My Useless Occupations: The me in the mirror. Goofing off, taking photos, not doing anything useful. Last Sunday. I've been playing a little tennis and working out. One needs activity but it doesn't get the downsizing and cleaning done. Today we went out for a big breakfast. Tennis was rained out. I wasn't really sorry. I wanted to goof off, eat too much, let it settle and then go for a workout. (I hope I will do that anyway.)
I've been blogging every day here. As you probably know if you are reading this. Also, on Austin Daily Photo. And keeping a personal journal on the computer, of course. Great time wasters these. Which has kept me from committing to paper (or computer rather) a short story that is almost completely written in my head.
Downsizing: Have I mentioned that my office is neat? Whether I get more work done is questionable. My desk upstairs where I work on some filing and bookkeeping is a disaster at the moment and I did lose track of something but it was filed when we found it! More than once since I put everything away and made neat work surfaces I've had to scratch my head over where I filed something. Actually I've gotten rid of lots of stuff and gone through lots of files so there are some nearly empty file drawers in here. The thing is that I have to completely clear this room so it can be painted and so that we can refinish the floors. That is daunting. And I have to move all my projects and computing upstairs so I have to mangle through the mess up there.
Part of downsizing is getting stuff shredded that needs to be shredded. And there is a lot of that stuff. I do a little bit, marveling at some of the old receipts and checks and stuff, and then I get tired of it and do something else.
I have to shake my head as I go through our stuff. There is physical evidence of unrealized transient passions. Maybe we went to a cooking class (which we did) for Vegetarian cooking. Hence we came to own a wok I Freecycled, a spring form pan I lost the bottom to (I think) and a number of cookbooks. (One of which I keep because I like to look up its advice for cooking brown rice if not stir fries and tofu cheesecakes in spring form pans.) And of course there is the smallish (less than a dozen volumes) collection of old travel books. I bought one in the wonder of a book shop that was once in San Antonio (Brock's) and then assembled a small number before losing interest. I indulged a passion for World War II first person accounts for years and the result is piles and piles of books. Scores? Hundreds? It's hard to give them up, too, because many are surely out of print. And, of course, there are bendies (I gave a bunch away but some remain); martini shakers, siphons and old chrome coffee service; martini glasses; other 'collectible' glassware. Need I go on? FFP had quite a huge collection of conspiracy and Kennedy assassination material. To his credit he let a large amount of it go.
Yesterday FFP went once again to the thrift store with a trunk full of stuff. Out of here: napkins and place mats that won't fit our new decor; cook books (the joke isn't how many we gave way but how many we kept!); amusing picture frames; candle holders with bees on them; some other books and decorative items.
When we find something that once belonged to someone else or we think they might especially want, we try to contact them. Today an old buddy of FFP's from advertising days came to take away a painting he'd left behind in FFP's first house before I ever knew him. Many staples, screws and stretchers later the canvas pieces of the multi-part thing were stowed in a garbage bag to go back to New York.
Slowly, slowly the downsizing continues. It's important not to get discouraged and to remember how little you miss this stuff when it is gone. The clean surfaces in my office will have to be given up, at least temporarily, to refurbing the room but they are possible only because I've cleaned enough out of drawers and closets to stuff things away. Many projects loom. Maybe I'll make a list. Lists are much easier than the doing!
When I retired I imagined I'd read all of Dickens. Truth is I have a set of Dickens that belonged to my great grandfather. I've decided to keep them. Why not read them? Am I? No. But. I found a book on tape collection of "A Tale of Two Cities," "The Old Curiosity Shop," and "Barnaby Rudge." As I mentioned earlier I am sort of curating my goodbye to all the 'stuff' and one way I do that is to listen to cassette tapes and then give them away. I'm pretty sure I listened to this set before, but it's my nod to not reading the Dickens that belonged to my great grandfather. I also read books and parts of magazines and then discard them to the thrift store, a friend or recycling.
I am reading at least five books right now. Ulysses, of course. I'm on page 634 of 933, I think. I'm not sure because the other day my bookmark fell out and it was amazingly difficult to find where I was. I'm also reading Simon Winchester's Krakatoa which is amazing. I'm about a quarter in on that puppy. I'm about halfway through a book by Thatcher Freund called Objects of Desire about antique collecting, specifically American furniture and featuring three particular pieces. About halfway through that one. (Confession: it's a bathroom book.) A friend gave me a copy of Peter Carey's Theft that lost a battle with a glass of wine and is falling apart and red-tinted. I'm keeping that in my car as an emergency book for when I forget to take other reading material in my car. It's a pretty good book from what I read so far. I am getting behind on my newspapers. The good news is I found a place to keep the unread ones where they don't look so messy. That's the bad news, too, of course.
My Useless Occupations, Redux: Well blogging certainly keeps one from doing anything useful so I must stop.