Sorting T-shirts, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

I love window shopping. Not that I want to buy the things in the windows — I just like the art of display. If windows are in the process of transformation and I get to see the art take shape, so much the better. I took this picture of a Fifth Avenue window (New York City), earlier this month.

Changing NYC window. Bergdorf Goodman.

A display in the act of changing — Bergdorf Goodman.

Windows can be surprisingly deep. It’s hard sometimes to tell what’s behind and what’s in front, let alone where the picture plane is.

Now I have to admit that I did buy something on this trip — a T-shirt at the Met Museum, so it counts as a souvenir, plus, it was marked down to $12.00. Upon reflection, now that I have a new T-shirt it’s time to get rid of some that I already have. I found 9 to donate and 3 to consign to the rag-bag to use for cleaning.

Why did I keep so many T-shirts? People I love gave them to me; they came from previous trips that I want to remember; they were free; or I wore them out but thought I might “need” them for painting or working in the yard. And do you know what? — I also found a cache of never-worn T-shirts that Bob had.  Should I have a give-away on my blog? If you’re interested and have a US mailing address, leave me a comment and let me know how to reach you. They’re mostly size XL. Here’s a selection…

Never-worn T-shirts, mostly free or from Cons

T-shirts: some were give-aways, some from past Cons.

Are T-shirts a reflection on the owner? I’m sure Bob just got Jar-Jar and those smiley-face ones to give me a hard time. Um, *admission* — maybe I gave him the vampire smiley-face.

Here’s another thing I’ve been hoarding lately — articles about hoarding.  I know I need to let those go too, but before I do, here’s a quote from Olivia Judson’s “Home, Dismantled”,  NY Times, February 16.

I never agreed with the idea that personality is defined by objects;  I would rather say that objects are defined by personality. Yet when someone is dead and belongings are all that is left, dispersing those belongings feels like an erasing of that person’s physical presence on the earth.

And another,

An old T-shirt waves at you and says “Remember when we went to Hawaii together?” … a dried corsage — where was the dance? who was the date? — reminds you of the girl you were, who thought a corsage worth saving. In other words, objects are keys to remembering what happened and who you were, and their loss can make the memories inaccessible.

There in a nutshell is why I still have trouble getting rid of Bob’s things, as well as my own things. Like those window reflections, reasons can go surprisingly deep, and it’s hard sometimes to tell what’s up front and what’s behind them. Hopefully, with all this effort, I can be like that window display — changing.

Related articles:

Here’s a link to Home, Dismantled by Olivia Judson, Feb 16, 2014 NY Times

More on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

And here’s one on dressing Bergdorf’s windows.


Selling Used Books on Amazon, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

I’ve been selling used books on for just over two years now. I still have a few boxes of Bob’s books to go through, so a look “inside” one of the remaining boxes seemed like a good challenge to get me started sorting books again.

Inside a box of books that was inside my basement.

What’s inside the box? Here’s the top layer.

 I brought the first armload of books upstairs on Friday night. Here’s one…sHistory of Pi by Petr Beckmann

Synchronicity: It was Saturday morning before I actually looked at the books I’d brought up, and saw I’d missed discovering History of Pi on Pi-Day (3/14) by just a few hours.

The most modest author bio award goes to Don Lancaster for The Incredible Secret Money Machine. 

Incredible Secret Money Machine

Back cover of The Incredible Secret Money Machine

Plus, any idea related to Kurt Vonnegut’s books (granfalloons!) must be worth reading. I listed this one for sale but maybe I should read it first.

When unpacking Bob’s books I’m always amazed at the breadth of his interests. I admit I’ll be more than a little sad to finish cleaning out this particular corner of the basement. The books are the only window left into that ever-active mind, and though I know I need to disperse these things, I do it with a tinge of regret. From Droodles to the Decameron to The Theory of Parsing, Translation, and Compiling in this box alone, I can’t imagine that he ever got bored. I see now that in its own way, sorting through his books is one more illustration of going inside.

The Snake, by John Crompton

The Snake

Tally from this box:  19 listed for sale on, 20 to donate, and 1 to keep (OK maybe for just a little while).

Which one am I keeping?  The Snake seems like a practical choice for a woman with a yard full of ground-covers, (and it is St. Patrick’s Day today) but I’m feeling sticky-fingered about some of the others too, so I may change my mind.

Here’s a visual list of books I’ll give to friends or donate.

Visual List of books to Donate

Of those books I listed for sale this weekend, one sold this morning: Object Oriented Programming, an Evolutionary Approach, by Brad J Cox and Andrew J Novobilski.  More sychronicity: the matryoshka dolls on the cover make another nice illustration of “inside”.

Russian Nested Dolls, Illustrating "Inside" - Object Oriented Programming.

Illustrating “Inside” – Object Oriented Programming.

I got carried away and sorted two more boxes after finishing this one. They contained the entire set of Harvard Classics: Five Foot Shelf of Books. That’s a set of 51 books. I’ll have to puzzle over what’s best to do with those.  Do you have any suggestions?  (a little quiet reading while I’m thinking about it is always a possibility)

To see more of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside, click here.

“Your Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff”, the Whitney Biennial, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Funny, when I was a kid I did want my parents’ stuff. Bob did too. Funnier still, all this time I’ve congratulated myself on saving it for the next generation, thinking they’d be so grateful to have family  mementos (I was wrong).

— Can you tell what these details are part of?

Let’s zoom out for a different perspective  — they’re details from artist Joel Otterson’s pieces at the 2014 Whitney Biennial.

It was right about 100 years ago that Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp started using “found objects” as art, and neither art nor the way we view objects has been the same since.  In New York this week, both the MoMA’s and the Whitney’s current exhibitions showcase several contemporary artists working with found materials. In these examples, the artist used flea-market glassware, curtains, a quilt, old tools, and a collection of jewelry to assemble work that’s as witty as it is gorgeous.

Hoarders take heart! If we can just find the right artist, there’s hope for a new life, a wink, and big smile for our pass-along stuff.

"187 Bottoms Up", 2013 - Joel Otterson

Here’s a better look at the “Bottoms Up” chandelier, with the curtain of necklaces in the background. (I want!)

“Curtains Laced with Diamonds Dear for You”, 2014 – Joel Otterson

And one more close look, “Curtains Laced with Diamonds Dear for You”, 2014 – Joel Otterson

Related links:

For more on the Photo Challenge: Perspective, click here.

And for the Whitney Biennial, click here.

A Fixer-Upper, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Can you tell what this is?

Rescued chair DSC_0947

Bob and I went for a walk one day, back when I lived in an apartment in Kansas City. There, in someone’s trash at the curb, sat a chair. “Hmm, nice chair,” I said, “Help me carry it home, OK?” We were just a few blocks from my place, so we grabbed it and scuttled back. Bob always approved of found furniture, or any kind of found object. Too much so, as there are several things still in my basement that I think he must have acquired that way. But my chair worked out pretty well. I gave it a coat of paint, then bought a scrap of discontinued upholstery material and recovered the seat.

It was a bit dark for proper photographing today, so I took the chair to the porch for this official portrait–

Abandoned chair rescued curbside in Kansas City.

Abandoned chair rescued curbside in Kansas City.

DSC_0946I no longer acquire abandoned furniture. I have enough trouble downsizing the amount of stuff I already have without getting more. One other reason I didn’t photograph this chair in situ is that it’s in a room that’s my staging area for stuff I’m getting ready to donate. I’ve made several trips to Salvation Army and Goodwill lately, and even took my first trip to the dump.

I’ve never been to the dump before, and only went as a last resort when I’d accumulated a load of things I couldn’t donate. The amazing (and sad) thing about the dump is: I saw several useful things there that should have been donated, not abandoned, not taken to the landfill.  There were some nice picture frames that, at another time of my life, I would have loaded up and taken home to refinish.

“When I look at old pieces I see what could be.”    — Nate Berkus, Things That Matter

Do you have any rescued furniture in your house?

See more of the ‘Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned’ here.