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Sitting in Front of the TV….

…Once every two years or so, I regret that there is only one television in the house, all the way at the other end down in the den. I LOVE the Olympics, and really want to spend my free time watching them.

In order to not totally blow the next two weeks on flinging, I think that I shall endeavor to work on the following –recipes and photographs.

These two 27-thing fling projects can take place on the couch while keeping up with the latest in Vancouver.

RECIPES:

I have a two shelf area under the bar in the dining room that has scraps, clippings, binders, cards and books of recipes. The problem?? Don’t use them. For the most part, I cook from memory.

In order to Fling this area, gather all your recipe stashes (in a laundry basket maybe??) Grab a paper grocery bag (because it will stand on the floor neatly) a pair of scissors, some blank recipe cards (or index cards), another container to hold the ‘keepers’ and a good spot in front of the tube.

Some books should be easy. If you haven’t cracked the cover by now, it probably needs to go to Goodwill. If someone in the house is allergic to the main ingredient, or dietary restrictions eliminate over 50% of the recipes from contention, fling it.

If you remember there is one GREAT recipe in the book, grab a recipe card, and bookmark it for now.

The cut-out, magazine tear-outs and back of food box recipes that threaten to overtake you should be next. Have you made it? Why not? Would you make it again? Do you NEED a recipe to make it?

Fling or save, as needed.

When you have whittled down to a more reasonable pile, decide how you prefer your recipes. Do you want a box, with cards? Do you like a binder? A note book? A computer program? The transcribing, entering, creating of a new and useful to you recipe center can be done now, while you sit in front of the TV, delegate to another time, when you have the appropriate materials. (If someone gave you the recipe, remember to note it’s origin.)

PHOTOS:

This is going to be a multipart and on-going fling. Since we are in front of the TV, it’s going to be about real, hard copies of physical photos, printed on paper; not digital files.

Gather ALL your photos. The shoeboxes, the developing envelopes shoved in the bottom drawers, the photo albums that haven’t been updated, the desk drawer of stacks. Wherever and whatever state, bring them ALL together.

Paper garbage bag, of course. Manila envelopes, file folders, or plastic bins, and a Sharpie to label with family member names. You will also need a ballpoint pen.

First, as you open each envelope, DO NOT THROW OUT THE NEGATIVES. SAVE THE NEGATIVES. DO NOT FLING THEM!!! If you think you know the date/subject, write it on the envelope.

Second, DO fling any photo that is obviously out of focus, dark, blurry, or otherwise an epic fail. If it is with the subjects eyes closed, and the photo following has their eyes open. If the group shot was taken 13 times, save the 2 or 3 that are ok.

The only reason to save such poor image is—IT IS THE ONLY PHOTOGRAPH YOU HAVE OF THE EVENT OR THE PERSON. AND IT HAS GREAT HISTORIC SIGNIFANCE. See, that eliminates most of the reasons for saving the bad ones.

Next, fling the duplicates of photos that you really only need one copy of. If its a photo of your 5 year old and the neighbor boy, make a pile of the neighbor boy and give the pile to his mother when you are finished.

Other duplicates should be handled similarly. A grandma file so she can have photos. (You know she’s been asking) A long lost cousin file, a file of photos that you know have no negative but need to be scanned because other people would want a copy.

Make a Christmas pile, and a vacation pile. A school events pile, a pets pile. Whatever categories work for you. Now, give them away. If you see a relative once a year, and have for years on end, gather those photos, write a note, and ship them off to your relative. You have a copy, they have a copy, and memories will be recalled fondly. (Don’t ship the negatives and DON’T send the blurry ones!!!)

Oh, and before you give them away, or file or display? Do the genealogist a favor and DATE AND IDENTIFY the photos.

(And not as my great grandmother did. I own too many photos of 6-12 people, with notations like this on the back:

“Allison. Susie Smith’s house in Great Kills, Sunday, June 15, 1932.”)

Part two later. Don’t do anything rash with your photos while waiting. Enjoy the Games and Go, TEAM USA!

Your Great Aunt Mildred’s Bud Vase…

…And other things you can’t live without.

You are NOT flinging Aunt Mildred, ok? Let’s establish that first. Anything that belonged to her, that reminds you of her, that brings back fuzzy summer day memories as a child on her front porch….These are NOT Aunt Mildred.

They are your memories. Aunt Mildred will live on only as long as someone remembers her with love. Her bud vase may end up with someone who never knew her, never heard of her, isn’t related to her in any way, but simply loves the color or shape after you divest yourself of her vase, but she will live in your heart till you go.

That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. It just means that you can’t keep EVERYTHING of Aunt Mildred’s, because by doing that, these items lose their magic, their specialness.

I own (protect, am the guardian of) a broken (re-glued), rather pretty to me planter that belonged to my great-grandmother Casey. It suits my style, and it still holds a plant (unlike the planter destroyed this morning by Gandolf, one our cats, who was aggravated at a forced fasting….)

vase

It is the only thing I own of hers; I never met her, it doesn’t bring back memories of HER. But it recalls many wonderful afternoons spent in her home where her two daughters continued to live until 1980. If I had kept (been given the chance to keep) everything from that house, the memory wouldn’t be so grand.

I take that back. I also possess a glass-doored bookcase with an encyclopedia from 1926, which while I like to think belonged to my great-grandfather, but didn’t as he died in 1924. It probably got my grandfather through college; it was one of the few things he chose to keep when the house was broken up (or allowed or offered or…well it was 30 years ago, I need to let it go…)bookcase

Oh, and years later, I drove past the house and found someone finally renovating (not well, certainly, but renovating rather than tearing down) and I chatted for a few minutes as I looked around from the hallway, and I saw it as it was back when I was little, not as it was currently…. Every little wisp of sunlight spun the carpets and the furniture and the playtime into clear focus in my mind. The man gave me a piece of the ceiling- ornamental horse haired patterned- and I framed it and it hangs on my wall….

These are memories I can not pass on to my daughter. She will not have the same memory of why she might want to own this odd little framed item, except that she may treasure it because I treasured it.

So, the point is this. If you are keeping something that does give you pleasure, and it is lovely to look at and suits your space, wonderful! Surround yourself with YOUR things, not with things that were on sale as the latest and greatest decorating scheme! (Large wooden bowls filled with spheres confound me. Don’t you own anything to display that MEANS anything?)

If you own something and it does have a history, write down it’s story. Take a photo of it, put the story with it, create a journal so that your descendants can know you and your ancestors.

We live in an odd time, where every little change is recorded photographically; will photos and owning them mean the same thing; will they be as special and revered as the rare photo of my great-great-great grandfather? Every utterance we make online is filed somewhere, but are there records of your handwriting someplace?

Is everything you own color-coordinated and texture specific and themed and absolutely lacking any sentimental meaning?

Examine why you are keeping the broken toy. If it belonged to your dad, and its stuffed in a box in the back of the closet, take a photo of it and toss it. Better yet, find a spot on the mantel and clean it and display it and have your dad tell the story to your little ones about the day Santa gave him this toy, and how sad he was to have it break.

Keep things, fine. (There is no way I am going minimal without being dragged against my will, I can’t ask that of you) But keep things you LOVE.

paintbrushes (Something else that will survive the flinging. A Pringles can, circa 1982, made in high school—Miss Volpe’s art class—probably the only thing I own from high school, its a diary of who I was back then….and it is full of paint brushes that my grandfather used, and that I used in college and to this day….memories too strong, of linseed oil, of sneaking into the painting room after I should be in bed, watching Daddy Gus paint….)

Will I get to 27 things to fling?? Highly doubt it this round. But, if I do, most may end up being gifts to others, who I feel may appreciate and honor their existence.

Far better that you present these items, (complete with memories in a note card in your own handwriting,) than leaving them for someone to have to clean out in a time of emotion and sadness and depression, when time and distance cause them to be flung without regard.

Week TWO, February….

I missed Sunday’s blog. I admit it, I’m slacking. But, I did say you needed a shredder for this fling, and mine had died.

It took me till Saturday to get to Staples to buy one. (Yes, I work next door. I know.) But I was gearing up for the task, gathering my thoughts, and purchasing my new file system.

I also got mildly distracted by my photography, which doesn’t usually happen in the middle of the winter. But between our two weekend snow storms–(The first a home run, 8-9 inches, pretty; and the second that really was a non-issue after all)–HERE. I know that DC and northern Virginia and other places are digging out from 26-38 inches. Mine mostly melted yesterday. You can see the muddy, bare ground in the front yard again. Yay.

In any event, one of the photo places I hang out at virtually was running a challenge on ‘Doors and Windows.’ How could I NOT participate? Wednesday before work, I drove to Petersburg, and avoided the snowy ground and got some wonderful photos. I am so excited and energized by them; they make me happy.

2010-FEB Ptrbrg-3416x16 copyright

“ONCE WHEN I WAS YOUNG….” The rest of the shoot is posted for viewing (and purchase) at my Smugmug site.

But on Sunday, before the game, I plugged in the shredder and got to work.

shred

files 

Two 13-gallon trash bags later, I had a new and organized file system!! (Please note, this does not include half of the paper in the house. Timmy has not yet begun participation, so all the house files and such—his purview—have yet to be touched.) All the utilities I pay, all my personal stuff –up to and including my college transcripts and tax life pre-marriage were gathering dust here.

No longer.

The newest Fling is rather broadly scattered through the house. You may run into pockets of un-flung other stuff while there. FLING it. It will be ok.

This week is “Knick knacks/Home decor.”

This may end up being the hardest to do, simply because this is where emotion and history and memory and sentimental gentle winds blow through and force you to save, save, save.

The sad fact is, we can’t save everything. I watched one of the HGTV shows the other night. It was the Messiest House in America Contest. (Why would you ENTER that contest? Especially when they were SO resistant. And seriously? MESSY. Filthy, gross messy.) But I digress. Watching those shows isn’t a healthy thing to do, I think. It makes you not see your own issues because theirs are so overwhelming. But the lesson that is learned (sometimes) is that everything can’t be saved.

I am not of the opinion that you don’t need touchstones from your life. I don’t think a photo of your lovely china collection is the same as Christmas dinner eaten off the china; I don’t think taking a photo of a cherished teddy bear is the same as being able to let your grandchild hold him some day.

Your grandchildren won’t want your entire moth-eaten menagerie.  This is where saving versus hoarding versus collecting balances on a very fine pinpoint.

Think on it. Don’t fling with wild abandon here. Gift these things now, with lovely notes explaining their provenance. If you believe Sally will appreciated something someday, but her parents might look at it as trash, package it carefully, write Sally a note, and leave it for…later.

I am ending this now. More on these thoughts soon. Just don’t make rash decisions with this fling. (Mostly burned out candles? Easy fling. The candleholder? Maybe not.)

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