent them to the appropriate recipient.
I caught up on my grading.
I cleared a teetering mess of neglected papers and was rewarded by finding a  forgotten bill in time to pay it before the penalty date had passed.
I baked a cake and sailed through a mountain of laundry.
I overheated my shredder, filled the recycle box and…

I wrote a letter to my father.

Whither Next?

Last August I finished emptying our living spaces and internal storage areas to disperse most of the things my husband’s first wife left behind — things that we won’t use — when she died.  Although two externally accessible storage areas and the garage remain to be cleared out, autumn approached and our battles against entropy moved in new directions.

We had our rusted out gutters and downspouts removed and replaced — certainly a decluttering of sorts — and contracted with a house painter, who should be finishing the last strokes on a beautiful restoration of the exterior of our home in the next few days.

After a year of retirement, I returned, part time, to my old career.

And — having established a trade relationship with Yesterday’s Books, we even began re-evaluating and clearing out a few of our own things.

But more and more and more, as the habit of discarding more than we allow to enter the house takes hold, I learn that the heart of the matter does not lie in the act of clearing and decluttering our home.

The parable says:

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. …”

The key, I’ve decided, is that the impure spirit returns to find “the house unoccupied.

The heart of the matter is that by the time that impure spirit returns, the homeowner ought to have taken possession of that clean swept home and filled it with good and wholesome life.

So…  With what shall we fill our decluttered homes?  How shall we fill our lives and our hearts with good things so no room is left for clutter to sift in again?

Whither next?