33 things for Thursday

  1. Just kidding. I can’t come up with 33 things. I just think it’s funny when I run across blog posts with titles such as “457 must haves for your minimalist kitchen!” What does that even mean? How do they come up with those random numbers? I’ll tell you how I came up with 33: Alliteration.
  2. I am writing this from my porch, looking at a partially obstructed Mount Hood. Because of clouds. It’s humid, which is weird for the Pacific Northwest. Just thought you should know that.
  3. I have seen three deer in the past week visit our yard. I haven’t seen three deer in all 16 years we’ve lived here, so I wonder what’s up. Eric is afraid they’ll find our blueberry bushes, but so far they’re oblivious. The kittens hunker down when the deer come through to see if anything sketchy is going to go down. They clearly have no plan of attack, but in their defense, neither do the deer.
  4. Lists are fun! I should do this more often.
  5. I probably won’t.
  6. I have been waiting, literally, since December to read “The Good Neighbor” by Maxwell King, a biography on Mr. Rogers, via the eLibrary on my Kindle. I watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a kid and while it wasn’t one of my favorite shows (I was more of an “Electric Company” kind of girl), I didn’t mind it, either. Anyway, the writing is so repetitive and boring that I’m having a hard time getting into it. I’m about half-way done and would have ditched by now if it wasn’t about Mr. Rogers. I feel like I owe it to ol’ Fred to keep plodding along.
  7. This is really too bad because I’ve been in a reading slump. I haven’t been in the mood for the past couple of months and haven’t had anything to read anyway. But I am ready to get back into the game, especially since this is prime reading on the deck season. Perhaps the issue is that I don’t like nonfiction as much as I like fiction. That’s on me.
  8. But! I just checked out “Call the Midwife” (also on my Kindle; I prefer it to real books) and have high hopes for its entertainment value. I’ve never seen the TV show, but then again, I’m not that into TV.
  9. We’re watching “Stranger Things III” on Netflix. Which is TV, you are correct. Eric is not letting us binge watch so we’re only on, like, episode five. I don’t know, he’s trying to teach us patience or something.
  10. The end, I guess.
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Let’s hear it for small revolutions

I’ve mentioned more than a few times about how I do our grocery shopping once a week — on Saturday mornings, generally — and that, by Friday, the cupboards are pretty bare.

And sometimes even by Wednesday, as was the case last week.

I was finishing up a book when I caught wind of some grumblings in the kitchen. My family was bemoaning the fact that there was little in the house they could pack for lunch the next day. There were even some complaints over the sorry state of that night’s dinner (random crap in a tortilla. I mean, really, they could do a lot worse).

So I pointed out the obvious: That, aside from Johanna (who wasn’t complaining, that’s why she’s my favorite), everyone in our household not only has a vehicle, but a job. Which means that any one of us can go grocery shopping at any time. That waiting for me to get around to it on Saturday wasn’t necessary.

Abby and Eric just looked at me. I could see the wheels turning. It almost made me laugh.

First, they apologized. I was like, seriously, no sweat, I’m just reminding you that you have options. (Truth. I wasn’t worried; my dinner had been fine.) And Abby was all, you know what? You’re absolutely right, which kind of surprised me but also was a lovely thing to hear. Vindication! I went back to my book and Eric and Abby started making a plan.

Abby will be living off campus next school year with some friends and she keeps talking about learning to cook — so actually, maybe that helped my case. She’s been in the mood for taco soup and, as our weather went from the pleasant 80s to the rather chilly 50s in the span of a day and a half, she decided that was what was going on the menu Thursday night.

They found a recipe. They made a list. Eric went shopping after work (Abby was going to do it, but Eric ended up having more time than he expected, so he made the trip). While I lounged around, they made dinner. I had to save the day when it came to taco seasoning and home-canned tomatoes, but for the most part, everyone left me alone.

It was awesome.

They ended up with a big pot of soup. Johanna has textural issues (she refuses to eat cooked vegetables) and made herself eggs instead, and I can’t eat it, thanks to my jerk of a stomach (although I would if I could), so I had a rather lovely salad with leftover shredded chicken instead. But both Eric and Abby were happy with the meal.

Once upon a time, I’d have been ashamed that I had failed to keep the kitchen stocked. (Or the bathroom clean or the laundry washed.) I’d have taken the complaints as personal criticism. And I’m not sure if a switch flipped or if I’m finally learning my lesson, but I can see that this really isn’t a commentary on me at all. It’s a little bit being spoiled. It’s a little bit thoughtlessness — because they don’t have to think about how the fridge gets filled. And it’s also probably a bit of laziness.

I feel like a revolutionary. I feel like I’ve got a new notch on my feminist belt.

I’m kind of wondering if this will be a lasting lesson or if they’ll forget by Wednesday of this week.

Note to self: I don’t have to do it all. And it’s probably better if I don’t — for me, of course, because that means I can do more fulfilling work (or not: Reading, writing, taking a nap, playing with kittens, whatever). But also for them, particularly the girls, to learn a few basic life skills.

Also, this makes it sound like Eric is terrible. He’s not. He regularly cooks, does dishes, folds laundry and goes to The Store That Must Not Be Named to pick up toilet paper. (He doesn’t like to sit down, that’s why.) But groceries aren’t generally on his list. Um, they might be now. 😉

How to tell if the Walker Four are all under one roof

  • There are no glasses in the cupboard.
  • The food you thought would last the week actually lasts until Tuesday.
  • You try to go to sleep but end up having a slumber party until Mom gets cranky about being pushed off HER OWN BED.
  • Constant chatter.
  • Art supplies everywhere.
  • Requests for gas money.
  • More laundry.
  • We watch an extraordinary amount of The Office reruns.
  • More kids in and out of the house.
  • More schedules to coordinate.
  • General chaos.
  • I’m at my happiest.

🙂

More changes

The day after my darling daughter, Abby, moved back home for summer vacation, my equally darling 95-year-old grandmother moved to town to be closer to my parents.

Gram came from an apartment in a senior living complex, and the room she has moved into is probably half the size. Well, maybe not quite that small, but it’s got half the closet space, easy. My father filled a U-Haul truck with her furniture and boxes … and then had another pickup load with more stuff. And that was after she’d downsized her possessions.

And here I thought Abby had a lot of stuff.

I came by in the afternoon to help with the move, and then came back while Johanna was at basketball practice to unpack. Grandma was looking at her stuff and her storage space, and was feeling a bit defeated. It became fairly obvious fairly quickly that she was going to have to discard even more in order to fit into her new space comfortably.

“We don’t have to make hard decisions tonight,” I told her, and she agreed that she could look through items as time allowed and make piles for the annual church rummage sale, happily coming up next month. Still, whenever she decided that she didn’t like or want something, I put it in a bag and brought it home — to either rummage or toss, depending on its junk quotient.

I’m very pro-rummage, but I’m also realistic.

Anyway, Grammie has been here for a couple of weeks now and she’s definitely settling in. She’s amazed that the food they serve in the dining room is hot (um, that broke my heart) and that she’s sleeping so well because it’s quiet (the last place had 22 trains going by day and night, and apparently, she heard every one of them).

And it’s nice, having not lived by any extended relatives since I was 9, to be able to swing by and see her whenever I want. “I love you, sweet girl,” she told me a couple of visits ago. That made me laugh. Only a 95-year-old would think 46 is a girl.

P.S. My grandma is such a trooper. She’s lost two of her kids and her husband within the last four years and had to move out of the home she’d been in for 60-plus years for assisted living (when my grandfather was alive) and then into an apartment (after he passed). And now she’s here. She’s got arthritis and macular degeneration AND diabetes. But she just keeps going. She’s joined an exercise group and sits with new people every day at meals and stays positive. I tell you what, that is a lot of change and I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle it as gracefully as she has. To say I admire her greatly is an understatement.

Introversion

I’m an introvert who happens to have a very busy, people-oriented and event-laden job as a journalist for a small town newspaper. That alone makes me want to crawl in a hole, aka my house, and shut the shades when the day is over. Actually, that’s exactly what I do.

There’s a myth that introverts aren’t good with people. I was in a coffee shop (obvs) a few weeks ago and ran into an acquaintance, and I was complaining about the lack of introvert time I’d had that week.

anusha-barwa-428445-unsplash THIS

Photo by Anusha Barwa on Unsplash. The cat is all like, “What do you mean, you’d rather go out tonight?”

“That’s interesting to me, when people who are great conversationalists say they’re introverts,” she said. That was interesting to me, that introverts aren’t supposed to be able to talk. 😉 I wasn’t offended, of course — she’d just said I was a great conversationalist! I was mostly just relieved to hear I don’t come across as an idiot because I tend to ramble.

What is true, however, is that I’d rather be at my house than be out in the world. I even consider grocery shopping or getting my hair cut as social events, which greatly amused my extroverted co-worker when I was recounting my weekend one Monday morning.

Basically, if I’m not in my house, I consider whatever I’m doing to be social. And that’s fine, but there’s only so much of that I can take.

I’m good at being by myself. That’s never bothered me, even as a kid.

The awesome thing about being married to an introvert is that, when we get home, there’s no questions or hard feelings when we both veer off into separate corners to gather our wits at the end of the day. And we’re both on the same page in that we prefer our house to going out. Maybe that’s why we’re not big on dates. We’re already in the best place in town! Why would we leave?

“Where have you guys been?” Eric and I have been asked more than once when we actually make a pubic appearance. “At our house,” is always my honest answer.

It’s also true that I prefer the world in my head to the world that’s out there. That’s why I read and write a lot in my free time (also, as it happens, what I do for a living. Hilarious).

And I get uncomfortable when I’m the center of attention. I am a GREAT backup, and that No. 2 position is right up my alley. I try to blend into the scenery, which is sort of difficult when you’re 6 feet tall. Give me a one-on-one conversation any day of the week, but when it’s a crowd (two people plus), I’d rather listen.

So I suppose it’s ironic that I’m in a public job and that I blog. I just pretend no one reads what I write. Otherwise I’d never be able to do it. I have no desire to ever be the editor of our paper. That doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Extroverts fascinate me. Are you telling me that you actually LIKE being with other people? That you’d rather be at a party than in your own living room?

I’m honestly not even sure how that’s possible.

Of course, there are the hybrid introverts amongst us — my oldest being one — who thrive in social situations but also need time to decompress.

Which I suppose means there are hybrid extroverts.

We’ve had a lot of changes recently and my introvert time has been greatly diminished. Which, on one hand, that’s fine. On the other, I know I need to be more protective and proactive when it comes to finding time to recharge. Which is why I’m writing about this today, I suppose. It’s on my mind.

Wardrobe woes

Once upon a time, I really had a handle on my wardrobe (thanks, Project 333!). It’s been a year or so since I stopped P333 because I felt like I’d learned the lessons I needed to and, at the end of the day, it didn’t matter how many items were in my closet. I’m a minimalist. I gravitate towards minimalism.

Ha ha ha, isn’t it HILARIOUS when you get all cocky about being a genius and then the world knocks you down? Karma in action! Because:

Johanna and I hit the Goodwill in the town next door a couple of weeks ago — the weather had turned quite warm and I wanted some “spring-y” t-shirts. Johanna just enjoys thrifting in general and always finds something. The problem is that once she finds it (and buys it), she doesn’t always like it later on. This is actually called “pulling a Johanna” in our household.

My “spring-y” t-shirts ended up being burgundy, gray and a black/white patterned tank — I guess I’m not cut out for bright colors. (I saw a pink cardigan that was kind of cute and asked Jo what she thought, and she was like, That’s not even you. True, kid, thanks for the wisdom. Gray it is!) When we got home, I began organizing my closet for the warmer months. Johanna decided to go through her closet and got rid of a couple of items, one of which was a striped navy number that I decided to add to my closet instead of the rummage sale bag.

My spring t-shirt situation was really starting to look up, but my closet was getting away from me. I started running out of hangers. And I refuse to get more hangers. I have more than enough if I keep my closet to 35 or so items. Um, that ship had sailed, so I solved that problem by folding sweaters and long-sleeve t-shirts and storing those in my standing wardrobe. Not ideal because I tend to forget about what I can’t see hanging in front of my face. On the upside: It did make things look more manageable, at least.

And then Abby came home for the summer — P.S. YAY — around 6:30 p.m. last Monday. She decided she needed her room completely clean before she went to bed (she is the most organized teenager ever), which seemed to me like an impossible task, just looking at all the boxes and bags and suitcases she had strewn around the place. I was tasked with hanging up her clothing.

“I have a lot of clothes,” she said, “but I love them all.”

No judgement, kid. It’s your life and your closet. I’m just over here, hanging it all up.

As she went through her suitcases, there were a few items she decided she no longer wanted … one being a baseball-style t-shirt she got in high school that I’ve always thought was adorable. Um, so that’s now in my closet.

And then the weather went from 90 degrees F last Saturday to 65 degrees by Wednesday. So all the sweaters I had folded KonMarie-style (damn you, Netflix!) are now hanging across the bar in my closet. So I can get to them. Because I’m out of hangers.

What were the lessons I’d learned about minimalist closets again? I’ve clearly lost my wits.

Anyway, here’s my solution, and I will tell you right now that it’s lame, but it’s what I’ve settled on so whatever: When I wear an item, I turn the hanger back-to-front (putting it in backwards?) so I can see what I’m actually wearing. Of course, whatever I’m wearing out of my standing wardrobe doesn’t get the same treatment, but I’ve decided that isn’t so much of a problem because it’s not prime real estate like my closet. At the end of the month (which is coming up surprisingly quickly), I will reassess.

Um, so the moral of this story is that I’ve got a little work to do. 😉

P.P.S. Some links on my experiences with P333 (that maybe I should read myself):

HERE (Just beginning and the issues I ran into right off the bat)

HERE (Putting together a spring and summer wardrobe)

HERE (Lessons learned from my winter wardrobe)

Plan C is the new Plan B

Oh, life.

Instead of heading to see Abby for Easter as we planned, Abby came to us. And she’s been commuting between school and home for the past two weekends. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how quickly things can change.

The day after my last post, my father-in-law had a bad fall from a ladder and the world pretty much stopped. I don’t want to go into too much detail because it’s not my story to tell, but basically, he was LifeFlighted to a Portland hospital; the family immediately gathered, Abby coming home on a night train. We knew he had a skull fracture and a brain injury. We did not know what would happen next.

He never woke up, but he gave us all time to come and say goodbye. He passed away four days later, on the eve of Easter. We held his funeral this past weekend. I took Thursday and Friday off from work and went to get Abby. Her boyfriend’s mother took her back Sunday. We’ve had such an outpouring of love and support that it’s been overwhelming. People keep asking what they can do, but the fact is there isn’t anything they CAN do except continue to give us hugs. (Words are overrated because there’s nothing to say.)

I don’t know, you guys. I’ve been so out of sorts all spring and feeling kind of … just over everything. But these events have given me a different perspective. I can get out of bed and it turns out that’s most of the battle.