Stuff. Let’s Have Some.

Unless you are buried under a pile of your own possessions, you have no doubt heard about the latest person out there telling us how to live our lives, you’ve probably already gotten tired of hearing how wonderful it is to tidy and purge from the beautiful and didactic Marie Kondo.

I am genuinely happy that she is bringing her special brand of joy to so many of my friends and colleagues. She’s perfectly poised in this era of minimalism, simple living, and all that kind of trendiness. And I understand very much how important it is to feel in control of at least something in our lives these days, when we sure don’t feel like we can do much about world events, jobs, and our families/friends. And there’s nothing wrong with organizing your stuff so you can find it (right, yarn closet?).

I assure you that everything on this shelf means something to me. Those teeny dogs are my first ones, Gwynnie and Scrunchy. The cups are places I’ve worked. That kid in the back is 28 today. The name tag reminds me of who I am, when I space out a bit. Ms Warren tells me I am tough, etc.

But, as I see everyone blissfully getting rid of things that don’t bring them joy, it occurs to me that there is most assuredly a range of people’s attachment to “things” in their lives.

A small selection of Supergirl things. I have more.

I have stuff. Yes, I do. I am on the spectrum at the end where people find comfort in the memories that come up when they look at things around them or draw inspiration from beautiful things they’ve gathered. Sure, I could pare some things down, but I am a former academic. I’m not going to own just 30 books. Geez. And by gosh, I love Supergirl and if I want to look at her, that’s my issue.

24 Starbucks mugs. I like them.

I think what gets to me with all these fads and trends and gurus of the day is that they really try to make people feel guilty for being different from them. Why? Some folks like three curated objects on each surface of their home. Some people want to look at 24 Starbucks mugs that remind them of friends and adventures. Like anything else, becoming attached to or detached from stuff really only gets to be a problem at the extremes.

Anita’s Fiestaware. And a reflection. Looks good to us.

When you can’t walk in your home or yard, you may have some mental health issues to deal with. And if you just have a chair and a bed (yes, I knew someone like that), at the least hospitality is difficult.

Yup. Lots of stuff there. Let me tell you all the stories. I guess if I were paring down, Bananagrams might go elsewhere.

So, I say unto you, my friends: if your stuff makes you happy and you can move from room to room, enjoy your stuff. Get rid of things that make you feel icky or have bad memories attached to them. Just follow your own instincts, the norms of your culture, and what’s right for your family. Don’t blindly follow some overly perfect guru from another culture (by the way, in the Shinto religion of Japan, inamimate objects have souls and everyone has inherent goodness, perhaps even collectors like me).

Share your thoughts. I like hearing what YOU think about tidying up and magic, and the opposite.


Postscript

I was not correct to blame Kondo for some people who are perhaps over zealous in interpreting her ideas. Please read the comments for some reasons why I’m saying this.

Also a friend didn’t comment here, but on her Facebook wall, and she was right that Kondo never said 30 books. I succumbed to Fake News.

One of her friends kindly posted this quote, which I do indeed agree with:

“As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, “Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don’t need anything more. … The click point differs from one person to another. For a shoe lover, it might be one hundred pairs of shoes, while a book lover might not need anything but books. … As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don’t focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods for that matter. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards.” -Marie Kondo

I still get weary of extra tidy people acting like they’re better than the rest of us, since we each get to do what we prefer. But Marie is OK. Like Emily Latella, I must say, “Never mind!”

Poor Bro-Bro

Hey guys, my foot hurts. Otherwise, I’m cheerful as usual.

Here’s a doggie who could use your thoughts for a while. Our poor Brody always seems to get the bad end of his brotherly altercations with the other dogs (mostly Harvey; they are so well matched that they have never been able to decide who’s number one).

I’m gallantly limping along.

Last week they had their monthly battle while I was in Austin, so I missed it. Lee said Harvey bit Brody on the foot, causing it to bleed. He got that stopped, but Brody still can’t put weight on his foot. Of course, the day the vet was in town happened to be the day Lee was stuck at the ranch because of the rain.

We’re pretty sure he has a broken toe, and since you can’t really put a dog toe in a case, we are just treating him with pain killers and rest.

Harvey and I are friends again, and we’re taking off to run!

Well, we try to get him to rest, but he has figured out how to run and jump and perform all his usual antics on just three legs. We went on a long walk yesterday, and he even took off after a rabbit.

That dark spot is a spring that flows into our little stream, then into Wakler’s Creek, which has been very wide lately.

Unfortunately, Carlton, the very white dog, also took off after it. The rabbit went through the spring that’s been flowing again since all the rain started the past few months. Carlton came back very strongly resembling a dalmatian. He had fun, though.

A bonus horse story

The horses had less fun in the mud. There is a spot near where they usually eat that has mud like a foot deep. Both Apache and Spice have slipped in it and nearly fell. When Spice did it, she ran off, splattering Sara’s back with another dalmatian effect! Nonetheless, we have found the water hazards that have popped up are great horse confidence builders. Apache is always really proud of himself when he gathers his courage and marches across a big puddle.

I’ll get those photos taken and continue with the arts and crafts series next!

In Praise of a Dog

It was very nice of the humans to get this giant dog bed for me.

Let’s recover from my downer of a post last time by looking at a beautiful animal that can defend itself, good old Alfred the Anatolian Shepherd.

I walked into the living room at the ranch last weekend to see Big Al stretched out on the new couch, and he looked so beautiful and peaceful that I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to move.

I look wise. That’s all that matters.

He’s looking pretty good other than a couple of burrs in his ears, and is feeling so good now that he is on a daily glucosamine and pain medication regime. It makes me so happy to see him romp and play with the other dogs. Something that large acting like a puppy just has to make you smile.

You guys, I was napping. (There were no non-blurry photos of them playing.)

Since he’s feeling better, he’s a lot more patient with the younger dogs, and will sit there and bat at them as they crawl all over him, like a very patient elder statesman.

He isn’t all that old, probably a bit over 2 years, but his size and dignity lend him a kind of gravitas.

Hope you little dogs are having fun (even though Carlton is NOT little anymore).

He does great work keepying the coyotes at bay (and they do like to get close), and at the same time, he’s very kind to the cattle behind the house. He knows he is protecting them.

About the Cattle

I just have a little aside about the other dogs and the cattle. Brody the cattle dog and Carlton the extremely white fellow love to chase cows. Well, the ones we have behind us now have been there for many months, and they are wise to the dogs.

When Brody goes after them like a rocket, they turn around and look at him like, “oh, him again,” eventually herding HIM back to the fence, where he barks as if he’s in command.

We like a little fun. Not too much, though.

And the cattle have developed a game with Carlton. He will chase them back about twenty feet. Then they will chase HIM about twenty feet. Back and forth they go until someone gets tired. The cattle are really obviously playing, which usually they don’t do once they get to a certain size.

I know the dogs aren’t supposed to make them run, so they will be more marbled, but these are mama cows who get to hang around a long time. They can have a little fun, I think!

Look Up!

Yes, look up and you can see all sorts of new things. I need to tell myself this often, since I spent an awful lot of my time looking DOWN, to see what kinds of plants, bugs, odd items and such are below my feet.

Pipes make a nice grid, plus bring the ever-popular “pop of color” to the ceiling in my office building.

But, by always looking down, I realize I do miss a lot, like the tin ceiling in my favorite restaurant, Dutch Towne. Or, like I found out last night, I miss the patterns cast by the mod light fixture in the place where I’ve been getting my hair cut the past few months.

The light fixture has bloomed into a flower.

It’s a good thing I looked up last night, since I won’t be going back to that location again.

I decided to see what I could see by looking up at my Austin office. It’s one of those open offices with unpainted concrete floors and no drop ceilings, so you see all the infrastructure. That’s supposed to appeal to millenials, you see. They like the industrial look, I’m told.

They’ve missed a big model train environment in these wire cages that hold all the wiring.

I have to admit you see some things that you can have fun using your imagination on. I keep wishing they’d put a model train track on these long tracks of wired that go all over the place.

Mmm, cozy pillows. Except they are full of fiberglass.

And the giant air conditioning duct that makes the very loud “white noise” we enjoy daily looks like it would make a very nice pillow.

This makes me dizzy. Maybe it’s a quilt pattern.

And while I admit that I looked straight ahead to see this, I keep wanting to turn the acoustical foam tiles in the recording studio into a game board.

So, if you are somewhere that doesn’t excite you visually, just look up! There may be a pattern, a shape, or an object that sparks your creativity right over your head.

I Can See for Miles

Sunday I needed to play tech support for my Master Naturalist and artist friend, Pamela. I love the detective work aspect of figuring out why a computer doesn’t work.

Greetings from the chubby dog statue.

I’m happy to report that I got her frozen computer unfrozen and set her up with WhatsApp so she can talk to her friend in India.

If you had binoculars, you could see the ranch house.

Then I got to have fun looking at her art-filled home and garden. One highlight was verifying that yes, you can see the Hermits’ Rest from her house.

You can also see the huge black scar across the land that a new pipeline is making. That thing goes through the whole area. At least land owners get compensated. As I recall, these companies make big efforts to put things back the way they were, judging from Lee’s dad’s old farm.

Happy faces on the deck.

After looking around outside I toured Pamela’s art studio and gallery, where there is much clay, tools, and a kiln where she makes beautiful pottery. Her work has both humor and grace to it. So, of course I love it and had to get some.

I got this one for me, since it reminds me of the labyrinth where Lee and I got married. It had been waiting a long time for the right person.

I’ll let you all know when her gallery re-opens! She’s renovating it now. You can find her work in the cute shop in Rosebud, too. Yes, Rosebud is a real town near Cameron. (Aside: I write much shorter sentences on my phone, so this text seems a little disjointed. I promise to use my computer for the next post.)

Fu dog, not by Pamela, says bye!

Like I was saying yesterday, it’s never dull around here! The people are both fun and fascinating. I’m so glad to be at the Hermits’ Rest.

Small Town Joys

What a beautiful setting to sit with Santa Kyle.

A great part of living in a small town is community theater, which Cameron is great for. Jonathan Deal and the rest of the Milam Community Theatre board have been making some changes, but it’s still fun!

We went to last night’s performance of “A Fairy Tale Christmas,” which was cute as the Dickens. Dickens is capitalized because the play mixes the Scrooge story with fairy tales. I wore my Bah Humpug sweater.

Lee and I kept introducing each other to people, my Master Naturalist friends and his Rotary friends. And we knew most of the adults in the play. The child actors were all very good, with the smallest boy showing real talent.

Mandi and her fellow pigs. Photo from Milam Community Theatre.

Mandi made a great pig, and the pigs even brought me and my sister up to dance. The highlight, though, was Mandi’s dad, playing a hip hop King Midas. Hard to explain but hilarious.

There were cookies and cocoa, plus Santa photos afterward. Kudos to the team who worked on this cute play.

Why Do I Do Stuff Like This?

I have been over-doing it in the decorating, lifting, toting, and moving department for the last week or two. I need to learn to do a few things, say “good progress, me,” and stop.

This is an old kitchen. But it’s less disgusting now. And our stuff is moved in

But no, once I get into a frenzy of decorating, unpacking, or moving furniture, I cannot stop until I feel like it looks to some unknown outsider like I’m finished.

That futon is another heavy object I should not have moved.

So today, despite having a sore back from lifting heavy objects the day before, not only did I completely decorate my new office in the old church building we bought, but I unpacked all the other office stuff, “cleaned” the kitchen (really made it less dirty), then rearranged all the furniture in the main room of the church building to look like a meeting area, an eating area, and a lounge area.

Why was I driven to make a little arrangement of random furniture?

I felt all justified when an unexpected visitor (the president of the bank who loans our business money a lot) showed up. It looks like people are working here, even though it is obviously an unrenovated space.

The lights don’t work in here, but maybe you can see the many chairs and tables I moved to make this arrangement. Not seen are boxes I moved OUT so it would look better.

My guess is that I am, at my core, a nester. I feel incomplete if the space I am in does not feel comfortable. Still, someoene MAKE ME STOP.

More on My Darned Watch

Shut me up!

My precious Apple watch, making me happy with its bright changing colors, while telling me useful stuff. I believe this is my ugliest strap.

For reasons I don’t really understand, I am still all fascinated by my Apple Watch. Besides, I need something to write about that’s not my current real fascination: the history of the old house in Cameron that we just bought. More on that later.

Awards. Ooh ahh. They motivate me.

The watch is one in a long series of fitness trackers I’ve used. While they haven’t turned me in to a lean, mean, exercise machine, I find that I’m one of those people who will put in a little extra effort “just to make the watch happy.” I was actually surprised to see how much I enjoy setting goals and making them, winning dorky “prizes,” and comparing myself to friends (though I only have one Apple Watch friend, my spouse).

Continue reading “More on My Darned Watch”

Pushing Past Fears: Party Time

The past two years have been a time for me to push past fears and try many things I haven’t wanted to do in the past. I won’t whine and whine, but there’d been a period where I lost a lot of friends and was feeling bad about it, so I was not being very social. I kept to myself and just hung out with my ranch friends and one or two people in Austin.

I have a welcoming heart, even if I’m scared to show it sometimes.

Because of this, I never had the open house I’d vowed to have when the Bobcat Lair house was finished. We had dinner with one or two friends, but that’s about it. I didn’t want to hold a party and have no one come.

Very proud that straightening up the kitchen gave me an idea of where I can display my Starbucks mug collection.

But, I meditated on it, talked to some wise people, and totally escaped my cocoon of self pity. I came to the conclusion that things just happen with friends and acquaintances, and I don’t need to try to figure out why. Instead, I need to live my life full of openness and welcoming to everybody, whether I’m their favorite person or not.

Continue reading “Pushing Past Fears: Party Time”

No Place Like Home, Really

This weekend I spent a lot of time indoors at the ranch house, because the weather was not very good. As a consequence, I spent more time than usual in the seating area part of our great room (it serves as kitchen, dining room, living room, and Lee’s office).

Even after rearranging our furniture, the room holds plenty of dogs and guests.

As I relaxed and enjoyed our candles and various dogs, it occurred to me that maybe Feng Shue has something going for it. Just making a few changes in how out furniture is arranged has increased my well being.

Lee and a dog in the “old man chair” that makes him happy and somehow makes the bedroom feel less vast and cold. Yes, I do make the bed. We just woke up.

I admit that I really never felt comfortable in many parts of the house until recently. The bedroom seemed cold and vast until Lee brought in a love seat and Big Old Man recliner. We both have nice places to sit now, and there’s plenty of dog space, too. The new window coverings also bring in needed warmth and intimacy to the space.

Continue reading “No Place Like Home, Really”
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