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Posts Tagged ‘spring cleaning’

I finally tackled the Christmas tree. It’s always a huge project because I am, among other things, a bit OCD about how things get packaged, marked, and stored. I have pared down my decorations, but it is still a process. We also live in a house that is a little under 1100SF with very little extra storage room so I have to be creative about how I store things.

Fortunately, we lived in much tighter spaces when the children were growing up and I’ve learned how to be very creative with storage.

Unfortunately, we have amassed more possessions since the children moved away (and some of what we store is theirs, as yet unclaimed).

I got the Christmas things all put away and tucked neatly into the stairwell closet (formerly the Harry Potter Room when our grandchildren were littler)). I was sweaty and dirty by then, but on a roll.

I climbed the stairs to the loft and looked at the space we call the attic (really more of a crawl space that is about 10×6′ and 4′ tall in the center). Out came everything and I pushed all of my husband’s model railroad boxes into the very back. I’ve left those boxes out for the past seventeen-plus years even though I had room in the attic – maybe one day, he’ll build that N-scale model railroad.

Or maybe not. I decided to go with “not anytime soon” and cleared the loft of all those cluttery boxes (is “cluttery” a word?). Knee pads are essential when working in the attic as the entrance is an old window frame from before the house was added onto and you have to crawl over the sill. My knees aren’t what they were when I was twenty. Neither is my back. Or my shoulders.

I got that done and everything else put back into the attic as well. Now I have more space for books in the loft (I promise I am going to thin those out this year – I already have a large bag in the back of my car to take to the paperback exchange store).

The last thing I did was to haul the Fairy box into my studio. I knew what was in it: cassettes of 1980’s Country music. I haven’t looked at it since I brought it home in 2011, after Dad died. It’s a little cobwebby. And it is full of cassettes, but not exactly the genre of music I thought.

There are Country albums, some Western, some Tex Ritter, and some ‘mix’ tapes, but there are a lot of duplicate Clancy Brothers collections, Reader’s Digest Christmas collections, Henry Mancini, marches, and other dubious entertainment collections.

Also tucked inside was a cassette inside a white envelope with my mother’s name on it, written in my Aunt Donna’s handwriting: Mary Lou.

Now, I happen to have this fancy cassette-to-mpv converter my father bought in March of 2011. He bought it for me, so I could convert a cassette interview of my Gramps (his father) to a digital format. I’ve never done it. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

I got the mini cassette player out and dropped in Mom’s tape (after removing the cassette of Gramps that I have never converted) and hit the play button. It’s a recording of my mother’s mother’s Memorial Service. Grandma Em, as she is affectionately known by her descendants, passed in 1991.

Actually, it is only half the Memorial Service as someone forgot to flip the cassette over mid-scripture, but half a service is more than I had before. And half a service prompted me to see if I could figure out how this converter worked.

Let’s see: Dad bought it in 2011… That was several versions of Microsoft ago…Hmmm. Well, what the heck? I put the CD-Rom into my drive and waited. And I’ll be darned if the thing isn’t compatible with Windows 10 all these years later!

Guess what I will be doing? Finally converting that interview with Fritz Wilcox (Gramps) to a digital format. And figuring out how to pass some lovely Reader’s Digest music compilations on… Barbara Mandrell, anyone?

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Spring Cleaning

Well, probably not “Spring” cleaning as it is the dead of the winter, but… I have been in a funk lately and trying to motivate myself to do something, anything, has been – well, next to impossible. I start, but I get overwhelmed at the idea of having to do the thing and I can’t proceed because I am overwhelmed.

Today, I decided I really needed to overcome that fear. But first, I needed to take a walk to clear my mind. Some folks call that “creative avoidance.”

I started out walking too fast, like I was running from something. Slow down, I told myself. This isn’t about how quickly can I get the walk over, but enjoy the walk and clear my mind. Notice things, look at things. Hope no one comes along who wants to talk.

Of course, I did not count on the runaway golden retriever, but since he was bouncing along the street and I had just passed his mistress who was looking frustrated and upset – well, you get the picture. Before I could take my walk and really look at things to clear my mind, first I had to do a good deed. The good deed sort of bounced up to me, like Tigger on a blustery day: this dog obviously didn’t know a stranger. His mistress was very happy to have caught him and we shared a laugh together, two strangers bound in the moment of capturing a happy-go-lucky dipstick of a dog. After I left them, I started to relax.

I started to notice things. A garden path in someone’s front yard, neglected by winter: someone laid out the stones and arranged it, but over time, it took on a life of its own and the rocks, slightly displaced, came alive. A Japanese maple, leafless and well-pruned, the old growth one color of bark and the newer growth a paler brown, the tips adorned with small droplets of water, like chrystals. A moss-covered broken limb in the drainage ditch, looking like some fairy had dropped her walking stick. I turned and came back toward home on another street. A laurel hedge lined the side of the road, with a mysterious gap in the hedge, inviting the reader into the yard. Several song sparrows flitted about, already working the scales of their sparrow-song in anticipation of the spring to come (in eight weeks) . I almost saw a woodland fairy peer out from under the hedge, then another ducked behind a mossy rock.

It dawned on me that God put those things into my heart: I don’t just make them up, but God plants them there.The gardener builds circles out of rocks, but God plants the moss and directs the choir of plants in their noisy growth upward, then carefully lays down the last yellowed leaf “just so” until the overall effect is a composition beyond envy. God put faeries, elves, and mystery into my heart and into my head, and it is my job to bring them out again. It is my job to tell stories or draw drawings or create the faces in a manner that reflects what God put in me. Talk about a lot of circles within circles.

I had a half-finished Autumn Faerie sitting on the washing machine at home and a craft corner I haven’t been able to face in a year’s time. I just go up there to find something, then hurry back down the stairs because it takes too much energy to even think about organizing it.  But after my walk, I got the sculpture out (it’s just under 2′ tall) and added another layer of fabric to it. Then I set it to dry and started in on my craft corner. I dusted, and cleared off the table, moved some of the knick-knacks around, and then realized I was overwhelmed by the boxes of fabric. But today, instead of allowing that to drive me back down the stairs, I bravely hauled all the boxes of fabric out and went through them. I threw some away and folded some, and set some aside for faerie masks or costumes.

I tossed all the old jeans. I am not going to make a jean quilt. I did, once. I am not going to do it again. Why save the jeans? I kept the box of calicos – there aren’t that many pieces and I really will use them. I sorted out the silk (old shirts purchased at Goodwill: much cheaper than actually buying silk fabric) for mask making. I ended up with three boxes (cases for paper) plus the small box of calico, all neatly labeled as to what is inside: fur from one of Chrystal’s old Hallowe’en costumes (handy for some gobelin in the future), muslin, calico, and faerie costume materials.

I haven’t tackled anything else up there: the buttons, the wire, the old conks (mushrooms) to paint, the beads, the glues, the scissors, the rocks, the needles, pins, threads, and myriad of craft items not classified — but I’ve made a start. And it feels really good.

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