Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inch at a Time

Husband took out the recycling and made a trip to Goodwill.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Find

I forgot to add that I found two punchcards with the University of Notre Dame seal on them, as a bookmark in one of my father's college music books.

Oh, yes, I'm keeping those. I learned to write my name on punchcards, but I've never seen a Notre Dame seal on one before.


Went through three more boxes of sheet music.

I kept the flute music. Theoretically, I will resume playing the flute, and that's already been mostly culled. I did skip over the high school and college marching music (and it's really no good, having just the flute part).

I kept a few books of the Irish music. I threw away* photocopied books and books of Irish music (in Irish and in English) and felt horrible at the waste of time in the first place when my father copied them.

*Paper gets recycled. Usable music gets donated. Most of the time the photocopied books are classified as "paper."

*sigh* But I won't have to carry them around from move to move. I won't have to move boxes and boxes of "music I might use someday" to get to the things that I'm looking for.

I did keep a cute old ukulele book. We do have a ukulele, at least.

Then there was the stuff from my father's college and post-undergrad days. He was heavily involved in Roman Catholic liturgical folk music. I kept a few folders-with-brads I thought my sisters might like (but I was too young to remember). I kept a few booklets of, well, junk, just because it had my father's name on it. (But I did give away duplicates, at least.) I threw out mimeographed sheets with "Cum By Ya" [sic] and other things. I kept a couple of liturgical music binders which were used in church when I was growing up. I occasionally get songs stuck in my head, and even though I'm not Catholic, and even though I've heard about "those post-Vatican-II musical atrocities," I still like them. It's sort of like comfort food.

Then there was the Christmas music. Really, I don't need twenty photocopies of "Joy to the World." They were all mixed in with everything else. In another box, there should be about 20 copies of one carol book, and I kept a book of carols for piano, and a couple of photocopies of my father's favorite Christmas carol ("The Cherry-Tree Carol": my husband also likes it because it reflects the Orthodox teaching in the first line: "When Joseph was an old man...").

There's only one box left in the first stack. Whew.

I also got something off my to-do list, which was to call the lady back about Irish dancing classes for Teddy. They do accept students as young as three, and the rates didn't seem unreasonable, and the first class is free. We'll try to go to the feis up in Clearwater this Saturday and see whether or not his interest is piqued. (She didn't know enough about an adult class, but I figure I can ask when we go. Not that I'm in shape enough to last through one dance, let alone an entire lesson, but that'll be another post.)

There're more thinks percolating around in my head, but I'll stop here and let them ferment a little more so there's a chance of fewer mixed metaphors when they do get poured out. (Did the metaphors there just make you go "blech," too? Well, that's why I'm stopping here.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Progress, then Allergies

August 23:

Action items from desk:

Cut out tiny icons from calendar to put together another tiny book like the one I sent Mat. Anna for her children's dollhouse. (TG wanted to keep it, so I'll make one for him.)

Recorded ice cream prices from grocery store ads in Blue Bell spreadsheet.

Called to be removed from catalog mailing list.

Husband steamed apart paper icons and TG's book.

Cut out coupon and recycled flyer.

Made correction in vespers supplement and uploaded corrected file.

Registered to vote (change of address ... sent in April ...).

Sent away for free umbrella.

The hardest thing about dealing with paper stuff, I find, is not the "to be filed" section, but the "action" section. There's still a book I want to mail, a book I want to find (I wrote cryptic notes; I found it while searching for another book on interlibrary loan, so the database I searched is only available at the library), and three liturgical booklets to correct. And some other stuff, I'm sure.


We've made our first foray into the "project closet." Office supplies and diplomas are so far being kept (stored in the filing cabinets now empty of genealogy materials), but we've gotten rid of some music from an aunt, from a cousin. Then we started on the first box: Irish music.

My father collected. Everything, but mostly Irish things, especially stamps and music. My mother donated most of his music collection (the cds, at least) to a university whose Irish studies department was happy to get it. Some of the cds had never been opened, and some were duplicates. It was still boxes and boxes full. I think when we moved here, there were at least seven boxes of music—sheet music.

So as I was going through this box, I felt that I was rejecting part of my father. But I don't need folders and folders of photocopied books of music. I don't need music books for harp, harmonica, and guitar. I don't even need music books for the flute. I think I managed to keep about an inch or so of "keep" items (including a music book with liturgical Irish and no English which I am hoping a friend will enjoy) and a few things of "potential keep" items.

I didn't expect to cry.


I had saved the above in a draft, then continued with another box and the Fixing of the Last Diaper in the afternoon. (My husband was right: it took less than 15 minutes; how come I waited four months?) I didn't get back to the post because of the Attack of the Allergies. Yesterday morning all that was accomplished was Disney movies (Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Black Cauldron). For the time being, I've given up on psalm memorization and exercise and am focusing on breathing and sleeping.

The project closet, right side, showing a marked decrease in the first stack of boxes. The two piles on the floor are what I've kept out of two of the music boxes. Four more boxes to go in that stack.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Time for Everything

Today, I did something I have never (to my recollection) done before. I threw away greeting cards. Granted, most of them were repetitive (I think I'll remember having the baby, and Christmas cards aren't all that memorable), and many were from people I don't actually know. (I *try* to match parishioner faces and names, but there's usually at least one small distraction (about two years old), and the parish directory is out-of-date.) I did check that I had important addresses in my Google Contacts, but I threw out unnecessary envelopes.

I was looking for a certain gift card for this coming Saturday's baby shower, so I cleaned off my desk. I have six of those little "inbox" things that stack up. Those were overfull, and there was a pile on my desk as well as a box (a small box, but still) on the floor. We will carefully omit any mention of boxes in closets which may or may not have "to be sorted and/or filed" paperwork. I didn't find the giftcard I was looking for (haven't gone through the small box on the floor yet...), but I did find over $100 in gift cards.

*sigh* I don't like shopping, and when I do go shopping for clothes, it's usually at Goodwill, both because if it's a mistake, it's cheap, and I don't feel pressured by the consumerist oppression I experience in the mall (and there's miles to go to find anything I'd wear). I don't get to shop for my husband often because, well, he's a priest, so his priestly clothes are pretty standard and his unpriestly clothes will probably never wear out at the rate he wears them. The kids ... well, let's just say it's exciting when I get the opportunity to actually buy TG anything to wear. That hasn't happened with LC yet, and, by the looks of things, she's set through age 3. (There will probably be more new gifts as well as hand-me-downs by then.)

In the meantime, I've done four loads of laundry including putting them away (the hardest part!), made the bed, and run the dishwasher. The sense of well-being does seem to have extended itself and made the house more restful. (Not entirely, because TG's making noise with his toys, and I'm cranky and hungry, but it's much better than it would be otherwise.)

I guess Don Aslett did make a good point when he mentioned that clutter robs you, because you have to keep looking through the junk to find the thing you want. At least I know where the gift card isn't...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fasting with my Closet and New (Ecclesiastical) Year's Resolutions

The death of a little girl who was close in age to our daughter has given us quite a bit of sorrow. Her funeral will be tomorrow evening. May Isabella's memory be eternal.

My husband's sermon this morning was about Matthew 17:14-23, where the man comes to Jesus for healing for his son, because the disciples were not able to cast out the demon. Jesus told his disciples that "this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting." Then my husband defined fasting as "doing without things you want" and said that the purpose of fasting (if I took notes correctly; does anyone else take notes during sermons, wiggly babies permitting?) is "to be holy as God is holy."

This made me sit up and take notice, because one of the things I've learned in this project so far is that it's okay to both want to keep something and to still give it away.

Today before church (the littles slept in quite a bit), I went through and sorted a few things in the Florida room, gaining two empty boxes and two empty boxlids. After church—coffee hour sent us home with cream puffs, mini cinnamon rolls, and half a gallon of milk; I refused the unopened box of crackers, pleading lack of space and was forcefully told that we need to eat more...—we went through my hanging clothes in the closet, sorting into: maternity, would like to wear, and would not like to wear categories. Since I'm post-partum, I have no idea what size I am, but there were lots and lots of clothes that I don't actually like wearing, even when they do fit.

Which leads into the exercise and dieting section. The ecclesiastical new year is coming up on September 1, and I like to take the opportunity to make New Year's Resolutions (even though I'm definitely not good at keeping them). My planned resolutions are memorizing the Psalms and losing weight. I've been slacking off on memorizing psalm verses, so I thought I'd use the GOARCH Planner and gold star stickers to keep me going. My hope is to learn six verses a week (one a day), and review on the seventh day. I've already learned the first psalm (and so has TG, mostly, although he still says "pencil" instead of "counsel"), and am almost halfway through the second... but I've been there for over four months now.

For losing weight, I plan to do three things: weigh myself each morning (I did *not* like this morning's number in terms of its distance from my prepregnancy weight!), follow the hacker's diet fitness ladder, and eat only one dessert a day. The last will probably be exceedingly effective, as doughnuts, cookies, and anything else which falls into the dessert category is an anytime snack. So today I had a peach instead of an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies. But I did forget and eat lots of cream puffs at coffee hour ... but I didn't eat breakfast this morning. (I know! I'm breastfeeding! I'm sorry! I honestly forget most Sundays! Even TG only had one doughnut and didn't even want milk!) And I'll try to drink water more, in general. I should probably also get more sleep.

Aha! That was the thing I was trying to remember: lose weight, learn psalms, and go to bed on time. So that means I need to hurry up and figure out something for dinner which isn't doughnuts (those should probably go into a cupboard where they're safer than right out on the counter) and turn off the alluring computer. Which reminds me I have two more Inspector Lynley books from the library, so that should be enough incentive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And awaaaaay they went

One set of sheets, more sweaters, two plastic containers, a purse, two mattress pads, one winter coat, several toys, some toiletries/bath items = almost a trunk-full. Separately, fifteen thank-you notes have also gone out.

One walk-in closet is starting to look good. Yes, except for the genealogy, almost everything on the 'out' list on this blog so far has come from one (1) closet and we're not quite done with it.


I'd just like to publicly announce how awesome my husband is. He gave an unused remote-control car to the pest control guy who just left. I've barely had breakfast, our son is still in his underwear, but something has already left the house!

And now back to our regularly scheduled laundry and shrieking baby...

Monday, August 15, 2011

And then there was pie

Today we celebrated the feast of the Dormition. TG continues to be pretty happy, and LC quieted down and slept during the Liturgy. We came home and celebrated with cookies, ice cream, and pie through the rest of the day. (It's a feast, right?)

My husband made a sandwich for me, and while I was distracted with tasty goodness, we did some more with our bedroom closet. While I started munching, I looked at the clothes in my closet (didn't get to those today) and thought about the St. Basil the Great quotation about how the extra clothes we have are stolen from the poor: "The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes."

I made much more progress on saying, "I don't need this," than I had the first day we did the closet. My husband confessed he got a little worried when I was clutching (figuratively) to the torn (literally) sheets. They could be useful. They probably are useful. But I. don't. need. them.

I have come to the realization that even if I really like something, even if I really want to keep something, it's still okay to give it away.

We live in Florida, so we got rid of lots of sweaters. (Including one my grandmother knit that matches the hat I wear when it gets cold ... but I don't actually like the sweater itself.) And lots of shoes. (Including the really expensive, dyed-green-to-match-my-prom-dress-which-I-no-longer-have dress shoes.) And a pair of nice snow boots. (Man, those were so heavy!) And a set of sheets. (Oh, but there are lots more sheets to come, I have a feeling.)

We also went through TG's toys, getting rid of about a boxful, sorting through what he might want, what LC might want, what I might want (the little coke truck and the car my father carved are not going anywhere, and both my husband and I love the little green Trabant), and then some nicer things which we can give as gifts (a wooden duck, a neat blocks set, a set of circles that fit together). We also got rid of lovely metal boxes and a stationery box (no stationery in it, but it's a lovely box). I love containers, especially pretty ones. *sigh* So that was hard.

We also got rid of the sewing machine that I've had for a year. It's really heavy. It's never actually been set up at our house. I still hope to make a set of vestments for my husband before he dies. I mean, soon.

Oh, and while we were sorting things, the doorbell rings. It's the mailman: one package from my sister (safe: honey, so that'll get eaten rather quickly) and two packages from my mother (Raffi DVD for TG's birthday next month from the Amazon wishlist (awesome), a cute Russian Orthodox children's book from her trip to Mongolia (awesome), and some clothes (they feel like plastic/sandpaper and five shirts of varying plaids) of which we kept a pair of pants and three shirts.

So all that and some previously sorted stuff (but not all of it) went to Goodwill today: a trunkful. And then there was pie.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One Step Back

Yesterday and today have been busy, and there isn't really anything positive to report today.

Yesterday, I was sent home from the retreat with a bagful of Oreos. (I know! Suffer, suffer. I'm getting rid of them as fast as I can.) Also, "Uncle Tony" brought TG about six or seven boxes of animal crackers and a tin of mints. Previously, he sent two boxes of animal crackers in the mail. The last time Teddy saw him he asked, "Do you have any crackers for me?" Uncle Tony didn't, so he went out right then and bought some.

Today, I was sent home from coffee hour with the remains of a gallon of milk, a plate of fruit, more Oreos (seriously, and we just bought more because I'd run out), and some artoklasia because the person sponsoring it thought our daughter's middle name is Marie. It's not. Also, a parishioner brought another bag of baby clothes.


On the other hand, we may actually be getting interest for a parents-of-young-children play-group (or something) at church, so there may be a place to give toys and clothing in a somewhat reciprocal manner. (Or it might be even more awkward, as you don't want to give back things that people got specifically for your use.)

Tomorrow morning we will celebrate the dormition of our holy mother the Theotokos. I tell my mother she's not allowed to die until she's sorted through the things in her house. (This does not mean sending them to my house, however.) I've been reading more in the current Don Aslett book, and there are some relatively brief sections on verbal, emotional, and mental clutter.

My husband has noted that TG is more pleasant to be around since we removed all of the toys from his room. I don't know whether it's correlation or causation, but today was certainly much more pleasant than usual, and it was an extremely exhausting day, with five hours at church in the morning, a brief break (while the priest-man went to vest the body of a brother priest who had fallen asleep last week), and then back to church for vespers. The rest of the family went to the pool and I stayed home and rested a bit, watching Hoarders later on in the evening.

All the things I haven't done but mean to seem to have this pull on me, like dead weight. I hope that getting rid of the things that I'm not going to do will release me from this feeling. Not sure what the plans are for the attacks in the coming week, but I hope to show significant progress, even if it's only figuring out what our next steps will be.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


After three years at Holy Trinity (Clearwater), I'd never gone to the annual parish retreat. This year, now that we're no longer there, I was actually in town (albeit an hour south), so we went. Two of the GOYAns were there for TG. LC's nouna (and everyone else!) was there for her.

Got rid of 17 egg cartons. (Our parish doesn't use these for red eggs at Easter, but I saved them anyhow because they must be useful to *somebody*!) And gave about a year's worth of box-tops-for-education to LC's nouna who is a teacher. So we didn't get rid of much stuff, but with as full a day as we had, I'm glad we did make at least a little progress.

Friday, August 12, 2011

And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram...

We had a lot of 'begats' in our closet. My wife's grandmother's genealogical research had yielded roughly a dozen paper boxes' worth of documents, photos, and assorted other materials*. For the last four years or so, this genealogical data had taken residence in our closets. First in Clearwater, where it was unpacked and stored in filing cabinets. Then it was packed up and brought down to the new house, where it was unpacked and stored in filing cabinets. To the best of my recollection, that was all the interaction that had taken place between our family and the genealogy stuff.

Until yesterday. My wife admitted to herself that, with two small children, there are other people in the family who would have more time to devote to this endeavor, at least for the next, oh, eighteen years, give or take a couple. And so, out came the documents, photos, and assorted other materials, and back in boxes they went. Today, they left the house, on their way to a good home. Να 'ναι ευλογημένο!

*Wifely footnote: My husband said that as he was writing this, he thought of Nebuchadnezzar and the sackbut, psaltery, lyre, harp, and every kind of music. I am glad we are no longer paying homage to these boxes full of papers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baby steps

We've packed up most of my grandmother's genealogy research. I haven't done anything with it in the four years I've had it. I've moved it into filing cabinets and back into boxes for the move, then my husband put it into filing cabinets, and we've boxed it up again to go to a cousin who had worked with my grandmother on genealogy before. She says she'll scan it in and maybe send the originals to my sister.

So that's ten or twelve boxes. (Some of the old photographs are really quite large, so we have yet to figure out the packaging for them.)

We've removed all the toys and books from TG's room. (Except for a giant box and sundries in his closet.) These are currently in the Florida room (and, from previous confiscations, in the breakfast room and two ... no, make that three other closets in the house). I hope to go through those toys and books and select the most important ones ... and let the rest go, whether to friends who teach, library sales, Goodwill, or our annual neighborhood garage sale in the fall.

I took pictures of my beautiful antique bedroom suite. (My sister wanted to see pictures, to see whether she wanted to try to talk her husband into receiving it.) I think it's some of the most beautiful furniture ever; I picked it out as a birthday present from my parents when I was a teenager. (Our family tradition: each daughter received a set of bedroom furniture.) But. It doesn't make me happy. The wardrobe is much too large for almost any house on the market these days, and the handle for the main door is slightly broken and I'm afraid to fix it myself. I'm hoping to have a parishioner who has a "woodworks" business look at it and suggest options. I like the bed and nightstand (with the funny little cabinet for a chamberpot!), but I think it should all be kept together. I am hoping we will find a place for it where it will be taken care of and enjoyed. In any case, it must go.

Out of our house today: one pair of shoes and two shirts, as TG's hand-me-downs.

I am exhausted and emotional. I feel guilty that I haven't done anything with the genealogy materials and guilty that they're out of order and uncared-for. I feel like I've failed. And then there's the rest of the Stuff which is just everywhere. Well, except TG's room.

I'm reading (slowly) Don Aslett's For Packrats Only and was struck by the suggestion of "At least thin that collection of all the birthday cards you ever got." The correspondence file... well, okay, I do actually have all of the birthday, Christmas, etc., cards and letters I ever got. I probably don't need to keep correspondence of people I don't know and/or don't remember.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"We want order and not chaos." —Fr. Thomas Hopko, "The Head," Names of Jesus podcasts.

"Mental clutter is tough to conquer, but it helps to go after the physical stuff first. Go after the gullies of garbage around the house, yard, and office first and watch what happens in the old head—a great surge of motivation and momentum. Everyone tells me, 'Once the stuff went, my mental struggles were much less, the cobwebs seemed to clear out of my brain.' What an incentive to unload! Do it!" —Don Aslett, For Packrats Only, pp. 89-90.


For a while now, I've been contemplating that command of Jesus, "Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and come, follow Me."

And then there were lots of articles about how children who grew up with lots of toys are physically, emotionally, and spiritually confused and handicapped by their abundance.

And I grew up with lots of stuff. Not necessarily expensive stuff, but lots of it. In telling a certain man about my father's hoarding, he looked at me and said, "You're a hoarder, too." And I had to admit that he was right. I am. I keep things which I do not find beautiful nor useful.

And then there's the Montessori ideal of a "prepared environment."

I have not kept all the commandments, like the rich young man in the story in the synoptic Gospels, but I am coming to admit to myself that if I really want to know Christ, there's a mountain of Stuff and Self in the way.

I hope this will be a blog about getting rid of at least part of that mountain.

Riches and the Kingdom

Matthew 19:16-30, from the Orthodox Study Bible:

Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"

So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

He said to Him, "Which ones?"

Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "

The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?"

So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."