Buying a New Air Conditioner, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

I usually spend so much time snarled in the details of decision-making that it takes months to decide on a major purchase, but this time I had to be quick. On July 4 weekend, one of the hottest of the summer, my upstairs air conditioner uttered a mighty “thunk” and died.

Death was not entirely unexpected (but timing could definitely have been better). The old furnace and a/c were original to the house, which made them 37 years old. I’m surprised they made it this long, but a good maintenance plan helped.

Old AC-Furnace unit lurks in the attic

Here’s part of the old unit, lurking in the attic, disconnected and ready to leave.

I’d been hoping they’d last until I’m ready to move out. They were so large that I couldn’t imagine how they’d get them out of the attic, but as Sam would say, “these guys are trained professionals.” It all came down in pieces.

Furnace and A/C pieces are down

Old Furnace and AC unit come down the attic stair

Later I saw this part out in the driveway – I think it looks like a robot heart. See the aorta? But then, I’ve been watching The Iron Giant and Big Hero Six, so everything looks like a giant-robot-part to me.

Ductwork looks like a Robot Heart

I’m lucky the house has zoned systems, so the unit downstairs still worked. I moved downstairs and slept on the couch for two weeks until the new one was installed.

The old upstairs unit was noisy and friendly. I would hear it think about coming on, clink and groan a little, then run through it’s cycle. The new one is distant and serene, whisper quiet, and a little like the ambient hum of the Starship Enterprise. On the bright side, I no longer need to get a Star Trek White Noise Sleep Machine (“Effective as a Vulcan nerve pinch”).

New attic furnace and air conditioner 'system'

Here it sits, crouching in the attic amid that muscular and shiny ductwork. Now I get to feel virtuous about its energy-efficiency.

 At least when it comes time to sell the house, it’ll be a desirable detail on the list of upgrades. Meanwhile, I can move back upstairs and sleep in a bed, lulled to sleep by the ambient hum of… oh dear, could there be a warp engine in my attic?

Oh yes, and the new system is smart. It emails me acknowledgement when I change the settings on the thermostat. It wants to talk to my phone, but I haven’t let the phone know that yet.

What does your A/C sound like? And, do you let it talk to your phone?


More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Details

And, after some investigation on Youtube (where you can download hours of the sound) here’s the Enterprise…


Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon Base Stars are noisier, but you can get that sound too.



Before and After in the Laundry Room, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites

Am I late posting the photo challenge Opposite? Yes, but life is hectic. Maybe it’s time to call yet another opposite and blog about this small project instead of the big one I’m working on now.

Here’s my laundry room in the throes of change:

Laundry Room during paint job

My new appliances are covered while the old rest-of-the-room gets an update. I used this as a warm-up project – getting ready for the big one – a bathroom remodel.

Here’s my “before” photo with the old washer and dryer, bought when we moved here in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately there’s no angle without the ceiling light glare on the cabinets.

Laundry room "before"

Let me guess, you’re wondering “blue paint, what was she thinking?”

All the cabinets in this house are dark.  I had these painted as a test. If they hold up well, I’ll know I can have the kitchen cabinets painted.

The first step was getting a new washer and dryer (thank you Georgia, for a tax-free weekend for energy efficient appliances). The old ones were thunking and groaning their way to end-of-life.

Laundry room project "during"

New appliances, old cabinets ready for their update.

I like the top-loading washer with a glass lid because I can look in to see what’s really happening. For example, is it using more than 2 cups of water? (usually not – we’re talking mega-water-saver here) The only problem is, the new smart appliances are smarter than I am. If they have a problem, they don’t even talk to me about it – they tell my phone. On the bright side, they do play happy little tunes to say they’re finished with their cycle and, presumably, were glad to serve me.

Here’s my “after” photo — with a finished paint job, plus new molding and new cabinet hardware. And, goodbye blue, hello neutral walls. Another plus, the walls are the same as the adjacent breakfast room, so there’s consistency, not to mention fewer paint cans to store.

Laundry room "after"

Lest you think the outside of the cabinets looks a little blah — in the interest of opposites, there’s still an explosion of color inside the cabinets.

Clean hoarding: Laundry cabinets insideI feel the need to apologize for having all these plastic containers, especially in the midst of Plastic-Free July, but I’m still using up the hoarded cleaning supplies from a decade ago (previous post on clean hoarding).

Before and after, old v. new, inside v. outside, neutrals v. color, it’s still just a laundry room, but it does feel newer and cleaner, and gives me a sense of progress.

How about it – am I alone on this, or are your appliances smarter than you are?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Opposites






Sustainability, “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

Here’s to sustainability in sneakerdom: the undulating wave-like curves on this ocean-inspired sneaker are threads made from reclaimed, recycled plastic ocean waste. The Ocean Plastic Program’s goal is to end plastic pollution of the oceans.

Adidas/Parley for the Ocean sneaker - High Museum 'Rise of Sneaker Culture'

Prototype sneaker: Adidas, in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, and industrial designer Alexander Taylor ( Retail availability 2016)

There’s a lot more to see in “The Rise of Sneaker Culture” at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Though it’s a mostly boy-centric show,  I still found things of interest — like these silver moon-boots…

Moon Boot inspired sneaker - The Rise of Sneaker Culture at the High Museum, Atlanta

Sneaker moon boots! (well, sorta)

2014:   100 pairs were created in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing, and released on July 20 at 4:18 pm, the exact time of the landing of the lunar module in 1969. This sneaker sold for $196.90 to honor the date.
GE, Android Homme, and JackThreads collaborated on the design, using GE materials, including GE’s silicone rubber (as in original moon-walk boots) .

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum, Atlanta

Still shiny — Christian Louboutain Roller-Boat.

2012. Gold pony-skin uppers with studs, for men who “treat shoes very much as objects, as collectors’ items.”

And while we’re still on in the realm of gold, let’s segue to sports…

Clyde Gametime Gold - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" - High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Puma and Undefeated, Clyde Gametime Gold, 2012

Puma archive – these are an homage to the gold medal winners of the US Olympic basketball team.

Next, here’s an early pair of lady-shoes (yes I know I’ve already complained that there’s not much here for women).

Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, 1925 - "The Rise of Sneaker Culture" High Museum of Art, Atlanta GA

For the ladies: Dominion Rubber Company Fleetfoot, c. 1925

The apology here is that, “there were still concerns that women’s participation in athletics would detract from their femininity.” Hence the high heel. *sigh*   Still, it’s a unique show and well worth a visit if you live in the Atlanta area — on view through August 14, 2016.

Now for more thoughts on shoes and sustainability. If I google “average number of shoes a person owns”  the consensus from scads of articles seems to be “about 19 or 20,” at least for women. In view of that pair above I’m guessing the reason we have so many is that we’re still looking for some that are comfortable.

I’ve been reading The Boomer Burden, Dealing with your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, by Julie Hall. This morning, among sad facts like “Americans use 14 billion plastic shopping bags annually” (could that be true?) I read, “The average American buys 6.7 pairs of shoes a year.” Hmm, I am not innocent. I bought a new pair of sandals on sale last fall, and I’ve been staring hard at the soles of my walking shoes and wishing to replace them.

Now I’m off to count my shoes. I must have some I can donate.

How many pairs of shoes are in your closet?


More on The Rise of Sneaker Culture – at the High Museum, Atlanta until August 14 2016

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve















Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2016, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

What’s the best description of “modern” style? — how about spare, simple and …pure?  Here’s an update from this year’s Modern Atlanta (MA!)/Design is Human Contemporary Architecture and Design Tour.

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - living space

Is it the simplicity, or is it all that gray and white that makes it seem pure? Here’s a patio with a touch of color…

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - Patio seating area

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour, patio seating area — still “modern”

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - Entryway fountain

And an entryway fountain –  color courtesy of nature,  spare and pure (and maybe even Zen?)

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - Living room behind glass

Living room behind glass – on the tour, some homes are completed and lived in, some are in progress, some are in-between. This room is from the same home as the fireplace photo, and like it, this room was staged by Ligne Roset.

One thing about all these modern spaces — there can be no cozy piles of papers like what tends to accumulate in the corners of, well, some of our homes. That would definitely ruin those clean spare lines.  I guess there’s no choice but to downsize before going “modern.”

I should know all about downsizing by now, but there’s always something to learn. I’ve been reading Downsizing the Family Home, by Marni Jameson — here’s a sampling…

Everything we own has power … Letting go of anything we have seen or used or experienced as a child is hard because the memory embedded in the object has such power. We fear if we let go of the object, we’ll lose the memory.       — Organizing guru Peter Walsh, quoted in Downsizing the Family Home, by Marni Jameson

Simply and starkly put, sorting through a household makes us face our own mortality: the passage of time, life and death, where we’ve been, where we haven’t been, where we are in life, successes and regrets.    — Downsizing the Family Home, by Marni Jameson

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - Modern warmed with wood and stone

Modern can be a little cool — here’s a space that’s warmed with wood and stone

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour - stair with modern light

I love all the angles in this sleek modern stairway.

Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2016 - Stairway in remodeled house

My favorites on the tour are often the remodeled houses. The wood in this stairway links cool modern and warm vintage.

If I ever have a modern-style home of my own, it won’t be large and lavish like these homes, but I hope it can be as simple and pure. I’ll go with this definition of pure —  “containing nothing that does not properly belong.”

Still, on homes tours, I always wonder what’s behind the doors they mark “Please do not enter” — could there possibly be a little, just a little,  junky mess?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Pure

More on the Modern Atlanta Homes Tour 2016

















Leftover Foreign Currency, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

Got any spare change?

Spare Change

Funny that they call it “currency” because it seems to go out of date pretty quickly.

I’ve been tidying up for quite a while now, but even though I’m heading for a spare (simple) environment, I still keep spares (extras) of useful things. What hadn’t occurred to me until I saw this photo challenge?   — Change… spare change that is. And when it comes to pre-euro European currency, I can vouch for the fact that nobody wants it.

Before our trip to England in May, I found a stash of British currency that must have been from the 1980s. I found more traveler’s checks too, and in pounds — bonus!. I was singing “We’re in the money…” but then, when we got there, we had to find someone who’d take the traveler’s checks (thank you Post Office).

Leftover currency from New Zealand

More leftovers. Bob had just a small amount left from a 1990s business trip to New Zealand.

I had enough English currency to be a welcome addition to trip expenses, but it did require side-trips to the bank to exchange it for current — ok, “up-to-date” — currency. The old stuff was no longer spendable. In the countries on Euro, only a few banks will still exchange old currency at all. Last fall I took some leftover Belgian francs to Brussels. We spent time looking for the right bank, then learned they’d take only the larger bills. Sam thought I was joking when I said that, after the transaction fee, there might be enough for coffee.  Now I’m still left with the coins and small bills that my frugal nature doesn’t allow me to just throw away.

Coins from pre-Euro Greece

Sometimes we ended up with extra cash and kept it, thinking “we’ll be back” — and sometimes we ended up with just a souvenir amount. This little packet (with a note in Bob’s writing) was all we had leftover from Greece.

Even though it’s easy to use credit cards now, there are times it’s still good to have some cash. Tipping the cleaning staff springs to mind — I always sympathize with the maids. And in the future I’ll remember that some airlines collect extras for charity, so I could donate on the way home and avoid the spare change problem.

And this post? Late again, because it seems the only thing I don’t have enough to spare is time.

What do you do with spare foreign coins?  I’m thinking I’ll declare mine art material. A travel collage might be interesting…

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare

P.S. Anybody remember Scrooge McDuck? — I’m starting to feel the urge to play in piles of coins…

Another Drawer Explosion, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

I didn’t realize another drawer explosion was about to happen until I got home from vacation, couldn’t find the key to my pickup and went drawer-diving for a spare…

Another drawer "explosion"

I don’t even know WHEN it became a junk drawer, I usually just open it a couple of inches to grab scissors or extra house keys when I need them… who knew the rest of this stuff was there.

My friend Susan says drawers and purses are like Dr. Who’s Tardis, Snoopy’s doghouse, and Harry Potter’s tent — they hold many times more than their actual size would indicate. Sadly, she observes, this does not hold true for suitcases.

Here’s a partial list of loot from the drawer:

  • 6 pairs of scissors. Yes, 6.
  • 4 pocket flashlights – 1 I just bought, not knowing the other 3 were here.
  • 9 keychains – 3 with tiny squeeze-flashlights of their own.
  • 2 pocket knives – 1 standard, 1 with Betty Boop.
  • Old stuff – an extra key to Bob’s old PO Box, a coupon from 2008 (to be fair, just 1) and these —

A ticket from the Empire State Building Observatory — that would be from 1998, just before Bob’s second surgery in NYC.

A U.N. Guided Tour button — I haven’t been, so, no clue.

A U.S. wheat penny and a 5-pfennig coin, way pre-Euro.

And is that Odie? … I can’t imagine how he got here, either.

Odds and ends found in the "junk" drawer

Drawer Oddities

Moving on…

  • 3 folding rain hats. circa 1950-60. These would have belonged to Bob’s mother because: Kansas. Through what wormhole did they arrive in my kitchen drawer?
1950s folding rain hats

I unfolded the Wonder Bread one and, amazingly, recognized that dot pattern, from childhood.

  • 3 mystery objects…

Mystery objects from the "junk" drawerEventually I noticed there’s a razor blade inside the yellow one, so it’s a paper cutter. The silver one’s hard to open, so I haven’t. The black one? I finally got it open.

Is it a compass?

Apparently it’s a compass, but it’s an indecisive one, much afflicted by the wobbles. And why does it have a ruler on the side?

The drawer’s back together now, with most of its papers and many of its objects filling the recycle bin, with a few useful ones to donate.  I even stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond today and treated myself to some drawer organizers to keep me honest. The last job to do is sort through the keys. Am I happy with my clean drawer? Yes — I’m jubilant.

Do you know what’s in your kitchen drawers?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge

Catching up with a past Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

I may be the last person left on earth who still likes to get on an airplane. With the crowds these days, even I have second thoughts, but our trip home from the UK last Thursday was a lucky one — the flight wasn’t full. Sam and I each had our own row, and mine included the window.

1st View of North America from the air

Coming Home – maybe it’s the deep blue sky that I find so enthralling.

I love watching for that first view of North America. Someday I’m going to figure out where this is and go there. Another bonus this flight — I know pollution isn’t always visible, but it’s comforting to see the air look clean.

1st View of North America from the air

Still on the way home… I don’t see signs of human occupation yet.

Earth: our big blue marble

Earth: our big blue marble.

It looks like marble in more ways than one, doesn’t it?

Now that I’m home, of course I’m having trouble getting my mind out of “vacation mode” and back to daily business. We all have our vacation rituals, and for me, it’s the afternoon coffee stop. No excuses now, must resist. That other earth — the yard — needs attention today. People go on vacation, weeds don’t.

Do you feel like going out for coffee today? Are you resisting?

More on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Airline Ticket Sleeves, Goofy Collections Part 3, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Admiration

Unpacking a box from the basement, I found one more of Bob’s collections — vintage airline ticket covers (or are they sleeves? jackets? wallets?). Whatever we call them, they’re now a flash from the past. You may not even know what I’m talking about. Here’s a sampling —

Goofy Collections - Airline Ticket Sleeves After that, I made a stab at clearing my closet. I can’t do the Marie-Kondo thing and take everything out of all closets at once, there’s too much, but I thought I could take out a bit at a time. Then when I’m down to a manageable amount, I can consider her recommendations from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I can’t complain about Bob for keeping his tickets because… in the closet, I found my collection.

Airline Ticket Sleeves and Boarding PassesWhat was I thinking?

The best I can figure out is this:  We both loved traveling. We loved the world, and the way that working for the airlines opened it up to us. I think it was a way — however misguided — to remember where we’d been, a time capsule that we’d open someday and look back on, like I just did. It seems related to the urge to save old passports for the stamps.

So in a way I did Marie-Kondo the ticket sleeves — with the synchronicity of finding both batches, I took them all out and went through them, admired them, and moved on.

Among my tickets I found something else

Forgotten Traveler's Checks

Gotta admire the helmet on that Centurion too.

It’s not the first time I’ve found unused travelers checks when closet-diving. It’s nice to have a little reward for my effort, and money always “sparks joy”, right? It also reinforces my resolve to keep looking closely when I sort things, rather than just chucking out the lot. And I’ll be sure to use the money for experiences, not stuff.

Here’s a funny thing — those ticket sleeves? People sell them on eBay. (I had to look) Will I try? Maybe I’ll give it a shot. But would Marie Kondo mess with eBay? Probably not.

Do you keep old passports, or other trip souveniers?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Admiration

Vintage Doll Dishes, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime

I just found my doll dishes. I knew they were here somewhere.

Doll Dishes - tea set

Tea time in the doll world…

I don’t remember how old I was when I played with these, or which dolls were tea-drinkers. Although the dishes don’t take up much space, I certainly don’t need to keep them.

Just to get the scale in perspective, I’ll throw in an apple…Doll dishes - tea set

As is appropriate for a future vegetarian, my dolls had salad bowls too.

Wooden salad bowls for dolls

Judging by the fork on the right, at least one of the dolls liked to chew on the tableware.

I hope there are hungry/thirsty dolls out there somewhere who would love a tea party with my vintage dishes.

What did your toys eat?

P.S.I just checked eBay and I see that my dolls won’t be financing my retirement, but they might buy me a few apples.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime

Selling Used Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Future

In the future I will have fewer books. But meanwhile, isn’t there always time for books?

Time enough for books...

Time titles, and time enough for books, or werewolves –see volume 4th from the left.  These are not on the give-away list (yet).

I’ve been selling books on Amazon since 2012, but took stock last week and saw I had three bookcases full of books still waiting for their new homes. Now that I’ve unpacked the last box of books from the basement, I took a hard look at what I had listed on Amazon.

In some cases, as time passed, other sellers listed copies of books for much less than I had, so prices had fallen below my minimum. The time had come to downsize my books for sale.

  • The project — close the listings and donate books that are least likely to sell.
  • The goal — measure my progress by freeing up a bookshelf.

The result ? Here’s the “Fiction” case, after consolidation and two trips to the library with donations…

Empty book case

Empty book case!

Now that I have an empty bookshelf I have to hurry up and get it out of the house, so there’s no temptation to fill it up again. Next project: investigate consignment stores.

I’m still selling books, just with a lower inventory than before. Meanwhile, I’ve been so busy that my post on the category “Future” didn’t get written until it was “Past”…

I could never have imagined a future in which I’d have too many books — what about you?