SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong

In a world where we are launching cars and other vehicles that can drive themselves, why can’t anyone create a pump for soap, shampoo, hand cream, and other gooey stuff that will keep working until the bottle is actually empty?

I’ve been a very good sport about paying huge amounts of money for fancy creams to deal with rashes. Soaps free of anything that might be remotely allergenic to use for my body and for the washing of clothing. The “good” dish soap that is safe the environment and is supposed to outlast all the other soaps but never does.

I have — for example — a soap dispenser for the Dawn in the kitchen. Why? Because Garry is a firm believer that more of whatever goop it is is always better than less. Thus he uses twice as much toothpaste as I do and ten times more kitchen soap. I figured if I put it in a dispenser, he’d get tired of pumping it out a lot faster than he would if he were to have his hands on the entire half-gallon container.

Today, though, he couldn’t get anything to come out. I opened it and it was more than half full, so I figured — as usual — it was all gunked up with soap. So I rinsed everything out with hot water, then found a pokey pointy thing to clear out the pump in the front, then washed the entire pump container which was all sticky and gooey.

After which, it worked. I commented that if we can replace human beings in production plants with AI devices, why can’t someone make a soap or hand cream pump that doesn’t clog up? Or, for that matter, a dispenser for packing tape that doesn’t stick to everything except the package you are trying to get ready for shipping?

Kitchen jar opener

If we can make so many complicated things that will ultimately make most people unemployable, why can’t we make the simple things work? Make child-proof drug dispensers that don’t require a wrench, lockpick, and hand-ax to open?

How about one of those zip pull envelopes that works? How about a “push here to open” place on a box that will actually open the pasta or whatever it is supposed to open rather than simply caving in the entire container?

I keep knives, scissors, and small wrenches in my night table and that’s just to open up sealed pill containers.  I have special implements to open the tops of jars and bottles. Even with all of these items conveniently at hand, sometimes, I can’t get them open and Garry can’t get them open either. Maybe Owen could, but he’s not here. Usually punching a hole in the jar’s lid works because it breaks the seal. But then you have a jar with a hole in the top.

Very expensive shampoo dispenser

I’m really tired of throwing away half a container of expensive goop because no one can get it out of the container. It is aggravating and a big waste of money. I want someone to FIX the problem.

My favorite innovation? Amazon charges you extra to get a package that a normal person can open without special tools.

MYSTICAL, MAGICAL SOCKS – Marilyn Armstrong

Two years ago, I order 30 pairs of socks in all different colors and patterns. I realized, finally, that I was down to a bare two or three pairs and I wasn’t even sure they were real pairs, but they were at least more or less the same color.

Around the same time, I also bought a lot of underwear on the theory that we wouldn’t have to do laundry nearly as often if I didn’t run out of underwear. Oh, and I refilled Garry’s sock and underwear collection too.

socks without partners cartoon

Yesterday, Garry did laundry. My 30 pairs of socks have shrunk to about half a dozen pairs. I swear to you not only am I careful to keep pairs together, but Garry is passionate about matching them up. And keeping them clean.

Which isn’t always easy because I wear them as slippers and have been known to go outside in socks … not always my best choice.

socks-lost-in-the-dryer

Nonetheless, I realized no matter how much I didn’t want to face the crisis, I had to buy more socks. I found socks on Amazon — 12 pairs for $14.00 and they are all exactly the same. Because I know. We all know.

Socks vanish. No matter how careful you are. No matter how hard you try to keep track of them, over time, attrition will chew at the edges until you have no more than a few days worth of socks in your drawer. You will search that drawer.

Socks-lost-in-space

“Who took my socks?” you cry, but no answer will come to you. They are gone through the black hole in the universe (via your clothes dryer) into which all the single socks are eventually drawn. The mythical land or planet where a single sock can live forever. They are looking down on us and laughing. Because we persist in looking for them. Foolish humans.

Socks-come-back

Garry, despite my assurances that there is nothing more he can do, that socks will go missing regardless, is sure I’m accusing him of sock-knapping. He does not yet understand. There is nothing anyone can do. There are greater forces at work here than mere humans can control.

So this time, I’m ordering 12 identical pairs. As each sock disappears, I can wear it with another lonely sock. Variety is not the spice of life when discussing socks.

ANOTHER DAY SHOT TO HELL – Marilyn Armstrong

Not so much a bad day as one of those days where you don’t get to stop. Didn’t get to comments. Haven’t opened my email. Haven’t taken any pictures. Other than the one I wrote early this morning, I haven’t written anything today.

Because? First, there were the phone calls. I didn’t make them yesterday and absolutely had to make today. A long conversation with our trash collectors, leading to my piece on garbage and a “senior rate” for collection. A discussion about bears because they have been sighted in the woods. Wondering about the price of bear-proof trash bins.

The current big plastic bins cost more than $100 each and that’s for the company to buy en masse. Bears are powerful animals who love trash. A 96-gallon bin that locks them out $671 on Amazon, but Jet.com sells the same bin for $377. I don’t know how good these are, either. An interesting price differential, too.

I have nothing against bears, but they are big and powerful and I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with them. The coyotes are enough of an issue, not to mention the skunk and wildcats and raccoons. Are we ready for bear?

Then Owen was here and off we went to buy groceries. Which was followed by unpacking and stowing all that stuff.

A glitch in Garry’s baseball channel that went on for hours entailed a prolonged wait on hold for tech support. To learn, as we suspected, they were having the problem, not us.

I needed to fix Garry’s broken email which wasn’t difficult but took a long time. Warning! Delete your old emails! If you don’t, eventually your email server stops serving and goes on strike.

Portrait of the man and dog

The family dropped by. And then, it was dinner time.

I made dinner. Steak, corn, and yellow summer squash. I’m not enthusiastic about zucchini, but I love big yellow squashes. Deliveries from Amazon: 20 lbs of dog food! No hungry kids in our family.

Realized I forgot to buy lunch meat and never found the lens cleansers, though I looked. Really. I looked. Garry says they are way up on the top shelf. I am short so my eyes never got there.

Home again

There’s a bad bearing on the front left wheel of the Jeep and I had to make sure it got fixed. Bad bearings get worse. We have a lot of driving to do this month and next.

The hospital’s automated equipment called twice more to remind us of our appointment with the doctor on Monday. They have called every day this week.

None of this sounds like a big deal and it wasn’t a big deal, but each thing took time. With the washing of the dishes, the day is done and I feel like it never entirely started. I knew this month was going to get weird.

I was right. At least it was better than yesterday. On my agenda for tomorrow? Other than housekeeping and vacuuming? Explaining to the doctor that Garry’s out of hydrochlorothiazide because Duke ate the container.

Duke

We aren’t sure what happened to the pills, but since Duke is fine, I have to assume he didn’t eat them.

THE ACCUMULATION OF STUFF – RICH PASCHALL

Reducing Clutter, by Rich Paschall


When my grandfather retired and my grandparents moved back to Tennessee from Chicago where they had lived for close to twenty years, they gave away many items they felt they no longer needed.  Chief among them was a snow blower.  “What if it snows, grandpa?” I asked.  He explained that in the unlikely event of snow, it would melt off in a day or two.  There was no need for something they may never use again.

When he asked if I would like anything, I said I would take his nightstand if the plan was to leave it behind.  It was an inexpensive little piece with a small door on the front to hold just a few items inside.  It had a homemade quality and symbolized my grandfather to me.  I was probably in early teens.  I still have it today.  The item could be 100 years old by now.

Their home in small town Tennessee was remarkably uncluttered.  They had just what they needed for the next twenty years of their lives.  The house was always, neat, clean and orderly and I truly believe that it added to the relaxed and comfortable existence they enjoyed for many years.  They never seemed to lack for anything when I would visit.  I envy that simple existence now.

When my father retired and moved to Florida with his second wife (not my mom), he too left behind things he could not imagine using again.  He had decided to give away his winter outerwear and offered me a nice coat and other items.  “What if it gets cold, or you come back to visit in winter, dad?” He pointed out that it never gets that cold in Florida and while he may be back to visit, it would never be in winter.

Aside from taking this winter offering, I desired nothing else.  I had his World War II medals and discharge paper.  There was nothing else I wanted.  I have since passed the World War II memorabilia to my older brother.  He has children and may be able to pass them on.  By the way, I kept a Good Conduct medal for my “good conduct.”  Dad had more than one and I decided not to award my brother with several of these.

Mom was a collector of stuff.  I sometimes wondered if this was the result of growing up poor in the Depression.  Was the accumulation of items, no matter how little the value, important to someone who had nothing growing up?  Were many of us from the Baby Boomer generation collectors because we saw that our parents were?

Mom collected everything from coffee cups to shot glasses, refrigerator magnets to picture frames, swizzle sticks from hotels and restaurants, to match books from the same.  There were figurines and candle holders, tea services not to be used, special occasion kitchen ware that may never have seen the special occasion.  There were “knickknacks” of all sorts, or what her mother would have simply called “dust catchers.”  To me, most of these items did not have enough value to have to dust them every weekend.

After mom had reached her 80’s and could not care for all the stuff, or even recall all the stuff she had, I moved her to an apartment in the same building so we could watch over her a little more closely.  That lasted less than a year and she was in a hospital, then a nursing home.  I moved to the larger apartment to hold on to the “stuff” in case she recovered well enough to come home.  She lived almost 6 years at the home and I not only had a lifetime of my own stuff, I then inherited a mountain of stuff I would never have considered owning.  Worse yet, many of the dust collectors I owned were some of the same items I grew up looking at.  I can not explain how I did not want these things.  For whatever reason, I could not get rid of much of it in the years that followed.

In the past year, however, I decided it was time to start to eliminate many of these things.  I had shelves and cabinets overflowing with items that I would never use and in some cases never wanted.  What if I have to move?  I do not want to have to take a lot of these things.  What if I die?  Someone will just toss out most of it anyway.  Is this “stuff” adding anything to my life?  This really is the key question.  If I was not going to use it and it did not hold some great personal value, it was time to go.

It is hard to do an assessment of items that have been in your house for decades.  You may falsely conclude that they have a sentimental value when all they really enjoy is longevity.  Consider cleaning up and not leaving it to others.  I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your kids, or grandkids, do not want your stuff.  Yes, they may desire an item or two, but for the most part your stuff will end up being donated or tossed out, so you might as well do it yourself.  Consider how much of your parents or grandparents stuff you wanted?  I am not talking about family photos, I am talking about “stuff.”

Last year I tossed out a lot of stuff.  I did not want them and could not imagine anyone paying 25 cents for them, so they finally hit the trash. I gave a lot of stuff away to various charities, depending on the type of item.  I also listed things on eBay if I thought they had a value.  I sell about a half-dozen items a month.  At this pace I could sell stuff for the next 25 years and still have a lot of things.  When I retire, I will likely increase my eBay offerings or my donations to resale shops, probably both. If anyone wants stuff, I will be happy to oblige.

NO TIME TO MEDDLE

No meddling, please!

Yesterday was “front door day” and it got done. Not properly, in my opinion. Better, but not really fixed. They are coming back tomorrow because they want more work and unless they do this job right, they won’t get it.

It looks better than it is! But the new doggy door — identical to the previous one, I might add — looks good.

Meanwhile, today is a doctor and shopping day. Tomorrow, Bonnie’s at the vet getting her eye and teeth cared for … and after that, the guys come back to deal with the rest of the door and Garry and I go back to cleaning up more areas where those damned ants may be hiding. It’s just one of those weeks.

I was trying to catch that last “good hour” of sleep when the vet called to remind me of tomorrow’s appointment. We got a great invitation to go into Boston and spend some time aboard one of the tall ships moored in Boston’s Harbor, except the day is already all wrapped up in doctor and cleaning. If they had sent the invitation a couple of days earlier, we might have done it. Of course, maybe have sent it a week ago, but Garry doesn’t check his mail as thoroughly as he should.

We may not have flowers, but “stuff” is getting done. I suppose I’ll have to mark this summer off to “work accomplished” without the pretty wrapping paper. We definitely not going visiting because all our money is going into the house. No meddling here, uh-uh.

And tomorrow is this regions first full day of summer! Imagine that!

CHANGES AROUND THE HOUSE

Things are changing. I don’t mean this allegorically. I mean it very literally. Physical things are moving around, moving out, moving in, and being replaced by other things.

The big dracaena in the dining room has left, replaced (in spirit) by a nice Philodendron hanging over the sink and in front of the windows. The little hutch in the dining room has been replaced by a lovely, Victorian secretary with a glass display top. And the big sectional downstairs has gone to a new home, as has my oak roll-top desk.

Philodendron in the kitchen window
Philodendron in the kitchen window

Less is definitely more. The house feels better with less stuff in it. Like there’s finally room to breathe.

Moving things around inevitably results in a lot more work than anyone expects. The new secretary has three shelves, but none of them are as tall as the two shelves on the previous  hutch. That meant that tall things needed to be  moved to different shelves, but small things moved “indoors” … behind glass. In the process I rediscovered music boxes, pottery, little brass boxes and one big porcelain unicorn.

music boxes

A child came to visit and went home with five dolls — a 14″ Tony with auburn hair and two Mme. Alexander “Cinderellas” — poor Cinderella and Cinderella at the ball — and two giant rag dolls, Raggedy Ann and Andy. I was made inordinately happy to find a home for a few dolls where hopefully, they will be played with and enjoyed.

Toni by Revlon, 1953
Toni by Revlon, 1953

I spent hours last night cleaning a music box and kaleidoscope (it’s the same item with two pieces) using q-tips and that cleaning stuff you use for electronic gear and cameras. The q-tips weren’t small enough and no brush was soft enough. Very old things are so hard to clean. Everything that can break, will … even when you are being as careful and delicate as you can.

I’m not done yet. There’s so much stuff. But I made a dent in it. A pretty big dent. That’s something, right?

ABOUT THOSE SOCKS

Two years ago, I order 30 pairs of socks in all different colors and patterns. I realized, finally, that I was down to a bare two or three pairs and I wasn’t even sure they were real pairs, but they were at least more or less the same color. Around the same time, I also bought a lot of underwear on the theory that we wouldn’t have to do laundry nearly as often if I didn’t run out of underwear. Oh, and I refilled Garry’s sock and underwear collection too.

socks without partners cartoon

Yesterday, Garry did laundry. My 30 pairs of socks have shrunk to about half a dozen pairs. I swear to you not only am I really careful about keeping pairs together, but Garry is passionate about matching them up and keeping them clean. Which isn’t always easy because I wear them as slippers and have been known to go outside in socks … not really a good thing to do.

socks-lost-in-the-dryer

Nonetheless, I realized no matter how much I didn’t want to face the crisis, I had to buy more socks. I found socks on Amazon — 12 pairs for $14.00 and they are all exactly the same. Because I know. We all know. Socks vanish. No matter how careful you are. No matter how hard you try to keep track of them, over time, attrition will chew at the edges until you have no more than a few days worth of socks in your drawer. You will search that drawer.

Socks-lost-in-space

“Who took my socks?” you cry, but no answer will come to you. They are gone through the black hole in the universe (via your clothes dryer) into which all the single socks are eventually drawn. The mythical land or planet where a single sock can live forever. They are looking down on us and laughing. Because we persist in looking for them. Foolish humans.

Garry, despite my assurances that there is nothing more he can do, that socks will go missing regardless, is sure I’m accusing him of sock-napping. He does not yet understand. There is nothing anyone can do. There are greater forces at work here than mere humans can control.

Socks-come-backSo this time, I’m ordering 12 identical pairs. As each sock disappears, I can wear it with another lonely sock. Variety is not the spice of life when discussing socks.