Monday, July 17, 2017

Books and cellphones and cords. Oh, my!

The rightsizing continues at our house. I bought an AARP book called Downsizing the Family Home. I read it and then I suggested Art read it. He is doing that. He commented yesterday that the book is mainly for people working with their aging parents to part with years of accumulation before they move into a smaller place, or taking care of everything themselves after one or both parents have died.

Still, there are helpful sections in the book. I note from the placement of the bookmark that Art is about two thirds of the way through it. That's a good sign.

We went through our "book closet" last week. One box of books went to the local library, to be sold as a fundraiser. Three more boxes went to Goodwill. We now have the following sections remaining in the book closet:

  • Books I have not yet read but intend to in the next couple of years. Maybe 25.
  • Books on writing that I have read and intend to read again - think Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing; AMemoir of the Craft.
  • Books on writing that I know I will read (about six; the others went to Goodwill).
  • Recovery books; we have many years of 12-step experience and we still refer to these.
  • Travel books (mostly Rick Steves), pocket language books (about eight), and half a dozen local maps (the two dozen others went to Goodwill; if we ever go back through Wyoming, Montana and Utah again, we're likely to use Google maps on our phones).
  • Two Thompson guides of the Seattle area, for Art, who loves the old familiar ways.
Also on the floor of the book closet was a box half full of photos in their frames (mostly of high school seniors and offspring getting married). The top half of the box was a jumble of cords and plugs for ten years' worth of electronics. I left the photos for the kids to go through after we're gone.

I put the cords on the dining room table. I'd emptied a plastic bin of candle stubs, so I asked Art to organize the cords. You never know when someone will come along with an ancient device and need a cord or a car charger and you can be useful with your plastic bin. Art's eyes lit up when he saw the cords. He said, "I have some old phones in the sidebar drawers." He pulled out six old flip phones, the kind he used until just last year when there was such a good deal on a refurbished iPhone 5 ($50!) that he couldn't resist. For two hours he sat at the table and matched up the old phones to cords and to car charges. These he bundled together and put in a sack to recycle. We'll be taking them to a place that collects old phones for soldiers and vets. Art was a soldier and is a vet himself, so it seemed like a good choice.

The mismatched cords are still in the plastic bin, just in case. But there aren't very many of them. My friend Gail came over earlier this week, missing a car charger for her cell phone. We had one that fit!

I emptied a shoebox-sized plastic bin and suggested that it would be a good place to store batteries. Art emptied the sidebar drawers and filled the little bin with the batteries he's collected. Probably mostly from work, when he worked. Seven years ago. He tested most of the 75 batteries. So we are ready for a prolonged power outage, and we know where the batteries are.

Yesterday Art took all the books off the lower shelf of the living room coffee table. Nine of them go to Goodwill. Six go in the book closet. He did this without asking, as though it was a ho hum job. Can you believe it?

We're moving slowly. Five boxes get filled at the  top of the entryway stairs. They go into the trunk of my car. They get delivered to wherever. We start in on five more boxes. No rush, but getting there.

It's kind of fun, actually. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

I'm not stuck. I'm waiting.

Last week I saw a meme on Facebook that was so perfect for me that I printed it out and taped it to my computer desk:

Everything will fall into place.
You just gotta be patient
and trust the process.


I took that to heart. Here's what's happening.

1. Downsizing. I had told my husband Art, "I want us to downsize inside the house and outside, and then look for a new place to live that doesn't have stairs or a big yard." He went silent but reluctantly started getting rid of stuff. 

Then, out of the blue, I got a different thought. I said, "I want us to declutter and rightsize inside and outside of the house, but make no plans to move. That way we'll be more ready, if and when a good opportunity comes along." It's a compromise that works for both of us.

2. I do the accounting for the nonprofit agency at the refugee camp in Greece where I've volunteered. I wait for others to send me receipts, tax records, and bank statements. The 2016 taxes have been hanging over my head. I just dawned on me - much later than it should have - that there is not much more I can do until I get what I need. In a couple of days I'll be caught up with my part. Then I will be patient. Everything will fall into place. I can trust the process.

3. I am helping one of my sons through a business crisis. I'm more of a consultant than anything. He is tearing his hair out. I know what I'd do a little differently if I were him, but I'm only the consultant. He is the decision maker. I think he will come out all right. I am not losing sleep over someone else's issue. Everything will fall into place. I'm grateful for the help I can give him.

4. I have been doing family mediations for several years and they're not as fun as they had been. So recently I've not signed up to do them. But there's a training coming up next week for mediators interested in working with a Native American tribe in my county. I figure if I can mediate at a refugee camp in Greece for seven men who, except for one, speak only Farsi, I'll be fine with the Native cultural differences. I know I trust that process!

5. I am in week seven of Weight Watchers. Today I moved a couple of pairs of pants from the "it's a little too small" side of my closet to the "I can wear this" side. I am looking forward, several months down the road, to lower blood pressure, more stamina and happier feet. I am following directions. I trust the process.

Sometimes when I'm just going about my daily business, and it looks pretty similar day after day, I think I'm stuck in a rut. Often, though, I'm just waiting.

Everything will fall into place.
You just gotta be patient
and trust the process.

And here's one story about our downsizing adventure:

Twenty years ago I bought a stoneware dinner set: salad and dinner plates, cups and saucers, butter dish and sugar and creamer and salt and pepper shakers, serving plates and serving bowls. We have a big family, after all, and I like to set a nice table every now and then. The rest of the time we use Corelle.

Now we're doing the downsizing thing. I don't think we've ever used the stoneware cups and saucers. Today, going through one of the kitchen cabinets, I told Art I thought we could get rid of them. eBay has them for sale for $2.50 apiece, so they're a good Goodwill item. Art reached to the top shelf and handed me the cups one by one, and then the saucers. I was going to find a box to put them in, when Art said, "I think I may have the original box in the garage."

"You're kidding!"

He was right. We will take the cups and saucers to Goodwill in the box they came in 20 years ago!

I can hardly wait until we start working on the garage.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Living normal

Last year I took eight trips between May and November:
  1. Tucson in late May, to get a root canal and a crown in Nogales, Mexico.
  2. Road trip to Oregon in late June for a family gathering.
  3. Muskoka, Ontario, in mid July, to visit a friend.
  4. Chautauqua, New York for a week of culture and education in early August.
  5. Oinofyta, Greece, in late August, to volunteer for six days at a refugee camp.
  6. Rockland, Maine, for a six-day schooner cruise in September.
  7. Vashon Island, Washington in early October for a five-day writing retreat.
  8. Oinofyta, Greece again, for two weeks of volunteering, in late October.
That was a lot of travel! 

This year I spent a month in the spring again at the refugee camp in Oinofyta. Since then, no travel other than one trip to Tucson to close up our winter place and bring Larisa, our Designer Cat, home to Seattle.

Now it is summer and I am having a normal life. It feels oddly quiet. Not exactly dull, but different. Here's the kind of activity I'm doing:
  • Picking strawberries from our yard and freezing them.
  • Wrapping the cat in a towel so my husband Art can trim her toenails.
  • Reading magazines as they come in the mail rather than letting them stack up.
  • Being the driver and advocate for Art as he has surgery for a kidney stone, the removal of a stent, and two cataracts. 
  • Hiring a new teenage yard person now that our grandson Kyle has outgrown the job.
  • Going through cupboards and drawers and closets for Goodwill runs. Today I took a bunch of toys outgrown by my grandchildren. I have fond memories of the Fisher-Price garage. And an umbrella stroller, which Goodwill won't take because of "safety issues". I'll wait until my teenage granddaughters visit to go through the dress-up boxes.
  • Keeping track of my eating and exercise as I head into week six of Weight Watchers.
  • Walking the two-mile route in my neighborhood several times a week.
  • Signing up for a yoga class for the first time in ten years.
  • Meditating for at least 20 minutes every day using the Insight Timer app on my iPhone.
I'm spending my days in such an ordinary way! I have absolutely no inclination to travel again this year. I probably need the rest.

And now the sun is out in Seattle. And the days are long. And there are two Adirondack chairs under my grape arbor, just right for a talk with a friend.

I get to be normal for a while. I like it.