Monthly Archives: August 2015


Wordless Wednesday – August 26, 2015

Closeup of old twisted cedar - Natural Bridge, Virginia

The Great Emptying: Expert Advice

UPSwamp…from a certified incompetent: me.

I think we’ve all come across the Number One bit of expert advice on getting cluttered papers under control – “Handle each piece of paper just once.” It sounds so sensible! Don’t waste time pawing through mountains of paper over and over. Take one piece, decide where it belongs, put it there, done. Repeat as many times as needed.

The only problem is, it doesn’t work all the time for everybody. It has never worked for me. When I try to sort through paper piles, I wind up with so many different categories that, before I know it, I’ve lost track of which papers go on which pile, and soon after that I give up in exasperated despair.

If following the rules doesn’t solve your problem, maybe it’s time to think harder about what your problem really is, and invent new rules to solve it. My problem? When I have to invent several dozen categories for scrambled papers*, I get confused and overwhelmed. So, for the past week I’ve been going through the piles gathering bank statements. Nothing but bank statements. It’s easy to sort them based on which account they apply to, and easy to set up one folder for each account and put them there.

Yes, I’m going to need to sort through those same jumbled piles again. And again. But the piles (some of them, at least) are visibly smaller, and now that I can see that I’m making progress, the idea of more sorting isn’t half as scary.

* Scrambling papers is even easier than scrambling eggs. But the papers aren’t as tasty.

Friday Fictioneers – Murals

Another short-short Friday Fictioneers story! Don’t forget to see what other people did with this week’s prompt picture. And please let me know what you think of this one –


“This is such a great city, and nobody appreciates it but me. Does anybody even notice – sculpture, architecture, and all our murals? So many styles – abstractionism, symbolism, trompe l’oeil – why, there’s a garden you could try to walk into by mistake. And does anybody care?”

“Wasn’t there a book about-”

“Nobody cares. Let me show you! Come on, down this way. How could anybody tear this down?” He swept an arm dramatically toward the missing wall.

“Watch out!”


“I tried to tell you. Just like your painted garden. It really looks like you’re seeing the inside of the building, doesn’t it?”


Wordless Wednesday – August 19, 2015


Sightseeing, if you can…

A few weeks ago we went on a short vacation, just to run away from home and look at unfamiliar scenery. One of our plans was to follow the Skyline Drive, which meanders down the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

There are lots of places to pull off and look down at the valley on either side of the mountains – farms, little towns here and there, and always forest.

20150728SkylineDrive04Unfortunately, as we drove on the valley below filled with fog.

20150728SkylineDrive05Then we had to crawl slowly through some road construction

20150728SkylineDrive06and finally the fog climbed up the mountain and surrounded us. The whole point of the Skyline Drive is scenery, and we couldn’t see any. So we headed downhill at the first exit and went to Luray Caverns instead.

20150728EnteringLurayCavernsWe were underneath the Shenandoah Valley instead of looking down on it from a mountaintop, but the view was a lot better.

24 Bankers Boxes

UPSwampThat’s what I have in my living room right now. Two dozen cardboard boxes full of papers from my mother’s house. Unsorted, miscellaneous, mostly-but-not-all worthless papers, just the way I found them while we were clearing out the rooms. Forty year old bank statements, income tax records, recipes she clipped out of newspapers (thousands of recipes), deeds to property, receipts from her doctor’s office…

And, of course, the usual furniture you expect to find in a living room: chairs, sofa, table, a desk. You can’t get to the desk or sit in two of the chairs at the moment; there are bankers boxes in the way. All in all, it looks like one of those TV shows about hoarders who have piles and heaps of Things, with only narrow lanes left clear to let you navigate through the piles.20150817BankersBoxes

This has to change.

And the problem isn’t only my mother’s stuff. I learned my lessons well – I’ve never been good at throwing things away. It’s time to master that skill, time to sort through all the junk I’ve kept for no good reason and get rid of it. Then I’ll probably need to sort through things I think I do have good reason to keep and dispose of a lot of them. The idea of all that work and decision making gives me the shudders, but looking at the handful of spaces I have cleaned so far makes me happy. Being happier with an emptier house – that’s the goal. Now, how to get there from here?

As I’ve mentioned a time or three, I intended to start this project last New Year’s Day. I was supposed to spend a hundred days cleaning out my own house and be finished by early April. Instead, my husband and I kept working on my mom’s house and bringing more and more boxes home with us, while I got more and more exhausted.

Well, now that my mother’s house is finally cleared out and sold and off my hands, and now that I’ve had a few desperately needed weeks to rest, I can start that long-delayed project. We’re in the middle of August now, and in 100 days it will be Wednesday, November 25. So I ought to be all done the day before Thanksgiving. Good timing. I don’t plan to cook a turkey dinner while I continue with major housecleaning – and being done with the Great Emptying would certainly be something to be thankful for.

I wonder if there will be snow on the ground by the time I finish cleaning?


Watery Wordless Wednesday – August 12, 2015


Travel Theme – Grey. Gray. Whatever.

And welcome to the delights of English spelling; it’s not enough that it has very little to do with the way words sound, it has to vary from place to place just to confuse us further. Anyway, Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack, She Who Invents Travel Themes, is from Ireland, so she spells this week’s theme “grey”. But I was taught to write “gray”, so I will.

As colors go, gray has a bad reputation, and this first picture shows why.

GrayWorkersHousesBatstoThese are houses for iron workers and glass makers at Batsto Village in New Jersey. When they were newly built, I suppose the unpainted wood was various shades of light brown. Not any more. They’re gray now.

GrayVenetianBaroqueOn the other hand, this building in Venice is much too exuberantly baroque to look even a little bit depressed, no matter how gray it is.

GrayModernCenterCityMoving forward a few centuries, there’s the architecture in Center City Philadelphia – if these office buildings didn’t have so many windows that insist on reflecting the blue sky, they’d all be thoroughly gray.

GrayIndependenceHallChandelierThe meeting room in Independence Hall (Philadelphia, too) is painted gray and cream.

And then there’s artistic gray –

GrayImpressionistLadyA lady from an Impressionist painting, turned three-dimensional to visit a sculpture garden…

GrayAbstractStoneGray stone, cut into two parts that seem to be trying to rejoin…

GrayAbstractMetalAnd gleaming gray metal.

So many grays, all so different.

Friday Fictioneers – Hidden

This is my first Friday Fictioneers story in – how many months? Oh yeah, eight. Nothing since January. I’ve been too busy and too tired to write.

How about you? Do you have stories to tell? Take a look at Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ prompt picture, and share your hundred words with the world.

And while you’re at it, see what the other Fictioneers came up with.




They’re searching, but they can’t see me in this gulley under the bushes. No more locks, no more guards, no more shouting. I can go anywhere.

I could go anywhere if I could stand up.

This is a good hideout – shelter and water. I wonder if this little stream’s clean? It’s cold, anyhow.

Cold’s good. Makes my ankle throb less. I wonder if I broke any bushes falling in here? They could see that.

There goes another one with a flashlight. So bright. Looks like the sun. They’ll never see me. I could stay down here forever.



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