Chasing Inspiration

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Scaling Back

I never want to leave unorganized crap behind for someone else to deal with. Grieving the lose of someone you love is hard enough without compounding it with having to go through every piece of their life and decide is it garbage or is it a treasure worth keeping.

After my FIL died, my husband and I spent a lot of time at the family home. His stepmom wanted to get the house ready to sell and sell quickly. My husband spent most of his life before marriage in this house, as did two of his three siblings. You would think the house would have been full of family keepsakes. It wasn't. At least not those types of keepsakes. You see, his dad and step-mom had been prepping to downsize for a few years and had culled the home of the children's possessions.

No, we didn't go through old yearbooks and arts and crafts. We went through years of documents my FIL had kept from EVERY JOB HE EVER WORKED! Every church directory that ever crossed his path. Reel-to-reel audio tapes we can't even listen to because he kept the tapes but not the equipment. Ten computers, most of which were so out of date no one wants them. Plus, every last piece of computer software the man ever installed. Or purchased. Or received free in cereal boxes or from AOL. I kid you not. We tossed so much crap from this house. And that's just his stuff. My step-MIL also had books, cookbooks, paper products, exercise videos and paraphernalia, doodads, knick knacks, fake plants.

And then there were the items from the shop. Tools, yes. But not always tools in good condition. Pieces of wire and tubing that were too small to be of any use. Vacuum tubes. Half used caulk and glue. Baby food jars filled with nuts, bolts, screws, nails and more bits of wire.

It took us six weekends to clean out the junk, decide what was valuable and help his step mom set up an estate sale. I'm talking 8 hour days or longer. And while I loved my FIL, the amount of crap he clung to made me itch.

I am a packrat. I get what it is to want to cling to something. Part of this comes from the fear of what if I need it in the future. What if I need that document? Or that book? Or that pice of wire that is less than two inches long? Part of this is laziness. I have better things to do with my time than to make sure everything is organized and put away. No one goes into the office anyway, so what why not let everything pile up? I have a file cabinet, why not stuff it full?

But man, after last fall, I'm less inclined to want to have all this stuff. I took a week off from work over Christmas and during that time I went through all my books and Goodwill is now the proud owner of over 100 of my books. Last month I cleaned out my closet. Twice. The file cabinet is more organized than it's been in years and those piles of papers that were squatting in various rooms and on various surfaces have been evicted.

I really don't want to die and leave a mess to someone else. I guess what I want is a simpler life with less stuff. I won't ever be a minimalist, but I can scale back and know that only the things that matter surround me. I think it's time to bring back Operation Office Downsize and maybe expand it further. Yes, I think that is a very good thing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


My birthday was a week ago and for this joyful occasion I decided to treat myself to something I have been lusting after for quite some time, a shiny new Macbook Pro laptop. 

I started saving money for this beauty about three years ago. Every month I socked away some of my spending money into a "replace the desktop or netbook or both" fund. Once I had enough money pocketed, I started to hem and haw about what to buy. I could save money by getting a netbook, but the processing power in those smaller laptops isn't great. Plus, I would need to get an external DVD drive if I ever wanted to play one of our myriad of DVDs on it. Also, it wouldn't really allow me to replace the Apple G5 desktop that Apple hasn't supported since 2009. 

I though about moving away from Apple products altogether. They are expensive and they have a built in obsolescence of about 5 years. Apple isn't as user friendly when it comes to home upgrades of the computer itself. For example, the husband has built and maintains a computer we use as a media center. He can upgrade all of the guts, including the motherboard. In our apple computers, we can upgrade memory and hard drives and that is about it. There just aren't parts to be had, or at least not parts we've found. 

So, given those cons, which were worth taking into consideration, I reviewed my Windows based options. And nothing appealed to me. Sure, I could get a laptop for less money. But it wouldn't be a Mac. 

I finally decided on what to purchase. I'm a Mac girl, through and through. Have been since 1993 when my husband, then boyfriend, introduced me to the joy of the Apple SE, an all-in-one computer that was also sort of portable. The platform, even then, was so user friendly. And while he is now an affirmed Windows man, I will remain loyal to my Apple roots. At least until I am priced out of the market. 

Still, after deciding on sticking with Apple, I took months agonizing over used versus new, Retina versus glossy versus anti-glare displays, solid state drives versus hard disk drives. And there was that small matter of being willing to actually part with the money I spent so long saving. Watching my account go down that quickly was not easy for me. 

It all boils down to making a choice and just...doing it. So, I decided on a new Macbook pro with the anti-glare screen and a whopping 750GB harddrive. No solid state drive...yet. I can always upgrade later, right? 

I've finally moved over much of the files form the netbook and all the iTunes media from the desktop. There's a lot more to go, along with applications to purchase and layouts to explore. It's like having a shiny new toy. My husband teases me and calls my new Macbook my Precious, complete with Gollum-like intonations. I can't help it if my my laptop is prettier AND more functional than his, now can I? 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Things I'm Thankful For

The seventh book in Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series came out today and the millionth book in J.D. Robb's In Death series came out last week. I'm happily enjoying the later and can't wait to start the former.

My friend's son, who is being treated for cancer, is doing well and all signs point to no more cancer. Fingers crossed this is truly the case!

Work upgraded their servers, making it more difficult to connect remotely. They finally resolved this and I can once again work from home. *happy dance*

My birthday is next week and my present to myself is a shiny new Macbook Pro. She arrived today and is all shiny and pretty and better than any other computer in the house. *squee* And, for those people with Facetime on their iPhones, iPads and iTouches, I can now Facetime with you, from my computer. Once I figure out how to do use it. *grin*

A is going to buy me an MS Office upgrade for my new Macbook. In addition to other birthday goodies he has planned. He's so sweet.

I was able to get my birthday off of work and have planned some fun things for me: a birthday breakfast at a restaurant that has the best GF pancakes; a birthday mani/pedi; birthday lunch with a friend I haven't seen in ages; a massage.

I will be 42 in just over a week. Yes, that makes me happy. I have survived another year and given the events that occurred last year, I don't ever want to relive 41.

I have rekindled my love affair with Doctor Who and am happily not at the EPISODE with Rose. At least, not yet.

It is warm and snowy and sunny out and I have books to read, a dog to cuddle and hot cocoa to drink.

I am loved, not for what I do, but for who I am. And isn't that a wonderful thing.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Updates and Such

It's been an interesting week. The weather warmed to lovely temperatures - which means it hovered around freezing instead of trying to mimic the Arctic. A huge storm missed us by heading east instead. Sorry, Chicago! The vintage china tea service that was shipped to me from Canada went on a lovely trip bouncing back and forth between Calgary and Louisville. It did finally end up in my possession and all the pieces are in excellent condition.

Husband decided he needed to help me maximize space in my new bookcase so more shelves will be built. Don't tell him this, but I kind of played dumb so he would do the hard work for me. What's a husband for, right? As a reward, I made him a lovely homemade pot roast dinner last night and he has been getting homemade cookies since he decided to dig out my stand mixer a couple of weeks ago. He's my hero. *grin*

Other than than spilling hot cocoa on my lovely grey cardigan this morning, things have been fairly quiet. I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop but crossing my fingers that after ten months of chaos things will settle down if just for a little while. If we can get through my birthday without any serious incidents or illnesses, I will be ever so thankful. Just two weeks. That's all I'm asking. Well, that and an easy way to remove hot cocoa stains from cotton jersey. Maybe world peace. But seriously, hot cocoa stains? Anyone?