Sunday, April 30, 2017

How Can So Much Happen in One Little Month?

In early April we finally got access to our rental unit. To quickly catch you up if you need it, we bought a sweet little duplex in Seaside, Oregon in December, and moved in during one of January's most inconvenient snow storms in Portland. We set up camp in the back unit, and fixed it up while we waited for the tenants up front to come to the end of their lease. Now that it's all ours, the plan is to fix up the other little 500 square foot apartment to be used as guest space for friends and family, and also as income property in the form of a vacation rental.

As we set out to get the proper permits for our VRD (Vacation Rental Dwelling), we learned that the codes and standards for Airbnb type rentals are much stricter than for regular full-time leased rentals. There have been way more expensive surprises than we'd imagined, and we actually did figure on some. We didn't know we would have to replace two electrical panels and move one to another room. We didn't know our galvanized pipe was dissolving. We didn't know that every wall that need to be opened was "sheetrocked" with plywood. And we didn't know that every project, once started, would create several accessory projects that couldn't be avoided.

Rick got the flu just as we started all this, so he was miserably huddled up in bed for a week while I wrangled workers and got kind of comfortable playing crew boss. By the time he was back on his feet, a lot of the work had been completed, but there was still a lot more to do. The two guys we had hired to help Rick actually ended up doing more than we'd planned on. They were pretty good, but not super professional as handymen. We dubbed them "the Darryls," after the guys from the old Bob Newhart show - Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl... They bickered like an old married couple, and went round and round about how various things should be done. Eventually they muddled through to a point where Rick could take over, and we let them go after they spent an afternoon trying to sort out how to cut the angles in the crown moulding. They never did figure it out.

Now we're down to taping, texturing, and painting (my most unfavorite thing that I happen to be very good at), and final visits from the plumber, electrician, and inspectors. It's been intense, but at least it's all moved along pretty quickly. And because I wasn't doing most of the work (until the painting), I've had lots of time for Making Things.

All of the things I'll show you were made during the month of April. I also whipped out three nice hats, made from handspun yarn a new friend gifted me with. I am in a making stuff frenzy, which I actually credit directly to the chaos going on around me. It's sort of a call and response type of thing. Chaos and Creativity are a great team.

It's time to update my website and start sharing some of my new projects. On a small scale (not walls), I enjoy painting quite a lot. It's impossible for me to see a perfect sand dollar on the beach and not pick it up. At the moment I have about 75 of them sunning themselves in the backyard. On a rainy day just before Easter, I picked up a paintbrush and turned a big batch of sand dollars into colorful little works of art. When I figure out how to mail them, I'll offer some for sale.

I'm also kind of obsessively making crocheted lampshades. I think it's pretty funny that years ago, when I told someone we were moving to Taos, she got a very knowing look on her face and asked, "Are you a Lightworker?" I had no idea what that even meant at the time, but following the thread, I was a beadmaker at the time - also known as a "lampworker". Now I make actual lamps, and yes, my goal, after all, is to bring more light to the world, both literally, as in with lightbulbs, and also in the more "woowoo" way of simply shining my own little light as much as I can in hopes of raising the vibe a bit. In answer to that long ago question, yes, I suppose I am a Lightworker - in lots of ways. And again, when I figure out how to ship them, I'll offer these beauties for sale too.

After I ran out of lampshades, I turned to earrings. I'm going to San Francisco in a couple of weeks, to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with my uncle, in celebration of both his and the bridge's 80th birthdays in May. This summer is also the 50th anniversary of the summer of Love in San Francisco, and I think these earrings are a perfect fit. More in the works! You can never have too many earrings. Never.

I really don't know where this last bit of inspiration came from. I'm not really a doll person. I don't own any, and the few I saved from my little girl years were handed off to my daughter long ago. For some reason though, these soft and simple mermaid dolls want to be made. Obediently, and to my own surprised delight, I am making them. Here are the first two, who have already been adopted.

Tinkering with the idea a little more, and following all leads from the dolls themselves, this is the third one. I adore making the hair. Isn't life pretty much all about the hair?

She has a home too, but I think I'll be making more, and yes, I'll offer them for sale, on my website, along with all the other new things.

That was April. Maybe I'll name this doll April, in honor of the whole flurry of a month. Writing all this down, I'm absolutely and humbly amazed at all that's sifted through my world in just four little weeks. I'm looking forward to May, but first I think I need to rest a minute.

Friday, February 17, 2017


It was Valentine's Day Eve, and not being very good at planning ahead for holidays, I had a sudden urge to crochet some hearts to share with the world. I made six of them while binge-watching MadMen (I can't explain), and a few more the next morning, with a vague plan to give them to random strangers throughout the day.

Two days earlier, I had a knock at the door, and there was a total stranger, a neighbor from a block or so up the street, holding two packages of mine that I'd assumed were missing forever. This made three rather important items our new mail delivery person had dropped off at the wrong address. One was our rent deposit check. I was getting grumpy.

I checked into filing an official complaint with the USPS, and then considered calling or visiting the local post office to grumble in person. And then, while working on a nice pink heart on Valentine's Day morning, it occurred to me to try being nice first.

I pulled out my good thank you notes, handmade by my daughter, and wrote a short, polite message to the mailman. I explained that several of our things had been mistakenly delivered to a similar address up the street, and that I'd be ever so grateful if he could help solve the issue. Then, figuring that everyone enjoys a surprise Valentine, I enclosed the pink heart, wrote "To Our Mail Carrier" on the envelope, and left it in the mailbox. I didn't know what to expect, so didn't expect anything.

Heart #1, delivered.

As we went about our day, I handed a few more hearts to people I interacted with, but the most fun was sneakily leaving them as surprises, resting on a pile of lemons in the market, dropped into a fellow shopper's bag when they looked away for a second, tossed into an open car window, dropped into a tip jar (along with a real tip, of course), left hanging on a hedge by the beach... So much fun.

Rick helped me, and came up with the name "Heart-Balming" as an alternate to "Heart-Bombing." This morning he asked me when we could do it again, and I pointed to the growing stack of rainbow colored hearts I started making after dispersing fifteen red, pink, and white ones in the course of one Valentine's Day.

We can do this every day. And we might. I think it might even be worthy of inviting others to join us, because it's really fun, and who knows, it just might be helpful to the world. For a while, at least, I think I'll carry a pocket full of hearts wherever I go, along with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn, in case I need to make one on the fly. If you see me, ask for one. Maybe I'll give you two, so you can share the Love with someone else. And if you want to make your own and join in on this very unofficial Heart-Balm Project, please do!

Back to the mailman... When we got home and took our mail out of the box, there was a little note for us in reply to mine...

This made my own heart happy. And this is why we need to remember to treat each other sweetly as a first step in problem solving. I know it doesn't always work, but it's almost always worth a try.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Time to Bake Again

I stopped baking when we moved to Portland. I hated my kitchen, and super hated the oven - to the extent that we brought in a toaster oven to do any bits oven-heating we needed. Our new kitchen in Seaside is small, but so much better in layout and function. Yesterday, to celebrate Valentine's Day, with good food for my sweetheart, Rick, I ended my baking hiatus.

First I made pumpkin biscuits, using my own recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits. I added a little extra sugar and some pumpkin pie spice, so they'd be sort of a muffin-scone-biscuit, worthy of a holiday breakfast. The last time I made these was in Taos, at 7,000 ft elevation, but they came out perfectly here at sea level too.

I think it's easiest to roughly double the original recipe, using a whole can (15 ounce-ish) of either pumpkin or sweet potato. I used whole wheat flour, coconut oil instead of olive oil for the sweeter version, and a half cup of organic coconut sugar instead of increasing the maple syrup. These were so good, I'll make them for company, once we have our guest house ready!

Later on, I decided we needed a chocolate cake too. No wonder I'm a little fluffy around the edges these days...

My daughter's mother-in-law, Carol Buchan, is writing a cookbook designed for small kitchens, specifically boats, but also RVs, and little home kitchens like mine. It's not a vegan book, but some of the recipes just happen to be vegan, or easily adapted. I love what she's doing! Her website, Northwest Cooking Afloat, is a great preview to the book. Most especially, check out the recipe for Chocolate Mocha Cake, which I made last night. It's sooooooo easy,  and crazy delicious.

This cake recipe just happens to be vegan, and the frosting can easily make the leap by subbing Earth Balance stick "butter" for the regular butter. Piece-o-cake. I used whole wheat flour for this one too, and the cake was dense and moist and perfect. I decided to make a raspberry sauce instead of the frosting. It was wonderful! And the leftover cake, warmed up just a little bit, was great this morning with coffee. The recipe makes a big 9 x 13 cake, so either make a half recipe, or do like I did - freeze half of the baked cake in two-person servings for other days.

I always love cake, but I don't always feel like baking. This was so simple though, we'll enjoy it whenever we need a cake fix, and like the biscuits, this is something I'll love making for our guests at the beach!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Checking Out Some Free Photo Apps

Getting all caught up on my current inventory, the rest of my finished rocks are on the website today.
I'm trying out some new things with photographing and editing with different apps. I'm pretty pleased with how simply I can pull together a mini portfolio for each rock, showing them off from all angles.

I use my iPhone 6 as my only camera, and adjust color and cropping right on the phone. Then I use two apps, Layout and Font Candy (both free) to combine multiple pictures into one photo, and then to add text. It takes less than a minute for each step.

Next I text the finished collage to myself, and open it in Messages on my MacBook, where I drag it to the desktop so I can easily drop it into place on my website, Facebook, Tumblr, and anywhere else I might want to share a photo.

It doesn't get any easier, cheaper, or low-tech than this.

I'll share more rocks as I make them. I can't seem to stop, and why would I want to?
These are making me very happy.

Have a great weekend!
xo Kim

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beach Rocks Save the (Rainy) Day

When it's raining sideways and I can't walk on the beach, I go to the growing rock pile by my front door and bring in a few favorites to dress up.

More and more of them are finding their way to my website, and they'd love for you to adopt them.

They make great gifts, and can be useful or purely decorative, depending on how you feel about such things.

I like to set up little groupings here and there in my house, while I wait to send them off to their new homes.

What will you do with yours?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A House is Like a Bead

You remember when I made beads, don't you? It's probably how you first got to know me. (If not, have a look at my Beadist page.) My beads were made in layers, lots of layers, sometimes thirty or more. There were steps that needed to be followed, but most of what happened in any given bead was organic and something of a surprise to me. Each new layer became obvious as I completed the one before it, until finally, I would know it was finished.

I've noticed that making a house into Home is much the same as making a bead. It's done in layers too. We came in and cleaned, even though it was already clean. We cleared old energies with essential oils and words of gratitude. (Intention is everything, and I hate the smell of burning sage.) We painted for days, until our muscles hurt, and I vowed never to paint another wall again. I'm sure I was wrong about that. We still have the other half of our house to work on, once the renters move out. (Soon please.)

We brought in furniture and clothes and kitchen things and bathroom things. We moved them around and around until it felt right. We moved them some more. We looked around and noted what was missing, and bought it and brought it in. We already have so many things, but we don't have the right things for this little house.

We got a fireplace. Electric, because gas is at the street but not in the house. We ordered a tiny dining table and a big, soft, vintagey-blue rug. I moved things around some more while Rick was in California for a week. And it's beginning to feel like Mine, and Ours.

In that same week, I also knitted a lacy curtain for the back door, and ordered fabric swatches for flowy curtains for the bedroom. I'm working on a coral colored crochet panel for the creepy little beveled glass sliver in our front door that makes me feel like I'm being watched at night, and looks like something from a grandmother's house. So what if I actually am a grandmother. I'm not that beveled glass kind of grandmother. And besides, windows need to be softened at night, even if there isn't a neighbor for miles around. (We do have many neighbors.) Flat, shiny, black nighttime glass just looks cold and un-cozy, like you could spill out into the night at any moment.

And with all that done - in only two weeks - it's kind of amazing - there are more layers to be added. The "core of the bead" is in place, and it's time for the final details, the shaping, the polishing. New paintings are coming home with Rick today, from my cousin, and favorite painter, Mitzi Miles-Kubota. Older, beloved pieces of art will come out of their paddings and packagings. The walls will come alive with color and texture and form and love. Finishing touches, inside, and then lots of work outside. Then, as I said, the other half of the house. So many layers.

A house is like a bead that's never finished. Layer after layer will either make it more refined, more what we want, more Home - or, will make it into a messy blob that lost its focus somewhere. I'm watching it closely, taking careful care. And I love how this gem of a house, our house, is already taking on depth and motion and beauty of its own, much like my favorite beads.


Monday, January 23, 2017

It Really Is The Ocean

This little cove, at the south end of town, is a five minute walk from our house. It boasts some pretty great surfing waves, and almost every day we'll see anywhere from a handful to dozens of black silhouettes bobbing in the wild water. The stormy weather seems to keep them away, but otherwise, I'm told that the best surfing is in the winter. I'm happy watching from the beach.

For years in Seattle, and then again in Portland, we were surrounded by freeways, and the noise that comes with them. When that sound was at a distance, I was able to pretend I was really hearing the ocean. The other night we realized we actually can hear the waves from our back bedroom at night, when our already quiet neighborhood goes to sleep. Now I find that I'm having to convince myself that what I'm hearing is really the ocean, and not the freeway...

I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Seven Rules For Happy Moving

Picking up where we left off...

Just as we allowed ourselves to relax and enjoy a day off before the big move, the moving company called to see if they could load the truck on Saturday instead of Sunday. So... the Friday we'd planned (I'm beginning to just crack up every time I hear that word) to go out and enjoy our favorite Portland places one more time was jolted into high speed last minute moving prep. Fine! OK! We can play in Portland some other time!

This brings me to Rule Number 1 for Happy Moving - Make a Plan, and Plan to Change It
This rule pretty much applies to everything in life. Nothing is ever going to go the way you expect it to. If you don't want to be crazy cranky as you intentionally tear apart your home and your current world, just try to be a little bit flexible. There's really no other choice anyway. Set things up the way you'd like them to go, and then take your hands off the wheel. You are not in control. Never will be.

Moving is hard work, no matter how excited we are (and we are!) to make the move. Even with two strong guys doing the heavy lifting, Rick and I still did more physical work than either of us was ready for. Lots of groaning and ibuprofen played into getting us out of our apartment and pointed toward the beach.

Rule Number 2 for Happy Moving - Pay Someone to do it For You
This was the first time I've ever hired movers, and now I can see the error in my do-it-yourself ways all those years. You'll save a ton of time, stress, damage to your precious possessions, and personal physical discomfort, and land at your destination reasonably ready for the next big job of unpacking all those boxes. (More on that later.) Yes, it costs money to have someone else move your stuff. And it's worth every penny. Really. If Rick and I had tried to move all this stuff, plus the furniture you don't see here, plus the crap in storage that had been there untouched for three years, all by ourselves, not only would it have taken days to get it done, we probably would have ended up in the hospital, which is much more expensive that hiring movers. Also, pay someone to do your move-out cleanup. I "planned" for this (teehee), but the change in timing had me cleaning as we went along, leaving just the final wipe-down for about an hour after the apartment was emptied. It saved us a few bucks, but I would have preferred to let a pro do what they're good at.

I'm officially Thanking God for Willamette Valley Moving, right here and now, in front of all these people. Shannon and Michael took great care of our things - even our crappy Ikea things - and worked so fast we had a loaded truck and an empty apartment in just about two hours. Amazing. (BTW, I actually like my Ikea stuff, but I know the furniture doesn't hold up well in a move.)


As the movers, with their truck full of our worldly goods, headed back to the barn for the night, we drove over what we thought would be the clearest road to the coast. The recent snowstorm had made a mess of everything, and the roads in downtown Portland were the worst part of the trip. The rest of the drive looked more like we were heading for a ski trip than moving to the beach.

Once we got here, it was just us and what we'd crammed into the car. We still needed to dig out the air bed and sleeping bags for one more round of house camping, but keeping our priorities straight, we first headed for the U Street Pub, which happens to be right around the corner from our house. We sat there in kind of a weary stupor, and enjoyed our beers and veggie burgers (which are easily veganized by leaving the butter off the bun, and holding the secret sauce. We added grilled onions this time. And next time I might even smuggle in a little vegan mayo and a couple of slices of Chao Cheese. We already have a new favorite place.

Rule Number 3 for Happy Moving - Fuel Your Sweet Self
Stop what you're doing every so often, and put something good to eat in your mouth. Drink water even more often. If you have to pee a lot, so much the better. It's a chance to sit down for a minute. Eat a real breakfast. Take a lunch break. Call somebody and have it delivered. Moving is about paying people to do as much as possible, because you really have quite enough to do already. And at the end of the day, let those boxes sit right where they are, and go get a good meal and a tasty beverage. The next phase of the work will wait, and you'll be able to actually function if you eat well and get some rest. (The big beer is mine. I love a good red ale.)

The next morning, the big truck arrived at 10:00, and we were ready for them. All camping gear was cleared, and the house was ready to be filled. What we didn't realize was that we had way more stuff than we thought we did. The house was filled, and then filled some more. The storage "breezeway," which runs the depth of the garage, was also filled. And in the course of two more hours of amazing moving-guys magic, we found ourselves surrounded by towers of things that suddenly looked more like junk than treasures. I think I cried a little.

Completely overwhelmed, we waved goodbye to the guys, and got to work. Again. Something I noticed in this move (which I truly hope will be my last move, ever, ever, ever), is that moving isn't just moving. It's moving the exact same things at least four times, and usually many more than that. Into the boxes, into the truck, out of the truck, and then out of the boxes. This doesn't factor in all the rearranging of boxes in each phase, or the rearranging of the practically everything as it finds its way into a new home. Rules 4 and 5 are here to help.

Rule Number 4 for a Happy Move - One Box at a Time
Don't freak yourself out by thinking you have to get everything unpacked all at once. I just tell myself, one box at a time, and if I'm feeling particularly fragile, just one box today will do. This gives me a sense of completion as I go. And of course, when I finish one box, I always go on to another one. I also yell, WooHoo! Empty box!, every time I break one down and toss it in the recycle pile.

No matter how carefully we pack, it always seems that too many stowaways find their way into our collections of precious objects. The way to prevent this is to throw things out as we're packing, of curse, but that never really seems to work, does it? I might need this set of plastic measuring cups from the Dollar Store... These rolls of gift wrap are still new... Worn out clothes I never wear might be just perfect in our new place... Plastic forks, and random napkins and chopsticks could come in useful, because future takeout restaurants might not provide these things...

The stress of moving makes us sort of nuts, and impairs our judgement. You're going to pack silly things. It's OK. We all do it. So when you get to your new home, and find all sorts of things you no longer want or need, just get rid of them already!

Rule Number 5 for a Happy Move - Get Rid of as Much as You Can
Truly. Dump it in the recycles or trash, or take it to the Goodwill. Right now. Don't put it in a drawer to be dealt with later, because you won't deal with it later. Start off life in a new place as free from crap as possible. You'll acquire more crap, and you'll need room for it.

It took me three days to get through the stacks of boxes in the house. That doesn't seem bad, until you look at what we have stored in the breezeway, which I actually have not done, because I'm afraid to. Rick assures me that it's at capacity, and that I shouldn't hand him anything else to put in there. I believe him.

This brings up a question. If we're comfortable and sort of settled in here, with pretty much everything we need, what in the hell is all that stuff out there, and what are we going to do with it?

Part of me wants to just haul it off to the Goodwill, unopened, and probably forever un-missed. But we're in a sort of unusual situation. Our house is a duplex, and the part we aren't living in is currently occupied by renters, who have a lease until April. We have to let them stay. And once they move, we'll be fixing up that half of our house to use as guest space and a vacation rental. So there's a good chance we're going to need some of that stuff out there eventually, because we basically have another house to furnish. Sigh... some stuff just has to wait.

Rule Number 6 for a Happy Move - Let Some Things Wait
This rule has a subtext: for a limited amount of time. In this case, I'm letting all those boxes of "extra" things sit there, out of sight, only until we get the guest space sorted out. After that, if it's not baby pictures or Christmas decorations, or papers we have to keep for seven years, out it goes! If we don't need it at that point, we never will.

Just as I emptied the last "indoor box" yesterday, there was a knock at the door. The UPS man was there, and that can only mean one thing... another freaking box! It seems absurd to be shopping right now, but the reality is, there are certain things this house needs that we didn't already have, and there are hundreds of things out in storage right now that we needed at some point (I suppose), but don't need now. Nobody said this was going to be simple or easy...

I know what's in that box. It's a thick, folding foam pad, which I bought to use on our uncomfortable couch, so my son can sleep on it when he comes by for a visit in the near future, before we have actual guest space. (Kids are the only ones who can get away with that, by the way. Don't drop by planning to crash on my couch unless I gave birth to you. Everyone else can wait for the lovely guest house I'm making for you.)

I left that box sitting unopened by the door, and joined Rick by the new electric fireplace, which I love very much. You know there was an adult beverage in hand, and a good snack too.

Rule Number 7 for a Happy Move - Rest and Regroup
Once your new nest is relatively comfortable, sit down, relax, pat yourself on the back (if you can still move your arms), and take it all in. It won't be perfect. There will be much re-moving of things, as well as removing and replacing things that no longer suit your life. That's all good, and creative, and part of the art of living a happy life. But you have to take a break before the next phase, which isn't "moving" anymore, it's "nesting". 

Nesting, which happens right after moving, requires going out and finding new twigs and bits of string. Yep, even with all the stuff we have, we're going to need some different stuff. I can't face it yet. I know I need a break, and I'm taking it.

This morning, looking at that box by the door, I think I might just send it back unopened. It seems like a better plan to do what we'll have to do eventually - go out and get a really comfortable couch. Then again, that's a plan, and we all know how useful those are...

And with that, I refer you back to Rule Number 1, which actually does work in most situations.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dancing With the Universe

We thought we had it all planned out. The move, with all the painting, the packing, the truck, the phone calls, the changes of addresses and utilities... 

Aren't we adorable, making all these plans? We know very well by now that making a plan is like dancing with the Universe and pretending it's our turn to lead.

We worked it all out. We wrote it on our calendar - in ink - yeah, smart. Scribble, scribble, pencil next. Erase, erase. Step back and see what one thing we can do next, while we wait to see how the rest of it lines up. We drove over to our house - our new home - and spent four days painting walls that we thought would take one or two days. A tiny little space. Two rooms. We didn't even paint the bathroom, and we still have all the kitchen cabinets to do. but we painted the heck out of that place, and it looks just grand. Best of all, it looks and feels more like ours. Sad old paint is now replaced with a fresh, lovely finish. I even painted the insides of the closet and the pantry, trim and ceilings and all. 

We headed back to Portland, sore and tired as if we'd just joined a gym, and jumped right into packing up what wasn't already packed, so we'd be ready for the truck and big guys we had scheduled for Thursday. We lined up someone to clean after we left. We forwarded the mail. We said a lot of good-byes. 

And then it snowed.

Surprising all of Portland, we got one of those gorgeous White Christmas kind of snows I actually do dream of each winter. Eight inches of snow in a city that isn't really used to it can make quite a mess. Trees broke all over town. Roads became impassable. Streetcars lost their electricity. Busses needed chains and still couldn't make the hills. Those same hills mocked car drivers who thought they'd give it a try anyway. And our move that was supposed to happen on Thursday (today) got pushed to Sunday, just like that.

So back to the calendar, more erasing and rescheduling, and calling and cancelling, and changing of turn-off dates so we can at least keep electricity and internet going while we're here. We did such a great job of packing, all our dishes and kitchen things are stashed in boxes, and we're just happy to have a couple of restaurants in easy (but really slippery) walking distance. 

We still have our bed set up, and our couch is here, but other than that, we're camping in a forest of boxes, just hanging out and waiting to see if we'll actually be able to move on Sunday. There's a mountain road to deal with between here and the coast, and it's the moving guys' call as to whether or not they want to make the drive. At least the sun is out now, and there are no new storms predicted for the next few days. I think it will be OK. But I'm still not writing anything in ink.

Bright side - we got to slow down and catch our breath a little bit, and we have some time to enjoy Portland before we blast off. We even had time today to take our crappy looking Ikea couch apart and replace the faded black covers with nice new off-white that already looks so much more... beachy. One less chore to do when we get there. Maybe all this waiting is actually doing us a favor.

Yes, the delay is frustrating. But we can't do anything about it, so we might as well just do our best to roll with it. Dancing with the Universe, you don't even need to learn all the steps. Sometimes it's easiest to do like a little kid, standing on someone's big grown-up feet, one arm holding on tight, the other hand out in mid air, guided by the owner of the feet, just riding along while the dance happens on its own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Little Closet

It's perfect that we're moving at the beginning of a new year, when we'd normally be considering a fresh round of sorting and clearing. We've been doing this downsizing thing for years, since 2008, when we went to Ethiopia (and came back different). And you know, we're getting pretty good at it.

I can't imagine ever upsizing again. Even though we're buying a house, the total square footage is only about 1,100, and it's divided into two units. So we'll actually be living in about the same amount of space we have now, in our studio apartment, in Portland. I find this quite amusing. Half a house for us, and half for our family and friends and Airbnb guests.

The closet Rick and I have been sharing is small. Too small for one regular person's wardrobe, but we've made it work. Sort of. OK - I've been grumbling about wanting more space lately. But after watching Minimalism (highly recommended by me) on Netflix, I was inspired to give my half of the closet another good clearing. It had gotten crowded with city girl clothes I thought I needed. Truth is, I really only wear a few favorite things most of the time, and there were quite a few items in there I'd either never worn, or really didn't like at all.

Here's the Before. I know, it's not a lot to begin with. But once it was all barfed out onto the bed, it became clear that there were some really silly stowaways in there. (Did I really buy a bright green dress???)

Why do I still make these shopping mistakes? Oh hell. Who knows? We all mess up and fumble through and make silly impulse buys under stress or when we think a thing will bring us comfort. I'm surprised my apartment isn'y packed to the ceiling with dumb things I don't need, after the year i just had. But back to the closet...

Because I've been practicing, and because I actually enjoy letting go of things that aren't useful to me, the process only took about an hour this morning. Standing there in my slip, I took each piece out of the closet, one by one. If I wasn't sure about something, I tried it on. Piece by piece, I made three piles on the bed. The Now pile, the Later pile, and the Give Away pile, which actually went directly into a big black bag, so I wouldn't go back and second guess my tossing decisions. The three piles came out about even, though maybe leaning a little heavier on Give Away. If I haven't worn it in a year, I'm not likely to ever wear it. And if a favorite is worn out, it's time to replace it.

In progress here - That crazy purse was fun for my stint at Portland Fashion Week over a year ago, but now it needs a new home.

The reality of my personal "style," which admittedly is not all that stylish, is that I prefer dresses, leggings, boots, and long cardigans over anything else. I have seven dresses that are sort of a uniform for me, all from PrAna or Horney Toad, and all but one in solid colors. They work with the climate here, they're comfortable, and they can be dressed up a bit with scarves and jewelry. I have one pair of black boots on their third winter, and looking more and more like pirate boots than sassy city footwear. I also have about 20 other pairs of shoes that I'm stubbornly keeping. I like shoes and purses, and I try to let something go whenever I bring a new accessory  in. They're gaining on me, and I'll deal with them later, once I know for sure which ones aren't fitting in with my new beachy lifestyle.

Just about done. The Later clothes are in the box, so I can see them if I go looking for them. The Give Away bag grew after this picture, with the addition of two coats and a pair of shoes that hurt. No pain in my closet!

And here's the final cut, now in the closet and ready to pack and move next week. It's not much, but it's all I need. Actually, the tapestry garment bag on the left will also go in storage for a while. Fancy dresses for weddings and parties are in there. I even have room for my coats now. And notice, no jeans. I hate them and I refuse to wear them. You can't make me.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

We're Moving to the Beach

When we moved from Taos to Portland, the intention was to "date" our new city for a year, and see if it was a good match. A year turned into two, and because we still needed to be in easy reach of family in both Seattle and California, we renewed the lease on our studio apartment for a third year last spring.

After about the first year though, we could tell that we didn't want to marry Portland. Lovely as she is, we began to grow weary of the pace and chaos of city living. We started driving to the coast as often as we could. Every time we were there, we'd ask ourselves, Why don't we live here??? The answer was always the same. The beach is too far from the airport, which I needed for my frequent trips to visit my dad, and it's too expensive to live there.

We sort of believed our story, and we'd go back to Portland with sandy feet, a bag of beach rocks to crochet, and a longing in our hearts. A few months ago, I stuck a map of the Oregon coast on our bathroom wall, along with a picture of the beach, on which I wrote, We are here... Something in me also believed in the possibility of living on the coast some day.

And then my father passed from this world. After two years of being there so often, and for such long stretches of time, suddenly I had no more reason to go to California, and no real need of an airport. And along with that, in Daddy's typically protective way of providing for his girls, he left us with a house to sell. All of a sudden, living at the beach became a real possibility for me.

Several months before his passing, Dad was talking about how amazed he was that his humble tract house, bought over 50 years ago, had increased in value beyond anything he could ever have imagined. He was so proud and happy to be giving that to us. It was a strange conversation to be having. I was uncomfortable, but rather than dismiss his gift because getting it would mean losing him, I chose to honor his lifelong efforts and his love for his daughters by telling him what I planned to do with my inheritance. I'm so glad I did.

The idea of buying a house was the best way I could think of to protect my money from myself. Buying a house at the beach seemed like the perfect way to be practical and also to have something the whole family could enjoy. Daddy approved. And I know he'd be pleased and amazed all over again to see how a part of the house he and Mom raised their family in has almost magically become another house for the family to love.

The hole in my heart will always be there, but more and more it's filling with light. Rick and I have bought our little house in Seaside, Oregon, and we'll be moving in this month. Portland was a great date, but now I really feel like we're heading for home. Thank you, Daddy. Thank you, 2017. I think everything is going to be so much more than OK.