So yeah, I do occasionally sit out on the patio. The west end is underneath our upstairs neighbor's balcony, making it even shadier but also very sheltered. This is a morning shot.
We wrapped the exterior fence of the patio with reed fencing soon after moving in. It's held up well for almost ten years.
I do most of my crafty work on this dining table. The chandelier is on a dimmer and can be quite bright, but I also have a Verilux floor lamp.
That chandelier, by the way, we found in an antique shop and Mr. P re-wired it. We got it for $85 and later found out it is completely dressed with Swarovski crystal. It was missing one strand, we went to a chandelier shop to replace it, and that one strand cost nearly $30. So we were feeling pretty smart.
To the left is a vintage lacquer cabinet with jade ornamentation and cloisonne hardware, found at a Chinese import shop (since closed) in Santa Monica. To the right is our bar cabinet, found at Malabar Coast on La Brea.
In the "no corner without books" illustration, here is a collection of art books that weighs about as much as the table.
The table set is from Orient, on Wilshire, and the bookcase is from Terra Nova. Even though we don't really need any more furniture, I still like to browse those stores! The cloisonne vase on top of the bookcase is also from Orient.
This is one of my more successful "design" moments. The print is from our Hawaiian honeymoon; the Chinese display shelf holds a collection of dragons; the altar cabinet holds cameras, etc. I was quite pleased with the repetition of circles here.
As I have reduced the total amount of Stuff in the apartment I've been more able to see the possibility of intentional combinations like this.
To the left you will note a small assortment of DanceSport trophies. They are sitting on top of the DVD player NOT because we like to constantly congratulate ourselves, but as cat-deflection devices. The black cat was getting in the habit of sleeping on the DVD player. Cats - especially cats with bulimia - and DVD players do not mix.
I've been telling myself for years that I need to do our bookkeeping on a quarterly, if not monthly basis. And for years I have not been doing that, in large part because I didn't have a good work surface in the den. I prefer to work in the den because that is where the cats and the husband and the teevee are, versus alone in the home office behind a closed door. Feh!
So this little table is from Pier 1. It is exactly the right height and dimensions to hold my laptop, a notepad, and a pen. I will shortly be employing it in conjunction with our coffee table, which will be holding my flatbed scanner, as I begin cleaning up the 15 years of scrapbooks.
Underneath are a pair of cat beds. On top are a trio of baskets. One is just mass-market; the other two are handmade pine-needle baskets, one from San Diego and one a gift from my sister. Clearly I need a third pine-needle basket.
Here is a view of the den, for context, complete with cat. And a "cow" print pillow that looks really horrible there. The whole couch-industrial complex is on its way out. We just need to figure out if we want to 86 it before or after finding a substitute.
On the wall are two images of Kilauea volcano; one is a watercolor print and the other is a photo, from our honeymoon on Hawaii (Big Island). The third picture is a photograph of Mt. Lu, in China, by Guo-Ji Liang.
As previously noted, I have been re-working the patio garden. This is more or less an ongoing process, but I do a "big re-org" every spring.
My mother, who is an indefatigable gardener and knows about these things, gave me a few pieces of advice about my arrangements. I had a pretty good rationale for why I had things set up the way they appeared in the last photo posted here; but having a good rationale for doing Thing A does not necessarily mean that Thing B would not be still better!
And, because despite some evidence to the contrary I am not completely pigheaded, I have been gradually tweaking things to align with the advice received.
The first thing I did was get three matching containers for plants that needed to be repotted anyway. I have never done this before, but the budget allowed it this year and I found a design that I liked, so it happened.
The second thing was to find a way to disguise another container that was appropriate for the plant, but just not very nice-looking. The container was a big red-brick-colored plastic one, and for some reason I thought "basket." Went to find one at World Market, and did; but it was not the color I wanted ... so I painted it.
The third thing was to devise an arrangement that reduced some of the visual clutter that follows upon having a lot of separate objects that need to be elevated (short version: table legs).
Once the re-potting was done, things got moved around. And moved around. And moved around again, because the visual weight of a distribution is not always apparent at first glance if you are not a genius at spatial relationships, and I am not.
There is a considerable reduction in the number of items out there this year. Last year I think I had seventeen separate plant containers; right now it is twelve, and I'm pretty happy with that.
I also had some pottery pieces that were not plant containers; they are still out there, and I even added a new one (which could be a plant container, but I'm not using it that way for now) because I liked the color so much and this year's theme is "More Color."
The most recent rearrangement may stick. It involved further reducing the table-legs inventory. Or at least, the table legs on the ground. Photo(s) to follow soon.
No, I have not started "juicing." What a waste of good fruit.
What I have done is - essentially - completed the cleanout and reorganization of 30 years' worth of files. I am middle-aged, and a packrat, and have had plenty of living space for a long time.
Years + space + the tendency to hold onto things "just in case" = a crapload of paper.
I did a major purge back in 2007. Another one in 2010. And now this one. A lot of stuff went in the trash, and probably a larger amount went into the secure shredder bins at the office (I love those things). A considerable quantity of office-supply type organizational stuff has been separated out for Goodwill.
Categories of Ye Purge:
Writing files. I've been writing all my life, in a lot of different genres, and have carefully hoarded most of it. After the 2010 purge I had gotten this stuff down to a portable plastic file box plus a couple of binders. The writing I've done over the past year helped me get rid of the binders.
The rest of the material has been sorted into nicely labeled folders which now fit into my secretary desk in the home office. This collection should be smaller yet by the end of this year, as I finish more projects.
Tax records. This was a multi-year project because I've been paying taxes for A LONG TIME and the household returns require considerable recordkeeping. That is what using Form 8829 and Schedule C will do for you. All of the tax records - ours since we started filing jointly, and mine from the beginning of time - are now in matching boxes in a locked storage area. Still to come: Mr. P's individual returns.
Miscellaneous Financial Archive. This includes my employment records, auto purchase records, closed investment accounts, and the like. I had ten years' worth of auto insurance policies for some reason. Not anymore. Old medical records? Gone. (No, you do not need to keep proof of getting your teeth cleaned.) I have to hang onto a couple of binders relating to the closed investment accounts for another 5 years, but they are cleaned up to the point that I never have to look at them again.
Stuff relating to USA Dance. I started our local chapter and have been on several Boards over the years. When we got started, very little of the organization's material was available online; now all of it is. I have just two small folders left, with stuff to be scanned and uploaded to our Google Docs. Before last weekend? I had about 18 folders plus a binder. GONE.
A happy result of all of this work is that my secretary desk now contains only current files. No archives, no "just in case." Current/ongoing files that were stored elsewhere are now in that desk's file drawers, where they belong. If I get hit by a bus and Mr. P has to figure out my various statuses, he only needs to look in this one place.
I was organizing some files recently, including a box of files relating to writing projects, and came across some notes I had taken a loooong time ago that relate to a Pet Peeve of mine, which is apparently a Pet Peeve of many people ... or so it would seem from the mockery available for review on Failblog.
This Pet Peeve is: the inability of people, when writing, to distinguish between homonyms.
A spell-checker, even if you are sufficiently alert to use it, will generally not tell you that you are using a homonym (i.e. a word that sounds like the word you intend to use but that does not necessarily mean the same thing) because a homonym is, generally speaking, a real word and you may in fact be spelling it correctly. It's just not the CORRECT word.
Some of the most egregiously common:
Those are basic grammar. The difference between these words and their application ought to be inculcated by age 10 at the latest. These words appear with monotonous regularity in publications of all types, at all proficiency levels. However, because there is precious little actual writing required of most schoolchildren, the use of these words is probably not taught with any degree of attention. A very basic illustration:
"Your" is a possessive. It means: that thing belongs to you. In use: That is your cell phone.
"You're" is a contraction. It means: You are. In use: You're going to the coffee shop.
"Their" is a possessive. It means: that thing belongs to them. In use: That is their car.
"They're" is a contraction. It means: They are. In use: They're going to the coffee shop.
"There" is a location (actual or metaphorical). In use: The coffee shop is over there. (i.e., not here.)
"Its" is a possessive. It means: that thing belongs to that entity of indeterminate gender, such as a company, such as a coffee shop. In use: That is its power line.
"It's" is a contraction. It means: It is. In use: It's starting to rain.
Those are, as I said, basic and ubiquitous examples of homonyms. There are other more arcane examples that come up pretty frequently if you read a lot of fiction (as I do). Here are a few:
"Free reign" instead of "free rein." The first is gibberish. The second is what you do when you decide to let a horse gallop freely, and is in fact the phrase the writer is looking for 100% of the time.
"Pouring over" instead of "poring over." The first is what you do with water over tea leaves, only you would never say it that way. The second means studying. Hint: if you want to state that your character is studying, please just write "studying."
"Baited breath" instead of "bated breath." The first is ... what? You just ate some fish? The second is what happens when you are barely breathing, holding your breath, abating your breath, perhaps because you are trying to go undiscovered or are nervously awaiting a verdict.
"Flare" instead of "flair." The first is what a full-circle skirt does when you spin around. The second is talent or style, which can be quickly undermined by lack of application to the dictionary.
I tell ya, this decluttering thing is pure psychology. You simply cannot do it without learning a lot about yourself.
One thing I've learned is that despite my very practical approach to daily life, I have a lot of fantasy-life residue, and some of it is in my way.
Here are the things I am involved with.
Full-time job. Includes: a very short commute to a near-perfect job location doing work that I'm good at and that suits me. This is the best work situation I've ever been in since moving to L.A.
Marriage. Includes: almost all meal planning, shopping, cooking, and kitchen clean-up; most other housework; almost all social and vacation planning; household bookkeeping and tax returns
Ballroom dancing. Includes: regular practice with Mr. P; occasional appearances at social dances around town; occasional shows; coaching; competition; costume additions, subtractions, and amendments.
We still need to decide just how far we want to take this and how much we want to invest in it. It's going to be part of our lives as long as we can hobble, though, I suspect.
Volunteering (with USA Dance). Includes: monthly Board meeting; at-least-weekly messages to compose and schedule in Constant Contact; at-least-monthly updates to the chapter website; posts on chapter's Facebook group when I can come up with something; frequent email correspondence to/from other Board members; monitor chapter's gmail in-box and respond to messages as necessary; add new contacts to the CC database; attend chapter dances when possible
Writing. Includes: this blog; another blog that I am about to shut down; the Unclutterer forum (now abandoned) and its successor; last year's novella project; this year's novel projects; screenplay projects; creating my own content files for Kindle publishing and CreateSpace.
This is primarily for my own satisfaction, but I have in fact received a small royalty payment from Amazon for the novellas and thesis, and I do in fact have plans to try and sell some work in other venues.
The Etsy store. Includes: monitoring listings; occasionally making new stuff; taking photographs and updating listings, or creating new ones; processing the occasional sale; keeping records for tax reporting (sales tax and income tax, though this is purely at the hobby level)
The patio garden. I hold this separate from "housekeeping" as it is not essential to our daily life. It's a small luxury that adds to our quality of life, though. Includes: watering and grooming the plants; sweeping; reorganizing; repotting; cleaning and filling the hummingbird feeder
General Organization. As the household archivist, I have thousands of photos and probably thousands of scrapbook pages. There is an ongoing effort to digitize everything that's not already electronic (for space-saving and decluttering purposes, but also for ease of use).
In addition, I maintain the music library and the DVD collection. Both need to be thinned out. This is very low priority, but it's still on the list and it still takes a good chunk of time once I sit down to do it.
Okay, here's the takeaway.
As one might suspect from a recent post, I am looking for something to divest. It is abundantly clear to me what that something ought to be, in terms of conveying the greatest possible relief ... without taking away something of true value to me, Mr. P, our personal economy, and/or our quality of life.
And in fact, the end of 2013 - I am essentially decided upon this - will see me divest not one but two things from this list. I've decided that the Etsy store will have to go.
I am looking at a different way to sell the things I make: a way that will involve selling in person, only once or twice a year, vs putting things out into the vastness of the Internet and letting them sit there. The store is the least expensive way to sell my stuff, but it's also not particularly effective.
And while I am sufficiently introverted to kind of dread an in-person sales venue, I also remember quite clearly the fun I had twenty years ago when I did stuff like that. It's one thing to ship something off, more or less anonymously, to an online buyer; it's quite another to hand it to a smiling customer across the table.