Hoarding #358

Here is a topic I keep on coming back to: hoarding.

Philosophers and other thinkers have contemplated life and death, ethics, the mind, emotions, historically just about every topic. And in my youth I probably fancied myself a philosopher with great and deep thoughts, especially when enhanced with a mind-altering influence.

So why do I sit here today and all I have are mundane problems and I can’t even come up with mundane solutions?

I’m cleaning out our shed (thanks Stephen for doing the heavy lifting and dirty work), and I look at this huge pile and contemplate. Left to my usual behavior I know the outcome. In no time everything is back in the shed with a little order, all the while feeling good that I’m accomplishing something.

In the end, there will be 2 boxes I recycle and some little stuff to be thrown away. In other words, nothing accomplished but I scared a few black widows for a change .

So I contemplate some more this time. I try the method of holding each object and seeing how I feel about it. Turns out I have feelings for my table saw.

So I contemplate some more. I look at these objects and their uses. I still think the table saw ranks high on that scale, too. But how about the wallpaper books?

What you don’t know: even before I turned 18 I came across this article in a magazine that showed how to make miniature scenes. Dollhouses you could call them, except they were grocery stores, fabric stores, etc. My heart longed to make these miniatures but my life had other ideas.

Many years ago a wallpaper store gave me their old books, including fabric sample books. So for years now I carry these around, or rather stand them in a corner of the shed. Because, one day I will make these miniature scenes. I did copy a whole book from the library, an out of print book, and before the internet, on how to make the structures themselves. I’m hoarding that, too.

Hier_Können_Kinder

First I waited for the kids to leave the house, check. Then I waited for retirement (I have no idea why I thought that one, having practically been retired all my life).

But since the kids left I immediately filled up every minute of my time with new projects. Never time for the ones I was hoarding saving.

Life is too exciting to limit myself. I get involved in more and more activities, just like the true gemini I am. Of course I might never get to those dollhouses, but can I really be sure, 100%? I won’t and can’t if those wallpaper books are gone, so back into the corner with you, perhaps this winter.

I’ve lost interest in other stuff I saved. Excited about them years ago, yawning now. But who knows, I might be jumping up and down one day rediscovering that stuff. I should let it go for now, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I can still maneuver through our house, so bite me.

What? No More Books?

OK, so here it is. I recommended a book on Facebook to someone and got pounced on.

The story started with a mom writing about creating a chart of chores for her kids involving bribery (her word, not mine). I understand, been there, done that. But then I remembered a pivitol book I read back when our kids were younger that caused me to abandon the gold stars for a while.

The book: Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards. It was eye-opening. All I would get from the kids with the gold star system would be compliance as long as the rewards kept coming. What i should hope for is a kid who wants to show certain behavior, deep down. Hmm.

Made total sense to me at the time. By now I’m probably misrepresenting Kohn’s ideas and have made them my own version, but they are ideas that have followed me through life.

I can pay people to do what I want, I can bribe them with stuff they want, I just have to keep dangling the rewards. I wanted more for my kids. For them to do and want what felt right, regardless of goodies.

So I was happy to point out that some people believe that this gold star or bribery system might have some drawbacks, and I recommended Kohn’s book. Here is the actual post: “re. bribery: perhaps worth looking into what alfie kohn said about this topic in punished by rewards.”

I was not prepared for the backlash. From ‘parenting books make me want to vomit’ to ‘too busy being a good mom to waste time reading books by people who don’t know my kids.’ Really?

Did these folks not read one pregnancy book either? It’s certainly the first thing I turned to when I found out I was pregnant. And not just because we lived a bit isolated in Italy. I wanted to know all the minutiae about pregnancy and delivery. No one’s word was good enough. I had to know it all. Of course we all read books that fit within our framework of beliefs, so it started out with Leboyer, Odent, Spiritual Midwifery, Immaculate Deception, etc. I bet you even recognize some names here.

So what’s with the new moms? No more knowledge from books? Just lore and myth and experience? How does one get from what is to what could be?

We ended up as unschoolers, with many books and newsletters by John Holt at our side and bedside. He was the one who recommended Alfie Kohn and others we read. It all fit so neatly with our beliefs, there was no hesitation: Should we, shouldn’t we?

I’m not talking self-help books, though we grasped for them in later teenage years. Mostly books that opened our minds to new ways of raising kids, believing in our kids. That can be difficult at times when society tries to tell you exactly how they should be, what movies they should watch, what games they should play, what clothes they should wear.

Books I remember: Free at Last – The Sudbury Valley School; Stories They’ll Remember – Frank LordGreenleaf – An Autobiography of a ChildAlfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards; John Holt’s Learning All the Time and How Children Fail, etc., and on and on. All books that had a profound impact on me as a parent. The most important aspect though was not the question am I doing it right or wrong, but the question is my kid OK.

books

Children are all so different that one needs to keep on having faith in them and believing in them and supporting them, no matter how crazy it gets at times. No, I’m not writing my own book here or advising, that’s just what I felt. And at times I was good at it and other times a miserable failure. Then I would pick up a book and recover my faith.

Perhaps parents nowadays are not faced with such doubts as I was. Books are unnecessary because they know it all already or don’t want to know. Strange as this seems to me, I have to accept that the world might be changing and maybe books on children and parents are part of the past.

John Holt et al., I appreciate you took the time to write and open my eyes to a larger world and to my children. You made us part of a bigger movement that is still going strong. And I’m grateful to have been there almost at the beginning and able to contribute.

We learn from each other and we learn from books and we learn from life and our mistakes and successes. We should never shut out any source of information, no matter what aspect of life. A good thing that we get to pick and choose and have our opinions on what we read and hear and see. But quit reading? Never!

Names

I’ve been called many names in my life. My favorite: alien. My least favorite: illegitimate.

When the kids were little and I got to tell them that their mom was an alien and had proof in the form of a government card, it made my day. Let’s hope they let me be an alien for the rest of my life.

But it’s the least favorite that left some scars. Born out of wedlock or illegitimate in a small German village left a stigma with consequences I didn’t realize at the time. Certain kids were not allowed to associate with me, perhaps they thought illegitimacy was contagious.

So when one day a classmate approached and wanted my company and advice I felt flattered. Me? Little wee me? The outcast? Yes.

Since I lived next to a kitchen and knickknack store and she was searching for a present for her mom, she enlisted me to help pick it out. I was exhilarated.

It seemed like hours we were in that store, looking at every single item. Every choice I suggested was met with a: no, not the right thing. Eventually the store closed and we had to leave empty-handed. I felt sad that I failed her.

She left for home, and within minutes the shop owner rang our doorbell. I was dumbstruck when they accused me of theft in front of my grandmother. Yes, of course I had been to the store, duh. But i certainly didn’t steal a thing. It felt so weird, I started laughing and have never forgiven myself for that response as I thought now for sure I’d made myself look guilty. Perhaps I laughed because I didn’t want to cry. Or about the absurdity of the situation.

I had nothing to hide and nowhere to hide anything. I didn’t even have my own room but had to sleep in a room with my grandmother.

I was played. And well. All out of my feelings of inferiority. And perhaps that’s where my sense of justice was born. Thanks for that.

Computers and Denver and Being Back

My first world problem this fall: my computer. Great iMac I had inherited from Stephen, huge screen, fast and shiny, but started having graphic card trouble. A known issue for this particular computer. Sigh, macs are not what they used to be, or did they just fall off my pedestal?

Repair, right?! At the tune of hundreds of dollars, something like $600, it seemed more prudent to invest into a new computer. Did I mention first world problem?

Finally the macbook pro joined our family, loves traveling with us, and has shown to be effective and efficient for me and Stephen working on the road.

So what’s been happening over here? A trip to visit daughter in Denver and my first snow experience of the year. Did it have to be a blizzard that delayed our flight for a day? But a nice walk in her Denver neighborhood (Highlands), getting some food and wine and enjoying and celebrating the extra day. There might have been boardgames involved too, or was that a crossword puzzle? I do remember Stephen ending up on the floor in their fixer upper chair:

DSC_0041

Since Liana is getting married next year they took us to their wedding venue and the restaurant that will do the catering. The restaurant was featured on one of the Man vs. Food episodes, no, this will not be the theme of the wedding.

Here are some pictures of the venue out in the country:

DSC_0032 DSC_0033

Yes, it did get a bit silly!

Back home, Daisy was not doing so well. She has slowed down in the last months, but now she was super slow, enough for us to take her to the vet. Turns out she has a collapsed disk in her spine. Pain is what slowed her. She is on meds and doing better, on today’s walk she even felt young enough to dance around a dog she wanted to play with. If you know Daisy you know how extremely rare such a reaction is.

I don’t really want her to run too much. It can’t be that good for the disk. But pain is under control apparently. She also gets to claim as much bed as she wants during the night. This actually has gotten out of hand, Stephen and I combined have less space than Daisy has.

On the knitting front, I’ve ordered some yarn, but you’ll have to wait until it arrives to get a peek at it. No yarn from Denver, not even a yarn store. There used to be one around the corner from Liana, but it moved. This made our vacation much cheaper, of course.

They do have a game store relatively close, and I got them Agricola. Though I love the game I made a fatal mistake that had me in a position with no chance in hell to get caught up. I tried to get out of the game and do something else, but pressure from the other players kept me prisoner. I did random moves with eyes closed, or tried to sabotage others’ moves. I still love the game, but that particular experience was a drag.

In the meantime while in Denver, a game arrived in the mail: Castles of Burgundy. A few weeks later and we haven’t played it yet. Thanksgiving really got in the way. And my old brain power that is not so keen on reading rules anymore, or rather understanding them. What? Turn to page 8 to see details? There is a page 8 in the rules? That used to be fun, not anymore.

Thanksgiving went well with some unpleasant surprises, but we’ll overlook those since most of my life we’ve had great Thanksgivings to look back on. The food was good, and all vegan!

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Back?

This has been the toughest New Year yet. On day three I started what I thought was a cold, but who really knows, and it is still haunting me. Now my bet is on allergies. After the big rain we’ve had here it should get better, right?

There was nothing to do for me as I was sniffling through the day, but knit and listen to Serial the podcast and stream Netflix. If you’re one of the 5 people who have not listened to the podcast, well, do as you like, I’m not going to recommend it, though I’m glad to be in the know.

Netflix just streamed by or through me or past me, I remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

I am obsessed with Asaf Avidan. Sure to get tired of him pretty soon as his songs all seem to derive from the same place, I still recommend a listen. Don’t be frightened by his voice, it can grow on you and he sure knows how to use it. And here it is, I have a weakness for male high voices, and he plays on that. A youtube where you can see and listen to him, a click away.

And if you want more of him, check out the NPR tiny desk concert. If you really want to indulge, do so here.

The knitting has not brought much joy. No excitement, but comfort. A few hats, fingerless mittens, socks, and finishing started projects.

DSC_0001

A photo from a niece in Germany inspired this little cowl. I bet it also could be used by a dog instead of a bandana that some people think makes their dog look super-cool. The pattern called Scallo-Pie is free and from one of my favorite designers: Martina Behm.

DSC_0005

The photos below finally show the finished products. Took me long enough to finish. Some projects have that effect on me. And after a certain amount of time working on such items it should be enough and it should finish itself. Somehow I get no special pleasure or gratification in completion. That gets me into trouble around the house. Every room has a project started and not finished. Don’t ask why but around 10 years ago I thought I could put in my own floors and did. But did I finish the baseboard or the last few boards? Noooooooooo. Yes, there are excuses. I had no saw to cut the boards to size. Now that I do, I’m used to the look and doubt I could master this finishing anyway.

DSC_0008 DSC_0010

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings (or not)

The arbitrary saying goodbye to a whole year last night had me wondering about a lot of stuff. But that’s the idea, right? Reflection?

First reflection: why a year? we could celebrate the end of every month, the end of every week, the end of every day, the end of every hour, the end of every minute, the end of every second, the end of every moment.

Second reflection: Perhaps it makes more sense to celebrate the beginning of every year, the beginning of every month, the beginning of every day, the beginning of every hour, the beginning of every minute, the beginning of every second, the beginning of every moment.

Third reflection: Perhaps we should just celebrate life! I guess I’m not that original.

Yes I do have resolutions, which is kind of stupid because I can decide at any moment to change to a better me. That’s what it’s about, right? To be a better person? Or are there people out there whose resolutions are: this year I’ll flip off every driver that takes my right-of-way; this year I’ll hurt at least one person a week; this year I’ll be greedier….

The shininess of the new year wears off pretty quickly. Just like, despite a new notebook at the beginning of the semester, we may lose our excitement and best intentions and all within days.

So any resolution needs to be supported by higher motives. To stand a chance, resolutions have to be unrelated to time. They can be made at any time of year; they’re their own beginnings.

I’m looking back and feel like the guy at the christmas market who said: same shit as last year. Was last year any different from all the others? There were good and bad times. New friends and losing old ones. You know, same shit….

I expect nothing else from this year. Except for 12 pairs of socks by the December holidays. One a month? I don’t care as long as there will be 12, or enough for presents.

Stitches West is coming up in February. I’m hoping to live long enough to indulge at the marketplace there. And then live long enough to use it all up. But that is fantasy as I’ve achieved sable (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy). But a girl can hope. At least I would like to knit more, if that is even possible.

 

Fourth reflection: I’ve already lost at being who I would like to be in the new year. Go back to bed Marianna, really, or start knitting those socks. I made pancakes this morning, long story, we don’t usually eat those. But I had all the fixings and never made them while visitors were here. So we ate them all. ALL! I feel like it’s Thanksgiving.

Let me share a recipe. Not very original because it started out in a cookbook and then got refined. Take some ricotta cheese and then add some citrus zest; I used oranges. Prepare your favorite pancake recipe or mix and then gently add the ricotta mixture. Fry ’em up. I happened to notice the Kahlua bottle out from truffle-making and added a bit to the mix. A little maple syrup on top, and your new year’s resolution will be totally ruined. And you can go forth and eat whatever you want for the rest of the year, because anything has to be better than that.

Here is what’s important for knitting socks: nice colorful yarn in winter, the signature needles, remote and sound to knit to, a candle or more in winter.

DSC_0001

We’ve had a wonderful holiday season this year. A constant go-go-go. I’ll leave you with the photos.

DSC_0007 DSC_0008

DSC_0001 DSC_0002

 

Last Night of Hanukkah

Let me start with the …

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candle(s) of [check below to see what night(s) and word(s) apply, depending on the night]. May [repeat the names associated with the candle(s)] burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

Peace and Justice: Shammash (9th candle, lit every day)

1st night: Respect
2nd night: Love
3rd night: Compassion & Empathy
4th night: Connection & Kinship
5th night: Enlightenment & Consciousness
6th night: Liberation & Freedom
7th night: Gentleness
8th night: Harmony & Cooperation

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

********

A day late during a very, very busy holiday season for me, with dinners or brunches almost every day. Now we’ll finally get to the holiday drawing….

Though it has been busy, it also has been lots of fun. Starting with getting to know Steve’s parents. Steve is our daughter Liana’s boyfriend. Having both of our kids and their partners and parents around for get-togethers has made for lots of laughing and drinking and eating. And we’re not done yet. One more brunch and dinner and I will not step into my kitchen for a while. Except to grab leftovers from the fridge.

Knitting will become my main activity again. Remember Liana’s sweater I need to frog (unravel)? It’ll hurt but be so worth it. She says it’s ok being a little big, but, nah, it has to be perfect. I have many winter months left.

So let me hop over to the random number generator and see who will get an extra present this season.

The envelopes, please:

Almond chocolate bark. Ta-Da! Dawn

Chocolate truffles. Ta-Da! Cindy

The Cowl. Ta-Da! Cereza

Happy Hanukkah – 4th Night

Not much to report here, actually not much time for writing. Last minute vacuuming done, all spices and foods packed so I can do a brunch tomorrow morning for the Bay Area family. Presents wrapped and ready for delivery.

While cleaning up, I noticed we’ve received only one holiday card. Stephen and I disagree about whether to display the thing or not. Of course we don’t write cards anymore, a story I will let you in on soon. But it looks so cheesy only having one card. Then again, the card comes from very important people: Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter. Perhaps we can impress the holiday guests with it.

Your Ta-Da! Moment: It’s Janie who won the 2 truffles today.

Lighting of the Candles

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Connection and Kinship, Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May connection and kinship, compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 3rd Night

I lied. All this time I was under the mistaken impression that Christmas Eve and the last night of Hanukkah collided this year. Not so. High School algebra was of no use to me after all. Eventually I would have figured this out. It would have been a clue when the candles ran out.

This might be a good thing, now we get to celebrate 9 nights in a row.

I’ve cleaning news and progress to report, but that’s boring. I’ve let go of a lot of cleaning. The basics are done and we all will have to live with what didn’t. There were no plans to eat off the floor anyway.

Let’s get right to the Ta-Da Moment! Barbara Sue, it’s you for the 2 truffles.

And for the Lighting of the candles tonight:

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Compassion and Empathy, Love, and Respect. May compassion and empathy, love, and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission, and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth, and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious, and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.

Happy Hanukkah – 2nd Night

Last night Stephen picked up a book I had on hold at the library: The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. I read late into the wee hours and finished this morning. Obviously I recommend the book. Nothing earthshaking, but a good read.

Finished some more truffle orders and other than that this day was pretty uneventful. Tonight will be more exciting as we’re invited to dinner.

The winner selected by the random number generator for 2 chocolate truffles is: Debbie! Ta-da!

This being the second night of Hanukkah, here is the “prayer” to go with the lighting of the candles. Every night we add another named candle. Yesterday it was Respect, tonight it’s Love.

Written by Ellen Bring and adapted by us:

With this candle of Peace and Justice, tonight, we light the candles of Love and Respect. May love and respect burn brightly in our hearts and manifest in our daily lives.

In this time of the miracle of Light, let the message, the mission and the action be enlightenment. May humans open their hearts and immediately cease their war against other animals, Mother Earth and each other. May we cease our ignorant, arrogant, unconscious and violent ways, and become our highest selves, filled with love and respect for all who are here, committed to gentle coexistence with Mother Earth.

May those beings who are suffering be released from their pain and terror.

May those beings who are unjustly imprisoned and enslaved be freed and unshackled.

May those beings who are anxious and scared know peace and courage.

May those beings who are cold and hungry know warmth and plenty.

May those beings who are lonely and depressed know love and joy.

May those beings who are lost and abandoned be found and loved.

May the waters run pure and free; the flowers bloom; the trees grow old; and the Earth renew and reclaim herself.

May the Light of the universe shine upon everyone and everything, and through everyone and everything, so that all beings experience their highest, truest selves.

May kinship with all life blossom and flourish in our hearts, and may peace and justice for all living beings and things be now.