Sunday, December 12, 2010

Being of service and connecting with others


Yesterday was a bi-monthly outing for me and a dear old lady friend.  We re-connected a year ago after a twenty-year separation due to my demanding family life and life challenges in general.

For the past year, I have been making dates to take her out to accessible restaurants and events.  Even at her ripe old age (which she will not elucidate), she enjoys going to new places and trying new things.  When I remember to bring a camera o_O, I make sure to take photographs so that she will have something to remind her of the event. 

Being with her, walking on the street and weaving our way through store aisles provides me with a reminder to slow down my pace, to practice patience and maintain respect for our elders.  I have seen strangers' faces soften as I smile at them while helping her with groceries as she stands in the middle of the aisle, deciding which bunch of broccoli to pick or "... where is that milk - you know, the one with the little cap that makes it easier for me to open?".  It's like we've come full-circle from the innocent observations and endless energy of children to the frail, polite and slightly confused state of our seniors. 

This holiday season provides us with opportunities to re-connect with family, old friends and former co-workers.  As we dine out and share in good cheer, I think that it also provides us with an opportunity to connect with the people who serve our drinks and meals.  If the service was good and polite, remember to leave a big tip.  Make someone's day.

Still on this line of thought, I wanted to share an interesting story I caught in one of the tech feeds this past week.  You may have already seen on Daily Planet and other TV shows, about robots being tested in Japan and China.  They are being used to care for seniors and even serve hungry multitudes in restaurants. 

Robots wait on you in this Chinese restaurant
by Juniper Foo
CNET News
December 9, 2010 11:30 AM PST

Snippet:

"China is turning out to be the new Japan, judging by all the cool tech stuff it's turning out, including, now, robot waiters. Sign of the times? At China's new Dalu Rebot (sic) restaurant in Jinan, patrons are greeted by two robot receptionists and attended by six robo-waiters (and no, they don't accept tips)."

Full article: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20025188-1.html

As an IT worker and forward thinker, I am in favour of efficiencies that technology can provide.  I do caution though that if it is not used wisely, it could create a cold, impersonal world. 

Permit me to lead you to an excerpt of my hopeful novel where ten year-old Sera discovers something new at the Red Hare, a family restaurant run by family friends.  In it, she rediscovers a place of comfort and warmth.

http://novel-yotr.blogspot.com/2010/12/red-hare-family-restaurant.html

Thanks for reading this far!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blonde quote about temptation

"I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it."
 Attributed to Mae West

Thanks to Paulo Coelho who listed some of Mae's quotes in his Character of the Week blog posts:  http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/12/05/character-of-the-week-mae-west/

From what I have read so far on Wikipedia, I am impressed with her talents.  She seemed like quite the sharp-witted, outspoken and creative woman who moved to Hollywood to become a comedienne, actress and writer.  I am too young to have been exposed to and influenced by her work.  There's still time, I guess ;-^

According to one of her quotes though, she was not a natural blonde.  Apparently, someone wrote a play in honour of one of her dirty blonde quotes

And finally, one that caught my attention:
"I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing."

Be your own real thing, ladies.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cute Tiny Houses

I caught this in one of my tech rss feeds a few weeks ago.  

"Started by Jay Shafer, who began living in a 75-square-foot house in 1997, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses specializes in designing homes that are both functional and highly efficient. Sized between 65 and 837 square feet, the homes are meant to be affordable while emphasizing the need for organization and minimalism."  


I really like how he made space for the necessities like the tiny wardrobe closet, the pots on kitchen walls and even the composting toilets.

"While many of the Tiny Houses are actually "tiny" and are geared toward single people, some are meant for couples, or even families. But all are meant to be very space efficient."

I could see these being good for newlyweds (for snuggling) or empty nesters (for less places to lose things) but they don't seem very practical for families.  

Where would one put all of her books?  Or wine? 

Visit Tumbleweed Houses
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I love quotations because...

"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself."

Attributed to Marlene Dietrich in one of those online "quotes of the day" services
.

I love this quote because... its words express thoughts that I could not ;-^ 

Marlene seemed like a classy lady - and blonde for most of her career.  I'm curious to watch Blonde Venus now...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Spirituality of Wine

I like wine.  Don't go thinking I drink a lot of it though.  Like many people, I enjoy raising a glass with family and friends while dining or sharing in a celebration.  It aids with the digestion and helps one relax after a long, hard day. 

"Wine is a magician, for it loosens the tongue and liberates good stories." Homer

I am enjoying Tom Harpur's book "The Spirituality of Wine".  It's a nice, light read for the public transit commute along the Ottawa River Parkway.  It's also educational and contains colourful pictures :0)  The only problem is its size and that I have to scrunch up with it in my arms so as to not crowd my seat companions.  It was likely meant to be more of a coffee table book...

Harpur also provides quotes throughout the book.  My favourite so far is attributed to Julia Child:  "Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives.  Its life cycle comprises youth, maturity, old age, and death.  When not treated with reasonable respect it will sicken and die."

In my hopeful novel, Year of the Rabbit, wine appears often throughout the story.  It represents craftsmanship, celebration and patience.  Giovanni's family comes from a long line of vintners.  Although estranged from them for many years, he did not forget the significance of their craft.  You can read an excerpt from Chapter 12 at this page

The Spirituality of Wine
2004, Northstone Publishing
http://www.tomharpur.com/books/books_thespiritualityofwine.asp

I have also read and blogged about Tom Harpur's THE PAGAN CHRIST: Rediscovering the Lost Light.  Very interesting...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On Bullying and invasion of privacy

Thank you to one of my favourite TV blonds, Ellen DeGeneres.  Thank you for speaking out about bullying and the impact it can have on teens.


I was sad and angry to hear the news about Tyler Clementi's suicidal death.  I am sad to hear about how and why he took his life.  I am angry at the low-life who took pleasure in spying on him, invading his privacy then posting a video online.  What scum bags.


This situation could apply to any individual who is member of any age group or sexual orientation.  It is one thing to willingly post your own photographs, videos (and deep thoughts) online.  It is a horrible thing to invade someone's privacy, to expose and mock them in a public forum.  

I will light a candle for Tyler.  I hope the two f*ck-ups who did this will pay for their crime - big time.

October is my second-favourite month


I think that after May, October is one of my favourite months.  The weather is more bearable now that I seem to encounter more hot flashes, beginning my adventures with the big "M".  The trees are beautiful with their colourful displays.  Thanksgiving approaches with celebration of the harvest and time to share a feast with family and friends. 

Then there's Halloween.  It's not the same as it was when I was a kid.  We used to walk all over town in a quest to fill our pillow cases with all kinds of salty and sugary snacks.  We made a decent effort to fashion a costume before daring to knock on someone's door and demanding treats.  

Once we arrived home, there was the fun task of taking inventory, sorting by category or trade value. Yes, our parents and older siblings made sure to check for any questionable looking contents.  Those well-meaning people who prepared popcorn balls and other homemade treats didn't have a chance compared to the hermetically sealed, store-bought ones.  Sad, really...

To eleven year-old Sera (a character in my hopeful novel) Halloween was one of her favourite occasions.  Although Halloween served as an unwelcome bridge between carefree outdoor summer play and chilly days of the approaching winter, this year was exceptionally exciting because Aunt Georgette was still staying with them.  To make things more exciting, she and Marie were sewing a witch's costume for Sera.  Sadly, it was to be the same night that her best friend is spirited away. 

Read an excerpt from the novel here:  http://novel-yotr.blogspot.com/2010/10/halloween-night-sera-loses-her-friend.html

Saturday, September 11, 2010

One less chair

Well, we will have one less chair to move with us next summer. 

Youngest sprout applied too much force to the swivel office / computer chair's five feet while straddling it backwards the other day, waiting for colour printouts so he could personalize his locker for the new school year.  (I nearly freaked when he told me how many pages he was printing!)

Due to the plastic structure of the bottom, it would have been very difficult to repair. Instead of putting the broken chair in the trash pile last night, he decided he wanted to dissemble it and learn about the hydraulics mechanism.  I suppose we can put a positive spin on this loss as becoming a learning experience

As part of my down-sizing project, I am resisting any new furniture purchases.  Meanwhile, those of us who need to sit at the computer for long periods have the choice to do so on a hard, wooden dining chair with or without a cushion.  Some of us have plenty of built-in support ;-^  Another positive spin would be the opportunity to get up more often to stretch and move around.

There's often a plus side...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Floods of human emotion

As I watch TV or read about current world events, it seems trivial to blog about my downsizing and de-cluttering project when I see people who have suddenly lost everything they own due to flooding in Pakistan. 

They have lost their homes, livelihoods, farmland and sentimental possessions.  They have even lost family and friends.  I cannot bear to watch the news.  The visuals are disturbing especially those of children needing the basics of life. 

Even with apprehension, wondering if the money, food, shelter and medical aid will reach those who really need it, I have been compelled to donate what I could muster up. 

Sitting in the comfort of my own home - humble as it may seem - I cannot turn away from this huge humanitarian challenge - and opportunity.  In five or ten years, I would want to hear stories from survivors - especially children -  that they were not abandoned by the seemingly "Evil West".  I would want to hear young men and women, educated with compassion and reason speak respectfully about their ability to overcome with the help of their fellow "man". 


CBC.ca Pakistan donation deadline nears
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/09/09/toronto-pakistan-flood-donations.html

Friday, September 3, 2010

What are the benefits of racing?

I am not a fan of races, especially those that burn fuel, make excessive noise, contribute to landfill and disrupt our natural environment.  Of course, I understand the need for emergency vehicles to reach those in distress in good time. My life was gratefully saved in one circumstance. 

What is it with our competitive nature, to rush to the end?  What is the thrill? What is the benefit? 

Readers are invited to comment and list benefits of motorized racing.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Online gambling doesn't make sense to me

I personally am not a fan of gambling.  Casinos seem to me high consumers of energy and valuable resources.  Their services and attractions seem to be predators on human weaknesses and addictive behaviours. 

I really don't see the attraction or benefit of online gambling and am wary of our provincial governments supporting these activities. 

Big sigh...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forever fashion is just so relevant now

Here's a good little article I tripped upon at Yahoo Lifestyles.

Fashion goes back to the future
By Tracy Nesdoly

http://ca.lifestyle.yahoo.com/fashion-beauty/articles/archive/yahoolifestyle/yahoolifestyle-fashion_goes_back_to_the_future

I like to think I'm half-way ahead of the game with the list of suggested items :-)  although I wouldn't spend $1,500 for a trench coat. 

As for care and durability, show me something I can wash at least on the gentle cycle, tumble dry lightly then hang to dry.  Ironing?  Are you kidding?  Only on very rare, special occasions!

I agree with comments about the fashion industry, like, it's in "their best interest to change styles or even details in order to get people to buy them".  See my recent rant about python prints

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fair giving for healthy living


I was impressed by recent news stories about super-rich people dabbling in philanthropy.  Let us watch with interest this endeavour's progress.  Perhaps it will prolong or prevent a revolution of the classes, especially with the U.S. embroiled over the push to extend tax cuts for the rich.  Are they serious? 
 
We wouldn't want to see a Canadian billionaire's hard-earned money thrown at a cause whose organizers take a big chunk for administrative costs and CEO salaries.  Would the list of willing contributors donate to causes that have higher profiles and offer luxurious lottery gifts or consider something down-to-earth - something long-lasting?  

By no means should we guilt them into giving.  It should be done willingly.  Though instead of starting another foundation and hiring old cronies or having your name plastered on yet another Cancer research centre, how about investing in safer food, sustainable farming and clean water supplies?  How about decent shelter and safe, healthy recreation for young people?  How about affordable education and meaningful work projects?  Could this quirky approach reduce the number of illnesses and level of crime that may creep up in twenty or thirty years?  But that's not as immediate and sadly, doesn't seem as glamorous to our adolescent mentality.

On a local and personal note, I would like to see landlords resist the opportunity to raise rents above the legal guideline for the second year in a row since they managed to get approval by the provincial body involved. I shake my blonde head when I hear about rich family members competing to see who can give more to a local charity when they could consider offsetting the rent that their tenants pay. 

Let's close this rant with a link to a recent news story on a cancer death rate study.  This likely could apply to any debilitating disease - physical and mental.  If a person stresses and worries that she can barely afford to pay rent and put food on the table for her family, what are the chances that one day, she will be able to afford the medication and treatment that could prevent her early demise? What if we could reduce the chances of the illness even happening?

Food for thought.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Forward s/ash

In my many years working as an IT support person, I have encountered frequent opportunities to help users understand the difference between a forward slash "/" and a back slash "\".  By default, "slash" usually refers to the forward slash.

The best analogy I can give is that the forward slash /  is used in web site addresses i.e. http://www.deepblondethoughts.ca.  It's forward looking.  It represents progress, leaning forward in a society of left to right directional readers and writers.

The back slash \ is used in boring old Windows PC DOS path names such as c:\my documents. 

Recently I listened in horror to an advertisement on a local soft rock radio station.  The announcer incorrectly stated the company's web site address by using "http, colon, back slash, back slash, www.  - blah, blah".  

Did they NOT have someone edit their ad copy?  Do they not have someone on staff to pick up on and correct technical terminology?  Maybe they did it on purpose to get a rise out of keyboard and web purists?  Well it worked but unfortunately for them, I don't recall what the ad was about!


Moving forward...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What's with these python prints?

While passing by store windows recently, I noticed these weird, creepy designs on clothing.  It seems the newest fad for Fall fashion is python print on ladies shirts and jackets.  Euwww! 

Okay... it's one kinky thing to have reptilian prints on purses, shoes and belts but on your torso, your main body area?  Should I be content that it's only a print and not the real thing?  Should I be relieved now that the leopard skin fad is over?  

If I manage to afford a few new fall and winter outfits this year, I know what will NOT be on my list.  I would prefer to own something that will last at least three years and not be "out of fashion" the next time I sort out my closet. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ah, the musical cloistered life...

Cloistered nuns cinch record deal    
From CBC.ca July 25, 2010

French Benedictines to record Gregorian chant for British label

"When you hear the sound of nuns chanting, it's like an immediate escape from the challenges, stresses, pace and noise of modern living," noted Lewis back in March when Decca, an arm of Universal Music, posted the search notice.

"This is a sound of something ancient, unchanging and timeless."

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/story/2010/07/25/nuns-record-chant.html 

This would make a nice gift - for me :-)  I would love to listen to the CD (or MP3...) while taking time out and reading sections from Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr.  I acquired my copy at the Blessing Tree Bookstore during a writers' retreat last year. It surely has helped get me through some demanding days. 

Thoughts on Monogamy

I have to give a blonde nod to Cameron Diaz.  In a recent interview, she pretty well summed up my thoughts on monogamy and relationships.  

I would take it even a bit further by establishing one to five year contracts instead of "forever and ever bwhahaha!".  Think of it as a performance review based on established objectives, expectations and accomplishments. 

Honestly, I don't think human animals are wired to withstand a life-long commitment to just one person.  There may be rare exceptions but I wouldn't want to see one person or both people in a relationship "sticking it out" due to social, cultural or religious obligations.  I do not condone promiscuous behaviour either. This view is supported by Georgette, a strong female character in my forthcoming novel.  

There are exceptions where children are involved and need a stable, nurturing home life - especially in their early years.  Staying in a relationship where there is a lack of respect and agreement for counselling can cause mental health issues and occasionally, physical harm.  Been there, done that and almost wrote the book.  

In many cases, there are also financial obstacles where it is nearly impossible for a household to split up and both maintain affordable lifestyles.  

People have to think long and hard before they commit to starting a family.  If they cannot agree to a respectful, amicable separation there will eventually be the need for lawyers - and we all know it's the lawyers who end up getting rich...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top 10 tips for downsizing

I found this while sipping the first cup of coffee and skimming news sites this morning (okay, MSN has news and celebrity gossip...)

"Cut out the unnecessary before you move to a smaller home."

Good tips.  I chuckled though when they suggested to start three months before your move.  I guess that's good advice if it's just you and your own baggage. 

Details at: 
http://yourmoney.ca/real_estate/top_10_tips_for_downsizing/0c91c32c  which eventually leads to the source article at http://www.styleathome.com/homes/real-estate/top-10-tips-for-downsizing/a/308

I am giving our household more than twelve months due to other commitments and projects on the go.  One young person has one more year of university (insert glowing pride :-) here).  The others are still working out their paths. 

I find it interesting as we go through the seasons, identifying things that we don't use (umm, treadmill, de-humidifier anyone?) and things we likely won't use or need after our move (snow shovels, gardening shovels, rakes, buckets, etc.). 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

theoretical physics

Prof. Stephen Hawking will visit the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, ON, this summer to conduct scientific research and participate in a televised outreach event.

I plan to watch at least one of the events. It will be a good distraction from the mundane.   

Special televised lecture on TVO airs Sunday, June 20 2010 at 8:00PM

I find this stuff incredibly interesting.  I sure hope they have sub-titles or a lay-speak interpreter ;-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Proliferation of Personal Care Products


When you share two bathrooms with three young people, you're going to see an increased variety of toiletries / personal care products.  It's a challenging task, organizing bottles and containers on limited counter space or assigning them to baskets and boxes.  One person has been asked to keep her items in her room.

We use many different kinds of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorants, etc..   Of course, if certain people (a-hem) would just agree to get a hair cut, they wouldn't need all those special conditioners and de-tanglers.  Nice try Mom...

Then there are those sample packs of lotions or shampoos included in magazines or  wrapped in with other products.  I haven't even used some that have been stashed for years.  I assume that they have either degraded or fermented by now. 

In addition to the growing clutter, another concern I have is the safety of ingredients contained in personal care products.  I don't know enough about them.  I can't even pronounce half of the words!   I just participated in David Suzuki Foundation’s very first survey of toxic ingredients in the personal care products used by Canadians.  Two products I pulled from our bathroom had two or three of the ingredients listed as harmful chemicals.  I couldn't even read the tiny text for ingredients on the other three items. 

I encourage family and friends to take ten minutes to do the survey before the end of June and to write to the Health Minister as recommended by the DSF.

The wallet-sized shopper's guide they offer on the site lists a "dirty dozen" chemicals to avoid when shopping for cosmetics. The DSF encourages Canadians to use it to check the ingredient list on personal care products before making a purchase.  That's fine, dandy and handy BUT if only I could read the tiny print on some of those labels!  It's almost as bad as some food products.  That's another story for another day...

Go well...
 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Scientific theories on the allure of blondes

Thanks to Carl at True North Perspective for picking up on this ;-)

Why do men find blonde women so very attractive?

by Carole Jahme who has a master's degree in evolutionary psychology and is the author of Beauty and the Beast: Woman, Ape and Evolution

 "..before bottles of hydrogen peroxide became available, blonde hair in females could be interpreted as an honest signal of youth and therefore reproductive fitness."

"For a female to choose a blond male he must be able to deliver resources (mammoth), as his blond hair alone is not enough to turn her on."   Yeah... For me, the attraction might be older, richer, balding men ;-)

 

Brag is not a four letter word

BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It
By Peggy Klaus


I learned about this book through a recent IT World Canada article, Self promotion: Learn the right way to brag.  From reading the article and the book page, I can safely conclude that the advice could apply to business people, managers, average workers (like me!), writers and other artists. 

Quoting the book's web page: "... in today's competitive business world, bragging is a necessity - not a choice. Remaining quiet about yourself or, worse, downplaying your successes leads to being underappreciated, or even allowing others to take credit for your achievements." 

"People either avoid bragging at all costs because they don't know how to do it gracefully, or they attempt to sell themselves like a PowerPoint presentation, making those on the receiving end want to hide," Klaus writes. Filled with personal and professional self-promotion dilemmas and solutions, BRAG! teaches readers how to put their best foot forward - while keeping it out of their mouths!"
 
"The truth is, brag is not a four letter word."

I'm going to add this to my reading list.  It may come in handy after I get that pretentious novel published :-) 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meltdown!

I think I can relate with the recent Quirky B creation called "Meltdown".  

This is coming from someone attempting to balance home, work and personal goals.  Challenged and frustrated middle-aged mom with lackadaisical teenage boys.  Argh!  

Thanks for the tour yesterday, Shannon. (and for listening to me rant...)

T

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy to share in a friend's reminiscence

Last weekend, I was happy to join a friend on an afternoon outing.  We visited an artist's studio, observed nature and shared in a lovely meal while getting caught up with each other.  It was a welcome distraction from housework and chores :-)

You can read about it in her article at True North Perspective:  http://www.truenorthperspective.com/May_10/May_28/villeneuve-sinclair.html 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Resisting those yard sales

'tis the season for buying other people's cast-offs

While I was out and about town this past week, I saw yard sale / garage sale notices on many a telephone pole.  Yep, it's that time of year when families and neighbours get together to sell items they have cleaned out from the nooks and crannies in their own homes.

I have been through this before and even participated in community yard sales.  It was a lot of work!  One lesson we learned was NOT to schedule ours on the same weekend as the Great Glebe Garage Sale.

What I like about some of the community events is the growing commitment to donate proceeds to various charitable organizations. Of course, there's also the much appreciated social aspect.

Since I am avoiding the temptation to bring more items into my home, I will not partake in yard sale or garage sale activities.  As I sift through my own material possessions and prepare for a move next year, I will put aside those items not wanted on the journey.  I have already tagged a few items I plan to offer first to family and friends. 


Since I want to avoid frustration, wasted time and energy, I prefer to contact directly some of the Ottawa area charities that will come to your home and pick up items.  How easy is that?  Some of them will even give you a charitable donation tax receipt. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Blond Nod and Bobble to Lisa Simpson

On Sunday evening, I really enjoyed watching some of the politically incorrect animated television comedies with my teenagers. 

In the season 21 episode "To Surveil with Love", Lisa Simpson is faced with a personal dilemma after she attempts to defend her position in a school debate.  Her opponent used a shady attempt to belittle Lisa's argument and logic because she is... blond.  Whaaa?!

I guess it is acceptable that this subject was given sub-plot value to the civil liberties one.  It was in-didly-deed hilarious to hear tattle tale citizen Ned Flanders state in so many words that "instead of being like Big Brother, I was more like a Little Sister." 

When Lisa's blondness was centered out at a town hall meeting as she expressed concerns over public surveillance, I guffawed as the mayor's blond bimbo girlfriend attempted to provide support - although misguided.  Yes, there are some exceptions to the evolving blond thought theory...

Although I could not agree with Lisa's extreme decision to darken her hair color, I applauded her efforts to defend her position and point out the flaws of the debate judges, the audience (and maybe society) in their own responses to her appearance and assumed intelligence as a brunette.    I laughed aloud when Lisa revealed her blondness underneath the darkened locks and one of the horrified judges gasped "Roots!"

Kudos to the show writers for their creativity and wit.  The Simpsons' official web site:
http://www.thesimpsons.com/recaps/season21/

Please note:  Canadian English spelling of words were substituted by their U.S English cousins, to accommodate our neighbours to the south ;-^  

Go peacefully, openly and ... fair :-) 

T

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hoarding and Mini Storage Trends

While I was watching Law and Order on a U.S. station the other night, an advertisement came on for mini storage units to alleviate consumer citizens from their overcrowded drawers, closets and garages.  This confirmed the recent news that there is a trend in American citizens who rent these units to pack away their excess "stuff".  I am assUmIng the same applies to Canadians as well.

I can understand the need for short-term storage when you move to a smaller house or apartment -  or plan to travel for an extended period of time (you lucky buggers).   Another need would be to keep extra furniture and appliances that your offspring may need - once they move out on their own ;-^  Once they move out on their own...

With the exception of heirlooms and archives, I do not wish to get to the point of having to store "stuff" that neither my family nor I will need in the near future.  Thankfully, I didn't buy into the Beanie Baby craze or other collectibles such as "commemorative plates" or "ethnic dolls".  If anyone has actually benefited financially from these, I'd really like to hear about it! 

So, I continue my de-cluttering project by focussing on the bathroom cupboards and counters.

Related articles and links:

Time Magazine
Hoarding: How Collecting Stuff Can Destroy Your Life
By Kayla Webley Monday, Apr. 26, 2010
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1984444,00.html

The Story of Stuff  (fun, informative!)
http://www.storyofstuff.com/

City of Ottawa Spring Give Away Weekend - Saturday June 5 and Sunday June 6 2010
http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/recycling_garbage/giveaway/
"One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. "  If you're nosy enough, it will be interesting to see what the neighbours are clearing out :-)


Go peacefully - and on a clear path :-)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's in your backpack?

While on a business trip and staying in a Montreal hotel, I rented the movie "Up in the Air" (at $12.99 ! WTF?). I am not an air traveler. I have only flown twice in the past 12 years. I prefer trains. It was, I admit the fact that George Clooney was in this movie that I wanted to rent it. Hey, I was away from home, lonely and ... He did not disappoint me and.. the soundtrack was great.



There was a theme about "attachments" to things and people and making priorities for what to pack or what to unpack for your journey. The main character, Ryan Bingham was a frequent-flyer downsizing consultant and a motivational speaker who used the “What’s in your Backpack” line in his presentations. I really liked it and found it seemed "Buddhist" in a way. It was kind of sad that once he realized he wanted to have a relationship with a casual squeeze and fellow-traveler, that he was brought down to earth (pun intended) by the fact that she only saw him as an escape and was committed to staying with her family.



I think you can reduce the amount of material things along your journey and still live quite happily. Although there are some people that you may be tempted to remove from your “baggage”, I don’t think that’s as easy a task. As fellow travelers in this life, we each have something in common. Only as rare exceptions should someone be cast aside. You could perhaps put troublesome family and friends temporarily into a side pocket or roll them up in your dirty laundry bag for a while ;-) They will soon learn to be less of a burden and help lighten your load.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You've got (less) mail

I think it's good to have interests in a variety of subjects. One could get spread too thinly though with time and energy spent by being involved or catching up on issues.


In an attempt to reduce my electronic distractions - especially that of mailing lists - I have decided to review the ones to which I subscribe.


The groups and organizations that send frequent messages hold varying degrees of importance to me. My catlike curiosity makes me want to know what's going on in different corners of my world. My limited time and patience meter though take precedence in my choices. Besides newsworthy items, if it doesn't help with my skills development or earning power, it will have to wait until a later time in my life.


Spring is here and the walking areas are clear. Time to get out and move the body more. Then there's that novel I have been avoiding...


So far this week, I have unsubscribed to three mailing lists. There will be more...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Closet, My Self

Deep Blonde Thoughts on the Fashion Industry

I will admit that I cannot provide an authoritative opinion on the fashion industry since I am likely not one of its frequent investors. People may know me for my practical fashion sense. I dress for comfort. I shop for ease-of-care. I will visit thrift shops yet I will spend extra for new, petite sized pants if I don't have to hem them!

Anyone who has seen or read "The Devil Wears Prada" can agree on the apparent absurdity, flightiness and wastefulness of the fashion industry. Any middle-aged mother who shares my "physique" will agree on the unlikeliness that one of us would consider wearing any of the ridiculous outfits being strutted on the catwalk by hungry human clothes hangers.

To begin my de-cluttering project, I must start with my closet and my own bedroom. You can't change or improve the world without first taking a look inside yourself, your habits and tastes.

Without pulling readers too deeply into my OCD tendencies for organizing my closet, I will make brief posts over the next few weeks about progress with spring wardrobe preparations and down-sizing my entire closet, dresser drawers and my room.

Come back often :-) I welcome helpful comments and tips. Below are some links I gathered during a brief search on the topic of Fashion.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I don't think Ann Coulter is a natural blond


CBC News - Ottawa - Coulter's Ottawa speech cancelled


"Coulter is a darling of the U.S. right wing who, according to critics, uses incendiary language to sell millions of books, as well as her syndicated column."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Not wanting to offend

This past week, a friend who helps me with my house cleaning came back from a trip overseas. She gave us some lovely jewelry and an ornamental tea set from the Middle East. I was touched that she thought to bring us a gift. I was also worried about where to put it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Coveting furniture

Okay, I admit to coveting a writer's desk I saw at English Butler last week. I remember casting my eyes upon it a couple of years ago. It is oh-so-nice, so pretty, compact and organized.

I know this goes against my goals to downsize the house contents. The justification is that it would take up less space than the one currently in my bedroom.



Downside?
  1. Will it help me have more time for writing?
  2. Will it help me be a better writer?
  3. Who will pay for this?
  4. Where will the cats sit to look out the window? >^..^<


Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Passing on the Buzz

Okay, I let myself get pulled in to the Google Buzz.

My day job relies on keeping up to date with technology and its offshoots. My cat-like curiosity lures me to explore strange, new things. My pretty blonde head is still spinning from the release, the buzz from early adopters and the ensuing KERFUFFLE around privacy issues. I empathize with the woman whose contacts were revealed, exposing her and them to predators like her ex-husband.

Google Buzz: Privacy nightmare
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-10451428-256.html

Missed Use Case? Google Buzz Reveals Who You Chat With The Most To Everyone
http://techdirt.com/articles/20100210/1503598116.shtml

I'm still wondering how that guy from Africa started following me. I had to remove him from my Google Reader list too. Geesh! Then there was a guy from India who seemed legit as he shared some of the same technology interests as I.

Then you get people wanting to follow you so you may follow them in return, hence upping their list of followers as part of some inane competition.

The Buzz has become too distracting. I am opting out. What spare time I have is just not worth it. I'll stick with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for now, thank you.

Then there's that closet to contend with : - \

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Too many things ... on the go

In addition to cluttering our lives with material "things", possessions, collections, one can tend to take on too many hobbies, commitments and obligations.



Although I was interrupted by a snotty winter cold and had to stay home last week, I was able to get caught up on some volunteer activities requiring keen analytical ;-^ and organizational skills. Some projects though seemed to spin off into other little projects.



Things I need to remember:
  • Learn when to to say "no"
  • Take small bites

I was not yet able to start on my "downsizing" project. On a positive note, within that vortex of activities, I was able to get the first 8 chapters of my pretentious novel printed to 8 1/2 x 11 manuscripts for an editor and a reader. I am so nervous. Over the next few months, I aim to have the final 4 chapters typed up and ready.




Next, perform the contents inventory of my bedroom and log the downsizing progress. Hmmm, just in time for thinking about a new spring wardrobe. Uh-oh!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Poking humour at hoarding tendencies

One of my favourite TV blondes did a humorous portrayal of a hoarder on Thursday night. I'm talking about Amy Poehler on NBC's Parks and Recreation in which character Leslie Knope decides to hold a dinner party at her house so she could impress her new boyfriend.

When her friend Ann arrives to help her prepare, she is greeted by piles of newspapers and other items that Leslie just can't release. It was quite a hilarious episode.

http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/

Things turn out okay with the help of continuing education instructors that get pulled in to her vortex to tidy the house, prepare the meal, entertain the guests, etc.

I think the episode provided a clever way to poke fun at our tendencies to keep things "just in case" we may need to use them in the future. I've been there.

If you don't have the space, there's NO "just in case"!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Social and Financial Dilemas

I know a man who plans to climb a mountain later this year and raise money for cancer research prior to his quest. I have supported him financially as much as I can so far for this noble cause.

Now, we need to dig people in Haiti out from under the rubble and help rebuild their lives, to find their loved ones. My heart goes out to them - and so must some of my "expendable" income.

Give now if you can.

Start here: http://www.cbc.ca/haitirelief/

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sorting, collecting and hoarding

During a family gathering over the holidays, some of us were discussing the problems of living with someone who hoards and how it hampers our efforts to simplify our lives and physical space. When it comes down to fire hazards due to piles of magazines and newspapers in your basement, that's when you really have to speak up. It can become physically and emotionally draining to live in a cramped, cluttered home - especially when your requests are discarded as nagging and selfish. How ironic! So glad I'm not living THAT nightmare anymore.


Sure, we each may have tendencies to "collect" things like books, photographs, figurines, etc. It helps to define a bit more about us. I like to discover what family members or friends "collect" as it reveals a little more about character and interests. When it extends to too many categories and clutter, that's when a person would want to step back and take a fresh look. You can even hire people to do this for you!


I know that during my purging project, I will have to be selective with the "things" I have collected and prioritize which ones to keep or give away. My books will have to be exempt from this project. It's just a matter of getting more shelf space and reorganizing by subject - again. Hello, IKEA.


On a humorous note, one family member at the gathering quipped that the acronym for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: should really be "CDO", organized alphabetically.



Definition: "Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions, such as cleaning, checking, counting, or hoarding. "



Links about Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD):

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mental Abuse In Marriages


Worth a mention, from the ranks of "been there". Wondering if and when this will happen in Canada.


France Moves To Outlaw Mental Abuse In Marriages

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122362876&ft=1&f=1001

Thank you, News Worthy
http://twitter.com/newswrthy

Yes, mental abuse can happen both ways (and with a variety of gendered relationships). Respect and communication are very important.


Go in peace

Friday, January 1, 2010

Time flies

It seems fitting to type a few words about time and our recording devices on this, New Years Day 2010.

Another man-made milestone has passed and nothing in my observance of natural time has really changed. I do have a few calendars to change around the humble abode. What to do with the old ones?

  • Well, the sentimental side of me wants to keep them on file to have a record of family visits, birthdays and appointments. Meh, some of that is already recorded in personal journals or photographs :-) and appointment history is kept by the doctor's offices anyway.

  • The creative side wants to save the artwork for cheap yet colourful rec-room wall coverings. Somehow, Happy Bunny and Farmers Almanac just don't compliment each other. Or do they?

  • The pragmatic side says to discard them - preferably into the recycling bin.

This year, fewer calendars!

Thoughts?