Monday, July 25, 2011

Utah

Just to give a hint of what I've been up to this week.

Bristlecone pines

Indian paintbrush


Bryce Canyon
Cedar Breaks

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vacation


Since it is summer, I am taking a small vacation. Leaving town (and the sun-surface temps) to go visit a friend. I am flying into Las Vegas tomorrow, and then we're driving up to Utah, where she is working at a  summer theatre (one of the more famous summer theatres!).

This week, I was planning to spend a good deal of time preparing for my va-cay, but instead I found myself dealing with sinus infection. Oh, well.

But here are my plans for today:
  • pick up prescriptions and cat litter
  • lay out and pack clothes (for six days, including two on planes)
  • clean kitchen and bathroom
  • set out directions for cat care by sitter
  • prep camera, iPod, Nook, and laptop for travel: charging, loading, etc.
  • get out suitcase and carry-on tote
  • call cab for 1-mile tip to airport...
Of course, I've never been to Las Vegas, so this is kind of exciting. Right--me and a few Amish people.

How did I never go to Vegas before?


In my former life I had a roommate who worked for Don King who went to Vegas regularly to attend fights--I turned down two separate invitations to go along. Why? No interest in professional boxing (or actually any other kind).

I did go to Atlantic City with two friends, once, after it became America's second gambling city (again, part of my former life). I spent the evening watching one friend lose a couple hundred dollars at the slots and the other play blackjack. Bo-ring.

My overnight two years ago in Reno reminded me why I dislike casinos: smoking, noise, and the desperate smell of people gambling and losing. Winning probably smells, sounds, feels different, but most people lose, yeah?

Watching people gamble is not interesting. At least, to me.

That said, I am actually looking forward to seeing live the color, sounds, and action of Las Vegas.

And, after that, Utah. I mean, look at these photos!




How does Vegas compare to these?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Goals 2011: Updates

For myself, I am checking in on my 2011 goals.

Improve My Health: I am really pleased with my work over the last couple of months (the summer) in this particular area. After hearing about the jump (whoo!) in my LDL cholesterol, I took specific action here: red yeast rice, oatmeal, increased activity. I am revising my eating habits to eliminate sugar, processed foods, white flour, and other nasty triggers. How do I know it's working? Last night I went out to eat at a local restaurant that specializing in souffles. I had a souffle for dinner that had great flavor (tomato and pesto) but was basically a triple helping of bread pudding, with apricot tart and ice cream for dessert. did I feel bad? Yes. Bloated, sleepless, congested, constipated, and all-around uncomfortable from both the amount of food and the nasty sugar-carbo dump. Don't mean to overshare, but this is a good thing. It means that on a daily basis I am eating a healthy, well-portioned, non-sugar diet incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Yay, me!

Stated goals: on track with room for still-signicant accomplishments in 2011


Living Situation: Well, my living situation has improved for the better, as we all know. I lurve my New Apartment, and it is slowly but surely getting clutter-free. This week, I did whip the Dreaded Study into shape, and will continue that work this week; the plan is that by Wednesday it will be where I want it for the beginning of the semester.

What's next? Managing resources (time and space) to make the apartment rally comfortable and workable.


Managing my Resources: I am still working on managing my time and focusing better. Some days, it simply feels as is I have ADD: I am scattered, multi-task without balance, and feel at the end of the day as if nothing was accomplished although I was "busy" all day...

Financially, I have re-tracked my retirement funding and alrady (since January) seen a significant growth in that area. This summer I also started gradually increasing my own donations so that by the end of the year I will have shifted pre-tax dollars to retirement funding in such a way as to not feel the loss. I have also paid down or eliminated my credit card debt positively, and my overall credit rating is excellent. By spending time focusing on my spending habits, I have been able to curtail impulse spending as part of my overall move toward decluttering/minimalizing my life. While I will never be a "100 things" or a "six items or less" person, I have definitely moved away from old habits of getting and spending.

This fall, I intend to focus on time as my significant resource: time for student work, time for my creative endeavors, and saying "no."



Build a Better Community: This goal is tough. The community I was tied into has scattered significantly during the last year, and I am still looking for new ones. I beleive my greatest challenge this fall will be re-integrating myself into my department at My U well, and on my own terms. I have already been talking to colleagues about creating new "groups," and I realize that I have work to do in recognizing and building community.

Part of this is about me seeking out communities for various aspects of my life. I both want and need to reconnect with my own students. I need to connect to communities that reach across campus outside of departmental lines. And, yes, doing the work that community building entails: meetings, contributions, nurturing and working. Too often, this doesn't interest me. Why,  I am still uncertain.


Seeing Creative Work to Closure: Here, I have been very successful.
  • brought playwriting festival to successful fruition, including 7 scripts nurtured (March)
  • completed, edited, and submitted novel to publisher and received contract (to be signed, this week)
  • proposed, wrote, and presented paper at national conference (May; now, rewriting as article)
I have avoided perfectionism and space issues. I have just submitted four more paper proposals (through summer 2012) and am 1/3 of the way through my second manuscript. I have initiated a writing schedule and am doing a pretty good job of keeping it... most days. I am also setting monthly goals--more manageable for me.


July's goals:
  1. increase weekly activity for good of LDL lowering
  2. get all clutter out of dining room
  3. get second ms. 2/3 completed
  4. get all syllabi completed
  5. initiate one new student-based activity for fall

Friday, July 15, 2011

If I was in Paris... July 15, 2011

I'd definitely enjoy the clean-up from Bastille Day celebrations, which is undoubtedly going on all over the city. And with the temperatures only at 79 degrees and sunny, it would be a beautiful day to take the train to Versailles and enjoy the gardens.

Versailles is a wonderful day trip, but you do have to plan carefully in order to miss the hoardes of tourists who go there every day during warm weather.

A couple of serious pieces of advice:
reserve/buy your ticket on line a day or more ahead of time, including printing it out;
the chateau opens at 9 am: get there before it opens, by taking an early train from Paris and a picnic breakfast; plan to arrive by 8:30, at least;
the gardens open earlier and stay open later... go after you've seen the chateau.


Entrance courtyard

If this is your first visit, buy the ticket for the general chateau (des Grands Appartments,15 euros), which includes all the public rooms in the main building, including the Hall of Mirrors. If you go on a not-so-busy-day that will take you about 90-120 minutes, unless you simply cannot stand the crowds or get caught in them.

After that, you must make a choice.


Map: Chateau at bottom, canal at top

I would suggest the tour of the private rooms including the Chapel/Theatre for an English-language tour (and these ONLY go at 930 am daily) which take you to the royal apartments of Louis XV, the Chapel, and the Opera in a guided tour. If you buy the tickets online, you will also get a ticket for the Petit Trianon and Marie Antoinette's theatre: a 2-fer.  I have taken this tour several times and it is very good; you'll have to do it prior to the general tour.

Or--plan to see the gardens. The gardens are extensive--including the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's "farmhouse" and the Grand Trianon. The gardens between the house and the Canal are much, much bigger than they look, and making it to any of these three very interesting constructions, especially on a hot day... enough.

Latona Fountain: looking to canal from back of chateau
Les Grands Eaux are on Saturdays and Sundays only during the summer season: the fountains in the gardens are turned on, and baroque music blasts as well, giving it a certain aspect of "The Sun King" as you promenade. The tickets are extra, unlike the free access during the rest of the week.

You will also want to visit one--or more--of the several shops, which do not duplicate merchandise.

Orangerie: Still holds orange trees from 1660s
In other words, make a plan and work it thoroughly. There are places to eat on site, where you cna grab a sandwich or sit down to a more elaborate (and expensive) meal. It is not worth it to leave the site, eat, and return. (See below for my caveat here.) If you can, bring sandwiches, fruit, a baguette and cheese, and your own water. mostly to avoid the crowds. You can certainly eat in the gardens, and alongside the Canal is a nice spot.

You can also rent a boat and go out onto the canal, andI believe bikes are for rent in town, if you simply want to bike the gardens and do nothing else. Also not a bad way to spend the day.

Right now there is an exhibition on "Le XVIIIe au gout du jour" at the Grand Trianon of the fashions of the most popular era of the early 18th century. It is co-curated with the Musee Galliera, which is the leading fashion museum in Paris (I've written about it before here and in other Friday in Paris posts). The description looks fantastic, if you are a buff of history, fashion, costume, or cultural history.

And closing this weekend--Sunday--is an exhibition "Venise Vivaldi Versailles" about the baroque triad. Yes, I would go go go! This weekend is a performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons played by Fabio Biondi, the violin soloist. Played in the damn Opera! Oh, my goodness!!!!

In other words, Versailles is a huge "French baroque" theme park and it will take you at least a day to see even part of it. Oh, and on the way home stop at Le Potager du Roy for dinner: the vegetarian food expertly prepared there comes from the original gardens of Louis XIV, which are also open for viewing. The Sun King loved vegetables, including asparagus, peas, and enarly everything except the potato, which he found to be common. Expensive but worth it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Le quatorze juillet!

Here is a pretty great round-up of Bastille Events in 2011:

Parties, Pomp & Circumstance! Ooh la la!

I've been in Paris several times on this day, and I love the way the French celebrate. An all-out parade down the Champs d'Elysees, featuring all the military and law enforcement paraphernalia France owns... really. Then a fly-over (see pictures), and then a huge picnic with the best free food anywhere... Then fireworks, on and on, everywhere.

And the night before Bastille Day (when Marie Antoinette was undoubtedly munching on said cake?) -- a Fireman's Ball (all the firehouses open and the firemen in full regalia ready to party!) and a huge outdoor gay ball in the Place de Concorde (where the guillotine was erected post-Bastille storming). Just to get us all ready for the flyovers and fireworks.

In case you hadn't heard, the U.S. women's soccer team defeated the French team to get into the semi-finals, playing either Japan or Sweden in the next few days. It was 3-1, and a kick-ass game. Our soccer team is really fine this time around, and worth keeping track of.

And the best version of La Marseillaise is the one from Casablanca... so many reasons!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Demain, c'est La Revolution!

Tomorrow is Bastille Day, and in honor of said event, I thought I would note some French Revolutionary films, French films, and French-inspired films to watch in celebration...

First, however, in case you want to celebrate alone or with friends, here are some cocktails inspired by sch events as the overthrowing of the Bastille, the execution of the elite classes, and the emergence of a tyrannical military leader, courtesy of Apartment Therapy and . I especially like the notion of the Jacobin cocktail with the inclusion og blood orange (one of my favorite citrus flavors)...

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/recipe-lillet-libert-cocktail-for-bastille-day-straight-up-cocktails-and-spirits-150839

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/the-jacobin-and-other-bastillestorming-drink-ideas-straight-up-cocktails-and-spirits-089620


The Jacobin

Or, as they note, simply some champagne or French wine.

French Revolution films, both American or French (with subtitles, obvously):
    Howard & Oberon
  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel. I suggest the divine Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon/Raymond Massey (1934)version for the costumes and period nonsense. You might follow it with Pimpernel Smith (1941) the modern-day version (only 2 years before Howard's plane was shot down in WWII). I also recommend the 1999-2000 BBC version with Richard E. Grant/Elizabeth McGovern/Martin Shaw. Charming Grant personification and really great typical BBC period work. All available through Netflix, some on streaming. Or read the Baroness Orczy novel: fabulous period melodrama reading, and great love story.
  2. A Tale of Two Cities. Again, you can read the novel, by Dickens (one of his popular best) but in film version I am again a purist and recommend the Ronald Colman (1935) version, again for the style and the acting. Colman was an early period hero, the go-to actor in swashbuckling-literary films with an unforgettable vocal style. 
  3. 
    And... cake?
    
  4. Marie Antoinette: Here I actually favor the recent Sofia Coppola version (2006), for its crazy appreciation of the sites, costuming, and surface detail of Marie Antoinette's life--which was so very meaningful in terms of her end. This woman was the "Real Housewife of Versailles" of her day, and her life a moral tale of "reap/sow" relationships. Coppola's film doesn't try and dress that up. it should ahve won more awards, but its subject matter (a frivolous woman) and its director (a woman) aren't the material Hollywood feels comfy rewarding. I quote Wikipedia here: "American film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four. He states that, 'every criticism I have read of this film would alter its fragile magic and reduce its romantic and tragic poignancy to the level of an instructional film. This is Sofia Coppola's third film centering on the loneliness of being female and surrounded by a world that knows how to use you but not how to value and understand you.'"  There is also the 1938 film with Norma Shearer (the world's biggest box office star at the time) and Tyrone Power, John Barrymore, and Robert Morley as the men surrounding the queen. Early Power was gorgeous, and this is the fading Barrymore--again, worth seeing but it is a piece of intentionally Hollywood fluff compard to Coppola's version.
  5. Lillian and Dorothy
  6. Orphans of the Storm: the silent film by D.W. Griffith starring Lillian and Dorothy Gish (1921). Melodrama as only Griffith can tell it: poignant, visually stunning, and full of strong performances by both Gish sisters (Dorothy plays the blind sister, while Lillian is the one searching for her after they are separated). One of his masterpieces, and demonstrates why Lillian was his go-to-girl.
  7. Danton: starring Gerard Depardieu as the revolutionary leader, directed by Anton Wadja, this is a Polish-French production (1983). Made as an allegory of the Solidarity struggle going on in poland at the time (remember that?). Obviously, the major struggle between Robespierre and Danton as the two representatives of French politics; starts in the Reign of Terror and, well, we go on from there.
  8. 
    The CRAZY chorus
    
  9. Marat/Sade: the Peter Brooks film (1967). This is only for the very, very strong. I love it, but the crazy mental institution antics still get me. This is the story of the play written by the Marquis de Sade in the Charenton Asylum, which is produced using inmates as actors for an audience of patrons, to demonstrate the modern tactics of rehabilitating inmates (including the insane of all stripes, people with OCDC, and psycopathic criminals). Theatre as therapy that goes very, very wrong. The subject of Sade's play is the death of Jean-Paul Marat in his bathtub (he had a skin condition) by Charlotte Corday. The play is built on facts about de Sade, Marat, and the Charenton asylum... but it quickly becomes much, much more. There are songs, too.
If none of these interest you, I suggest these french or French-inspired films:
  • Horseman on the Roof (1995), with Juliette Binoche and Olivier Martinez about the 1832 cholera outbreak in France. Happier than it sounds, lovely period stuff, and wonderful love story. Charming.
  • Cousin Bette (1998) adaptation of Balzac novel with Jessica Lange and Elizabeth Shue. Did poorly at box office but I loved it. No subtitles.
  • Diabolique (1955) black-and-white thriller about a wife and mistress doing in their shared man. Creepy. On Netflix streaming.
  • Jefferson in Paris (1995) with Nick Nolte, Greta Scacchi and Thandie Newton.
  • Ridicule (1996) about the French court, starring Fanny Ardant. I love this film! Underrated gem. 
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), a werewolf film set in the 1780s in France... and you thought the guillotine was a problem! Classier and better than it sounds in that tongue-in-cheek description.

Or just go with one of my comic favorites, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The depiction of the Little Emperor in contemporary San Dimas and the waterpark... priceless! In fact, the history here is not quite as fast-and-loose as it seems.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Dreaded Study--in progress!

I did make progress yesterday, in putting up the new shelves and reorganizing both sets overall. I also started the process of identifying what will become "Goodwill" donations and what will stay, among my office supplies and organizing tools.

Basically? The second bookshelf is in place, the floor is clean, the cardboard/paper clutter removed. (Photos to come!) Lots more to do in here, but substantially less than yesterday.

I keep focusing on two ideas. First, that organized clutter is still clutter. Second, for me, out of sight = unused clutter. So labeling and open/clear containers will work best.

Here are some pictures I found around the 'net of offices that seem dreamy to me. Most are small spaces, smaller than my own and focused only on "office" work. But I like the minimalism, the clean design, and the colors. Although I would never have an office in avocado--a brighter green, yes, but avocado reminds me too much of the kitchen we had when I was about 7: 1970s avocado greeeeeeeeeen.





These next ones are another kind of office I crave: the one "out back," away from the house.





I love these! They suggest a lack of household distractions--like laundry, the phone, the state of the kitchen floor. One's own little island paradise.

This one's crazy:


And this one's self-evident.
Ooh la la!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dreaded Study

For about the last 12 months--well, perhaps only since October--I have been trying to reorganize my extra bedroom-cum-study for serious work. I need a place to write as well as a place to read and take notes for my scholarly research and my teaching.

In the Old Apartment, I had simply turned that space into a very cluttered storage space where old papers, magazine clippings, and unused electronics predominated. Ugh. With the New Apartment, I got another chance; not only is this room larger, but it has two windows that overlook green spaces, with colorful crepe myrtle trees outside (I do miss the magnificent magnolia, however). Better light, morning sun.

My move was the excuse I wanted to transition from Clutter Hell to Comfortable Working Space... and now I am on it.

Functions this room will fulfill:
  • writing/internet/laptop work + printing/scanning/copying
  • reading/researching/taking notes
  • indoor exercise (yoga and Gazelle)
  • storage of work/financial/health records and creative activity
  • clothing/closet storage
  • Jack's favorite nesting place every morning
Initial moves/completed:
  1. I junked the old, cheap 1/2 bookcases where I stored magazine files, course notebooks, and other "stuff" like office supplies.
  2. I bought two IKEA Lerberg bookshelves that will look better and hold slightly less, thereby forcing me to declutter and focus. (See box on floor for the second one, which has to be put together)
  3. I went through and shredded/tossed half of the paperwork I had onhand in Office Depot bins, things I had been "saving" for future use or reference; in living in that old space for 5 years, no one "referenced" the stuff, especially me!
  4. I donated empty bins to Goodwill, filled with other discards, including unused/over-bought office supplies (I look forward to 2-3 more bins going the same way).
  5. I moved my desk from the window to face a blank wall, where I will hang a bulletin board (this week) for reminders, images, and information tags.
  6. I bought an energy-saving power strip with a remote turn-off and always-on/remote-on sockets.
Overall mess--see box? Second bookshelf-to-be

New IKEA shelves


Sitting/reading/research space
This week/in process:
  1. I'll put together the remaining bookshelf and arrange what I need on both of them, using only that limited space.
  2. I'll re-organize the remaining four bins in larger categories holding more stuff (which will include files in bins still in my dining room).
  3. I'll shred the rest.
  4. I'll buy a hand scanner at Office Depot (or failing that, Amazon) so that I can begin the process of scanning anything remaining that can go on disk for "future reference": one disk, stored alongside other disks, beats two bins, right?
  5. I shifted my wicker chair/loveseat to the window, where I get better light (hence two succulents!) and a really delightful space for reading and taking notes (picture below--see the blue lapdesk?) -- now to utilize it! A lovely thought for afternoon work.
  6. I'll fix my desktop so it is not cluttered and my pens, clips, and post-it notes are close to hand... need them every day (I am an office products junkie!).
  7. I'll vacuum and whisk the pethair off the seat cushion so it is clean before putting it in place.
  8. I'll elminate the middle-of-the-floor pile, finding a new home for everything, even if that home is the trashcan.

Messy floor

Messy bins

Messy desk
My planned outcome: to make this office a peaceful, stress-free place conducive to writing, research, and simply enjoying a good book away from the TV. Maybe even a place to bring a friend for a chat over tea? There's a nice thought!

Tomorrow: my progress, plus some photos of home offices I love.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coming this week

Again, in trying to avoid procrastination and my own adult ADD (encouraged by summer's wide-open days), I am making plans for the week.

Monday: The study-in-progress, as I try to get my home office/writing studio in shape
Tuesday: Vive La Revolution! Planning for Bastille Day, 7.14
Wednesday: Touching base with my 2011 goals
Thursday: Closets & Clothes, looking toward the fall
Friday: If I was in Paris...
Saturday: Cooking for the week

Some Degas images for this week, while I think more about the lives, personal and professional, of female performers in Paris in the 19th century.


One of my favorites, a simple sketch


Just saw this in D.C. in person: colors fantastic

Working women: ironing


And thoroughbreds, Degas' other obsession


Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's Cooking?

This week I "cooked":
  • Herbed corn and tomato salad, with red onion (added) and goat cheese.
  • Salmon, easy poaching with Old Bay
The corn and tomato salad was ooh la la! I gobbled up the first two helpings yesterday for lunch, and plan to add another tomato and maybe some avocado today. The goat cheese added a nice touch of smooth creaminess. I could see including pine nuts, chickpeas, black beans, or green/red peppers. Maybe whatever is handy. It was simple, delicious, and sugar-free.

The salmon preparation is one of my favorites for this fish, and dead easy. Basically, I sprinkle Old Bay all over both sides of the skinless salmon steak or fillet, and put it in the top of a double boiler. Then steam it, simply, for about 20 minutes--or however "done" you like your salmon. Sometimes I also slice a lemon or lime and lay the slices on top of the fish, which adds some interesting flavor as well. No need to turn the fish: with the cover on the double boiler everything cooks through. The Old Bay adds lots of flavor, and while the salmon poaches you can prepare a salad, side vegetable, or simple rice dish to go with the fish. I've served this to lots of guests and never had a complaint (or an allergy issue). No sauce needed.

Besides that, it's all about apricots (in season), cherries (in season), cucumbers, peppers, corn, and tomatoes. Not a lot of variety, but loving the summer produce!

What are my plans for the weekend? Nothing but glamour...
  • Clean out the refrigerator of all too-old produce and leftovers
  • Take down two piles of "paper" clutter and recycle old magazines
  • Shop for weekly groceries, and follow-up by prepping week's vegetables and fruits for quick snacking
  • Put together the remaining IKEA bookshelf for my office
  • Watch the three Netflix movies that have sat by the TV all week
  • Attend a friend's concert (he plays the trombone)
Oh, and write and read for the article I am working on. Actually, that all sounds good....

Friday, July 8, 2011

If I was in Paris... July 8, 2011

Obviously, I would be preparing for July 14, France's day of independence. Oh, and watching the Tour de France avidly.

Today I would go to the Theatre du Chatelet and buy a ticket to see the Miami City Ballet, the company run by Edward Villella, in Paris. Or, if tickets were sold out there, to FNAC and snag a standing room place. Oh, yes. This is one of the best ballet companies in the US, and they are makign their Paris premiere. Oh, delight! I would of course hope to see something by Twyla Tharp, who has created several ballets just for them.

Interestingly, I might go see a small exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, on voodoo, from a private collection. "Vaudau," the French word, focuses on African voodoo, and here is a site where you can preview (or view, if you won't be in Paris) the flavor of the works. All I can say is, wow--the photos look amazing. The foundation is at 261 Blvd. Raspail, in the 14th, not far from where I stayed during the summer of 1999.

Not too far away, the Gobelins factory--the Manufacture des Gobelins--the great home of tapestries and rugs from the days of Louis XIV onward--has opened for its 400th anniversary. There is a sizable exhibition of period as well as contemporary pieces on view.

Not a very lively day, but frankly, this is the perfect weather (rainy!) for shopping and for sightseeing. Go early to all monuments--most open between 9 am and 10 am, so plan for a breakfast stop at a cafe nearby and then standing in line... This holds true for the Eiffel Tower, the climb up Notre Dame's bell towers, the Louvre, and probably the Musee D'Orsay. To avoid crowds, go to smaller museums, like the Zadkine, or less famous ones, like the Musee du Quai Branly. same with cathedrals.

Since it is raining, I say go shopping, whether at Galleries Lafayette (stop in the top floor cafe for lunch) or Bon Marche. Everything in Paris is on sale!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Any Space Here?

I have been doing pretty well with the de-cluttering activity. One of my decisions early in moving into the New Apartment was to figure out how to use the storage spaces (closets, shelves, cabinets) as well as my own organizing tools (boxes, bins, and baskets) before I started "finding homes" for things  needed to get rid of.

Well, I completed stage #1 and have moved into stage #2: sorting through the remaining bins/piles/boxes and finding new homes for everything... or getting it out of my house.

This is a new process for me; usually I just store it, with the notion that I'll find the time to de-clutter later. Lesson: not the process that works for me. Once it is in a box, on a shelf, stored, I will forget about it. Which is a great reason not to keep it. If I never use it, don't have a need for it that makes me search it out at least annually, and don't have a sentimental attachment to it... why clutter my life with it?

Begone!

Yesterday's coup: tossing into the Goodwill bin boxes and boxes of stationery cards I bought and never used. No matter how pretty, they're now history. Someone else can use them with pleasure.

Today's coup: emptying my remaining filing bins of empty hanging file folders. They will be donated, too, and thus my bins are 1/3-1/4 full. I can re-purpose/organize them more efficiently, once I get through all the loose/unfiled papers and all the paper storage bins. I currently have eight: my goal is to get down to four (or three!). Everything else will end up at Goodwill/in the shredder/in recycling.

I feel as if I've lost ten pounds, but it's all paper. Better yet, I've saved myself the cost of hanging file folders, regular file folders, and printing with my copier. Now if I could get the copier to work...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Express Checkout Experiment: My Summer Closet

Well, the weekend came and went and I had too much holiday fun with friends. Not "too much" as in I'm sorry about it, but "too much" as in, yeah, plans went out the window.

But I am now catching up with something I planned to do last week: post pictures of my closets.


This is the closet I am using for my summer clothes. More than 20 pieces, yes, but bear with me. From left to right, we have:
  1. Linen blouses in peach, pink, avocado, lime, and turquoise (all the same exact style)
  2. Blue cotton blouses (two striped and one solid light blue)
  3. White cotton blouses and tunics (two blouses and about six tunics)
  4. Cotton jackets (in white and beige)
  5. Cardigans (in red and black)
  6. Linen jacket, black
  7. Dresses, one black and one black/white dots
  8. Linen pants (black, tobbaco, and black crop)
  9. Jeans (about 4 pair)
  10. Skirts (solid blue and rust, patterned lime, red, brown, lime/turquoise, and black/white)
Multiples. With one white purse, one orange tote, and one straw tote as summer bags; one pair brown sandals, one pair black sandals (exactly the same), one pair high-heeled black sandals, one pair red peep toe heels, and one pair black ballerines.

This is my summer wardrobe from the beginning of May through the middle of September--which includes two full months of teaching. In the summer, usually I am also teaching one month and researching in Paris for another... so these carry me through. The versatility comes from the mixing of colors between blouses and skirts (and pants), putting the patterns on the bottom. It is a packable, wearable set of clothes, which solves for me one of the huge style issues I have struggled with for years: what to wear when the temperatures stay above 90 every day and look fresh, cool, and stylish.

Notice: no shorts, no bare arms, no strapless or sleeveless items. Easy to dress up with a cardigan or scarf, and jewelry, but works for meeting students, as well. Note too the space, the color sweep... this is a great, functional closet that makes me feel great. I also gave away a lot of things that weren't right in this mix... or that I never wore, or that didn't fit, or that were too worn.

The last two summers thanks to the return of "lady fashions" I have picked up two skirts each season. Last summer I bought the two solid color skirts -- steel blue and rust -- in Oxford on sale. This summer, again on sale, I bought the lime and brown patterned skirts from Coldwater Creek. All of them are cotton and can be thrown in the washing machine and yes, they need ironing but in the New Apartment, that isn't a problem with space... yay!

Rust, not red, and the spot is on my lens

Badly needs ironing, but the trim is so cute!

My favorite skirt this summer
These pictures, however, are where the problem still lies...

Bad closet, left side

Bad closet, right side
This is where my winter wardrobe and the rest of the stuff I haven't decluttered lives. A smaller two-sided closet, one side with a double rod, again organized by color (although black takes up the entire top rod!), and the other with a single rod, wher my dresses and longer clothes hang. Can't get a  good picture, because of the narrowness of the door and inner space. But I've put the shoeboxes with shoes in regular winter rotation above on the right, while you can see the pile of shoe boxes carrying shoes I don't wear any more... but can't get rid of in the center. Ahhhh!

Come cooler months (late October, maybe), I'll switch out the summer wear to this closet and move the regular winter stuff into the big closet. I hope that will have the same results of clarifying and winnowing out the stuff I don't need. I actually keep both doors open so I cannot hide this stuff.

Which is the first step to admitting I need to fix it, right?