Thursday

I Had a Dream-Part One

Many years ago when I was a teen, I had a dream. Actually a couple of them. I dreamed of becoming a writer and a photographer. I wrote constantly, a lot of silly poems and little stories. I kept a journal faithfully, to use for future story ideas and loved getting assignments in English which required researching and then writing about something. Anything. It didn't matter what the theme was, I would dig in eagerly and my grades always reflected my love of writing with an A.

As for the photography, that had it's own place in my heart and where the writing was a way of getting things out, anger, sadness, anxiety, or sharing happiness and knowledge, the photography was more of an escape. Photography brought a calmness to me. Whatever was happening in my life would seem to disappear for a brief time while I became the camera and all the beauty I captured was stored inside my soul. It still works like that today.


I kept these dreams to myself, they were my anchors, my secret goals to see me through what wasn't an easy childhood, although it may have looked great to the casual observer. When I was too young to have a license, I would often disappear early in the day on my bike. Taking my camera and lunch I would set off and spend my days riding along the back roads, rarely spotting another person, taking shots of anything that caught my eye. Flowers, cows, horses, old rotten fence posts, stone walls, reflections in streams, abstracts made by nature's textures, shadows from light filtering through the leaves, so many wonders to be caught through the lens of my camera.


After many hours I would return home, always happy and tired with a couple of rolls of film to be developed. I have lost most of the photos from those days, a fire destroyed quite a few and the actions of another person took most of what remained, along with everything I had written during my younger years. However, 45 years later I still have some photos tucked away. Not many, probably less than a dozen, but I like to take them out and look at them occasionally and go back to the days when I was young and full of dreams that seemed possible to achieve.


My plan was to go to college for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and then, while working at whatever writing or photography type jobs I could find, continue my studies until, at some point, I got a Master of Fine Arts degree. I had great grades and ambition and most of all love for both subjects so I was hoping to get help with college through scholarships if possible, even though I didn't take the college courses in high school and went for the business ones instead. I might have been a dreamer but I knew it wouldn't hurt to have a backup plan! Also, I had started working when I was 13 and was putting money away so knew I would keep working and saving. By high school I was so used to working it would have felt strange to NOT work. and of course I knew I would keep writing and taking photos while I continued my education. Perhaps even get some articles or photos published! In those days anything seemed possible.


If only a strong desire was all it took to obtain your dreams. Now I look back and think of how naive that younger me truly was. I was so positive I would succeed, after all, what could go wrong?


I soon found out that LIFE could go wrong. Despite my best intentions life came along and knocked me on my butt, stealing all my dreams in one full swoop. For reasons that will remain known only to my therapist and a few very close friends, before I turned 17 I was working a full time 3rd shift job, had dropped out of school and by my 17th birthday was living in my own apartment. I had actually left home at 16 but was dragged back for another year. During that year I quit school and found the job which enabled me to have the money to move out.


And that, as they say, was that. It seems that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get hold of the dreams firmly enough. I ended up getting married, and divorced, and married again. First husband didn't support any of my "little hobbies", so they withered away during our 12 year relationship. Second husband was proud of his wife the writer and very supportive. So I started taking a home study course in Journalism and was doing pretty good at it..when LIFE decided to rear it's ugly head again. This time in the form of our first child, a son, who despite odds of 1/800, was born with Down Syndrome. Not a curse, he was, and is still, very much loved. He just wasn't what we had expected at our age. However, as a writer and a new mother of a baby with a disability, I saw a wonderful chance to help other new parents of Down Syndrome babies and wrote an article titled "So Your New Baby Has Down Syndrome" which included many helpful tips and such that we had learned, mostly on our own, not being ones for groups and such. I hand wrote it in a notebook and eventually typed the final draft on an old Royal typewriter, all during times when our son was sleeping. When it was ready I mailed off letters to baby magazines trying to get it published. Every day when the mailman came I would meet him, only to be told no letter today. He knew after a couple of days what I was waiting for. And then one day, it came. A letter from American Baby. I think the mailman was just as excited as I was by then, so he asked if he could wait and see what it said. I didn't even have to tell him. The fact that I screamed and practically jumped into his arms to hug him said it all!


WOW! They wanted it and were going to PAY me for it! This was it. I was now a REAL writer! Of course I should have known better, but I was floating, with my head in the clouds, never expecting that once again LIFE had other ideas where I was concerned. My article was lost in the mail. I had sent it out the very next day, regular mail. As if that wasn't bad enough I had sent the ONLY COPY of my final draft. All I had kept was my original, very rough, handwritten draft, basically nothing more than a glorified outline. Almost immediately after that, the rabbit died again and baby number two came along. Again, not a curse, she was, and still is, very much loved. But it made me rethink my goals. With a new daughter who was very advanced and did things much sooner than she should have and her brother who was delayed, it was almost like having twins. One or the other always needed me, so it was time to close the textbooks, put away the pencils, paper and typewriter and grow up.


Part Two coming soon....

Wednesday

Decluttering: Day Two

Several weeks ago, when I had some spare time, I went through the apartment gathering a bunch of papers and mail together and putting it all into two milk crates. I didn't throw them out then because they needed to be shredded. Today was the day I decided to spend some quality time with my shredder. And here is the result, a tall kitchen trash can of envelopes, flyers, etc and an equally tall shredder bin of shredded mail. As part two of this, I got online and set up electronic statements, reducing mail to the house by four statements each month. A LOT of what's in this shredded pile are those statements.
Not that I have so much money that I need four accounts, but there is a savings ($5.00!! WoooHooo!!) that you need to have to get the checking and the small account I have for my grandson, plus the two checking accts for me and my son. I had already done this years ago at my other credit union and we have paperless billing for the utilities and insurance so I don't know why I hadn't already set this bank up like this before now. 

The shredder has also been moved to a spot in the studio, so I can check mail and shred it right away, instead of carrying it into the living areas where it tends to get shuffled from place to place until it is scattered everywhere and I end up with boxes of it to go through.


I also went through my cookbook collection. I have a lot of cookbooks. Some I have had since I was 17 when I moved into my first apartment. Others, I have bought through the years and still others that I have no idea where they came from. I know I never bought them and nobody gives me cookbooks as gifts. Seems like my clutter has been inviting their friends to move in!

Anyhow, I have favorites that I tend to use while the rest sit and gather dust on the shelves, so today I decided that somebody else could have my cookbooks (and their buddies) and boxed up 25 of them.


The Microwave Cooking one on top is one of the mystery cookbooks. Where did that come from? I never use the microwave to cook meals, just for heating up stuff or frozen foods. Weird.
This box has been added to the pile from yesterday for my daughter to take and drop off today. You can see a section of the lampshades in this photo too. 
Maybe you have a ton of cookbooks that you no longer use in this age of googling a recipe? If so, that might be a good place to begin your own battle against clutter.

While my youngest grandson is here today I will be looking around and deciding what area of the apartment to work on tomorrow. This is actually beginning to be enjoyable. Maybe because I am limiting the time instead of spending all day at it. For whatever reason, I am glad I started. Already seeing a noticeable difference in the kitchen / family room and looking forward to seeing wide open spaces and uncluttered surfaces in the rest of the apartment too as the year progresses.
I will leave you today with a link to another site about living clutter free ORGANIZED HOME I browsed through several pages and will be going back. It has printable checklists and challenges and even tips on keeping your home clutter free.

Tuesday

DAY ONE of my "toss 10 item a day mission"!

Recently I have decided to totally rid myself of all the extra stuff in my life, some of which I have carried around with me for almost 40 years! 

It started a few months ago when I went crazy getting rid of extra furniture. A lot was placed outside on the sidewalk to be taken by anyone who wanted it, and bigger items were donated to my son's adult program for them to redo and sell as arty pieces of furniture to help raise money. Pieces I had kept for years, thinking that "someday" I would redo them. Some tables I put on the sidewalk I had when my kids were born in the early 80's. A few months later I heard about a family who had no furniture at all and I wished I had held on to all that stuff a bit longer to give to them, but luckily I had a few things still left that I was able gift them with. 

 I felt so great as rooms began to empty out! Not only were the rooms ...well...roomier...but also neater, and so much easier to keep that way. 

Along with the lighter, airier spaces I also began to feel lighter inside as all the weight of too many possessions began to be lifted from me. I began to feel almost a sense of freedom.

So, I began tossing things here and there. A broken lamp I was thinking of fixing, a toy that no longer worked that used to be one of my kid's that I was saving for my grandson, about 20 winter hats that nobody ever wore. 

Never with a plan in mind just as I felt like it, and always with a lot of internal struggle. I have a lot of things for a reason after all. While I am not a hoarder, I tend to hang on to things, which is pretty obvious I guess from what I've said already. Each thing that has been gotten rid of has been bagged and unbagged until it finally makes it out of the house. I actually put one table on the sidewalk about 5 times before somebody took it before I could bring it back in again! 

 Until I stumbled across this site http://www.365lessthings.com/ One thing a day? I could do that surely, with no problem too. Plus she gives you mini missions, such as, take 10 minutes a day and declutter a specific item or space which she posts. One day was wall items, another entertainment items. 

 Now, like I said, I have a LOT of stuff, and I want most of it GONE within the next two years, if not sooner. So I decided to go one step further and get rid of at least 10 things a day for 365 days. I am sticking with the 10 min idea and choosing one specific type of item, just more of them. 

 Today is DAY ONE of my 365 day plan. This is what I packed up to send off to Salvation Army today. A box of old wall wreaths and plaques and such. Many I have had since my late teens (I am 58 now!) and aren't that important to me, I don't even notice them anymore really and when I do, it is usually because of all the dust on them! So time to let them go. Besides, I'd much rather see my own photographs or artwork on the walls :-) In this box, are 10 items that hang on the wall, and under those are about 30 old VHS tapes and in a separate bag are three large old lampshades. When my daughter comes tomorrow I plan on sticking this box right into her car so she can drop it off when she leaves. And I have already taped it up to make sure that NOTHING gets taken OUT of it before then..LOL




If you're interested in ridding your life of a bunch of stuff you don't need I highly suggest checking out the site I posted. She has a lot of great ideas and not only that, but she has done it herself so she knows what it's like and what you (and me!) will be going through as we fight our way out from beneath piles of unused, unneeded stuff.I CAN do this and am already looking forward to a much simpler life.

Won't you join me?

Some unexpected guests dropped in today...

 I was doing boring housework today when the doorbell rang and my neighbor Ron yelled to me to come out with my camera and bring some bread..QUICK!

So of course I did. And this is what I found.



He said they just suddenly landed in the street in front of my house so he led them up the driveway. I've lived here 6 years and never had geese land on our street. I'm guessing they were on the way to the local park where they live all year but the pond is probably still frozen over.

They were pretty willing to pose for photos as you can see below.


Eventually Ron led them down the driveway back to the road, but they didn't want to leave. Guess they liked all the goodies and the nearby water they found in the puddles.

They seemed to have fun walking around the snowbanks from the driveway, up the street and then back down the sidewalk towards the driveway again.
The sidewalk has so much snow piled up on the sides that even the geese can only walk along in a single file.



The FedEx truck had a bit of a problem on the route today. Not only narrow streets made even more narrow by parked cars, but slow moving geese too!



I had to call my other neighbor Diane to come see them too. As I said, this isn't an every day occurance and things have been so blah and gloomy with this weather that this small hint of spring was worth sharing. It made folks that drove by and us smile.

She now has a new nickname...Mother Goose!



John, my children's Dad, led some down the street with a trail of corn, like the Pied Piper.

Then off they went, leaving behind a happy bunch of people who for just a little while got to imagine being outside in warm weather and sunshine, despite the piles of snow. But also with the renewed hope that spring can't be that far away if the geese are returning to RI.



And how was YOUR day?

Wednesday

Just snow tired.....

Kept Josh home today.

An older photo of him in his version of winter gear

Not because he is sick.

Not because he is having another bout of his mysterious swelling disease.


But because I woke up, looked outside and just couldn't deal with the thought of going out at 6:30 to shovel the (maybe) 2" of snow so he could walk from the house to the street.


With all the snow we've had in RI this year, the driveway has gotten narrower and narrower and now the van that picks him up can't get in it anymore...heck SARITA can barely make it in with her car.



We tried to widen it the other day but there is just no place to put it without

*A. Trying to throw it on top of the mountain in the front yard, or

Actual yard sits 2 feet higher than sidewalk so this is way over my head and I'm 5'5.


*B. Carrying it up the street and throwing it on the pile in front of the abandoned house.

See that white fence in front of the man? That is the yard of the house I am talking about.
NOT happening folks.

So back to Josh. He is upset. He wanted to go today and has been letting me know that.


Repeatedly.


And I expect to be hearing it all day....or at least until I get tired of hearing it and let him come on the computer to watch YouTube.


But, I have to think of his safety. The past two days he has almost slipped and fallen. Once on the ice at the end of the driveway (impossible to get rid of it, believe me, we tried) and once on the ice from the curb to the street, another frozen puddle in the street that can't be gotten rid of and that salt doesn't seem to help. The thought of getting him over either area with an added layer of snow covering them along with the blast of freezing air when I opened my front door, not to mention my already aching arms and back from shoveling away snow and ice for two days in a row....well let's just say bed and keeping him home was more appealing today.


There is also this: For 27 years I have been getting Josh up around 7AM, getting him dressed and ready to go to one program or another or off to school. All year long, five days a week. Except for the last nine years when he has been going six days a week. Unless he's been sick he has gone to "school" since he was three years old. So not only am I tired of this winter and all this snow and ice and freezing weather. I am just plain TIRED.


Wondering if the parents of other disabled children feel like this at times?


But that question will be the subject of another post on another day.


For now, I have to deal with Josh being obnoxious. He has already told me about 20 times that he wants a bowl of Cheeseballs and another of M&M's...NOW. And he is walking around carrying "Red" (a plush character from Fraggle Rock that he calls his girlfriend) and his headphones because he has been good for "two weeks" (in real life about 5 minutes) and will sit and wait in his room for his turn to use the "pooter" (which actually means he will...and is...standing behind me in the door to my room telling me over and over and over without taking a break about the food and the computer all while staring at the back of my head...


Took this shot of Josh right after I typed the above paragraph..unseen in this photo is the bag of Cheese Balls he has behind his back in the other hand!

And the entire day will only be more of the same..

Oh well, this is better than the thought of Josh with a broken leg from falling on ice..


Friday

No time left for me...

Only a few short years ago I had so much time.

Time to quilt as much as I wanted, I used to whip my pictorial quilts out, often several a month. Now it takes me months to make a small quilt with 4 blocks.

Time to take photos, seemed like I always had photos to post or edit, nowadays I'm lucky if I have time to snap a quick shot and throw it online.

Time to ride my bike daily...and time to sweat with Richard or work out with Bob.

Plus time to do all the other things I did, hand water all the gardens, clean out a cellar, have yard sales, do art type activities with my grandson or spend the day at the park with him, crochet, knit, read, draw  and normal stuff like household chores...plus spend time on Facebook visiting friends.

Now it often seems like all the time I have is time to wonder what the hell happened to all that time?

Perhaps this big fella stole it all?

"Time Thief" copyright 2009



Tuesday

Star Gazing

For years my youngest son has wanted to get a telescope. Not your average run of the mill telescope but this beauty, the Orion XT8. He actually wanted a BIGGER one but this is what he could afford so he settled for it....for now.


As you can tell, this is NOT your typical telescope! Even with this he was worried that he wouldn't be able to see anything worth seeing.

Of course until the day this arrived the night skies had been clear and the weather kind of warm, but that night the sky was full of clouds and he was so upset, but kept going out to check things out. Eventually they began to break up so he took the telescope out and right away we looked at Mars !

Then we just looked at some random stars that appeared here and there. Eventually me and my grandson, who is 11, got cold and went inside. But Tony stuck with it, at 24 he is able to stand the cold more I guess, plus he had the excitement of doing something he had waited so long to do to help keep him warm.

I'm glad he did, because around 11 he ran in and said "MOM! Come see Jupiter!!" I was thinking no way is he seeing Jupiter....but when I put my eye to the scope and saw that planet, stripes and all (we need a better eyepiece and filter so we can see the red spot though) and it's moons...well...WOW! Just wow!! I ran in and got my grandson to come out and see it too...lol

It was just so totally awesome to think that we were sitting in our driveway looking at Jupiter.

We went in after that, but Tony went out AGAIN later because he was determined to see one more thing. Which he did and woke me up around 2:30 to see if I wanted to see it. I just couldn't get up so he took a photo for me instead. This is what he saw....recognize it??




Again I was blown away by this. But not as much as the night of the 28th when I saw it for myself! Along with more looks at Jupiter and Mars on a much clearer night. And then..Tony started looking for two specific things that he wanted to see that night....and found them! The first was this galaxy...photo isn't that great, we need a camera adapter (see how this love of his has become a shared one now??) but it is a photo that he took of what we saw. The Whirlpool Galaxy and the galaxy it interacts with. These two galaxies are 23 (give or take four million) LIGHT YEARS away....can you imagine? And we were looking at them..



To top off the night, he found the last item on his list for that night: The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules
We don't have a photo of that but you can see one by clicking the above link.

I have to admit that I am so thrilled with this new hobby and look forward to many nights spent looking at the sky and seeing stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulas that we have only been able to see on TV or in photos previously. It is an awe inspiring moment when it happens...one not soon forgotten!