No More Stuff

No More Stuff


When I was young, like in the single digits young I really liked stuff.  I liked collecting stuff, buying stuff, and being given stuff.  My accumulating period lasted a long time, probably until I was about 40.  Then suddenly I looked around and I had more stuff than I needed.  My house was full, my garage was full, and my attic was definitely overly full.  I went from wanting to get stuff to never wanting any more stuff ever again.  I reached my tipping point.


Now I am anti-stuff.  I don’t want people to bring me anything or give me any gifts, except needlepoint gift certificates because that is about making treasured Christmas ornaments, which are certainly not stuff.  When I finished decorating the tree today Carter came up and announced it was “beautiful.”  I asked her if she minded all the Christmas being out now and she said no, since she did not have to do any of the work.


With all the Fa-la-la-la-la surrounding us she wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas.  “No stuff,” I declared.  “I don’t like stuff.”  “Well, Mom, what about all these Christmas Decorations?”  I tried to make the distinction but she countered me with the “It has matter so it’s stuff” argument.  A science minded child has me there.


So now I must be more precise in my language.  There are very few things in the universe I want and if I really wanted them I will buy them.  If I don’t know they exist then I will never want them. But most everything I don’t want and I don’t want the burden of having it.  I am overrun with the stuff I thought I wanted but found out I did not really need until after I owned it.


My problem is now that I am anti-more I have become bad at finding gifts for those who really want, need or deserve something.  Nothing fits better than cash, but it does seem lazy and impersonal.  It is fine to give to people who really need money, but going to a friend’s house for dinner and giving them a twenty-dollar bill might be considered tacky.  But why?  Is showing up with a twenty-dollar candle really better?


I hate to fall prey to the gift card cop-out, but the more I think about it the more right it sounds.  For those people who might take offense to the cash option a well thought out gift card to a place I know they already love and frequent may be the answer.  Whole Foods, Starbucks and I-tunes here I come.   That way if they don’t want more stuff either they can just get something consumable and for one brief moment they can think kindly about me rather than curse me years later for adding to all their stuff.

It’s Not Black Friday at Our House



The only good news about not being at the farm for Thanksgiving is that I was able to spend today getting Christmas thrown up at my house today.  It actually is a great thing since the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a week shorter this year.


I’m a Christmas nut.  All the public rooms of our house get decorated.  Every year I add something major to the decorating.  I spent the whole year making needlepoint Christmas ornaments.  My goal was to make a dozen.  I slightly exceeded my own self-imposed target by just a little.  When the last of them get back from the fabricator I will have made 32, only a 266% increase.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you I am not an over achiever.  Let’s not talk about what I did not get done this year because I was needle pointing.


Since I have a fourteen foot Christmas tree with ornaments in the multi thousands I decided that my needlepoint needed it’s own tree.  The problem is that I really do not have a place for another tree.  So I decided to run garland around the entrance to the living room and hang the needlepoint there.  I like it, but I certainly have a lot more space to fill since I did garland on both sides of the entrance.  I guess that I need to keep up my stitching pace if I am going to be satisfied with that décor next Christmas.


Russ felt well enough today to help take the boxes and the tree out of the attic.  I have created a child who says she hates Christmas because she dislikes helping get all the decorations out of its off-season storage.  Not that she has to do any of the decorating work with the exception of helping put the tree together.  Yes, we have an artificial tree.   It became mandatory when our real fourteen-foot tree fell over one year and crushed many of my beloved ornaments.


I stayed holed up in my sweats hanging stockings and creating Christmas villages under glass.  The tree is up with all its 30,000 lights and the red cranberry garland.  Tomorrow I will decorate the tree and the house will be done.  It was no black Friday for me.  It is red and green Friday at our house!

Be Thankful For Your Health



As far as I am concerned Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving has nothing on us.  Last week my mother called me and told me she was canceling Thanksgiving.  Those were her exact words, “I’m canceling Thanksgiving.”  I asked her if she had the power to do that, cancel Thanksgiving as an actual event, and she said that she was canceling having people to her house for Thanksgiving.


See my Dad had been sick for the two previous weeks and since he is the cook in the house my mother feared that he might still be sick on Thanksgiving and then what would happen.  Turns out my poor father had C.Diff a very strong bacterial bug that wrecks your digestive system.


The day my mother changed our long standing trip to the farm for turkey day and the day after farm frolicking with friends I was up to my eye balls with meetings.  I could not handle the thought of cooking Thanksgiving for three of us so I called out club and made reservations.  That night my mother called back and said she thought she could come to our house for Thanksgiving.   I added another place at our reservation.


Telling Russ and Carter we were going to eat Thanksgiving out was met with huge despair.  “What, no leftovers,” they said practically in unison.  “Fine,” I replied,  “I will also cook some “leftovers.”


The next day my mother e-mailed and said my father was feeling better and might be able to also come for Thanksgiving.  Another call to the club to add one more.  I did not consider broaching the subject of my bringing the whole Thanksgiving meal to the farm and just going ahead and uncanceling our regular tradition.  Two days later another e-mail – Dad’s still not good, he won’t be coming.


So yesterday I brined a turkey breast, made stewed tomatoes and this morning I made stuffing and a pecan pie.  Most of these things I am trying to avoid.  As I was finishing up my leftover cooking the phone rang.  It was my mother calling.  “I can’t come to Thanksgiving.  I have the same thing your father has.”  Now I have reservations for five and a whole extra Thanksgiving cooked in the kitchen and two regular eaters and me who really should only have a little turkey and tomatoes.


I was just heading upstairs to change into go out to “dinner” clothes for a 1:00 reservation and the doorbell rings.  Who comes to your house unannounced on Thanksgiving?  It was my Dad who had come for Thanksgiving.  Not only was he much better, but also my mother never told him we were going to have lunch at the club and he was not dressed in his “go to his daughter’s club” attire.  You can tell how communication goes in my family.


We all were thankful for his recovery and being there and said clothes made no difference on Thanksgiving.  While we were at lunch I saw my friend Amanda who had just finished getting her house painted and had a totally empty kitchen.  They came to the club for Thanksgiving but she forgot that her husband Scott and teenage son Evan might need to eat tonight.  Since I had spent the whole day cooking Thanksgiving to eat as leftovers I invited them over for dinner.  So after lunch I made some fresh cranberry relish, a pork tenderloin and some Brussels sprouts and Russ announces that his three week long headache has not reached a debilitating level and he took to the bed for relief.


Our friends came and Carter and I shared our dinner with them, which was a real bright spot in this Thanksgiving.  I hope that my mother recovers quickly and that Russ can shake this headache.  Right now I am thankful we are not in the emergency room and I am praying that tomorrow is a better day.


I hope that you and yours enjoyed a day full of family, food and laughter and the fighting and grudges were kept to a minimum.  We all have so much to be thankful for and I will not take lightly when someone says they are thankful for their health.



The Tighter The Better



Sometime this week while I was getting dressed the TV was on and I saw a segment on some morning show talking about what women should wear to Thanksgiving dinner.  It was not really a fashion segment as much as it was a comfort segment.


The TV hosts was promoting the wearing of clothes that give and stretch so that the woman could eat as much as possible and not feel like a sausage in too tight a casing.  Jeans, belts, tights and of course Spanx were declared Turkey day no-no’s.  Leggings, empire waist dresses and flowy maxi dresses made the what-to-wear list.


I am sorry I do not have a TV show to counter the shows opinion.  At least I have this blog.  Thanksgiving has the potential to be the most gluttonous day of an already eat-big American mentality.  Sure it is a day steeped in food tradition.  Yes, I do begin to crave Thanksgiving staples of stuffing and pecan pie a month before the holiday, but we don’t need to eat so much that our regular clothes might prevent us from enjoying our meal.


I say wear the tight clothes, the belt, the shape wear.  Be reminded by something that you don’t need to go back to the buffet a second or third time.  One visit with one plate of all the foods you love should suffice.  One dessert, or maybe two bites of two different pies is plenty.  Once you have had a taste, over doing it will not make it taste better.


If you wear a muumuu, perhaps without any underpants then nothing is going to trigger the its-time-to-stop-eating uncomfortable feeling until you have distended your stomach to dangerous levels.


I say wear the tight clothes to Thanksgiving.  A big belt you can’t loosen is a good idea.  Spanx, perhaps even the full body shaper is a definite yes on the day devoted to eating.  Being a little confined could easily cut your calorie consumption in half.  Yes it could be painful at the table, but better that tightness for a few hours and prevent all your regular clothes being too tight the whole month of December from the weight you gained at one Thanksgiving meal.


I’m actually considering not just wearing tight clothes but also some hobbling device, which would prevent me from being able to get up and walk back to the serving table.  I figure with enough painful contraptions as I can make I might create some physiological dislike for Turkey day food.

A Life Without Left Hand Turns



Carter is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday.  For her that means she gets to take her learners permit test and begin practice driving.  For me it means I get to spend the next year nervously in the passenger seat.  Carter is a good driver, lord she should be she has been driving at the farm since she was six or seven when she was the size of a small adult and could reach the peddles.  But driving on your own property, in fact in vast open spaces, without other crazy drivers coming at you is easy.


As I was driving my regular route to Carter’s school this afternoon to pick her and her friend Paloma up to go to the movies I thought about the traffic I was encountering.  There is one terrible intersection where I have to make a left hand turn and every other car at the intersection has the right away over me and the traffic is never ending.  Making a left hand turn without the aid of a traffic light is a real test in my patience.


I counted how many left hand turns I had to make on the quick nine-minute trip to school — In total there were six.  Now the way I go is not the only possibility, but it certainly is the fastest if you can skillfully make all those left hand turns between speeding cars whizzing past you.  Thinking about a new driver, even a good one, having to negotiate those left turns began to make me nervous.


Come the first few weeks of driving I think we will go the less perilous longer routes until Carter can gain the confidence needed.  But as soon as I’m comfortable I want her to practice as many left hand traffic filled turns as she can while I am still in the passenger seat for guidance.


Sure a parent can try and smooth things out for their teenager by always finding the all right hand turn ways to go, but at some point life is going to throw you a left hand turn.  Better to learn how to handle yourself in difficult situations and practice over and over again so it just does not become such a big deal.  This is all easy for me to say now when I still have ten days before the actual driving starts.  I wonder what other life lesson situations I can throw Carter into while she is still living at home?

Putting It Out There and Getting It Back



For a couple of weeks I was not as fully committed to healthy eating as I needed to be.  It started with our trip to the Caribbean for a wedding where I just ate whatever I wanted.  The following two weeks from that were none too good either and before I knew it I had gained a few pounds.


Last week, knowing I had to get back in the saddle big time I blogged that I was sick of my salad life.  Many of you good readers came to my rescue with recipes and advice.  One regular reader even volunteered that soup was her key and said she would bring me some when she made her next batch.


Just the kind words of encouragement seemed to kick start me back into place.  I found a happy place with my salad lunch and started having soup for dinner.  This all did the trick and I have lost all the naughty weight I gained on my hiatus.


Today I got a surprise visit from Debbie, my neighbor and soup volunteer with not one but two containers of different soups and the recipes.  Now lots of people talk a great game, especially in the blog world, but few actually follow up and bring you the goods.  I am incredibly touched by her generosity.  She said she read the blog every night so I know she will see my thanks here.


I believe in putting out into the world what you want to happen.  It does not always occur right away or in the format you had expected but sharing your burdens, as long as you are not whinny, helps somehow.  When I wrote I was sick of salad, which was code for I’ve fallen off the wagon, somehow magically the next day I was not only back on the wagon, but I was back to losing weight at a rate I had not seen in months.


So what do you want?  Scream it out to the world, but be ready to listen.  There are only so many different problems that we all face and most certainly you have a friend who has overcome the issue you are dealing with.  Why cope with something alone?  Ask for help, advice, prayers or just a kind ear.


Don’t be sucked into some crazy social media idea that you need to only project some perfect imagine.  Asking for help is the start on a path to improvement.  I know I don’t say it enough to all you wonderful people who comment on the blog, but you keep me going everyday.  Thanks for all your kind words, your great advice, even your snarky comments.  I put it all out there in the world and I am appreciative of what I hear back.

Best Time is Around the Table



Last night was Carter’s first high school formal.  Of course I would be the worst mother on earth if I actually revealed any of the details, not that I actually know any. But what was reported to me is that the dinner beforehand was the most fun part.  I think that was because a group of Carter’s friends all went to dinner together and discovered the fun of spending time around a big round table talking and enjoying a meal together.


The parents had all gathered to drop the kids off at the same time to get pictures of the exchanging of flowers.  The kids went into dinner some of the parents came back to our house to have chili and salad.  Many did not know each other and it was a nice way for them to meet.  At the appointed time a few parents went back to pick the kids up to drive them to the dance.


The after dinner mood was jovial and relaxed, a good sign for a group of ninth graders.  While we waited for the cars to pull up the kids asked me to take a few more photos.  I think that if the formal had just continued in parking lot everyone would have thought it was a successful night.


When I asked the young man who rode in my car how dinner was he said great, but he did not get dessert and was wondering if there would be dessert at the dance.  I am sure there is never enough food for a fourteen-year-old boy.


To me sitting around a dining room table is the best place to really get to know people.  It is more than a meal.  It is better than a buffet where people can sit randomly.  I feel like conversation at the table flows more easily and everyone is at the same eye level.


People don’t have dinner parties the way they used to which is a sad thing to me.  It is really not as much about the food, but about the company.  Russ and I often say we need to have more dinner parties and we get into a little rush of throwing them and then life gets in the way and we let off the dinner party peddle.


Now I think I need to throw a couple dinner parties for Carter and her friends.  Dances are fun, but I think that young adults sitting around the table together is the best way to grow up.  I hope that you and yours will enjoy some quality time around a few tables in the next week.