The Joy of Less

My first download for 2019 was The Joy of Less, a Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay. I’m like a gal on a mission and already I can see a difference. Truly!

I am – as you can tell if you’ve read any previous posts – a stuff person! It is incredibly difficult for me to part with anything – and it matters not a whit if it’s mine or if it’s someone else’s. I just cannot throw it out. And then on top of that, I also feel the need to ‘rescue’ stuff.

I’m not totally sure why I hate throwing things away but I think it has to do with story telling. Every thing we own, everything we touch, carries a story. Some big, some not so big, some quite lovely, and some absolutely horrid. But a story nonetheless.  These things, they tell who we are, who we were, and who we yet might be. I know, the stuff is not the story … but it is a tangible reminder of those stories. And it’s not easy to toss them aside.

But I’ve begun … to declutter, to toss aside –  to commit the stories to heart and head if not to my closets.

And in spite of my somewhat romanticized view of ‘stuff’, I look forward to having a home that brings me peace and comfort without the clutter that is forever screaming at me to tidy, tidy, tidy!

Here’s to 2019.

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Note the empty dish on the table! (I know- a true convert would have no dish, 😉)

 

 

 

Patches on patches

Not sure if I’m putting patches on pants or pants on patches; however, #1 son said they’re too good to throw out and his favourite work pants.

Two broken needles, 6 iron-on patches, one old pair of jeans for reinforcement, three spools of thread and 3-1/2 hours later ….

Talk about twice-loved!

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past

This week I came across a video of my Mom and my oldest grandson. The video was nine years old. Max was two, Mom was a very spry 78. It was Christmas 2009 and mother was decorating a gingerbread house she’d baked. Max was ‘helping’ with the candy. I watched it again and again though it squeezed my heart and made me cry. It was sooo good to hear her voice again. I miss her. I miss her every day and this week I’ve thought of her a lot and am so grateful to have had her in my life.

I have never had a bad  Christmas, a Christmas where I was disappointed, a Christmas where I hurt. If Mom is my Ghost of Christmas Past, she comes with no regrets, no fear of the future.

Our Christmas was never about the presents, never about the booze or the parties. It was about family.

Dad cut the tree and if it needed a few holes drilled in the trunk for extra limbs, that was an easy task. The lights were his responsibility too and he would have them strung out and have that electrical gadget checking each one to pinpoint the bad guys and fix or replace them. Mom did the decorating. The tinsel on the tree – one strand at a time. And then it was all taken off – one strand at a time – and saved for the next year. Twice-loved,

Years later, when I returned home after being away for a bit, nothing much had changed, except maybe they had added the crafts and getting their little shop open for Christmas. It always looked so lovely, as much care put into decorating  the shop as decorating the house. After the tree was finished and the lights turned on, Dad would sit back with his cigarette and his one glass of whiskey and quietly admire Mom’s work.  Mom meanwhile, forever flying around like a Christmas elf, always humming Christmas songs and carols, getting her puddings done, her baking, her cards in the mail. Enjoying every single day leading up to Christmas and every day after.

When Ralph came along, it added to the fun once again and the elves came back in full force. Not that guy you bring home from Walmart but the real  Christmas elves. They had flitted about the house when I was a child and returned again when Ralph was little. These guys were sneaky; you could never see them, never catch them. They had a full time job watching us to make sure we behaved and reported directly back to the big guy. The elves were regular visitors at our house and unlike that rigid doll that sits in one spot and performs incredibly ridiculous acts, our elf was non-stop busy. It was his very important job to keep the children in line.  No-one wanted to make the naughty list.

The  Christmas Eve service at beautiful St. Peter’s. Mother wouldn’t miss that for neither love nor money. Her faith was central to it all.

Then there was Christmas dinner. Everything had to be just so: the tablecloth ironed, the napkins starched, her finest dishes, Aunt Jeans’s silver napkin rings, the crystal wine glasses. And no-one cooked a turkey like Mother. You know it, right?

And so here it is once again. Christmas morning. A quiet Christmas morning as I sit her alone with my coffee. Everything has changed. And nothing has changed. It’s still a time for family, for appreciating how blessed we are in knowing our loved ones are safe and near in heart.

And later today, we’ll sit together, those of us nearby, and enjoy Christmas dinner. Family and friends. Jackie has made Mom’s Christmas pudding for us. Mom would like that.

And perhaps tonight, I’ll pour myself a drop of whiskey, sit back, enjoy the Christmas lights and be thankful for the all the little things that aren’t really that little after all.

Merry Christmas!

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Mom …  keeping Christmas well

 

 

Shine on ….

Christmas is coming and around here that means the silver comes out. Not that I have a lot, but I do have a little, and once a year it gets a good rub with the Silvo. Every piece has a story and some of the stories are mine.

The silver tray was a wedding gift from Mom and Dad and was 42 years old this past  September. I’ve not been part of that particular relationship for a long time now, but the tray was special then and speaks to a time when I was young, in love, and thought I had the world by the tail. It is not a chore to polish it.

The cup was also a gift from Mom and Dad, given to me for my son shortly after he was born a few years later. His is also a special story and I have been blessed to have this child in my life for thirty plus years as well as his beautiful boys, my three rascally grandchildren. The cup was lost for a while, but recently found its way home. There is significance there I believe.

Every piece here has a story. Some things were gifted to me. The jug was a Christmas gift I gave Mom. The smaller tray was rescued from an antique shop, tarnished and black, but it too has seen a coat of Silvo. The Annapolis crystal glasses I bought in Nova Scotia this summer after watching the men working in their shop. The crystal is all mouth-blown and hand-cut and it is beautiful. I only have two glasses but I keep them out and use them all the time. Not only are they incredibly pretty, they remind me of one of the best vacations I have ever had.

The pretty wine glasses? Also rescued from a box of curb-side treasures. Very merry and definitely twice-loved!

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New woollies!

My new mittens! Aren’t they beautiful? And so snuggly warm!

I wish I had the incredible talent this lady has – not so, I’m afraid. But at least I appreciate the beauty she is able to create using old sweaters and coats. Recycling at its finest I’m sure. And most definitely twice-loved!

Being someone who likes to ‘create’ herself, I know there is passion, pride, and maybe even a little love stitched into every pair.

And, added bonus, we are shopping local!

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Chinese Checkers

The boys came home today. This will be my last week with them before their Dad gets back. Don’t know who’s more excited – me or them! Haha!

We got home around 2:00 which meant of course that everyone had dispersed by 2:05 and regrouped by 2:10, friends in tow. There’s a little hill directly across from the house where they go sliding and it wasn’t until 4:30 that Little Bear came to the door crying because someone had pushed his face in the snow. He’s a bit of a dramatic little soul and he got all fired up with the indignation of it all. By the time he’d calmed down, his fingers started to tingle as they warmed and we had Act ll over that. Before the curtain fell on that little scene, Sam also came to the door crying. Someone had rubbed snow in his face and hair and he, like Little Bear, was not at all impressed. When I was their age, we called that a ‘mobbing’ and it was always a good bit of fun when you were the ‘mobber’, not so much so when you were the ‘mobbee’. In any case, hot chocolate with marshmallows and extra whip cream seemed to soothe the soul and they were adamant that the perpetrators should not be given any hot chocolate should they show up at the door.

The perpetrators, one being big brother, were not at all concerned, and at five we called them home as we were invited out for supper. Chocolate cake for dessert. Home for baths and Chinese Checkers. Forgot, as per usual, to take pictures. Bedtime stories and everyone asleep by 9:00. Try as I might, 9:00 is the best I can do. I can get them in bed early, but asleep? No way. And no screen time today. Not for the boys; not for me. (until now) Little Bear, by the way, cheats. He does it when he thinks you’re not looking and then puts on this angelic personae that is so exaggerated I would know he cheated even if I hadn’t seen him do it. He’s a sport about it when you call him out though. Just laughs and moves the marbles back.

The game and the leather pouch of marbles came from my grandmother’s house. I suspect it’s eighty plus years old at least. More than one game played on this board.

Twice-loved.

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Screen Time (you probably shouldn’t be reading this)

It’s cold here in the house. We lost power last night around 9:00 p.m. and while it’s not terribly cold outside – hovering around zero – the winds are still gusting to 90/100 km/h. The house, like myself, is not young. The wind whistles through the cracks and I am chilled to the bone though wrapped in several blankets and wearing snow pants and a heavy winter jacket.

I’ve been for a drive around town to see what damage the wind and the surf have inflicted. Heated seats in the car and sufficient gas for a couple more rides should I feel so inclined. Places I can go where there’s a wood stove and warmth.

No electricity. No cell service. No internet. Not even a battery powered radio. Disconnected. It’s not so bad. Not as of yet.

I’ve been reading: Reset Your Child’s Brain by Victoria L. Dunckley, MD. It’s incredibly interesting – looks at the impact of electronic screen time on the human nervous system. While the focus of the book is primarily on children, the information easily transfers to older youth and yes, even adults.

Not just interesting, but scary as well. What are we doing to our children? To the developing brain? To behaviour, mood and social skills? To cognitive ability? Are we really compromising natural development and growth; creating moody, exhausted, dysfunctional children who are fast losing control and becoming increasingly at risk for stress, isolation, anxiety and depression?

I will finish the book. And I’ve already decided to monitor more closely my own screen time. Can I do that I wonder? Can I limit myself to an hour a day? What about Netflix? Who would have thought that even Netflix could be harmful? Come on now, “This is us” – harmful? really? Social media, I get. Pure poison at its worst; huge time sucker at its best. Gaming, I get. Overstimulation and difficulty both physically and psychologically “gearing down” – but Netflix? Yep. Netflix too has its dangers. Read the book!

That’s what I’m going to do now – read a little more. And it is a hard copy, not the online version!

It’s 4:00 p.m. The latest update on the power being restored says 8:00 p.m. at the earliest.  It gets dark at 5:00. Going to be a long day.

By the way, I am writing this in my notebook, I will type to my blog later.

Paper and pencil now; digital version later.

Twice loved!