Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Hundreds Game

Neat and tidy is not exactly the way I roll, but there always comes that time when my study sinks into Hoarderville. Embarrassingly so. Even for me. Stacks of books interleaved with stacks of papers until they resemble a sliding mesa; notebooks from several different projects wide open and sprawled across the desk; paid and unpaid bills covering up the misplaced debit cards that must be here somewhere. This place is an Official Mess. I mean, only a bloodhound will be able find those cards (and the wallet they escaped from) in this wall-to-wall clutter. Though I’m sure they're close by and probably in plain sight. Somewhere. Like, oops, right there, under the collection of postcards I've been intending to mail, ahhem, sometime (cough, cough) soon.

But cleaning up and putting things away, jeepers, it’s just so bothersome, especially when you can’t even figure out where to start. Not to mention that you could spend all weekend on the project and barely make a dent in the accumulations. 

So lately, I've been playing a little game with myself that I call The Hundreds.  No, not where you get yourself down to one hundred things in your life (as if! ); this is getting one hundred things out of my study - each week. It's tidying up on the installment plan. Hmmmm, I could probably start with getting one hundred things out of my purse. Maybe then I could carry it without groaning. And maybe my wallet would fit in it and not be sliding around here on my desk, disgorging debit cards.

Here's how it works: I give myself a point for any one thing, big or little, that I put away or get out of the room. That useless lamp? To the curb! That collection of cups? off to the scullery with you! That spill of paper clips? Hie thee to the Clip Cup! And oh, yes, a piece of paper counts. I mean, let's get down with the motivation here.  One hundred pieces of paper is no small thing - there's a bankers box in front of me with at least that many pieces of paper waiting to be filed, recycled, shredded, re-gifted, mailed, framed - or simply thrown away. No points for just putting it in another pile to deal with later; no, no, no. 

For my first hundred points, I weeded the pen caddies - tossing out funky fountain pens, dry ballpoints, pencils less than an inch long with no eraser (a quick thirty points); then gathered a dozen or so working pens to share with the pen-starved faculty at work; threw several small hills of stickies blackened with illegible scribbles into the recycle bin; shelved thirty-five books that I lugged in from the car three weeks ago and were just sitting by the door in their box. 100 points, easy peasy!
Mailing postcards and thank you notes count, too, because those cards are outta here. An unanticipated bonus of my Hundreds game: postal treats from me: an irrelevant post card or a long overdue thank-you note. 

The best part: I’m not spending my whole weekend in a cleaning and sorting tizzy, pissed off at the clutter, pissed at myself for letting it get that way, and super-pissed off a spending a fabulous best-weather-of-all-time weekend dealing with it. Or getting really, really pissed off should anyone (especially someone in a familial relationship to me) make even the slightest joke about it. Seriously. This tidying-up stuff is not funny.

Now, there is no way I’m posting project-start pictures of my whole office; it’s pretty pathetic and someone might call social services. But I will post a Before and After picture of some select areas to prove my point. They're but not the same spot, so you have to use some imagination. But, once upon a time, before the Game began, the tidier spot (where the wallet was hiding) resembled the messy spot (where anything, even a bloodhound, could be hiding). 

So what do you think, magic, right? (and no, the stuff wasn't just pushed from one spot to the other! No points that way!)

... the  messy spot ....
... the more-or-less tidied-up spot ....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Less Than Three

I've been mystified lately about a particular thingy that I've been seeing all over the Interwebbys, particularly on Facebook posts.  Sometimes it shows up in a series of three or four in a row. (I can't type this thingy into my post to show you because it seems to read as some sort of HTML directives and my post gets completely screwed up.)

But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how "less than 3"  had anything to do with the topic at hand. And why "less than" ? why not "more than" ? Why not 5 or 33 or 113? I didn't quite get it.

Until one morning, when the caffeine hadn't kicked in yet and my eyes were still gluey and half-shut, I realized they were supposed to be hearts. Lying down hearts, but none the less loving for all that.

Just sign me:
Too Much Math at an Early Age.

Here's a snap of three thingeys

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Snack&Bath on B Street

My friend, the oak titmouse, at a more bountiful moment. 
I hadn't filled the bird feeders yesterday afternoon, though I should have; they were pretty low. A glance this morning through the window over the sink and I saw they were all seriously empty, even the bench where I place bread crumbs, mealworms, those little red peanuts. The backyard was still and barren, rigid in the pearly morning cold; no flutter of leaves or bird wing, no whistles or chirps. Everything had given up  - I felt empty and unresponsive myself, quiet and cold. And yet, there was one lone grey bird, an oak titmouse, bulky with fluffed up feathers, perched patiently in the bare branches of the runty plum tree.

Okay, I get it, my birdy friend, but first, coffee. And a smackeral of breakfast.

By the time the coffee had spluttered to its end, the whole darn crew had descended upon our yard to join the buzzy-voiced oak titmouse; white-capped sparrows, house finches, purple finches, blustery scrub jays. They were perched everywhere, on the sorry-assed plum tree, the bedraggled apple tree further back, the tomato cages laced with brown vines and frozen tomatoes I haven't taken down yet. Little fluffy sentinels of reproach, unmoving, just sitting there.

The toast popped up and I buttered it - but I couldn't take it anymore. I slipped several layers over my pj's and out I went into the new morning; the birds, as usual, fleeing as the screen door banged shut behind me. I worked swiftly (it was barely above freezing; my hands were stiff and achy), filling up the two depleted feeders, dribbling the little red peanuts and dried mealworms along the bench, promising the goldfinches that I'd get more nyger seeds for them later on.

Back inside, nibbling on reheated toast, hands hugging a steaming coffee mug, I glanced through the kitchen window. All was still, no avian buzz and chatter. Had they decamped in disgust for more provident pastures? But by the time I plunked my plate in the sink and poured another cup, the back yard was a fluttering tableau of birds; finches squabbling around the tube feeder, sparrows making quick work on the mealworm bench and everyone taking baths and drinking up - another fabulous morning at the  Snack&Bath on B Street.

I'd never felt that birdfeeder's guilt so strongly before. I've always figured, you know, birds: they're opportunists, they'll hustle on to their next stop, they'll find something else and come back later. Today, even though I wasn't able to recognize any one single particular bird, it's as if they were my "regulars" waiting patiently outside the plate glass windows and doors of my cafe, while I dilly-dallied around in my felted slippers and fuzzy robe, late to open.

It felt good to open the doors. A new morning, a new year.