Thursday, January 14, 2010

De-Lurk Weekend

So I hear that it's delurk day, but apparently I've been too busy running mell pell about to notice. So here on my blog, it's de-lurk week and weekend.

If you read here and have never commented, whether you've always wanted to or not, please stop and say hi! Taking a page from Cecily, I'll also invite my readers to ask any burning questions you'd like me to take a stab at.

I'm looking forward to meeting a few more of you. And I promise I'll try to come by your blogs too if you have 'em.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Household Tides

After nearly ten years in this house, we and our stuff have gotten rather set in our ways.

If you've spent a length of time in one location, you can guess how it goes. Things pile up, and after the initial arrangements, one rearranges every so often. Sometimes one has had to rig up temporary solutions to permanent problems or rearrange a new version of what we think we want and can get away with. After a few years, they become what passes for a permanent situation (not always happily, but that's another story). Next thing you know, years have gone by, and it's all cobbled together and who knows what is really necessary.

Well, I'm finding that a little kitchen redo is a good excuse to rethink everything. Now that I have a small portion of something like permanent storage, I can reshuffle. Or at least, reshuffle and reorganize temporarily. Ha.

I moved items out of old storage into new storage. Things like baking ingredients and mixing bowls, herbs and oils, canned goods and food storage containers.

I move some items out of old storage into temporary storage. Things like teas and mugs and baking dishes.

I move some items out of very temporary storage into new temporary storage. Things like pasta and dried beans and aluminum foil.

Why all these temporary locations? I don't have all my permanent storage yet! But it's been very interesting, in all my rearranging, resorting and resettling, inadvertently finding out what is important and necessary, and what is relatively irrelevant.

I wrestled the large blue (heavy!) tub of items that used to be in the wire shelving UP, from the basement, and retrieved some important food stuffs from that very temporary location and put them where I can get them. Which is relatively temporary, because when the electricians will come in and finish up the new outlets, I'l be moving it all aside. At least temporarily!

More to the point, now that I've retrieved my "important" things, and even more importantly, put them in prime locations, I'm interested to note what is left. A variety of very nutritious but little used dried seaweeds. A jar with the remains of bulk chili mix. A hanging wire basket for root vegetables. Storage jars.

Does it all need a place? Or do I even need them at all any more? Some items sit in semi-permanent temporary storage. Does that need to be moved to a more accessible spot? Or just permanently thrown away? Hehe, well that's the question, isn't it?

It's an interesting exercise for nearly anything: lovingly arrange what is truly important and look very critically at the rest. What do you really need and love?

This is how I finally realized that we could get rid of that second set of old knives.

And then there is the small room's worth of stuff that we hurriedly yanked out of what was to become the baby's room. It's all still floating about the house like the trash island of the Pacific, except in smaller clumps.

Nothing is permanently tied down just yet, but.... the tides of the household are shifting around. It'll be interesting to see what ends up where, and what is left washed up and abandoned. Every week, I start another trash bag of items to throw away and another box of items to give away. Nope! Don't need that!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holiday Odyssey Goes On Forever

I survived Christmas and the rest of the holiday with sanity intact, and I even enjoyed myself.

We went, we shopped, we managed a few potentially stressful interactions, we enjoyed small but meaningful moments.

Christmas Eve we made it to the early service with the childrens' pageant and stayed for a communal meal between services, meeting lots of people we hadn't seen in months or longer. It was a luxury to visit and ask about other people's lives. We spent hours watching the little girl play with wrapping paper (never mind the presents), then spent an additional afternoon of fun and laughter and paper shreddings and food with family. The little girl tolerated the madness remarkably well. We are so proud of her!

I also survived (but just barely) the packing/travel madness to and from a New Year's dance weekend event with the little girl in tow. Much wrangling of the schedule, trying to catch the main events, and missing out on many other things. When the clock got close, I told my husband, "count it down for us," and he whispered the count and we kissed while the little girl snoozed on. She continued to snooze soundly through fifteen minutes of nearby fireworks. She did not sleep well through painful diaper rash episodes. We traded off dancing and got to visit occasionally with friends who ran across us and wanted to chat. How I had any brain for that is astounding. I never did get to go walking down by the ocean this trip, and I was sad about that, but not eager to extend the trip that much longer.

The whole project was another semi-miserable travel odyssey, wherein an trip that ordinarily takes a reasonable amount of time mysteriously extends by some factor of time, and any "quick stop" takes half an hour if you expected 15 minutes, or 1.5 hours if you expected an hour, or nearly 3 if you expected 1.5. I'm still trying to decide if all the aggravation of traveling is worth it these days. The time and effort expended don't seem to quite fit into the pleasure of a given goal. A number of things feel that way. I find myself narrowing down my ambitions and focus. I have only so much energy to work with.

OH! And did I mention we had half a kitchen of new cabinets installed the day after Christmas?! Yes, those same cabinets we've spent a couple of years planning, the same set that we bought more than a year ago - all finally installed by one of my mother's church friends, a master carpenter in need of work. The best present for all of us my mother could have ever thought of. Even as a partially completed kitchen, they look beautiful. We've spent so much time rearranging the new space, both of us gleeful over it all. And today, while I pulled another long day with the kiddo, Mr Sweetie went to the nearest IKEA for the rest of the kitchen's worth of cabinets for a future final installation. Another long odyssey that took nearly twice as long as hoped.

So all of this to say that this "break" has not been very relaxing, yet remarkably, it's been mostly gratifying. I still have cookies to mail and a kitchen to clean up and.... oh, did I mention that the little girl is starting to pull up on any available furniture? We are just trying to keep up with our lives! And the internet is not feeling so special at the moment. I just don't have the attention to spare.

Does that ever happen to you? I feel myself sitting back, watching the flow of interaction among my friends and interest groups online, but not yet ready to dive back in. I feel tired, truth be told. I leave my computer alone for hours at a time while I try to keep up with the latest episode of diaper rash and the little girl finding new ways to nearly endanger herself, and myself trying to beat back the leftover mess and chaos of the holidays. Even new gifts are an additional drag on my time, wanting new attention and more ambitions. I can't do it all. Anything new has to come out of something old. It's not bad to drop a few things if it means making space for new things. It's also not bad to put off new things to take care of ones basic priorities.

And although it's a cliche of the New Year to set out wishful goals and resolutions, I have a few of those too. This year, it does feel fresh, blank slate ready for a new start. Or as the lovely Oprah quote says, “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” If I pick my battles and refine my vision of what I can actually do, I am hopeful I'll get it closer to "right."

Happy New Year and new decade to all my regular and random readers!