Can It Be November 9th Already???

O.  M.  G.

We still have 21 days to go until we are (mostly) done with this danged election!!!  (Anyone else just completely OVER IT yet??)

debate-prepTonight is the last debate (thank GOD).

And I will watch until it gets nasty, which ought to give me 5 minutes, right?

In my entire life, I have never dreaded my right and responsibility as an American Citizen to vote!  I can’t NOT vote.  It is not who I am nor is it what I believe is the correct approach to what I perceive as a genuine dilemma in our world right now.

I’m rather passionate about the whole voting thing…Freedom does not mean you can just take a knee, or sit it out!  You protest against the establishment you dislike by voting against it, not by passive-aggressive tactics!  That gets us absolutely no where!!  You have to make a choice; simply saying I’m not going to vote is, in my opinion, the coward’s way out!

Choose!  weigh out your pros and cons and make a choice!  (it doesn’t have to be for Hillary or the Donald.  Even a legitimate write-in is a choice…and No, Mickey Mouse doesn’t count!!)

Believe me, there will come a day when you will have to make a hard and fast choice- your life and eternity will depend on it, but that’s a blog post for another day!

I have prayed for God to give me clarity…guidance…a good grasp of issues and not emotion in choosing which candidate to vote for during this election.  I know I am not alone….God has a very busy prayer chain going right about now, I’m sure, with serious Angels on overtime happening!!

in my search for clarity, I found an article written by Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors, that helps to put it into perspective.  I would normally write my blog with quotes and paraphrasing, links to the source, etc.  But Mr. Lucado says it beautifully.  I had to share.  Below, you can find the hyperlinked title with the article in it’s entirety.

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Max Lucado: My Prediction for the Presidential Election

We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. We’re ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins? When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?

I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).

On one occasion the Lord turned the heart of the King of Assyria so that he aided them in the construction of the Temple. On another occasion, he stirred the heart of Cyrus to release the Jews to return to Jerusalem.

Nebuchadnezzar was considered to be the mightiest king of his generation. But God humbled and put him in “detention” for seven years. “The kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalms 22:28).

Understanding God’s sovereignty over the nations opens the door to peace. When we realize that God influences the hearts of all rulers, we can then choose to pray for them rather than fret about them. Rather than wring our hands we bend our knees, we select prayer over despair.

Jeremiah did this. He was the prophet to Israel during one of her darkest periods of rebellion.  He was called “the weeping prophet” because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith.  He was so distraught that one of his books was entitled Lamentations.  But then he considered the work of God.  Note the intentionality of his words:

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23)

Imitate Jeremiah. Lift up your eyes. Dare to believe that good things will happen. Dare to believe that God was speaking to us when he said: “In everything God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Many years ago, I spent a week visiting the interior of Brazil with a long-time missionary pilot. He flew a circuit of remote towns in a small plane that threatened to come undone at the slightest gust of wind. Wilbur and Orville had a sturdier aircraft.

I could not get comfortable. I kept thinking that the plane was going to crash in some Brazilian jungle and I’d be gobbled up by piranhas or swallowed by an anaconda.

I kept shifting around, looking down, and gripping my seat. (As if that would help.) Finally, the pilot had enough of my squirming. He looked at me and shouted over the airplane noise. “We won’t face anything I can’t handle. You might as well trust me to fly the plane.”

Is God saying the same to you? If so, make this your prayer:

Dear Lord,  You are perfect. You could not be better than you are.

You are self-created. You exist because you choose to exist.

You are self-sustaining. No one helps you. No one gives you strength.

You are self-governing. Who can question your deeds? Who dares advise you?

You are correct. In every way. In every choice. You regret no decision.

You have never failed. Never! You cannot fail! You are God! You will accomplish your plan.

You are happy. Eternally joyful. Endlessly content.

You are the king, supreme ruler, absolute monarch, overlord, and Lord of all history.

An arch of your eyebrow and a million angels will pivot and salute.

Every throne is a footstool to yours. Every crown is papier mâché compared to yours.

No limitations, hesitations, questions, second thoughts, or backward glances.

You consult no clock.  You keep no calendar.  You report to no one.

You are in charge. And I trust you.

So…Circle November 9 on your calendar and write upon it these words: Our good God rules the world.

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Holy cow!  I get it!

Thank you, Mr. Lucado for writing what I feel.  For giving me perspective during a difficult political season.  Thank you for reminding me that no matter what happens, no matter who is elected as our country’s next leader, God is in control…God…Not Hillary, or the Donald, or Congress.  But God…Capital G-O-D!

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Now I can sleep at night and not have to fret about who will be the leader of the free world and in charge, because ultimately, You are!

Wow!  I may even watch the whole debate with a new perspective and hope.

…NAH!!!

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In the words of Frankenstein, “Fire! BAD!”

In the words of Frankenstein, “Fire! BAD!”      Fire Bad!

I have never lived in an area where fire has destroyed so much in such a short time! WOW!

Washington State (along with Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Northern California) has been crushed by the deluge of fires in our area…Eastern WA to be specific. At present, roughly 20 individually named fires burn free with little containment east of the Cascades! We’ve lost so much of our beautiful national forest areas.

Take a look at some of these numbers from today on some of the most watched fires in our area (source: InciWEB):

  • Kettle Complex fire (Northern Ferry County, near the British Columbia border):
    • Consists of – the Stickpin, Graves Mountain, Roy Road & Renner Lake fires
    • Nearly 60,000 acres burned
    • 16% contained
    • Lightening caused
  • Kaniksu Complex (on the WA/Idaho Panhandle border, near Cusick & Usk, WA):
    • Consists of – includes the Tower and Baldy fires plus 4 others
    • Roughly 11,000 acres burned
    • Only 5% contained
  • North Star Fire (North central WA State – near Colville Tribe Reservation)
    • Human Caused – under investigation
    • Now at Approx. 170,000 acres burned
    • 17% contained, with HEAVY smoke in the area and on-going evacuations and road closures as needed
    • “No relief in sight” per the WA State DNR.  On-going Level 3 Evacuations as this beast grows
  • Carpenter Rd. Fire (near Fruitland, WA, in Stevens Co. on the Spokane Tribe Reservation)
    • Estimated 44,000 acres burned
    • Cause unknown
    • 25% contained

And the two biggies…

  • Okanogan Complex Fire (Central WA):
    • Over 280,000 acres burned
    • 17% contained
    • LOTS of evacuations throughout the area to-date; threatening several more towns
    • Lightening caused
  • Chelan Complex Fire (Central WA):
    • Around 90,000 acres lost
    • 40% contained
    • Consists of the Reach, Black Canyon, McFarland Creek, Cagle and Antoine fires and others
    • On-going Level 3 evacuations as fire expands

Two words: Nasty business!!!  Winds are supposed to pick up this weekend, as well as the threat of thunder storms.  Lightening would not be helpful!  We definitely need the rain, though!

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

The pictures here were taken from a friend of mine who’s house sat within 15o feet of the Twisp River Fire, a part of the Okanogan Complex Fire.

twisp fire 081915 - House from SW

The house! Saved by the Grace of God Almighty!!

The hill behind the house - looks like a volcano erupting!

The hill behind the house – looks like a volcano erupting!

Scary stuff, right?   

All the smoke from the surrounding fires, like this one, have made the air quality just nasty in Spokane.

These are pictures I took from near my house in Spokane.  You can see how that smoke hangs  in the air, like perpetual fog that smells like a big campfire!  Yikes!

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Smoky skies over Costco – around 3pm!

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Heading towards downtown Spokane.

Can't breathe, but ljust LOOK at that sunset!!!

Can’t breathe, but just LOOK at that sunset!!!

Needless to say, Sleepy Spokane remains safe for the moment, with fires a good 35-100 miles away in each direction. Sounds pretty good, right? Better than having flames all up in your stuff! Sort of!  As you can see, when the wind blows, we get the smoke andAirQualityTable dust our way.  In the past few weeks, we’ve been vacillating between “unhealthy for some” to Very unhealthy” in terms of particle pollution measurements.

Even though the fires are miles away from us, the effects are pretty hazardous. OY! Can you imagine what it must be like for those in the fire line?  their Particulate Pollution counts are in the 300s!  It’s like living in Beijing!  I pray that the fire teams can get a handle on this soon.

Oh, the humanity!!!

In times of crisis, we have a choice: Either we can:

  1. Jump in and help however we can, or
  2. Look the other way and pretend we don’t see the needs of others.

How proud it makes me to see more people choosing A than B! It restores my faith in mankind every time I see an outpouring of compassion and love for someone else in need! Whether somebody makes a donation to the Red Cross, or a food bank, or of clothing to any one of the thrift stores, I am humbled!

How great we can be as a culture, a society, a nation when we band together to help one another rather than fight each other, disrespect each other and/or purposefully oppress another for our own gain. But that’s another blog topic!

If you choose to help, FANTASTIC! Just please, research the charities you intend to send $$$ to the cause. Unfortunately, in times of crisis, we also have the pariahs charityof the world out looking to make a quick buck on the misfortune of others! Do your research before you send money! (I chair the annual local fund drive at my State office building – the WA State Combined Fund Drive – to help WA State workers raise funds for various charities, both locally, state and nation-wide. If you’re looking for a legit place and need some assistance, let me know! I’ll see what I can find out for you!)

Much Thanks!

So many have come to the aid of the Pacific Northwest to help! Since Gov. Inslee declared a state of emergency, we have relief troops coming our way…THANK GOD!!!

From the local firefighters to contracted fire teams, from the military to various government agencies in WA State…Even locals with nothing more than a shovel and a garden hose. Everyone seems to pitch in when crisis happens.

Thanks so much for your concern and continued prayers, not just for those battling the fires but also for the ones who have lost homes, land, etc. Also, I ask that you please say an extra round for the families of the firefighters we recently lost in the battle.

Overall, we have a lot for which to still be thankful. I actually heard some people at work talking about the fires, asking where God is that He should “allow this devastation to happen.” I couldn’t respond, as I am not allowed to “pontificate” my faith on State time.

I wanted to explain to them just where I felt God was. I wanted to say, “Oh…He’s there, my friends! He’s there!” He’s there in the hearts of those who have shown remarkable compassion and agape` love to help feed and house those who lost everything. He’s there in the heart of each and every firefighter.  He’s hanging out in the Omak Home Depot  and every other place that opened their doors to all the suddenly homeless so they would have shelter. And He’s there in the lawyer who went out and bought a fire truck so he could help his neighbors save their homes. (Read about him here!)  Oh, yeah…He’s there!

So, continue to pray, do a rain dance, etc. for the Pacific Northwest. This is the worst we’ve seen since, like, 1910. I could go that long again without seeing it again. Just sayin’!

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God bless!

Camping Season is HERE!! Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad!

This is How We Roll!The RV is geared up & loaded back up for the season. All we need is the food and frosty beverages, now, for a weekend of happy, happy, happy!!  Good thing June is National Camping Month!!

I love to camp! OK…I can’t do the tent-sleep-on-the-ground-pee-in-a-hole-no-shower kind of camping anymore, but I still like to camp. I love the get-a-way it provides. (Although, in a slick RV, I should really classify it more like “glamping” than camping!)

My husband Chad & I bought our rig in late August 2013 and haven’t looked back! It’s really too bad that work gets in the way of having a really good time! Ha! Actually, we already did the inaugural camp trip of the season earlier this month. We took our daughter, Kim with us and had a quick but really fun time!  she helped Dad do the outdoor set-up while I worked on readying the inside.   Chad is the King of the Checklist, so, I must say, it makes it pretty easy to remember most everything to do and in what order.  (You can pull the boy out of Quality Control for the weekend, but you can’t pull the Quality Control out of the boy!!)

Scouts Aren’t the Only Ones to “Be Prepared!” We have discovered that even a short, weekend trip – close by the homestead, but far enough away from the daily grind – allows us the opportunity to make sure we have all our ducks in a row for the big trips we plan for the rest of the summer. Ensuring our electrical, water and sewer connections, the slide-out, LP gas tank and connections, generator and any other systems all function properly becomes the main focus to the first trip out. I can also make a list of everything I may have forgotten so I don’t screw that up next time, or on a really big trip!…It happens, even when you try so hard not to forget stuff!

This year, we had a solar panel placed on our rig. Just a small ZAMP unit, but enough to give usrv solar the trickle charge on the house battery should we go dry-camping. That’s a pretty slick little deal, by the way! So far, we’ve only used it while loading the rig and prepping for the past trip. We ran the house power and TV for about 4 hours on a beautiful, sunny day, and barely made a dent in the battery charge, thanks to the panel. Gotta love that!  Plus it’ll come in handy if we ever decide to camp at a Walmart!

Chad also changed out all the house lights and the map lights in the cockpit to LED lights. What a difference in the amp-usage in the rig! Keeps it cooler, too! He found a great website that manufactures and sells all kinds of LED lights; just about anything your rig (and other vehicles) has, with three color ranges, reasonable prices and fast delivery. (If you’re interested, check out M4 Products, a company out of California.)

Nothing Better Than People-Watching at the Campground! I must admit, I love to people-watch while we camp! It’s like being at the mall, only with tents and campers! You see everything – and I do mean everything!

We once watched an older couple set up their  table & chairs, astroturf mat, awning and a huge (area-wise) fence on their site for their four, little, poop-n-bark dogs – only to spend one night pet fenceon the campsite and pack it all up early the next day to leave! That’s a lot of work for an overnight stay! We figured they were there for a few days, the way they put out their spread!

During a big wind storm in Northern Idaho, we had brought in our awning so the wind would not rip it off our rig. There were gusts of 30-35 mph and a pretty strong 10-15 mph wind otherwise. This lady kept bugging her husband to put their awning out so it would give her shade. She didn’t want the sun in her eyes. We must have listened to them argue about it for over an hour. The guy kept telling her that it was too windy for the awning and it would be blown off the rig. She insisted that “this is why they have the awning de-flappers” – they were meant to keep the awning from blowing all over. Well, the guy finally succumbed to his wife’s ill-advised wishes, grumbling all the way. Within five minutes, a good gust came a long and bent the awning frame backward over the top of their Big Class A! Snapped on of the retracting arms right off. He was pissed!! She went inside and came back out with a martini for herself!! We’ve laughed at that for over a year, now!!!

Then there was the time we walked in on three 14-year olds (one boy and two girls) as they were skinny dipping in the KOA hot tub! That was interesting! OY! (Chad was so embarrassed!! And a good boy…He made a bee-line to the exit and didn’t even look!) The camp personnel ended up posting a person at the tub because these girls kept doing it! Kids! Makes ya want to have a million of them! Also…Where were their parents? No one under 16 is allowed in the hot tub without a parent! Sheesh! (OMG! I sound just like my mother!!!)

Most often, people are super nice and fun when you encounter them in the camp areas. But we have come across some undesirable neighbors…Like the drunken, obnoxious college kids at an RV Resort on Bead Lake, here in WA State. It was supposed to be a really great place. We got there early on a Thursday for a long weekend, squeezed into our tiny, over-crowded camping space, and began to set up. The first sign of “Oh, Hell no!” should have been when the security team that escorted us to our site warned us about the tent campers behind us; a group of about 20 college in a colony of five tents with coolers full of booze and their daddy’s boats! They kept walking through the camp sites, would plug in their cell chargers in to other peoples electrical, and were just totally rude with no regard for other campers (me being the quiet, petite-flowere that I am, i almost got into a fight with one of the drunk guys…I could’ve taken his candy-butt!)  We kept a count as to how many threw up each night! It was like dinner and a show, only a really gross show!! The “best” part of the weekend was the dork who announced every drunken activity with a megaphone and blaring his f-bomb laced music over the Big A$$ speakers on daddy’s boat! Many complained, management did nothing, so we left early and will never go back! (I gave them a scathing review on several sites, too – the lowest I could give!  Again…sounding like my mother!)

Finally, the nasty habits of people come out while camping. More like when breaking camp and visiting imagesCAH7XZRAthe dump station. Do you know how many people empty their rig’s black water tanks without wearing gloves??? EW, people!! Just EW!   You are handling your own fecal matter! I watched one guy hook up his drippy sewer hose to the dump station and then immediately wipe his face, then wipe his hands on his shirt and pants! I nearly hurled! Wear gloves!!!   This is how disease is spread in a lot of third-world countries! We have the fortune of fresh water and gloves! Use them, for crying out loud!!! Amazing to me!

Nice Rig If You Can Get It! In our people-watching, comes also the observation of the different rigs people have. They come in all sizes, designs and ages, too. It’s kind of fun to contrast and compare what others have and what we have, not to critique others, but to pro & con the various rigs, the potential amenities, etc…Especially with the newer rigs. I also like to see the rigs that are obviously more than a few years old. It is a reminder of how far RVing has come over time.

But it’s not only the rigs, but the gadgets and gizmos people come up with for their camp site! Hilarious stuff like these:

portapotty!

Now, THIS takes genius!!!  All you need is a 5-gallon bucket, a tall kitchen garbage bag and a swiming noodle and you have yourself a instant crapper!  And the handle doubles as a toilet paper holder!

 

 

camping-diy-ideas-howtos-lifehacks-13

 

Or, if you prefer a more stable pooper, get a milk crate and oilet seat…      Attach to the lined bucket and viola!

 

 

camp chair potty

 

Of course, a cheap, plastic chair works great, too!

Personally, I think I’ll stick to the potty in my RV!

 

Camp Hand Washing Station

 

 

This, however, I thought was genius!! Especially for those who tent camp or don’t do the full hook-ups thing. It’s a hand washing station made out of an old liquid laundry soap container! GENIUS!!!

 

 

 

To Tow, Or Not To Tow….That Is the Question! When we go camping, we usually have a car with us, too, since it really isn’t practical to pack up the motorhome each time you want to go into town, or sight-seeing while on your trip! Since we went from tent to Motorhome ownership a few years ago, we have been curious as to what we can safely tow. We were under the assumption that a Class C Gas motor home would not easily pull our 2012 Ford Escape, as the tow capacity was 5,000 lbs. We figured it would be too heavy. So we have had Chad driving the RV and me following in the car, or we just rent a car when we get to our destination, if we need one. Kind of a hassle!

Over the past few weeks, we saw several Class Cs pulling Small to Medium SUVs like ours. Made us go, “Hmmmmmmmmm!” So we are going this weekend to not only weigh our Escape with the bikes and bike rack on back, but also a full tank of gas in her. If we find it is under say, 3,800 lbs, next year’s de-winterizing visit to RNR RV will be to add a tow package to the SS Maranatha!! No more driving the RV and me following in the car, communicating on the walkie-talkies!

Needless to say, we are ready for adventure this summer! Buying the motorhome has been a great experience. Is appeals to both Chad’s and my nomadic spirit. It will be something we continue together after retirement years finally get here. We may upgrade to something larger with newer features since we’ll be living in it more often by then.

The point is, God created such a big beautiful world for us to live in; we look forward to getting out there and exploring it…one summer at a time.

See you on the road somewhere!

Sunset in Newport, WAI-90 Along the Clark Fork River, Eastern Montana

 

The Music That Fills My Soul

loud car stereoSpring has decided to grace us in the Pacific Northwest and the streets are alive with the sound of music blaring from the rolled down windows of passing cars. I will admit to being one of those crazy people that must have music playing 90% of the time; I can do without TV or internet, but music? I cannot live without it!

Music could actually replace language for me in a way. It inspires me and keeps me going throughout my day. It constantly reminds me of who I am, where I’ve been, and the things I’ve done. I can identify periods and events in my life with the songs I hear. It keeps me motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand – especially if the right type of music comes on; it makes the job seem effortless…almost!

My radio or iPod keeps me sane! When life gets a little too hectic, I can separate and focus better when I pop in those ear buds! Soon, I’m humming and tapping along without a care in the world and being super productive once more. (I also love to sing, so chances are, you can sneak up on me and hear me just jamming! If I know the words, I’m probably singing along…unfortunately, this also applies to those songs that make horrendous ear worms. Dammit!)

Motor City Musical Magic! Being a native Detroit girl, I loves me my Detroit sound!!! It is in my blood! We moved from Detroit to northern Michigan right after the riots in ’68. Even though I was only five, I knew what I liked!Small-town Gaylord just didn’t play the same kind of music that Detroit did. But I soon figured out how to work that little AM transistor radio just right to pick up the Detroit radio stations after bed time, thanks to that magical thing called “skip!” I can remember staying up half the night listening to CKLW across the river from Detroit in Windsor, and KEENER (WKNR) Radio, thinking I’d died and gone to Heaven because they played the greatest music EVER!!!

And visiting Gram in the north suburbs…I could listen to it all day!!! AWESOME! It didn’t have to be Motown hit, but that always helped!! Berry Gordy certainly knew motownhow to pick ‘em! In my book, the Temps and the Tops could do no wrong! Definitely my favorites! I could sing every word, any of the harmony parts and follow along with every move those boys made! I was their only female member and they didn’t even know it!

Recently, KSPS-TV (our Spokane PBS Station) had the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever special on (from 1983 – celebrating Motown’s silver anniversary). All the greatest from my childhood were there…Even Michael Jackson, when he still had a real nose attached showed up to reunite with his brothers for the first time in years! (Then he wrecked the moment by lip-syncing to Billie Jean! Seriously??  I expect that kind of crap from Brittany Spears but no the King of Pop!)

Of course, my favorite part of the show…The Temps and Tops with that incredible “showdown” medley their biggest hits respectively. Nothing shy of amazing!

SIDE NOTE: I have only recently forgiven Mr. Gordy for moving Motown Records from Detroit to LA in 1972, a event I considered to be complete and total musical blasphemy. But I figure, the guy’s in his 80s…It’s time I ease up on him a little and let it go!!

What fits my mood today & how loud can I crank it without being arrested? I feel fortunate that nearly any kind of “tunage” makes me happy. I usually go for something “has a good beat and is easy to dance to” (apologies to Dick Clark!). If it rocks, it plays! It doesn’t really matter what genre since I like so many styles. Rap, Oldies, Rock, 80’s/New Wave, Country. I kind of like it all. Really. I can usually find something redeeming in each form of music out there…OK….Maybe not Death Metal! Not my thing at all!

I will show my true musical colors, at last! I have never understood the big Stones or Beatlesdebate between the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. After 50 years of that nonsense, I say, “why can’t we have both??” I guess if I had to choose, I would find myself more on the side of the Beatles, but I like the Stones, too!

I can get satisfaction out of both Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Please, Please Me; from Beast of Burden and A Little Help from My Friends. I’ll take a double dose of the Stones albums Some Girls and Exile on Main Street in addition to the Beatles’ Revolver, the White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! It’s all good to me!

So, with this manifesto on my personal preferences in musicality completed, I think I’ll crank up something on my Sirius Radio app and finish out the day. Maybe some New Wave. Maybe a little Broadway musical or Jazz. Too bad they don’t have a Beatles Radio station! (Incidentally, the first album I actually bought was the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night –the Original Movie Sound Track – with my birthday money back in 1968.  I was five. I still have that album!)

Hard Day's Night cover

 

I Clutter; Therefore, I Am!

I am by no mClutter surrendereans a neat freak, nor am I a complete slob.  I do, however, have stacks of various old magazines and catalogs scattered throughout my house, much to my husband’s dismay.  My closets are jammed with clothes that are a few sizes too big or too small, and everything in between, because a woman’s weight fluctuates from month to month – we’re weird like that.  I also have an entire cupboard stuffed with old, stained, plastic, food-storage containers, some without the lids, in spite of the fact that my husband just bought me a set of brand new Rubbermaid ones.  So, why do I have an overstock of unnecessary things?  Because I might need them someday, that’s why!  Such is the cry of the Red-headed, Two-legged, North American Clutter-Bug.

So, what constitutes clutter?  It’s when there’s a week’s worth of mail–mostly unopened–lying on the counter, along with the church bulletin you got three Sundays ago.  It’s the dining-room table piled so high with various, unrelated items that you’re forced to eat dinner on a TV tray, in the living room.  That, my friend, is clutter and it has a will of its own.  If I were going to sum up the classic definition of clutter, I would say it’s no place for anything and nothing in its place.  What if there’s a huge pile of stuff, neatly stacked somewhere in your house?  Then it’s not clutter, right?

Face it, clutter happens. Tracing back to my childhood, I realize that I have always been a clutter-bug. It was only four years ago that I was finally able to part with a big, giant Barbie head, known in the toy industry as “Barbie’s Beauty Center.” I got it from Santa when I was six and kept it all these years, knowing it would be valuable some day. Favorite childhood books are packed away in our basement and I can’t bear to part with them. My husband, Chad, has finally stopped asking about them; he doesn’t understand that I’m now a grandma and I’ll want to share stories like Where the Wild Things Are and Ramona the Pest with my granddaughter, Callie and the one on the way. I still need these books. I love these books. They must remain with me for a while longer.

I am not completely in denial about my problem. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?) I will, begrudgingly, concede that clothing draped over a chair or left folded in the laundry basket for up to two weeks after laundry day is, in fact, a category of the clutter in itself and one that has taken over my life. However, leaving clothes out has at least one advantage: In case of fire or a sudden invitation to a party, my clothes are ready to boogie, so long as I can climb over them to get out.

Looking back through my family history, I come from a lojunk-drawerng line of clutter-bugs. My mother has forever been queen of the house-cleaning technique called “Hide it in a drawer and they’ll never know it’s there.” She still has several junk drawers in her house that serve as a catch-all for whatever she hasn’t yet thrown out. This trait, God bless her, she generously passed down to me.

My mother is not responsible for her odd behavior; my grandmother was prone to it, too. When Gramby passed away in 1991, we found a linen closet filled with approximately 160 brand new rolls of toilet paper. Evidently, she was terrified of being caught without it. The strangest thing we found was a collection of large boxes, overflowing with old, faded, plastic flowers—like those you’d find in cemeteries during winter. No one knows why.

“Clutter-bug-itis” is something from which even my father suffers. My dad has an abundance of old hunting gear and gun magazines that he hasn’t touched since 1978. I think he must have learned this from his mother who could have been a case study on hoarding in her own right. When Gram died in 1999, we discovered hundreds of plastic, grocery sacks in several overstuffed Hefty Bags. Perhaps it was because Gram was a Depression Era survivor; and, obviously, expecting another one soon because she had stocked-piled 80 sticks of butter, 9 pounds of sugar and 11 pounds of white, all-purpose flour in her freezer. Although this makes me feel a little better about my clutter habit, I have finally realized that being a clutter-bug is actually due to some bizarre, inherited genetic disorder. It must be!

I look at my vast amounts of clutter as the residue of my life. My house has become a gigantic memorabilia collection of my existence. Places I’ve visited, people I’ve met, things I’ve accomplished–all are represented, in one way or another, in my clutter. For example, I worked in radio for nearly 15 years as a morning-show disc jockey. I have scrapbooks filled with autographed head-shots, backstage passes, CD’s and t-shirts, as well as boxes of snapshots that picture me with various celebrities with whom I’ve worked over the years. That mouse pad signed by Randy Owen, the lead singer from the group, Alabama has never been used for its original purpose, but I keep it just because it’s cool. (Now don’t panic…You won’t see me on an episode of “Hoarders” anytime soon, it’s not quite that bad.)

My autographed Soupy Sales t-shirt is precious to me because it reminds me of the night I was one of his opening acts at Genitti’s Hole-In-The-Wall dinner-theatre, in the Detroit suburbs. This means absolutely nothing to someone outside the metro Detroit area, but Soupy was a Detroit icon, and he asked me and a few others from our little acting troupe to sing for him–What? I’m not going?? Enough said. How can anyone possibly get rid of stuff like that? You see, one person’s clutter is another person’s precious memories.

Even our cupboards and pantry are victims of my clutter issue. In the past few weeks, I have pulled out canned or boxed food stuffs that are well past the expiration date. We bought them but never got around to using them. Long stale spices, out of date canned fruit, cake mixes and frosting from 2006…Mmmm….that ought to be good, right? As I said, I come from a loooong line of this type of “I may need this – just in case” thinking. Someone may drop by. There might be a last minute pot-luck supper somewhere soon. You get the idea.

Clutter will, at times, cause a rift between Chad and me; even though he is bitten by the same bug when it comes to mementos from his years in the Air Force or out-dated DOS-based computer games on floppy disk, old documents from 1987, etc. In fact, he is infamous for his grocery bags and small boxes of things we need to sort through, file, throw out, shred, etc. He will get that “the house is closing in on me” feeling and need to purge…sometimes that need will come upon him around the time we’re ready to go to bed, or when we’re trying to get out the door for work. Timing is everything, don’t you think?

As a result, we have, together, vowed to grab hold of our collective clutter, no longer allowing it to run our lives. I promise to make the effort to throw out things that I haven’t used in three years: miscellaneous papers, phone numbers, business cards, and “tchotchkes” accumulated over time. Chad has made the same vow. (For the record, we started in the basement in January and the various Spokane area Thrift Stores are better for it, because, frankly, I don’t have the time nor the patience for a yard sale!!)

organizeI really am taking these baby steps toward purging my clutter very seriously, analyzing the causes of my attachment to such trivial things and memories. What is it that causes them to have such a strong hold over me that I cannot bear to part with them? My efforts to understand my “clutter fetish” have caused me to spend enormous amounts of time (and money) at places like the local library and Barnes & Noble. Those self-help books are abundantly available out there for people like me. In fact, I now have several of them…neatly stacked…on my desk… in the office. They’ve been there since 2002.

 

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