Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is Tidiness My Thing?

Creative clutter is better than idle neatness.
 Author Unknown

Sometimes when I can't solve what I want to solve, I tackle something minor. Like my sock drawer.

I'd like to say these are all the socks in my sock drawer, but they aren't.
Falling in line with all the stores that display storage containers front and center after the holidays, it seems a good time to get a handle on my own home. The past six months I've been intent on the quest to finish a book I started writing twelve years ago.  The essentials were met -- a safe kitchen and bathroom, clean bed sheets and clothing, dinner made at night. Other than that? Nada.

My household work took a seat behind the bus. Then came Christmas. With the arrival of January and Christmas tucked back into its bins and hidden upstairs, I eye the plainness left in that tidy wake. I like it. 

I do like a tidy house, a place for everything. I like that because I need the space for all my unfinished projects. The current puzzle. The watercolor painting I totally don't know how to paint. The outside plants hiding from the cold weather. The pile of stuff that needs gluing. And a few hundred more things that make our house our home.

Last week I read a book by Marie Kondo entitled the life-changing magic of tidying up. I breezed through the reading of the decluttering method with ease. I absorbed the process of taking my things into my arms to feel if they bring me joy. If no joy emits, banishment becomes the item's fate.

I get it. I understand that having 15 potholders is not something that's neither necessary or joyful. Nor is a twelve year supply of my favorite body lotion.

The writer suggests a format to decluttering. Clothes, books, then the rest of your crap. My clothes I culled a few years ago when we renovated our rotted out bathroom/closet area, but my books? No, I'm not going to put them in the middle of the living room (for gathering them throughout the rooms of my home would require days.) Even though my Books To Be Read shelf has only 25 books, I have read all the rest. I can't tell you how often I refer to them. Or pull them out as my granddaughter grows.

I concede I have some books I can let go, like the tidiness one I just read. But in passing that book on, I take note of Ms Kondo's suggestions. I no longer have 15 potholders, but I still have a mess of a sock drawer.
I love socks. Every day when I reach in to pull out a pair I rummage around seeking the right choice to fit my day.  All my other drawers are organized and, recently, sorted and donated (to get that 2017 tax savings.) But the sock drawer? It has a flashing warning sign on it for it requires a holding down of contents to get it closed. Besides, you can't donate old socks.

Inside that drawer are socks for winter play and summer play. Socks for black shoes and black pants. Socks for brown shoes and brown pants. Socks that are fuzzy. Socks that are thin. Socks to go over socks for when my feet get cold in winter. Socks that kept my mother's feet warm in winter.

I have socks for Christmas. Socks with my favorite paintings by Renoir, Matisse, Degas and Vermeer. I have 24 pair of socks from my husband -- last year's Christmas gift. Two pair of socks a month via the mail.

Do I need this many socks? Of course not. Do I want this many socks? Yes. For my daily sock choice is not always due to weather or my outfit. It's more often based on mood. Some days I feel whimsical. Some days blah. Some days artsy, or conversely utilitarian. Once in a while I want to wear pink. Sometimes I want plain black. And some days, I want to remember my mom and pull on her warm socks and feel comforted.

The maestro organizer Kondo has a different idea for sock drawers. This morning as I stuffed the clean socks from a load of laundry into the drawer, I decided maybe she had a point. I tossed my socks on top of the dresser and after holding each pair in my hands to decide if it brought me joy (or if I would ever wear it again), I folded the chosen in the formatted manner described in the book. I placed them in the drawer as ordered. Quartered and visible so I can see exactly which one I might want. And, yes, it is still chocked full.

Not another pair can fit in my neat little lines, unless I do a double stack. Yes, I could have made my rows a little neater. But I didn't. And it looks neat to me.

Now, I ask you. What chance in hell do you think this drawer has of looking like this in a month? A week? After next wash day when all I want to do is stuff my socks in my sock drawer and get on with something that truly does bring me joy?

Cheers to the art of tidying. Happy New Year Everybody.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mulitiple Choice Quiz-- Excuses Why the Midlife Roadtripper Has Not Blogged Since August 2016

Midlife Roadtripper Excuse for Not Blogging Quiz

Quiz Instructions: Choose whatever answer fits your fancy.

Excuse #1 Blog Header

A, She turned 60 in August 2016 and therefore her header and blog name no longer apply.

B.  She didn't realize she hadn't posted since August 2016 because in her mind she was current. One day she cleaned house and found about ten notes written to herself that said "Write a Blog Post" hence discovering she was twelve months behind. Whoa! Have to blame it on the 60 thing. (Holy Crap! She turned 61 last week. Even worse.)

C. She doesn't want to believe that 61 is no longer in midlife and sounds ancient to anyone under 59.  She still doesn't know how to get the photo in her header to center nor start over to find all the stuff that has been invented on Blogger since she started this adventure over nine years ago.

D. If she keeps this blog going, she will have to come up with a new name minus the Midlife and the only possibilities that come to mind are:

The Old Bitch Keeps on Ticking 
Someone Pluck her Chin Hairs
The Bonus Years -- Meandering With a Worn Out Shrew
Senior Roadtripper (NO!)
Life with Julie (NO!)
Roadtripping When Your Knees Hurt

None of these inspire her.

Excuse #2 Busyness

A. Twelve days after her granddaughter, the very sweet Maisy Grace, was born, the Midlife Roadtripper turned 60 and went to Schlitterbhan Water Park to celebrate. She rode down water slides and after landing at the bottom of the one she feared most (where she crossed her ankles to avoid a landing douche) she decided it wasn't all that thrilling or hard and could easily conquer Schlitterbahn at 70.

That realization inspired her and she couldn't quite figure out how to put that experience into a blog post. Then she went on a vacation to the foreign land of Guadaloupe where beaches were king and no one spoke English so she forgot her communications skills and therefore couldn't write anything anyway.

     B. She had a bunch of women writers come to her cabin in September and they set goals and she realized the reasons she hadn't been working on the second book she's been writing were bullshit so therefore dedicated her blogging time to working on the novel.

She wrote the book to the end, printed it out, read it, saw how much work it needed,  and put it on her desk for a complete re-write, again. And then. And then.... Christmas. New Years. Valentines Day. Easter. May Day. Needed the table.

     C. She developed structure and rhythm in her disorganized life. It became habit to read three new poems a day, write her three journal pages of rambling crap and then write a one page can't-pick-your pencil-up-til-you're-done essay/short story or poem before she got her ass out of bed to work on the book she now dedicated an hour to every day. After that, she had no more words left to write.

     D. She's lying and just stays in bed all day until her husband gets home from work whereby she has managed to put on her sweat shorts and t-shirt, brush her teeth, and hand him a chef surprise dinner. "You might need to get out the Cholula for this one, Hon."

Excuse #3 The Election

     A. The election threw her for a loop and everything she believed in regarding the advancement of women, people of color, and education had been blown to shit so she chose to live in the world of well written fiction by reading all the books in her house she hadn't read before. 70 books last year. 45 so far this year.

     B. She joined the VFW near her Hill Country cabin which doesn't require one to be a veteran and won't let you in if you have teeth so she knocked her teeth out and joined. She can play 12 Bingo cards at once now while not falling off her seat at the end of the bar.

     C. Her blog post rough drafts began with cheery stories of hope for the future for her children and grandchildren but soon melted into dystopian visions of barefoot women confined to kitchens surrounded by snotty nosed children who have no future, no clean drinking water, no breathable air, and no national parks to visit because they are filled with oil derricks and tainted water.

Which made her want to write politically. Which she doesn't want to do.

    D. She just didn't give a shit about anything anymore.

Excuse #4 Physical Education

    A. She decided to dedicate her life to her body and started running 10 miles a day and then going to Yoga and Pilates in the off hours.

     B. She guzzled camomile tea and just stared complacently out the windows of her house all day. Enjoying the moment.

     C. She spent excess time wandering her neighborhood with an audio book playing on her phone, her camera around her neck, sauntering mindfully down the streets taking photos of birds, flowers and cracks in the sidewalk.

     D. Her new FitBit reminded her when she hadn't moved 250 steps each hour so she had to practice moving her arm up and down while in a sitting position to make certain at the end of the day her report showed she had moved every hour from 10am to 8pm.

Excuse #5 Creativity

      A. She attended several women's circles on creativity and now has so many things on her pile of creative things that are fulfilling her that she has to make herself go to bed at 1am even though there is still so much she could be doing for enjoyment.

     B. She has decided that now she is 61 she must prioritize her life and make certain that the ways she spends her time needs to have meaning for her, for she truly does value herself.

    C. She has too many projects going not to mention the ones she hasn't yet discovered and truly does enjoy finding a few new pieces in the current 1000 piece puzzle spread on the table or sometimes just looking out the window and studying the clouds. Or the water. Or the swan that has decided to hang by the dock.

     D. She wants to finish that novel started 12 years ago. Not necessarily for publishing purposes -- just because.

Excuse #6 Seriously

     A. Perhaps many of the above.
     B. Perhaps she has read 116 books in the past 20 months.
     C. Perhaps has decided that the ultimate travel time for she and her husband will be in the next 15 or so years, if they are lucky, and needs to make those trips happen. Their list of places to visit is long and she spends time researching trips so they can be travelers more than tourists. Also trips cost alotta so learning about Discovery Corps and Friendship Force and any others that she is completely open to learning about.

She ignores looks from her husband when she says things like "You know, if you're in New Zealand it would be silly not to hop over to Fiji."  Or, "We should probably get to the Maldives before they're under water."

     D. Perhaps she is working on her novel  and by the time she does her daily reading/writing/warm up and walks to get her steps, cleans toilets, makes dinner for her husband, and then reads some more or knits a stocking or makes a blanket or farts around reading the New York Times, she truly just has nothing more to say.
Final Quiz Instructions: Make your picks. Multiple guesses allowed. Suggestions for a new blog title and old people travel groups accepted in the Comment section below.

As to that grandbaby? Well, who wouldn't stop everything to spend time with her.

The moment I make an excuse, I confess to many things. 
Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912

Friday, August 5, 2016

Look What I Got!

If God had intended us to follow recipes,
He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.
Linda Henley

Last Christmas Eve I was slamming egg nog in Austin with my husband and oldest son and daughter-in-law -- the ones that have been married for six years. The middle son and wife were in New York City spending the holiday with youngest son. With my computer perched on the kitchen table, we had them on Facetime while that Bama Sous Chef boy opened his presents from us.

My daughter-in-law put a present in my lap and said it was a good time to open it. I did and found a book, a lovely copy of The Night Before Christmas. We were admiring the beautiful drawings in the book  and as I studied them, my son informed me there was something else in the package.  I turned the pages looking for whatever else might be in there when in desperation he said, "In the package, Mom. Not in the book." 

What I then pulled out made me burst into tears.

As I scanned the room, I saw we were all flowing. When I looked at my sons on the computer screen, they were wiping at their eyes, too. The Crying Family.

I never know how I'm going to react to things. Especially those I'm not expecting.  I like to think I'm someone in control of my emotions. I know I'm a crier and often can't shut that off, but I also have delayed reactions. In grave situations or when something needs to get done, I hold it together for any given length of time. Later, when things settle down, I either fall apart or enjoy the elation, depending on the event. 

As I've waited these months for that little baby to join the world, I've pondered my upcoming response. What kind of grandmother will I be? What will I be thinking when I see that child? Will I react like I'm supposed to? And what might that "supposed to" be?

I needn't have worried. For the other night, I don't think I was thinking. Pure emotion reigned. It was incredible joy.

But not so fast. We did have to wait. Where the first 8 months of that pregnancy flew by, the last four weeks seemed an eternity. Much more so for my daughter-in-law, Chelsea. As I recalled, the last two weeks of pregnancy made me feel it was a permanent condition. That those two weeks of misery were designed to extinguish all my fears and anxieties in regard to childbirth. Chelsea gained that same perspective.

When labor finally, finally began, the grandparents-to-be gathered in the birthing room to wait it out. From early morning until late in the day, poor Chelsea and my son, the worrier,  were stuck with the four of us while she labored, he studied and tended to requested massages, and we entertained ourselves.

Jacob studied the nurse and doctor notes.

Bob yucked it up from the Lazy Boy chair.

Debbie and I covered every subject on Earth.

Just muzzle that man!
When Chelsea reached the pushing stage, the old folks left the room and huddled in a waiting room. Or walked laps around the hospital. Or ate tacos from the cafeteria. Or who knows what else. Middle son arrived after tending the animals left at home. (New daughter-in-law, Leigh, was out of town for work and most unhappy she was missing it. Chef boy far away and working as well.)

Finally, our phones all dinged. Oh, my, goodness.

Bingo! We all had to get busy.

The waiting world now informed of our good news.

"The baby is here!"

We began another waiting game. After the doctor put Chelsea back together, the hospital declared The Golden Hour where only the new parents were with the baby. Seriously? Banished with only our phone photo in hand to sustain us, we took to the hospital parking lot for some good old-fashioned Tailgating. 


As the "Golden Hour" moved into its third hour, we were lagging. Our champagne buzzes long subsided, we were more than ready when we got the message to come on down the hall. And then,

I don't know why I worried about my reaction. Sheer joy escaped unaided. 

We counted fingers and toes.

And then just looked at this beautiful child, who studied us with equal wonder.

 Yes, it's a girl! 
After three brothers and three sons, I get a girl. 

The next day we spent a little time getting to know her.

Uncle Jordan

Grandpa Bob

 And as the days go by, we gaze in awe.

Thank you, Debbie, for sharing this one with us.

Of course, we retrieved Jacob's baby photos from the closet and wondered if we could see her daddy in her.
Or this one I have of her beautiful mama.

After much consideration, I'm thinking she looks like Maisy Grace.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl. 

I don't know if I know how to be a girl Grandma, but I'm thinking I'll let Maisy teach me. Meantime, we'll just hang.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wedding Bells

Grow old with me!  The best is yet to be.  
Robert Browning

We had a wedding. Boy, did we have a wedding. Family and friends from all over the country came and we had us a good time. After running on adrenaline for a couple months, a few weeks rest finds me able to muster some words. Please indulge me as I share our fun.

May I present the bride and groom. Middle son, Jordan and his lovely bride, Leigh.

But, before that happened, we had all this other stuff going on. A week's worth. It started when the Bama Sous Chef boy flew in from New York City and we had a family dinner to start the festivities.

Then the rest of the family and the college roommates drifted in from Denver, Sheboygan, Warba, San Diego, Flagstaff and Seattle and some real cooking started.

Smoked pork butts going on.
Northern Arizona University boys gathered less one still to come.
Bride taking a breather.

And the dock started to fill up.

Take that fish off for him, Pete.
We don't know who this is.

And the table got busy.

We had dinner for 10 on Wednesday. Dinner for 38 on Thursday. Chef Ian of New York City, with assistance from Chef Ryan of San Diego, put on a feast.

Pork Butts ready. Ring the Dinner Bell.
38 people gathering for a blessing before dinner.

Burk hung out under the table waiting for scraps.
Then we had 67 for dinner the next night for the Rehearsal Dinner. We had planned to cruise Lady Bird Lake aka Town Lake, but due to the flooding going on, the lake was closed. Had a good view of downtown Austin, even though we weren't moving. Saw the bats take off in the distance.

Happy son.
Groom's Dad, Bob. Bride's Dad, Bob.
Friends and family
Uncles and cousins
Old neighbors, dear friends, and the Godparents.
No fun going on.
Bride dancing with an old uncle.
Aunts and cousins
Groom, dad, uncles, and a godfather.
Another brother and wife.
Collection of new relatives.

Finally the wedding day. All I had to do was show up.

I'm so glad I did.

"Really Mom?" Jordan refusing nice stationary to write his bride a letter. "What's wrong with notebook paper?"
Hanging with the godparents and friends.
Jacob and Bob waiting. Neither one sits well.

Beauty parlor time for the bridesmaid, flower girl, her mom and the mother-in-law to be.
I'm taking the photo.

  Finally to the wedding venue.
My four sons. I really have six. Each of my three boys all had a special one we called one of our own. Here's Jay, Jord's bud since they were 4.

Bob and his brother and sister.
Ian doing the Best Man thing.

The bride's  beautiful mom. Penny for her thoughts.
Bob and Uncle Frank ready to get the show on the road.
So it began.

Mom trying not to cry and keep up with her 6'3" son.
Oldest son, Jacob and wife, Chelsea (plus baby-to-be any day now.)

Youngest son, Ian, and bride's sister, Andrea. Perfect example here of the tall Andersons and petite Carvers.
Note the pretty flower girl, Miss Miranda, coming down the stairs behind them.

The groom ready.
The bride and her proud daddy.


The Party
I can add this. I know the bride likes this one.
The bride's grandmother and mom. Lovely women.

Suchas and Andersons
Uncles and Aunts
The Groom's Cake. Jordan chose this. It is the cabin we stayed in for years at Park Lake Resort in Spicer, Minnesota. I first went when I was two years old with my parents and Jordan started going when he was 15 months old. Sucha family -- my parents and brothers and their families -- gathered there every year in the summer. Freedom and fun always had. Was also an amusing surprise for many of the wedding guests on our side who had joined us there as well.
Anderson Clan including the cousins and little ones.

Dodging the lavender

And then there were those 45 people for brunch the next morning.  

My pregnant niece, Michelle. Felt good to put her feet up. Aunt Julie can do hammocks.

As many of you know from past posts, getting myself ready for these events is quite the chore. As previously reported, it takes an army.

As to that dress -- I PICKED IT OUT ALL BY MYSELF! Hard to believe, I know.

Special thank you to Cleo (aka Denise) for doing my makeup even though I wouldn't sit still for more than a minute. For Julie W. and Kris, for helping decide on the color and size of my dress. Linda R for telling me the dress would do and going with me to try on 1400 different bras so it would look like I had boobs.

I also chose how I wanted my hair to look.

This was at the end of the night and after an hour ride back to the lake. But, you can imagine. Picked out forty pins before I went to sleep.

A week after the wedding, all the company was safely back in their homes and I collapsed into my hammock. Haven't moved since.

After a honeymoon driving around Scotland, the now old married people are back home and beginning their new normal as married folks.

Congratulations, Jordan and Leigh. We love you so.

Have an incredible life together.

Special thank you to Jonathan McClogan for sharing his wedding photos with me so I could share them with you.

As you know, these photo essays wear me out. I just looked at the clock and six hours have gone by. So much for reading in my hammock today. Ha!


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