New Year’s Resolutions

Almost exactly a month ago, as I collected final exams from college students in the journalism class I teach (adjunct) and cleared off my desk in our university-sponsored non-profit office (media coordinator), I looked forward to a lovely winter break of family, friends, festivities — and checking things off of a lengthening to-do list. There were holiday chores, of course, like making chocolate-peanut butter balls and trying to remember locations of presents I’d bought haphazardly through the year — Attic behind the wedding-dress box? Linen closet on top of the exercise step? But I knew I’d have plenty of time for those other pesky non-holiday to-do’s, too. You know, those things that pile up and you just need a few uninterrupted hours to get them done: organize your closet, completely revamp the class syllabus for spring semester, finish some work projects, start on freelance magazine assignments and tackle the pile of I’d-wear-this-if-it-were-ironed or -fixed or -altered or whatever. After all, I’d be off for weeks. WEEKS! Plenty of time. No need to hurry. Relax and enjoy. And I did. There was Christmas prep, then Christmas itself, then football (We shall not speak of the SEC West’s disastrous bowl games. Shall. Not. Speak.) and then New Year’s. And people got the flu and got sinus infections and went out of town and stopped by to visit. And there were movies and get-togethers and long gossipy phone conversations and cozy afternoons on the couch in front of the fire with a stack of library books and nice beer-and-pizza lunches with husband John Pitts and hours — apparently many, many hours — catching up on TV (“Gracepoint” did end differently from “Broadchurch!” Olivia Pope still drinks wine! Annalise Keating is smarter than everybody else. And a liar!). And now, a month later, we have arrived at the final day of winter break and I have about 12 hours to organize my closet, completely revamp the class syllabus for spring semester, finish some work projects, start on freelance magazine assignments and tackle the pile of I’d-wear-this-if-it-were-ironed or -fixed or -altered or whatever. But I’ve sure had fun. Here’s to 2015 — may we  never run out of things to do. #backtowork #happynewyear

Books and Other Random Thoughts

You all are so sweet to wade through my jumbled and scattered thoughts here in Bloggy World. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. But you’ll be happy to know that I can manage to string together some coherent sentences and actually get them in print — really, I can!!! Here’s proof:

You know the economy has tanked and everybody’s scrimping and saving wherever they can, right? You know folks are cutting back and slashing expenses, right? And you know that the book-publishing industry — like music and movies — is suffering. Then you’ll be as surprised as I was when you find out that there’s one category of books that’s seen an incredible increase in sales. And it’s no wonder — I’ll bet you’re like me and cannot wander past that section in your local bookstore without stopping and checking it out.

And you know what they say when you first start trying to sell your house: Your No. 1 top-priority chore is to declutter. But be careful, because sometimes you end up with more stuff than when you started!

Speaking of family efficiency, how are you at packing? I thought I was pretty good. I had a system based on my method of household organization and it worked for years … until I out-organized myself.

Yard-Sale Success

Success!  Our yard sale this weekend was great fun. Plus, we sold a bunch of stuff. I mean, our garage has not been this clean and uncluttered since we moved in. This is all we have left. Compared to what we started with, it’s amazing. Yup, it was hot. Yup, it was miserable. Yup, folks thought we were crazy for having a yard sale in 101 degree heat and threats of thunderstorms. But the rain held off and, really, once you’ve sweated so much your T-shirt has become one with your skin and your hair has no resemblance to anything human, then you get sort of used to it. The most popular items at the sale that people asked about and I had to pry out of folks’ hand? Our bottle of hand sanitizer and our table fan. I know exactly what to stock up on for next time.

Yard Sales

Tomorrow, this mess is going to be all organized into the Best Yard Sale Ever. Or, if it rains — a garage sale. We’re flexible that way. I’ve called in all the troops: Husband, Younger Daughter, Older Daughter and 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable to provide plenty of abundant adorableness. In addition, we’re having Bargains Galore. I promise — things you will not be able to resist. Also: I am not hauling this stuff back into the house. You have been warned. If you’re anywhere near northwest Alabama Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, c’mon over. We’ve got clothes, books, jewelry, home decor — tons of things that would look wonderful in your house!!!

Vacations

This looks like we had our car all packed up and ready for family vacation, doesn’t it? And we did … although we really hadn’t started packing yet. Fourteen folks in my family were headed to the beach in various cars and at various times and turned out Dear Husband and I had the fewest people and the most room in our car. So of course when we were all in the pre-packing stage, I told everybody, “Sure, we’ll take those chairs/boxes/bags for you if you don’t have room. No problem.” I was happy to help out and it wasn’t a problem — until I realized I’d almost offered out all available space and left only a few square inches for Husband’s and my bags. But some creative shifting freed up the necessary room. And, as usual, I overpacked, anyway. Anytime I’m lucky enough to go to the beach, I end up being totally minimalist and pulling on whatever’s easiest — T-shirts and shorts over swimsuits most of the time  — and not even caring if I’m wearing the correct white top-with-black-capris combo accented with appropriate jewelry and handbags I usually do during Real Life. (Hey, I’m a Southern girl. Appropriate handbags are in our DNA, you know.) Sadly, I forget that and always persist in carefully packing coordinated outfits that end up unworn in favor of the wrinkled three-days-in-a-row tank top. And I bet there are lots of you all who suffer from Vacation Overpacking Disorder, too. We should band together and start a support group. And of course the only cure for our afflication is — more vacation packing! Who’s with me???

Packing

Whether I’m traveling on a 10-day vacation or an overnight stay at grandson Capt. Adorable’s house, I overpack. I can’t help it. It’s not that I’m a fashionista and I have to change clothes three times a day and always be perfectly and impeccably dressed. On the contrary, I’m pretty low maintenance and can even wear a pair of blue jeans, like, three days in a row. It’s just that I’m wishy-washy and notoriously indecisive and when I’m standing in my own closet it takes me many many minutes to figure out what to wear. So when I’m packing to go somewhere I have to plan for that. I mean, how do I know in advance what I might think that I want to wear? I have to include all the choices I would mull over so I can dilly-dally in front of my luggage  the same was I hem-and-haw in my closet at home. The result, of course, is that I end up with 2 1/2 tightly packed bags for a friend’s out–of-town wedding weekend, my husband as always brings along only a half-empty tote and I’m highly embarrassed when we stop on the way to visit another friend and she’s got everything she needs for a two-week tour of Italy tucked into A KID-SIZED BACKPACK. Read more in my weekly newspaper column at http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100604/NEWS/100609931, and share your packing tips. Please!!!

Yard Sales

Yard sale kittyNo, Tasha the White Cat won’t get sold along with the rest of the stuff slated for our upcoming yard sale, but sometimes I’m tempted. She can be the most annoying, whiny, aggravating little thing — and then she curls up right beside you and tucks her head under and goes to sleep and looks so sweet that you forgive her for the 3 a.m. wakeup calls. Even my husband John Pitts overlooks her irritating determination to get on the other side of any — every? — door, no matter what time of day or night and her overwhelming jump-in-your-lap need to have some of whatever anybody else is eating. Too bad she doesn’t have thumbs and can’t help with yard-sale pricing. We usually donate stuff we accumulate and don’t want to a local church-run thrift store, but somehow we still had tons of stuff taking up prime space. We pretty much have an empty nest now with Older Daughter off and married and Younger Daughter off at college — I always tell them that I don’t mind keeping/storing their stuff, as long as it’s stuff they know they want to keep/store. If not, let’s let it be somebody else’s junk. We haven’t had a yard sale for years and years, and I sweetened the deal by offering each of the daughters half of the proceeds if they’d help declutter. You can see the response here — and this is just part of what we’ve got to sell. Except for the kitty. She stays. I guess.