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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Simplifying

While much of the central and northern United States does look like this right now, here in south west Ohio it is drab and rainy. We've had a spell of cold, but snow here is usually dry and of short duration.

I shot this photo in my back yard last January. I love how the light rises in the east and the snow makes stark contrast with the darkness of the shrubs and stalks of the perennials I leave for winter interest. The frost on the remains of the Joe-pye weed glows and sparkles against the fence and shrubs.

I have been frustrated looking at what I think I should do to get ready for the holidays and resenting it and struggling just trying to get some of the regular parts together.

Yesterday, I decided that with putting the lights on the garlands on the staircase and the electric candles in the windows, I'd call it "done." We have a tree. We have stockings by the fireplace. We have the outside lighted and wreathed. There's a wreath on the chimney breast and a wreath on the area above the doorway to the kitchen.

What's missing? Lots. I posted on my facebook page that there would be no porcelain houses this year. My husband's cousin replied "OH NO! The world is going to stop spinning!" For people who knew me in Connecticut, I think that they would agree....and not in the sarcastic tone in which Louie said it. No houses, no Swedish angels. No Santas...(no, wait, I am going to grab the big ones and put them up because it takes no trouble). No huge plates of cookies. No loaves of bread (except the loaf of honey wheat I have presently baking to eat with the bean soup I made for dinner).

You see, in the beginning of the year I said I was going to simplify....it is absolutely overdue and necessary. I'm struggling to take care of all the orchids and the house plants. The inside and the outside....and still do stuff I'm interested in. I said I was going to stop selling books...and yet, I haven't been able to do any of this.

Old habits are notoriously hard to break. I have, however, thrown out dying Phalaenopsis and gave away Christmas cactus. I recently dumped some African violets.... I'm trying to hoe out things and have made several trips to Goodwill and the Vietnam Vets are coming on the 21st.

And yet...there is still so much to weed out. I am a materialistic person. Not in the sense that most people are...I just love material culture. I enjoy things. I love things with history. I enjoy one of a kind things, beautiful things, things which have been given to me by people who mean a lot to me. I have things which remind me of growing up (paintings with sheep in them). Things which are interesting because of how they are engineered, or just because they are neat.

I think of George Carlin and his skit about "stuff." Part of me laughs. Part of me cringes. I also think that when you own a lot of stuff, it really owns you. So, I stumble along trying to sort it all out. Pass it on and move it out. It takes a long time. Going through papers. Sorting them out. Filing some, throwing out others. It is spiritually draining. Emotionally overwhelming.

I keep on thinking I will not do this to myself again. However, I know, deep on my heart of hearts, it will be very difficult not to.

4 comments:

Ruth Anne Olson said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog regarding Lucia Day. Little by little we are leaving the old traditions behind--especially so when children marry into families with other traditions. I don't know that it's a bad thing, but I often feel a little wistful for those days and those traditions.

Vivien said...

You are not alone in your struggle! I admit I'm embarrassed by the amount of stuff we've accumulated. I'm working hard at truly differentiating between wanting something and needing something. I'm trying to use that mantra as I sort through things. But, for now, I'm going to be happy with getting rid of the pile of papers on my kitchen island; that means I've gotten through at least one stack of tasks and/or thrown it out.

P.S. My Christmas decorations aren't all up either.... and they're usually finished by the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Oh well. Sometimes, that's just not the way it goes.

Jessica said...

Yep I feel you on this. I would love to simplify and yet I keep resisting it. Unfortunately it took tragedy for me to tone down the holiday ornamentation. This year we probably wont even put up a tree. I told Dave maybe we could get one of those potted Norfolk pines instead.

On a side note, I nominated you for an award on my blog but please do not feel obligated to do anything. You probably get a bunch of these MeMe's. I just wanted to give you some props. :)

http://themagicalmundane.blogspot.com/2009/12/honest-scrap.html

Jessica

Michigoose said...

Viven: isn't that the truth! I have to keep on saying the same to myself. I am very proud of the fact that yesterday, the quilt group was meeting at our quilt shop and I was fondling batiks and some other fabrics and was able to walk out of the shop without so much as purchasing a fat quarter. My stash of fabric is embarassing, even though some of it was purchased for failed schemes and in moments of weakness. I am hoping to to through that in the near future and sort it out!

Jessica: I am profoundly touched! On the contrary, I've never been nominated for a blog award! I'm also saddened about your loss, but I certainly understand. In the year after I finished my chemo treatment I couldn't bring myself to decorate a tree, yet Megster was only 5. I sat there looking at the tree which we had cut and couldn't do it. Finally, some friends came over and we had a party. I still sort of watched them do it (limited participation) but it was done and Meg did have a Christmas afterall.

If you go the Norfolk Island Pine route, please remember to water thoroughly when it needs watering, but don't over do it. Keep it from drafts. Don't let it go completely dry but don't sog it either. They are susceptible to spider mites if they get too try and will also lose their lower limbs. I've had several over the years and have raised them to 7 foot monsters which I would then have to give away.