Friday, July 30, 2010

Is Hoarding the Eighth Deadly Sin?

My relationship with books when we lived in Hudson,Ohio, circa 2007:

Lately, two themes are dominating my life, economy and simplicity. Illiterates and family members alike would say that I read to excess and acquire books like a redhead gets freckles. Every now and then without warning, there's a new crop.

Books were clogging up my life kind of like French fries clog up my pores (no matter what McDonald's publicists might say) and the heaviness I felt maintaining them took away the joy of reading them, not to mention the free time I would have were I not trying to organize books I own but have not yet had the opportunity to read.

The obvious answer was to get rid of three-quarters of my wardrobe, so I donated six garbage bags crammed full of clothes to Goodwill. None of my friends can believe it when I show them my winnowed closet. Men are particularly impressed. I have never gone naked even a day yet -- actually, the thought rarely even crosses my mind. I enjoy pointing that out.

With all this newly found space, I was able to convert half the closet into personal book shelves. (An added plus was that I could hide new purchases from those who might realize and object to them.) In a heartbeat, that space started to overflow, too. Our house was built in the 1960s and closets in this era house are not the same size as the kitchen. They are small because back in the 60s, all the builders were single guys so they didn't know how much closet space women wanted – that's just my guess.

At a yard sale, I splurged for a nightstand with shelving. When it too was bursting at the seams, I found a funky old basket and loaded it up. Part of my kitchen shelving was magically transformed into a home for most of my cookbooks.

When I started to stack piles of books around the house randomly, my son suggested that I fearlessly cull my collection. At first I thought he was a traitor but after he explained himself, I gave him credit for being the genius that he is. "What will happen if you have empty shelf space, Mom?" he prompted. Right! I will have space for more books - and no guilt! (Being guilt-free is becoming more and more attractive the older and closer to death I get.)

I set about the task of paring down my books. I had a little three-day garage sale then donated bags and bags and bags of books to the library. Then I went through the shelves again and gave fifty more to the Salvation Army. Wow, did it feel great! The burden was lifted and I felt physically lighter with this odious task behind me. Immediately I enjoyed the peace of being in my living room now that I could actually sit down.

Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before book piles started spreading like summer kudzu in Georgia, but for the moment we all reveled in the knowledge that folks who dropped by could actually come inside without danger of stumbling over a pile or two of books.

We all even knew the exact date that the parade of new books would occur. Our library book sales are the first Saturday and third Thursday of every month. Need I say more? Only dire circumstances keep me from attending a library sale. If blood is spurting from someone I really care about, I will detour to the emergency room but after the wounded have been cared for, we will stop at the library on the way home. This is a fact that surprises no one.

My salvation seemed like coincidence but was a simple answer to a heartfelt prayer. I stumbled upon a website where you can swap books! The idea is that you send books from your library to others who want them and then you can request books from someone else in an even one-to-one exchange. So, for every book I send out, I can get another one free! The key words in that last sentence are: send out. In order to receive, you have to give. This way, the books I've read can find new homes and I will have space to store the new ones. It's deceptively simple and economical, as well. All ya have to pay is the postage of the books you send out.

Media mail rates are a lot cheaper than a home addition.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mystery solved

Dear Carol,

I thoroughly enjoyed the article you sent me from the Cincinnati Enquirer entitled "Ohio Mason's Labor of Love." "So Old-Fashioned they're Trendy," a history of Graeter's ice cream was on the opposite page and that was good reading, too. Oh, and the comics were on the back page so I read them as well. Across from the comics was the puzzle page - Sukoku, which I did until I got it right, then both the beginner's and advanced crossword puzzles and the cryptoquip. They were all fun!

It's eleven-thirty in the morning and I'm not dressed, the bed's not made and Jer's on his way home for a lunch that isn't ready, but the up side is that I finally figured out why my first-grade teacher never checked the "stays on-task while working independently" box on my report card. 

Mystery solved!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daytime Nightmares

The cable installer guy said, "You have a lot of black widow spiders in your yard. Your cable box was full of 'em."

The meter reader said, "Don't worry about the black widows, worry about these brown recluse spiders. They're nasty."

The concrete repairman said, "Did you see the big snake in your driveway?"

The utilities man said, "The snakes don't bother me nearly as much as when a lizard drops out of the trees onto my head."

Turns out we've moved to phobia heaven.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Parenting Advice

The young mother posed the question, "When is a child old enough to go to the mall alone?"

My short answer, "Never."

Oh, and a word to the wise - it's safer to leave a two-year-old home alone than it is a sixteen-year-old.

Don't even bother to ask how I came to embrace this as truth. Clearly this isn't my first rodeo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Be careful!

My niece helped me empty the car when we arrived home. She was a big help and carried in several loads. 

Later I heard her talking to her friend:  "Aunt Chris gave me her beloved art supplies. I took in her computer. She even had me carry in a stained glass window. Then she gave me her salt and pepper shakers and she said, 'Be careful with these.'"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Good News, Grace.

Good news, Grace!

The "water" that you slipped in that we thought was sewage actually was water!

I arrived at this conclusion with the help of the utility guys who came and dug up our entire side yard to replace the sewer pipe only to find that it wasn't broken. They said they didn't even know that a water pipe ran down the hill and would come "some other time" to fix it.

So maybe you'll want to come back and visit after all?

American Roads

I just found out that in the United States of America, roads that run east to west are even numbered and those that run north and south are odd numbered. Wow! "Information I could have used yesterday!" (Adam Sandler, The Wedding Singer.) In my case, I could have enjoyed awareness of this tidbit for the decades I've been driving. Wonder why nobody ever mentioned it to me?

In an informal poll of three women, two did not know this and the third, when grilled, admitted that her husband told her. Every man I queried knew this and appeared stunned that I did not.

It's no secret that I am directionally handicapped. Not only do I not know north from south, I have to look at my wedding ring to determine left from right. Even clockwise/counter-clockwise have been known to give me grief, especially when playing games.

Once, in seventh grade, our school band went on a bus trip to a solo and ensemble festival. It was on this outing that I first realized I am directionally deficient. We had a couple of hours between when we performed and when we were to leave for home so we walked downtown to explore. We went into a store and when we emerged from it, I had no idea - none - which way to turn to go back to the school. Panic!! Lucky for me my friends knew. (Note to self: Always shop with a friend.)

To this day, when faced with a decision to turn left or right, I almost always will choose the wrong direction. It would be funny if it weren't so frustrating. I make the correct choice just often enough that I can't say "I think I should go right, so I probably should go left." I do better with the landmark system. "Go to the red barn and turn right. When you get to the lake, turn right again."

The best way by far for me to get from Point A to Point B is to let my husband drive. He never, never gets lost. If he goes to a city once, he will know how to navigate it sixteen years later. He is gifted, I am handicapped.

Opposites really do attract.