Saturday, October 29, 2011

the tyranny of stuff

"Give yourself time my friend and you will start to see that the ties that bind you to stuff will begin to weaken and you will finally be free from the tyranny of placing too much importance on stuff. Very little of it matters and the more you declutter the more you will come to realise that. Just keep letting go of it and it will begin to let go of you."

Great advice from the blog 365 less things .  
Today as I looked through my off season clothing that had been stored over summer, I found a dress with a moth hole right in the centre front of the top.  I might be able to repair a small hole on a sleeve, but this has made the dress into garbage.  Not a huge loss, since I hadn't worn it for several years anyway.  The question is, why do I have so many things that I can't properly look after them?   This isn't valuing my posessions, it's me creating junk!  Pictures that aren't framed and displayed get mildew in the basement, wool items get moth eaten, metal rusts.  I might as well toss it now, or even better give it to someone who will value and look after it.
Plus it's a beautiful weekend and I'm inside dealing with clutter.  This is a poor way to live my life. 
Good news is I've rented the upstairs apartment.  Which is one of the reasons I have to deal with some of the extra stuff I had stored up there.  Now I have to be careful not to go buy more things I think I need, just because I have the extra income.   The 'one in one out' principle must be adhered to!
Cat photos - I love Audra's golden eyes!

The kittens are getting bigger.  This is a rare shot of all three together.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Old clutter

This weekend I got into some serious decluttering.  Following an example I saw on Raverly, I decided to let go of 50 items.  At first it was difficult, but as I went along it got easier, and I made it to 50 without too much difficulty.

Even better, I was able to let go of some sort of sentimental things that I'd carried around a long time.  Some of them I didn't even like much, for example a majorica plate from my grandmother, some were in poor shape like a strange egyptian wall hanging from a great aunt; some didn't work, like a watch my former husband gave me before we were married.  No reason to to be constrained by family history, have shabby things or hang on to the past.  Let it all go.

I also parted with some extras like the fourth set of sheets, or the odd towel. I find it difficult to part with these types of things, but honestly I think I'd prefer to have a spacious feeling instead of being overwhelmed by stuff. I even let go of a few books!

Picture of Rory and Pico - nothing to do with decluttering!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Simplicity and age

Read a blog recently about the Hindu idea of the four stages of life, and moving into the 'Forest Dweller' stage. Entering the forest of many delights

I heard about this many years ago. The concept always made sense, and the idea of moving beyond accumulation had an appeal, even when I was in the materialistic 'Householder' stage.

In my thirties I was very into my career - concerned about how much money I was making, looking for advancement, taking courses to improve my skills and get more credentials, always looking to move ahead.  I always had my resume ready, and I changed employers a few times.  Nowadays, I don't care anymore. Several openings to the Supervisor level have come up where I work - I won't apply for them. I enjoy my job, especially getting out in the field and getting things built. I won't trade a few extra dollars and a title for being stuck at a desk reviewing someone else's project.

I also remember in my 30's hearing that Elton John had a huge auction and got rid of most of his stage clothing and collectables. At the time I thought that was a strange thing to do, in fact I was shocked.  My then husband and I were busy accumulating furniture, dishes, pets, cars, all the householder items and we attached great importance to them. Then my marriage ended and I left most of it behind. It was freeing to live in a small apartment, with minimal possessions.
But I purchased a house, and slowly the accumulation crept up again. Things I "needed", and things I "wanted".  Clothes, furniture, motorcycles, a stereo, tools, knitting materials.  It's been seventeen years (hard to believe) and I have a full house again.  Now I find it hard to let go of some items, holding on to a younger life.

However, I have noticed a subtle shift in my life over the last few years, from always looking to acquire more, to an attitude of this is more than enough. For the first time over the last year I seriously considered retiring early.  Before I thought I'd want to work beyond age 65!

I am going to consider the Forest Dweller stage and how to let go of the mementos, the 'just in case' items, the tools for a life I don't live any more. It's a process, a shift I need to think about and honour.   It's time to let go.

PS on the letting go front I've taken three bags of clothing and books to the thrift store.  It's a start!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

a funeral

Went downtown for the funeral of Jack Layton today.   I felt the urge to participate in a small way, just to be part of the event as his casket was taken from City Hall to Roy Thompson Hall for the funeral service. 

He was my Member of Parliament, but I didn't vote for him last time - I supported a friend who was running for the Green Party.  But I have voted for his party in the past, and apart from a symbolic vote for the Greens, I probably would have supported him.  And I admired so much that he changed his methods over time, became less confrontational, rising above mudslinging and attack politics to campaign on a positive message.  His contribution to the quality of my city when he was a City Councillor was huge too.

One thing I found very strange about the whole thing was the applause and even a few cheers as the hearse came by.  And the eulogies during the funeral ceremony got standing ovations!!  I guess people wanted to find a way to express what they felt about the man, what he had meant to them, the good concrete things he accomplished over his political career.

Rest in peace Jack.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Letting go

One of my challenges in life is a tendancy to purchase sale items that are close to but not quite what I wanted.  Perhaps an inherited trait from my very frugal mother, or an issue with my sense of selfworth.  Whatever, the result is usually a purchase that ends up as clutter.

I need to let go of some of these purchases and projects, hopefully to make room for better things in my life.

Yesterday I was looking at unfinished knitting projects, and I realized I have been working on two pale green cardigans.  I did not particularly say to myself "I could get a lot of wear from a pale green cardigan"  or "pale green fits in with my wardrobe, let's add more".  No, the wool was on sale in both cases.  Sweater one is too small and rather rough (purchased on line so no feel test).  I was going to reknit it larger, but why spend the time when it is a duplicate of sweater two?
The pattern of diamonds and crosses is very cool though. 

Sweater two is a nicer wool silk blend purchased at a store closing sale.  Right now it fits better, although I still want to change the back neck line.  Ripping out a couple of inches is better than ripping out an entire body. 

I intend to complete a couple more works in progress before I start anything else.  And I will be more deliberate when choosing my next knittng project.  Pick a colour and style that will work for me, even if I have to pay full price for the materials.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Black Cat Appreciation Day

Charlie playing with his toy troll.
He's got plush fur like a Gund toy.

Audra watching the kittens from a safe place.  My gleaming black panther cat.

Millie on the cat tower.
She's got a bit of white, but is mostly black so I'll post her picture today with my all black guys.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My summer vacation

Spent a week at my mother's cottage in Haliburton.  We had good weather, the lake water was really warm this year, so we went swimming every day. 
 This is down at the dock area, the cottage is up above this area.
 My mother on what is left of our dock.  She's going to be 90 next year, but is in good shape except for her eyesight.

This shows the stairs up to the cottage - 42 steps total!  My father built a seat for a rest half way up.  Rory is heading up.  He didn't go in the water, but came down with us.

This is the sleeping cabin - just enough space for a suitcase and a double bed.

This is a sunrise shot from the cottage deck.  I love getting up early and listening to the birds wake up.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kitchen sink view

Yes, this is it!  Not much to look at - my neighbour's wall.  But that's part of the price I pay for having a house that's 6 km from where I work in downtown Toronto.

If I lean left and look right, I can see their deck and say hi when Ray is bbq'ing.

Just to have a bit of nature, I have a beefsteak begonia and an interesting rock.  In this shot you can see my glass tile backsplash, my splurge when I did the kitchen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brown skirt

 I was taking a bag of clothing in to my local thrift store.  I did a quick browse through the skirts thinking I might find a maxi skirt for the summer.   Instead I found this rather interesting skirt in a winter weight, made in France, and a size 2 only $10 so I bought it.  No idea about the label "Palise".  And I am most definitely not a size 2 but it fits.  So perhaps with some black boots in the fall?  But I don't know what to wear for a top with this.  That's the problem with thifting "interesting" items; I fall down on the styling for the rest of the outfit. 

Here's a shot of Pico asleep in the bay window.  I think it's cute how he kind of missed the cat bed.  Kittens just crash where they are at when they get tired. 
The three that are left were at another adoptathon this Saturday but no luck finding homes.  As they get older they are not that cute looking anymore, kind of gawky with little monkey faces.  They are getting more friendly though and it is fun to have them around.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rory on Canada Day

Rory and I were invited to a BBQ on Canada Day.  I wasn't sure how he would behave, but he was fine.  Even got along with their cat, or at least ignored her!  And didn't mooch for food, knock anything over or otherwise be a bad guest. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

please adopt me!

This little cutie is Darcy.  He and his three black and white brothers are at a pet store  Wag on the Danforth today, hoping to be adopted.

Obviously there were two fathers involved with this litter!

They are cute, but the competition is pretty stiff.  Over twenty kittens in the store with them, some of them younger and cuter.  To say nothing of many more on-line at the Toronto Cat Rescue website. 

Queenie is there too, attracting some attention although she's not too happy about being there!  She has this look in the store today.
I'm going to take this opportunity to give their room a good cleaning.  Their room also functions as a craft and sewing room (in theory).   I'd like to put down new vinyl flooring in there soon, so it's a good reason to declutter and clean it out.

Update:  Well nine kittens were adopted, but none of mine.  Still counts as a success, nine is the most they've ever fond homes for in one event.

I think my guys were glad to be out of there and be back home.  Thomas Cat was glad to see them too - he loves Queenie, and gets along with the kittens too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strong women

I was on the street near work waiting for the streetcar watching a group that came out of a restaurant nearby.  They were in good spirits, all dressed up and appeared to have been celebrating, perhaps the graduation of one of the young women with them.  They appeared to be African or African Canadian; the men were in dark business suits, the young women typical twenty somethings in black, dark blue and grey short dresses. 

But the 'mothers' were definitely not in regular downtown fashion!! These two women just fascinated me.  I wished I had a camera and enough nerve to tell them how strong and beautiful they looked and ask for a photo.  One wore a bright pink outfit - top and long skirt, the other was in a strong blue print dress, also to the ground.  The dresses showed off their figures without being vulgar.  They had the ample figures that african women aspire to - not at all obese, and they had a strong presence, a regal appearance. And they both had the most amazing head wear, bright folded fabric wrapped around their heads, standing up in folds like an uneven fan.  The colour and pattern didn't match their dresses, but it was loud and colourful and went with the effect.

I found this video that has the idea of these head wraps, called gele, although the ones I saw were not as piled high and had more refinement in the folds.  Day wear perhaps instead of wedding wear.

These women didn't worry about gaining a few pounds, or going with dark colours over a certain age to blend in or look slim.   It was wonderful to see.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Twelve pairs of jeans.  This picture was taken a while ago and I am happy to report that I don't have this many right now.  You will notice that most of these are not skinny.  I only have two pairs of skinny jeans, a dark wash and a green/grey pair.  

I almost bought another skinny pair yesterday.  My friend in the business says that skinny is on the way out - by next spring it will be wider leg jeans again.   So I don't need to buy more now, I'm already too late!

I remember a time in my twenties when I'd buy a pair of jeans, carefully allowing for the shrinkage factor, and wear them until they almost fell apart.  Now I need a different pair of jeans for every occasion!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

in the garden

My allium is blooming, I wanted to get a picture and I almost missed them. 
You can see the seeds starting in the centre of the florets.

They started from one that was in the soil around a rose bush I was given. 
The rose sadly died, but these are doing well and increasing.

My geraniums are starting to flower too.

And we have Millie enjoying the sun in the cat run.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Too many clothes

Inspired by Hostess of the Humble Bungalow's closet picture, I'm posting a shot of mine.   This is a winter shot, but it's just as crowded now with summer clothing, even if there is more colour.  And there are two dressers packed with scarves, t-shirts, jeans, sweaters etc.  Not to mention the shelves of shoes.

I seriously have too many clothes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rory's surgery

I had been wondering what the lump on his back leg was ever since I got him last year. So when we were at the vets for his spring heartworm check and perscription I asked. Turns out it's a mast cell tumour - cancerous and needed to be removed. Yesterday I took him in yesterday morning, was expecting to pick him up after work. Called at 5:30 pm and they said another hour. 8:30 pm and still no call, I found myself panicing a little, imagining he'd died on the operating table and they weren't going to tell me.  Turns out they were short staffed, so I got him later in the evening, and he's home recovering.

For a while after I got him I was worried that we weren't bonding - guess I'm over that! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Royals of a certain age

So why was it that not one commentator that I listened to mentioned Princess Anne or any other members of the royal family over the age of forty except the members of the wedding party, and the Queen?   Princess Beatrice and Eugenie got a mention, but the older generation was invisible.

My mother watched on BBC and she said that they were identifying various monarchs from around the world who were there.

Edit:  Just found with 19 identified photos of wedding hats, including a delightful Queen of Denmark.  I loved all the hats, I won't snear at anyone's right to go crazy with the headgear at an occasion like this.  Even the infamous 'deer in the headlights' hat that Princess Beatrice wore. 

Monday, April 25, 2011


I was helping my Mother clear out a little on Saturday. She's starting to think about what she would keep if she moved to an apartment. She wants to send some furniture to a consignment shop now, so today I took some photos and we went to the store. While we were in the shop a woman came in looking for a dresser, we showed her the picture of ours and she liked it, so one thing might be sold without even having to go into the store!

Plus another bonus, even though I saw some things I liked, I resisted any purchases. My mother however, bought four pretty plates. Decluttering isn't easy!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New shoes

I was checking out the summer Fluevogs on line as I have a small discount that expires soon.  And I need want some new sandals.  Thought that these might be nice, pretty colour, cutouts for cool feet, nice heel height etc.  

Belle Star (Aqua Blue)

So as I work near the Toronto store the other day on the way home I stopped by to see them in person and may-be try them on.

Then the saleswoman brought another pair over as well - since I was trying on summer shoes and all.

And I immediately abandoned the pretty aqua number for serious platform purple and grey slip on sandals.  I have a very small instep, so usually this style of shoe is too big over the top of my foot, but not these.  Comfort, good fit and an extra inch of height.
Curie (Indigo & Gray)

These are mine.  Nobody tell me that they are "too young" for me.  I don't care.  These will look amazing with a pair of wide leg jeans that I have.  I am willing to build the rest of my summer wardrobe around these shoes.  I love these shoes. 

Now if the weather would just be more than a few degrees above freezing so I can wear them!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Enough already!

The view from my front door.  That's not my car, but mine will be in the same state further down the block.  The grass was getting green last week, now we have this.   I saw a robin this morning, poor guy - how will he find worms in this?

At least it won't last very long.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Out for dinner


I went to a banquet this evening at a posh downtown hotel.  Decided I'd 'push the envelope' and wear the Max Mara dress with tights and my grey boots.  Purchased a new belt to wear with it.  I think the outfit works, I was comfortable in it, didn't feel under dressed.  And I got a compliment from a young woman whose style I admire.
detail of the belt.  I have another black dress that I can wear it with as well, so I'm justifying the full price purchase.

And I think my gift pearls from Hostess of the Humble Bungalow will work with a new shirtdress I purchased.

Further to my last post, they have formed a coalition to coordinate animal rescue in Japan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

gratitude blog

I've just had two weeks without a modem, so no blogging.  I feel restless and tired lately, combination of the spring time change and waking up in the middle of the night wondering if the reactor has melted down, spewing radiation around the planet.  (As an aside, I don't believe anyone has been killed by a solar panel!)

I have a link for animal rescue in Japan.  There are animal shelters that will need help also, they can be found on Google.  I know people should get the help first, and I have donated to Doctors Without Borders.   But I'd like someone to help my animal family if anything happened to me, so I'm giving for the four-legged as well as the two.

And I have the utmost gratitude and honour for those brave souls who are at the nuclear power plants trying to get that mess under control.  They have made a huge sacrifice for the rest of us.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jeans for work

I was out in one of our works yards this morning for a meeting, so I used this as an excuse to wear jeans and a black turtleneck sweater today.  I did accessorize with a wide brown belt from Josef.  I hope it didn't emphasise the cylindrical nature of my body too much!

Note cat - Marcel and I must be channeling Sheila and Indigo!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One can't always know in advance

" One can't always know in advance what clothing will lift your spirits. Nor what pieces will resurface in your wardrobe over and over again."
posted by Lisa from Priviledge on Imogen Lamprort's blog Inside out Style.

This comment points out the problem I have with wardrobe plans,  'must have pieces' and shopping for clothes in general.   I have been dressing myself for a long time but I still am never sure when I purchase something if it will be loved and worn to death or will sit on the hanger, never quite right for my life.   While I have a slightly better idea now of what will have staying power in my closet, I still get sucked in by weird different things I think should work, but somehow they don't.  For example I have these very similar tops:

Never worn either one.  Pictured the dress on the left worn with leggings.  I've seen several stylish women in this type of look.  I have the leggings.  Never had the courage to put it on and wear it out of the house.  At least I didn't spend too much money on them, but still it is a waste of space if they just sit in my closet.

Of course part of the problem is I tend to pick up what I come across while browsing, especially if it's a bargain. Yet sometimes these impulse purchases turn out to be wonderful additions that I love to wear.   If I can get past the self-centered fear of looking 'different'.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Five Things I don't Leave Home Without

 I've been busy the last few days and missed being tagged by Hostess (thank you, this is very exciting!!)  Now I've got a list and even a few pictures together so here you are:

My watch, I've always worn one (old school).  A few years ago I splurged and got myself a nice one.  I have a small wrist and wear it a bit loose, so it feels like a bracelet.  It will probably get scratched and worn, but I'd rather wear it than save it in a drawer.

Earings, I get a pair of studs and just wear them for years, usually until I lose one!   The current silver pair are a replacement for the exact same earing in gold. 

In my purse I always have a mini clothes brush.  Invaluable when you have cats.  More than once I've looked down at work and noticed that a bunch of hair had attached itself to my pant leg.

Kleenex, folded in a little pink leather holder from Guild Design.  It was pricey, but it makes me happy when I use it.  Plus if anyone asks for a tissue, it's more classy than a cellowrap.

House key - one is with my car keys, but I don't drive unless I have to go on site for a meeting.  If I'm  taking the TTC to work or walking the dog I have a little leather key case that holds the dog's licence so we don't get fined.

And that's my five items.  

I just went to see what some others had listed and it's interesting to see the similarities. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Unnecessary Desires

Noted a blog tittle as above from Chez Danisse (not a blog I follow, I just liked the thought).  Just from trying to simplify my wardrobe and my home I know that not all of my desires are of necessity.  It's more frugal to wear everything I have, than to look for items to add, desire the new, the latest recommendation or sale that other bloggers have found. 

The real trick for me is to not add more. Metscan pointed out some time ago that if I don't go in the store, I won't be tempted. This has worked up to a point. I went into my favourite consignment shop to pick up some cash from my fall clearout and ended up purchasing one item. I never know for sure ahead of time, but I think it will be worn a lot.  So an exception was made, even though I left the store first without it but went back for it!

A cotton tunic top with pintuck detail, brand Y29, too light weight to wear now, more of a spring item.

I have lots more desires.  I was tempted by the Eric Bomben cashmere sweater sale, but I have lots of sweaters already.  I want a Hermes scarf , but I have a whole drawer full of scarves, mostly silk squares, that are enough.   I have one new pair of pants that have been waiting to be hemmed for weeks.  Somehow I've managed with the others I have already, without feeling too deprived.   Don't even get me started on yarn; I've got tons of yarn of all weights and colours but somehow I feel the need to order Schopple Wolle Zauberball Lace for a pair of socks.  What I have isn't quite right, must purchase another colour/weight/size/style.  It is endless!  The lure of the new, the latest (passing) want.
I am resisting all of these duly noted desires for now.   The cultivation of Enough feels better.  Not necessarily less, just content with the current amount.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

7 things about me

I'm a very quiet person.  I like to comment on a few blogs, so I probably say more to my blog friends than to my in person friends!

On my mother's side I'm seventh generation Canadian. 

I grew up in the country, and would love to retire out of the city, but I also love living in the heart of a multi-cultural city like Toronto.  But I wouldn't want to live in the suburbs.

Baroque music is my favourite, I've been attending Tafelmusik concerts for 15 years.  Sunday I was at a concert with two double harpsicords!  It was wonderful.

I learned how to ride and got my motorcycle license in my 50's.  One of the scariest, most exhillarating things I've ever done.

I only wear makeup on special occasions.

I hate the feel of tomato skins on my teeth.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend in January

I got a red amarylis for Christmas.  They shoot up so fast once they get growing, very exciting.
(I still want a green one some day.)

My current knitting obsession is Franklin Habit's 1840 Night Cap.  I have no idea why I want to knit this - I don't wear night caps, who does these days?  I won't be wearing it in out public.  I already had this fine cream wool, so it's not like I spent money on it.  Guess it's just a change from sock knitting; something a little different.

It's cold, wintry and snowing outside - a good day to curl up in a cozy spot and stay warm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back and Forward

In the spirit of Charlotte's idea (via Metscan) to look back on the year past before making resolutions for the year to come, I'm listing some of my accomplishments for 2010:

I've knit five pairs of socks, three shawls, three vests, two cardigans, two scarves, two hats, two dishcloths, a pair of gloves, and a coffee mug cuff.

A large room upstairs has had plaster and lath removed and disposed of by me, new wiring by Phil, new drywall by Trevor, primer and paint by me.  I'm still working on paint removal from trim before I reinstall it.

I got a dog last summer.  We still need to work on the relaxed walk, but he is adding joy to my life, plus getting me out for more excercise.

I've edited my closet, and I'm being slightly more adverturous in what I wear. 

My weight is pretty much the same as last year, which I count as a win.  At this point in my life If I'm not watching what I eat the pounds can easily slip on and not off! 

So Resolutions -
  1. lose 4 lbs.
  2. eat less white sugar and crap, more vegetables
  3. sell or dispose of certain items I'm not using
  4. train the dog to be a good canine citizen
  5. finish the room upstairs
  6. set up a workroom, and use it
  7. less TV, more blogging
  8. finish the Highlander sweater
  9. go on a trip, Montreal, east coast, Slocan Valley
  10. add to my retirement fund
Nothing too difficult there, so we shall see what 2011 brings.

I hope all my blogging friends have a happy New Year, and continue to share their fascinating lives with me.