A Bathroom Cabinet Eruption (Photo Challenge: Victory)

With the terror attacks in Paris in the news, my worries about cleaning out my house seem even more trivial than usual (especially since Sam and I just got home from Belgium). Still, daily life goes on, and in a break from listening to bad news I’ll share what happened when I emptied the cabinet in my hall bath — getting it cleared out feels like a victory of sorts. Most of these things haven’t seen the light in years!

Bathroom vanity cabinet eruption

See that Harvest Gold tile? Clearly it’s past time to remodel. I kept hoping that if I waited long enough, it would cycle back around and be “in” again. Dare I admit that the tub and shower tile are gold too?

Here are some things I found:

  • Eleven plastic containers of hair goo, three of them from the 80s when I had (*blush*) a perm.
  • Eight products for polishing metal. Really? Eight?
  • Seven shower caps. Odd, since I wash my hair every day.
  • Five containers of talc — I’m pretty sure three of them were my mother’s, kept because I couldn’t bear to let go of anything that had been hers.
  • Two drawers full of shoe polish and leather cleaner (and my shoes are scuffed).

… and some things I learned:

  • Before I realized it was so wasteful, I bought way too much stuff in plastic bottles. I will mend my ways.
  • I only look at what’s in the front few inches of the space. Everything else gravitates to the back and gets archived. So … why have a big cabinet in the bath?
  • So that’s what happened to my vintage red pendant. It’s not a real stone; I think it’s what was once known as “paste”. I remember buying it when out “junking” with a friend on a sunny afternoon in the midwest, and used to wear it often. And there’s that 3-1-1 packing kit I bought to snazz up my suitcase, as well as a box of Axion, a stain remover that worked so well that they quit making it.
  • Big question: why so many hair products? I seldom use them. I’m guessing I thought they’d change my life, and when I found out they didn’t they got shoved to the back.
  • I’m still loving my washable, re-useable shelf liner. I didn’t have to measure and cut new.

That’s one more cabinet cleaned and ordered. Time to move on to the next task.

And, remembering Paris on Throw-Back Thursday, here’s a photo of Bob and his father, having a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, mid 1980s…

Bob and Ted - Paris 1986-ish

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory

A Day Trip to Ghent (& the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat)

In some ways it’s a treat to be home from vacation — I can approach my house-projects in new ways and with new energy. But if my home is my ‘castle’ I can’t help comparing it to one we just toured…

Gravensteen - Ghent Belgium - Castle of the Counts

Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts) in Ghent, Belgium

Some of best times come on days that aren’t pre-planned. Sam’s been wanting to tour a medieval castle. We were on vacation last week in Brussels when he did a little extra reading in our guide book and noticed the Castle of the Counts, in Ghent.

We hadn’t planned our trip in detail, so it was easy to take a day trip to see it. Of course it’s been heavily restored, but what structure dating back to 1180 hasn’t? By the 14th Century the Counts of Flanders had moved on (I’m guessing they downsized), and the castle was used for other purposes until the 1880s when the city of Ghent started restoration.

Gravensteen - Ghent Belgium - Castle of the Counts

In back: a remnant of the moat.

One of the projects I most need to tackle here at home is bathroom remodeling, so of course I wanted a look at the loo —

Ghent Castle of the Counts - toilet

That spot of green is the shrubbery, or maybe treetops — a few stories down. Something like this would tend to discourage enemies from lurking too near the castle walls.

It’s a nice look, plain and simple, but a little basic for my needs.

Along the way up we toured through instruments of torture, so it was a relief to come out into the open, where there’s a great view.

Ghent - from Castle of the CountsThe climb up was steep, but going down was harder. Here’s Sam, waiting to see if I tumble…

Sam on the stairs at Castle of the Counts After the castle, we went to the Design Museum (no thumbscrews there). And now we’re home, so it’s time I got back to work on my own castle.

Did you see anything to inspire your home renovation?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat

More on Gravensteen, the Castle of the Counts, in Ghent

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour: (Extra)Ordinary

Sometimes I want my fantasy future home to be a loft. Room for books? Urban excitement and no leaves to rake? — Sounds pretty amazing. When we saw the Castleberry Hill neighborhood in Atlanta had a homes tour featuring lofts, I had to go.

Of course there was drama and art —Castleberry Hill Loft Tour - Art And expansive space…

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour - Art

Here’s what the sculpture overlooked.

But some were more home-like, with plants…

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour 2015

We thought this one was “most livable”

And pets…Castleberry Hill Loft Tour - kitchen with dog

And balconies…Castleberry Hill Loft Tour balconies And even rooftop gardens…Rooftop garden - Castleberry Hill Loft Tour

Which would you choose?

My only disappointment — no library ladders.

Castleberry Hill Loft Tour - dog






For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra)Ordinary

Theater Programs, My Goofy Collections, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

There’s a porous boundary between collecting and hoarding. I see I wasn’t paying attention when I crossed over it. Way over it. These are Theater Programs — just a small portion of the ones I, um, collected.

Theater ProgramsThis stack is bigger than it looks. I counted 77 to discard, and I’m only a little way through the “collection”.

I can’t think of anything else to do with them but recycle. I don’t think there’s a museum of theater programs to donate to, although a little conscious googling reveals that MoMA has a collection of Parisian Avant-Garde theater programs (here’s a link). Too bad mine don’t fit that category.

Yet, I am thinking of keeping a few, silly as it sounds. I’m a country girl. I’d been to the opera on a previous international trip, but I’d never gone to plays until my first trip back to London after I started working for the airlines.  I went to A Chorus Line at Drury Lane, and I was hooked. From then on I went to the theater every trip, sometimes every night. Programs were large and glossy, all through the 1980s and even into the 2000’s. After that? Here’s program-shrinkage from the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, 2001-2014 —

Theater Programs are shrinking, but, that's a good thing.

Theater Programs are shrinking, but, that’s a good thing. There’ll be less waste.

In the beginning, I collected programs so I’d remember which actors I’d seen in London or New York. I kept that interest over the years through subscriptions to Missouri Repertory Theater in Kansas City, the Alliance in Atlanta, and trips to the Shaw Festival in Ontario. Now, looking back through the programs, I realize I’ve seen so many productions over the years that there are many I’ve forgotten.

Some theaters encourage us to leave our programs there for the next audience, and I realize that anything else is wasteful. I wonder how long it will be before we can download them or view them on our phones while in the lobby? The Met Opera already e-mails program notes before its cinema simulcasts, so I expect help is on the way.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo’s mandate is to discard any possessions that do not spark joy. Examining the programs did give me joy, but I have to admit they’ve fulfilled their purpose. Now I can cross that boundary back into “collection” and disperse my hoard …

Can anyone think of a good use for old theater programs?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

An official collection of programs and playbills

Kitchen Window Keepsakes, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

My kitchen window opens a view to the back porch and beyond — but just now I’m looking at my keepsakes on this side of the grid.Kitchen Window

Are you wondering what’s with the little red dress?

It was at least half my life ago when, on a visit to my parents, I walked into the kitchen and fell about laughing at the sight of the dish soap in a tiny dress. My mother, who shared my hilarity, had made it — apparently, dressed-up dish soap was all the rage. She asked if I wanted one. “Of course!” I said. She made this one for me.  Not long ago, when clearing out boxes, I found it packed away. Naturally, I decided to use it. Here’s a closer look —

Well dressed dish soap

A prim country dish soap, very retro. I don’t know who started this fad. Could it have been related to skirts for piano legs?

Problem: modern dish soap containers tend to be of different proportions, and it took a while to find one the right size. Now that I have one, I plan to keep it and refill it, so that every time I look at it I’ll remember what fun I always had with my mother.

One more thing, not quite so easy to see —

Kitchen window spider

One of my nieces gave me this silver wire spider web (the spider has a crystal body)

Not that I need extra spiders around the house. There are plenty of natural ones here, especially in the fall, but it tickles me to have a favorite gift in the window where it catches the light. My niece knows me well. I’ve long been a spider fan, but right now I especially appreciate that — unlike the family of spiders who recently moved into the basement stairwell — this one is pretty, and it doesn’t reproduce.

One more photo. I looked for a picture of my parents’ kitchen and found this one, not very clear, and taken before I was born — here they are, doing the dishes. I love the glimpse of my mother’s face in the mirror.

Doing the dishes, before dishwasher

Dishwashers must not have been invented yet, or my father would have had one. He was always the first with gadgets.

My mother always wished for a window over their sink. I think she would have liked it that I put my keepsakes in mine.

Do you have keepsakes in the kitchen?

For more on the weekly photo challenge: Grid

Amsterdam Birds, Selling Used Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

My friend Donna’s planning a trip to Amsterdam, and I’m getting nostalgic about the trip Sam and I took last fall. On a morning walk to the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, we found lots of monochromatic images.

Misericord Owl - Amsterdam Oude Kerk

Misericord Owl – Amsterdam Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk interior - Amsterdam

Oude Kerk interior — choir stalls on the right.

I found lots of birds that day (OK, I’m always collecting pictures of chickens). Here’s a handsome tombstone.

Oude Kerk tombstone

Amsterdam gull - across the street from Our Lord in the Attic

One more bird – across the street from Our Lord in the Attic.

Meanwhile, here on the homefront, I haven’t been wasting my time. Just a couple of weeks ago, Bob’s vintage 1909 Harvard Classics “Five Foot Shelf of Books” went to a happy home courtesy of eBay, as did the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica set I sold earlier in the summer.

Harvard Classics Five Foot Shelf of Books

Even the Harvard Classics are monochromatic.

My Amazon book sales have been slow, so those two sales helped a lot on the clearing out. I’ve never thought of books as “by the pound” but mailing those out, I realized that, combined, they totaled over 150 pounds of books.  As of today, I sorted out another box full and loaded them up to donate to the library tomorrow morning. I’m so sticky fingered about books that I always find it hard to let them go.

I have to buckle down now, though. On that library trip tomorrow I’ll be picking up a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’ll see if that speeds up my basement cleaning project.

Wish me luck?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

Five Photos/Five Stories Part 5, the Dragon Con Parade, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

How long since you connected to your inner fictional character or better yet, your inner super-hero? This mini Wonder Woman was a magnet for passing super-heros at the Dragon Con parade on Saturday morning.

Importance of Being Wonder Woman Here comes another Wonder Woman, and the little one’s still got it…

Importance of Being Wonder Woman - 1

The Importance of Being Wonder Woman

Importance of Being Wonder Woman - 2

Importance of Being Wonder Woman - 3

Posing for Dad.

Even this unfortunate Storm Trooper got to shine (“Ewok stole my speeder…”)  — so what if he had to walk?

Storm Trooper: Ewok Stole my Speeder

This post veers off the topic of hoarding and downsizing, but it seemed like a good time to take a break — please stay tuned for an update on progress.

Five Photos/Five Stories the rules are: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. The stories can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph, with each day including a nomination to challenge another blogger. I’ve been a slothful blogger and not blogged my days in proper consecutive fashion, but still, thank you to Jean at Social Bridge for nominating me for this blogging challenge.

And, should any choose to accept, I’d like to suggest the Five Photos challenge to the following bloggers —

One Foot Out the Door

Solar Blessed

Paula B. Puckett

Meanwhile, tell me, who’s your inner super-hero?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

For more on Dragon Con