December Recollections

22 12 2012

10994157-mistletoe-with-berries-and-tied-with-a-red-ribbon-with-bow-isolated-over-white-backgroundThe shortened days of winter cause me to look back.  My mother’s birthday was in December and there are so many memories that include her.

This year I’ve been thinking about mistletoe.  With the leaves off the trees this parasite of legend¹ is more visible.  In 1974 my parents were back in Fort Worth after their first aborted attempt at ashram life.  The simple, meditative life did not come easily to them.  I was living in a suburb of Philadelphia, 4 or 5 months pregnant, working for lawyers during the day, and at night a friend and I had a small business selling house plants at home parties — the green thumb version of Tupperware.

My mother was bored and had an idea.  She and my father went to one of the local parks and cut mistletoe from the oak trees, put it in a large florist box (about 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep) and mailed me the mistletoe.  When it arrived, my business partner and I cut it into small pieces, put it in plastic bags, tied them with a colorful ribbon and sold them.  As I remember, we made a small amount of money, perhaps enough to cover the cost of the bags and ribbon, but probably not enough to cover the postage, but we made a lot of people happy.




10 Items a Week . . .

6 09 2011

A few years ago I adopted a new policy regarding acquisitions:  If something comes into the house, a like thing must leave.  This policy took effect not long after we had our master bathroom floor tiled and I had to empty my husband’s closet.  He’s a PGA golf professional — a teacher — and he wears golf shirts to work.  Plus he likes clothes.  But when he came home an hour or so after I’d emptied his closet, told him that he had 93 golf shirts and he just shrugged, I knew we had a problem.  But it became personal when I bought a set of dishes (service for 8 with attendant serving pieces) for a veritable steal.  I unpacked the boxes, washed the dishes and realized I had no place to put them.  Quite frankly, I can’t remember now what used to live in the space where these dishes live now.  Obviously they weren’t that important.  So since then I’ve taken various opportunities to get rid of excess material possessions.  (See “Dumping.”)

A few weeks ago, Facebook friends started a group called “10 ITEMS A WEEK,” as a support group for their own organizational efforts.  As it happened, the day I was added to the group I had thrown away a bunch of non-functioning pens . . . in a fit of frustration.

Off to a great start!

And since I’ve already been walking the walk AND talking the talk by making my monthly Goodwill drops, I felt sure I was going to be the star member of the group.

That is until the china.  As part of my job, I was asked to help the widow of The Dead Boss to help her organize a storage shed in anticipation of the sale of her house.  She told me that there were many boxes that had been moved from one property to another and then to this one without having been opened.  Three moves over 6 years and no one really knows what’s in them, EXCEPT she thinks the service for 20 of dishes bought sometime in the mid 20th century in China are part of the bounty and that she does not want them.  If I don’t help her then they will go to the handyman.  Well, hell, I can’t let that happen as a self-respecting dish whore.

So I met the widow early in the morning and we spent 2.5 hours in the shed.  We had a huge stack of boxes for the handyman to “get rid of,” as well as a few things I was taking home.  My husband was kind enough to help me unload them into the garage.

Only the boxes inside the big loop are in this. The others are recycling bins.

It was too hot to work in the garage when I brought them home, but a cold front moved through over the weekend and I planned to spend Labor Day morning getting the dishes unpacked, sorted, washed and stored.  Of course I had to make room for them.  And somehow I got sidetracked and decided to purge the cabinet in the laundry area where I keep vases.

Don’t you have this many extra vases?

And the sideboard didn’t escape scrutiny.  Everything to the right of the plant is going.

Then I tackled the built in cabinet in the kitchen.  Frankly, I had already moved a bunch of things out of this cabinet and into the Goodwill box in the garage.  But it still needed to be pruned.

There was no way that 7 (or is it 8?) boxes of dishes would fit here.

The blue goblets on the top left were given to me by mother were put in a box to take to the nice guy in the office next to me who said he’ll use them.  The soup tureen and Chinese plates on the top right are going to my step-daughter because they belonged to her mother who died in 1987.  Left center — being donated, for the most part.  (I just can’t get rid of the antique amethyst canning jar.)  Center square (I loved Paul Lynde!) are going to be sold in a neighbor’s estate sale after they are considered as props in a photo shoot next weekend for a challenge called “Glass.”  The remaining things needed to be rearranged and the shelves washed, etc.

I don’t have a photo before I put any of the “new” dishes in, but this is a good representation.

So now I could unpack the boxes, sort the dishes, get them inside and wash/dry them.  It turned out that instead of service for 20 it was two sets of service for 12 that had almost identical patterns.  Let me say that this is not a china pattern that I would have chosen, but it is really starting to grow on me.

You might notice a few glass pieces in the background — 2 bells and 4 candle holders.  Yes, I kept them.

Into the house and sorted by type and pattern.  Ready for the bath.

This part took a very long time because I really do not like washing dishes.  Drying them even less.  So they get stacked in the drainer.

After all was said and done, I was able to enjoy the results and look forward to the Chinese banquet for 24 that someone else is going to cook.

Postscript:  There was also a box of silver plate.  My neighbor who is going to have an estate sale soon came and took almost the entire box away.  I did keep 4 pieces:  a set of toast tongs (do you have some?) and 3 seafood forks that it turns out were lifted from the London Hilton.

There’s An App for That

15 08 2011

I took some screen shots from my iPad2 to show which apps I currently have and use.  “Currently” is an important thing to remember.  I have only a few paid apps and so I experiment with new ideas and apps and have no regrets deleting (or removing for the time being) the ones that didn’t live up to my expectations.

This is my “desktop” where I keep the things I use most frequently.  I don’t want to have many pages to scroll through, so I have organized the apps into “sub-directories.”  I find it easiest to do the arranging in iTunes.  To do this, drag one icon on top of one you want in the same sub-directory.  Most times, the iPad will come up with a title for the group, but that can be changed.  If you want to do this “on the fly, press on an icon until they all start wiggling and have little black circles with an “x” in it in the upper left corner.  You can then move or even delete the icons.  You can also “park” up to 6 icons in the tray at the bottom of the screen, but Safari, Mail, iPod and Mail can’t be removed.

You may notice that the picture is in Landscape mode.  I prefer that orientation and have locked it.  To lock the screen orientation, double tap the home button and then swipe the tray to the right.  You will have several controls available, including the screen lock on the far left.  (Tap Home once.)

Tray first:  I have added Kindle and The Weather Channel to the tray.  I think Apple’s weather app sucks.

From top to bottom:


This is one I change around a bit.  I haven’t deleted the San Francisco apps I included for my June trip to the City by the Bay.  AA is our local carrier; you probably know Trip Advisor; Gate Guru is helpful in getting around unfamiliar airports; TripCase is excellent when flying with connections.  PFHD Free is just something I was fooling around with.  You can track a plane by tail number.  (Remember, I work at an airport.)

News — Pretty self-explanatory.

Utilities:  Another transparent one.  I like Nightstand because the display is BIG.  I have the Wi-Fi only iPad.

(So far, you’ve seen only free apps.)  I don’t know why Flickr Studio is there all by itself, but it is.  Good app for viewing Flickr files.

Games — these are all free except the Angry Birds apps.  For something different I really like Gerd Arntz and the Faile Puzzle Boxes

Entertainment:  IMDb is a must for when you’re watching a TV show and can’t remember the name of the actor.  Streaming videos via Netflix, PBS, TED, HBOGo.  I can schedule my DVR via the U-verse app.  This is a well used “page.”

Maps and Contacts.  ::yawn::

Lifestyle:  This is an odd assortment but I love all of these.  There are actually two paid apps on this page — the National Geographic Park Maps and Audubon Guide — Wildflowers.  I think I want more of the Audubon Guides too.  I use Yelp more on my iPhone, but use this while sitting on the couch wondering what’s for dinner.

Books:  LOVE THIS PAGE!  Two of my favorite apps are here.  Zinio is for digital magazines.  I have several subscriptions, but National Geographic is awesome.  They use the interactive features to their full extent.  Flipboard probably should be on the front page alone.  I use it a lot.  You just need to go get it and you’ll be busy with Flipboard alone for hours, if not days.  Overdrive is the app I can use to download books from my public library and the “M” one is Mango and I think it’s for learning languages via the public library (have not used it.)  I don’t use Nook.  The Apple iBook app is good.

Foresquare and GetGlue you know, as you do Google.


G Eyewitness and all of the Fotopedia apps are photo collections.  Word Lens is a cool thing where you take a picture of a sign in a foreign language and it translates it.  0 to 100 Project is a cool photo project.  LOVE 100 Cameras in 1; Instagram is fun.  Photo Booth looks fun, but I haven’t played with it much.  I don’t understand Paintbook.  PS Express is the Adobe Photoshop app for iPad.


The only sub-directory is Real Estate — Zillow and  I’m nosy.

The others are apps I don’t use often.  I use the Audible app on my iPhone to listen to books.  The camera sucks on the iPad.  I don’t really tweet.  From the Edge and MyPad will be deleted soon.

I hope this helps show you the variety of apps you can have.  You just need to find ones that suit your interests.  Welcome to the club.


Oh, in addition to apps I have one important accessory for my iPad — the camera connection kit.  There are two adapters that plug into the slot where your charger plugs in.  One is for a USB connection and the other for an SD card.  So if you’re out and about and want check a photo you took, you just plug in the adapter, slip in the SD card and you can see if the pooches are in focus or not on your iPad screen instead of the tiny camera screen.

Protecting My Investment — The Traveling Klutz’ Way

15 08 2011

I’ve had portable electronic devices long enough to know that if it can be dropped, scratched, drenched, or mutilated in any way, I can and will do it. So when I got my iPad2, the first thing I researched was how to protect it from its owner — me.

One of the first things I learned is that when you get a device within the first month or so of its release, there are not a lot of choices. So when I was looking for a light weight protective case, my choices were limited. I wanted something that would cushion the iPad when I tossed it in my purse or stuffed it in my camera bag. What I found was a neoprene sleeve that was actually designed to be used as a sleeve for a portable DVD player. But it met my requirements — it’s cushioned, easy to use and, as a bonus, it has a degree of waterproofing.

In the meantime, at the same time I ordered my iPad, I ordered the Apple cover.  I didn’t want to use a screen protector because one of the primary reasons I got an iPad is to view and process photos.  I feel that the screen protectors alter the otherwise crisp and accurate projection of photos.  So I use the Apple cover as just that — a cover, not a stand.

Now the back of the case.  I have used Gelaskin products since I learned of them from an online friend.  They are basically vinyl stickers that protect your device, but in creative manner.  You can order one of their hundreds of designs or design your own.  I chose a relatively generic, but colorful, skin to protect the case of my iPad.  For another $29.95, I can change its look whenever I want.  (NOTE:  The skin also comes with a “frame” for the front of the iPad and a file so you can use the same design for your wallpaper.  I have opted to not use these, but have them if I change my mind.)

The other bit that I’ve attached for protection is the StuffBank sticker.  If a good citizen finds my iPad left somewhere unattended, they can contact StuffBak and they will contact me.  I can offer a reward or not.

Confessions of a Stalker

7 05 2011

After spending several hours with my fellow members of the Fort Worth Camera Club taking pictures and eating breakfast last Saturday morning, I went to a local garden center to do some shopping with a friend. New plants in my car, I started home.

But I was in a historic part of Fort Worth and decided to scout for some shots for an upcoming competition. Every month the FWCC has a competition for its 200 members. Each member is permitted to enter one digital image and one print for consideration by an outside judge. Three times a year the competition has a closed subject. In June 2011, the print category’s topic is “Architecture in Monochrome.” I had no idea what I was looking for, but found some things that I thought might work and took a bunch of shots.

Back home the next day, I started reviewing the images from the outing and my solo expedition. While I like several architectural photos I got, I really liked one and worked with Photoshop to convert it to monochrome and see what I thought. What do you think?

Back up a couple of weeks to when a friend and I talked about going to the Fairmount Historic District Tour of Homes in Fort Worth. After buying the tickets and clearing my schedule, I hadn’t thought much about the event until Thursday when I checked their website to see what homes were included. Imagine my surprise to find the subject of my photo to be one of the eight properties on the tour.

Blanchard Schaefer Advertising & Public Relations

Since I had two copies of the print, I considered taking one of them with us and giving it to the owners of the building, but wondered if they would think it was creepy — sort of like someone stalking their building. But my friends encouraged me and I brought the print along. The way things worked out, this building was the last we toured. When we entered the former apartment building that is now a glam studio for an advertising agency, the owner was just telling the docent goodbye and on his way out the door. I got his attention, explained the circumstances and gave him the print. He loves it and was just a tad regretful that he did not have a personal stalker. He did say he was going to tell his wife he does anyway.

The Recipient’s Response

27 01 2011

Today I heard from the recipient of the box I “dumped” on Tuesday.

She is over the moon.  I sent her a box filled with recipes I had cut, torn, and collected over the past 30+ years.  Some were on cards, some were loose (I put those in a manila envelope), and some were in a 3 ring binder.  Here are pictures of the stuff I sent taken by The Recipient.

This photo shows most of the contents of the box.

The binder on the top was created by The Recipient. Do you really think this was a coincidence?

I had meant to have a blog entry prepared before the box was received, but didn’t.  So this is most of the email I sent as explanation:

Oh I am so glad you didn’t just throw the whole thing into the dumpster!

I wanted to get the next blog installment done before your mail got there.  But here’s the short version.

At one point in my life I was married to a man who had me convinced I was a shitty wife, mother, was ugly and basically worthless.  For a short while, I responded by bending over backwards to prove what an asshole he was.  I made this friggin’ binder, was Cubmaster, Brownie leader, and worked full time.  I organized a food coop, canned fruits and vegetables, did needlework.  Damn.  What a fool.  Finally I realized that all I really had to do was leave.

There’s more to the story that all seems rather funny now.

But I couldn’t let go of this fucking binder and the stupid cards that I had glued recipes to.  As a result, whenever I wanted to  find a recipe that was important to me, I got trapped by all of this.  The other night I finally had enough.  I had torn everything out of the cabinet and started looking for the 3 x 5 card with my mother’s French onion soup recipe (after reading Clio’s).  In frustration, I went to the garage and just threw this stuff in a box, bit by bit.  I finally found what I was looking for.  Then I got the tape and started taping the box closed.  Joe came in and saw I was in  crazy mode and just helped me close and tape the box without even asking what I was doing.

No, Lisa won’t want this.  She will never be a Girl Scout leader and make cute little fake gingerbread houses with graham crackers or any of the other stuff.

Have fun!

Love you,


So now I should presumably be able to find my mother’s soup recipe or my grandmother’s noodle recipe without having to sift through the detritus of low self esteem.  I feel lighter already.

NOTE:  I’m leaving The Recipient as an anonymous friend for now.  She may reveal her identity in the future.  But it’s totally up to her.


25 01 2011

I tried to think of a better title, but the only other one that came to mind was “Purging.” No better.

I just put a box in the mail. I need to let the recipient know it’s on its way. I’ve moved the contents many times, but they have little meaning for me. They got in my way the last time last night.

I had choices. I could have just put them in the recycle bin and they would have been gone Wednesday morning. But instead I put them in a box and taped the box closed before I could change my mind. I’m hoping that the recipient will find something useful or clever to do with the contents.

I’ll write more after I hear from the recipient.