Friday, October 12, 2007

Less Stuff

We’ve been getting rid of things. It’s always harder than you expect, especially if you’re at all sentimental or have pack-rat tendencies. Both terms fit me. And, surprisingly, my husband falls into those categories as well. Never thought I’d marry another pack-rat.

Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step towards solving it. So this past year we’ve been going through old boxes of stuff; old clothes, old papers, old photos, books, old school work. And then there are the odds and ends of computer paraphernalia and electronic trinkets, like obsolete computer towers and keyboards, a parallel port flatbed scanner, various cables, multiple-end jacks, a headset for verbal IM-ing, floppy disks, a top-of-monitor webcam w/ cables and software, old games I never play. Some of these things I don’t want to put out on garbage day – there are hazardous materials in there. I know there are organizations in town that take them and remove the bad stuff, but that means I need to find the business card I picked up from a booth on Earth Day. I know it’s around here somewhere….

We really have made progress, thank goodness! Our bedroom is actually pretty big, but until recently almost half of it was taken up with boxes of stuff I packed up before I went to Korea in July ’02! I’ve lived in this house since April ’05, and still haven’t unpacked everything. Partly because my husband has had to get rid of some of his things so I’d have room to put mine away, and partly because going through all that old stuff is NOT a job I’ve been looking forward to. He’s been steadily throwing away his old stuff for the past year, and has made great progress. Now it’s my turn.

Last weekend I went through four or five boxes of old clothes, old papers and old computer stuff. When you haven’t seen something for two years and haven’t missed it, it’s not hard to give away or toss – unless there’s some sentimental value to it. Those are the things that make the entire process difficult.

Reducing our ‘stuff’ quotient is something both of us feel pretty strongly about. We both prefer open space and clear surfaces in our home, and at the same time, we both have a fair amount of dust collectors. Nice things, to be sure, things that mean something to us, but needless to say our rooms are not as open and surfaces not as clear as we’d like.

This desire for fewer possessions goes along with the rest of the way we try to live. Naturally, as with most people, we don’t always live up to our own ideals, but we continue to work at it. And that’s the important thing. Heard an interesting piece on NPR yesterday about a similar topic:

We’ll keep chipping away at the stuff, and recycle when we can.

Less is the new more.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Getting ready for colder weather

Here we are, first week of October, and the day's high was only in the upper 40’s. No frost yet, but that’s bound to happen soon. Usually by Halloween we’ve had at least one frost. Over the weekend 2-3 inches of snow fell at Brundage, and there’s visible snow on the Boise mountains to the north and the Owyhees to the south.

Our dance group agreed to do a performance along the route of the Leukemia Fund-raising Walk tonight. It’s only going to be in the mid 50’s, with scattered rain. Lucky us. The organizers have lined up all kinds of entertainment groups to keep people’s spirits up along the walk, which starts at 7pm. So we wait until we see the whites of the walkers’ eyes before we start dancing. It’s going to be dark by then anyway. Just as well we’re wearing white dresses! Thank goodness it’s only a couple dances, then we can pack up and leave. We might have to thaw ourselves out in the bar at a nearby restaurant!

In spite of the weather, my tomatoes are still going, the beans are still producing, and there are even late raspberries. I pulled out the last of the beets on Sunday and baked them. They were amazing! We ate two or three of them right away. I froze the rest in bags for making soup later. Soon the gourd plants will get frosted and we can collect the gourds for drying. A few are impressively large – one’s as big as a beach ball. The potatoes should be dug up soon as well.

The ducks and chickens take their egg-laying cues from the length of the days. The ducks have already stopped. The chickens are still laying, but since we let them out to roam the property back in mid-summer, they’ve quit laying in their coop. So it’s much harder to find the eggs. Now I know where Easter egg hunts came from! Back when most chickens roamed the farmyard, I imagine people had to listen for “I just laid an egg” sounds in the Spring and start looking. I heard the first hen this past Spring. At least then it was in the coop. Now we have to search in the wild roses, under the junipers, and other rough areas where I don’t garden :-).

Aphids attacked the zucchini plant. This was hugely popular with the local ladybugs. They laid eggs and we had tons of ladybug larvae feasting on the aphids. The aphids pretty much killed the zucchini anyway, but that’s ok. We got plenty of squash from it. So much that we couldn’t eat it all or give it away. I had to grate a bunch of them to freeze for making zucchini bread later. Now I’m wondering if I should move the zucchini plant or if the ladybugs are going to hibernate there. Probably should move it soon if I’m going to. I’d hate to disturb them after they’d really settled in.

Not a lot happened this past week. We spent most of Sunday going through storage boxes and throwing stuff out. We all managed to put a good chunk of old clothing in the donate pile, and hubby nipped off with it right away so no one could have second thoughts. I still have a bunch of t-shirts that have been packed away for three years. I haven’t missed them at all, but just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them. Perhaps once I try to find space for them I’ll get more heartless. It’s past time to switch out the summer and winter clothing. I’ll try to do that this coming weekend. It’s hard sometimes to decide what to leave out during the winter. No matter how cold it is outside, you don’t want to be wearing a sweater at a dance. So I have to remember to leave out the t-shirts that match my skirts or I’m constantly searching through the summer clothes boxes.

Happy Columbus Day, and happy Autumn to you all.