Early Lessons

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Nobody was in the car at the time.

When I was sixteen years old, I babysat of a couple little girls in the neighborhood. One Saturday, I took care of the youngest one, while her sister was at a birthday party. Their mother asked me to pick the oldest up after the party and instructed me to use their car to do so. After I brought the girls home, we went inside and played with dolls. A few minutes later, a neighbor was at the door to inform us that the car had rolled into the lake. We ran outside and watched it slowly submerge. As I watched it go, I envisioned that I would be paying the owner back with minimum wage jobs for the rest of my life. * This event taught me the lesson of always putting the parking break on when leaving the vehicle. Even when I am parking in a flat lot in a flat state like Illinois. Even when my daughter makes fun of me for doing so.

I am holding the thought of how that one event imprinted my behavior 40 years in the future while I am helping my mother clean out closets and drawers in her home.

My mom grew up in the depression. At times, they had little more than their clothes and a few dishes. It is hard for her to let go of anything. But she is getting better. She gave me permission to give away the heavy antique wooden ladder. We have a nice aluminum one that I can move by myself. She didn’t complain too much when I showed her the pretty wine bottle stopper my sister-in-law had given her and asked if we could discard the 25 or so wine corks she had saved. She let me recycle the plastic bottles she has been saving. She gifted me my grandmother’s slips so I can make them into dresses to sell.

I had a dream/nightmare about a week ago that I had created an Etsy shop to re-purpose everything in the house that she is willing to let go. It would be interesting, but it would be a full-time job for the next ten years…..and I’ve got other things to do.

* the story of the the drowned car has a somewhat happy ending. A few months after it happened, I ran into the girls’ mom at the store. She said that she had left her husband, that she had never liked the car, and that the insurance company had replaced it before she left. She thanked me for putting her car in the lake.

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Total Eclipse

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When the sun is 95% obscured, the leaves make these crescent shaped shadows.

The last total eclipse of the sun in the United States occurred in the late 70’s in Washington State. Being in the path of totality has been on my bucket list for 36 years. Imagine my delight when I discovered that my new home in Missouri was in the path of the total eclipse on Monday. I was thrilled! I invited just about everyone I knew to come share it with me. People had to work, not everyone was excited as I and the traffic to get to a place experiencing totality was terrible. Bumper to bumper on the freeway.

All I had to do was go outside and put on my eclipse glasses.

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The Boor family, celebrating with me.

My brothers and their wives came, mom watched with us.

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The horizon at totality.

It didn’t get as dark as I thought it would, we could not see stars–but it was Awesome! Worth the wait.

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Taken with an old phone camera.

Would do it again.

Decluttering Photos

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Boy in a Box

I have mixed feelings about photos. When I worked as a hospice nurse, I used the pictures that people displayed in their homes as conversation starters. It was a good way to learn more about the people I was caring for.

I enjoy looking at photos of my own family once in a while, but I don’t really like to see the same image, whether it be art or photo, day after day after day. It’s too static. I do like the digital photo frames that have a variety of pictures on a reoccurring loop. I may get my favorite photos on one of those someday.

Recently, my youngest son gave back to me all his childhood photos. He didn’t want to take them to college. I used the opportunity to go through them and discard poor quality pictures and duplicates. The stack of keepers was one-third the size of the stack of discards.

Photos are a kind of clutter that is hard to resist. There is a historical quality to them, and once lost, can not be replaced like a sofa or a corkscrew. That said, it was easy to discard photos that were blurry, or that recall sad or bitter memories.

Sometimes It Is a Big Thing

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My family has been tolerating my minimalist counting game for years. They know that if they gift me an object that I will either make it one of the 100 things and add it to the count, or re-gift it. I just do not need/use that much stuff. So over the years, they have learned to give me consumable gifts like coffee and books. It makes me happy that they respect this little quirk of mine.

Imagine the increase in happiness experienced this week when my brother gifted me with 60,000 frequent flier miles in honor of my retirement. And several bottles of wine.

I’m over the moon.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

Cleaning out the closet of my new room at mom’s house, I found some old clothes of my dad’s. (He died in 2002.) Pajamas, a paint shirt, khakis.

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These clothes were probably 20 years old before dad died.

Some of the fabric was worn thin and some paint splattered. I cut the usable fabric in rectangles and hemmed the edges.

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Frugal cleaning cloths.

Benefits:

  1. this keeps a portion of the fabric out of the landfill for a bit longer.
  2. these will be used instead of paper towels, keeping that waste out of landfill and maybe saving a tree.
  3. the entire time I was hemming the fabric, I was remembering dad.
  4. these fabric pieces are just the perfect size for holding, scrubbing, wiping. This makes them a better tool than just throwing the whole clothing item in the rag bag.
  5. there was no cash outlay for this project. I used thread I already had.

I’m holding onto the khakis for now. I may make a rug out of them.

Retirement

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Nice for a weekend, but not a decade.

At the end of this month, I am officially retired from nursing. I’m also moving into my mom’s house, to help her take care of it. The same house and mom that I ran away from at age 17. Thankfully, mom and I have both matured and we are looking forward to having this time together. We plan on taking Tai Chi and water aerobics classes. We will declutter her place a bit. We plan on reading a lot of library books and listening to music. Mom is hoping I will get excited about the TV series Dr. Who. Especially now that the new Dr. Who will be a woman.

I’m too young and healthy to completely retire, and do not have the disposition to take up golf. I will be devoting myself to writing: a novel, poetry, a You Tube show and of course this blog.

What this means for the blog: there will be many more posts on minimalism,  frugal problem solving and frugal fun. I plan to post weekly.

I am very excited about this chapter of my life and hope you will follow along.

Travel Sewing Kit

A couple times while traveling in Ireland, I longed for a needle and tread to mend some small thing before it became a bigger thing that couldn’t be fixed.

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Like this unmendable tear in my daughter’s shorts.

When a few short days after I returned, my daughter split her shorts open, I harvested some of the fabric and string ties and buttons before throwing the rest away.

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Materials for travel sewing kit

I used the tie material as bias tape, and formed an envelope shape.

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All hand sewn

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When my daughter saw it at this stage, she asked if I would make a pouch for her too.

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I gave her the one with the button and reserved the one with the safety pin for myself.

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I added the needles, thread, safety pins and buttons from my home sewing kit.

I will probably put some nail clippers in there when I travel. I think they are allowed now by the airlines.

Custom-made sewing kit for free.

Trip to Ireland

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Cliffs of Moher

My son Patrick has been studying at Trinity College in Dublin for the past academic year. When he finished his studies, I went to Ireland and we toured the country together. Here are a few highlights of the trip.

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Patrick in front of St. Patrick’s cathedral.

We spent the first five days in Dublin, with Patrick showing me his favorite places.

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We consumed a lot of really good ale.


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We went biking in Phoenix park….


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…which has a herd of very human-tolerant deer. There are about 450 head that live in the park.

We enjoyed the shops.

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Lucky Charms for sale in a shop that boasts it sells the “finest confections.”


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We took a tour bus to the passage tomb at Newgrange, an awesome example of human engineering from approximately 4,000 years ago.


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We hiked on a rocky beach.


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We saw these birds resting on a small ledge on a cliff.

Then we rented a car and went exploring further afield. I was a little concerned about driving on the opposite side of the road that I am used to. We did not have any accidents, but I must say that I found the two lane roundabouts terrifying. Our first day out of Dublin, we drove to Derry and then next day went to see the Giant’s Causeway.

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Basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway.


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Mansion on a hike we took.


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We drove through some very wild and beautiful places.


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Cliffs of Moher

The trip was a marvelous experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. Let me share with you what I did to make it more affordable.

Plane tickets between Chicago and Dublin were running $1,200-$1,400 for non-stop flights. By booking with the Swedish airline and accepting a 16 hour layover in Stockholm, I got my round trip airfare for $605. Patrick can fly for free, as his step-mother is a flight attendant. Even accounting for the $120 hotel I stayed at near the airport, this was a bargain. Plus, it helped me reset my sleep schedule to European time and I had time to tour the old town of Stockholm.

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View from Stockholm’s old town.

Other than that one night in a hotel, the rest of our lodging was through Air B&B, with the cost ranging from $39 to $100 per night. Lodging costs for the entire trip were $880, for nine nights total. One of the things I really loved about Air B&B was meeting each of our hosts. They were as varied as they were welcoming. From a gentleman about my age, born in rural Ireland to a Turkish marketing student to a youngish couple with school aged children who cooked us dinner and served homemade pineapple wine to the real estate entrepreneur that served us fresh, homemade scones to the farm wife who funds her own travels with her Air B&B income–each host was warm and interesting.

We spent about $1,000 on eating out, ale, a few souvenir gifts, and local transportation (trains, buses, bike rental.) The car rental was $400. The total cost of the trip was $2,900. We could have saved a bit of money by not eating out as much, buying food at grocery stores for picnics, etc., but I enjoyed trying the new dishes and familiar ones, with an Irish twist. It was a great trip!

Summer Wardrobe

I did my count earlier this summer, but did not do the individual photos of the wardrobe like I usually do. Several of you requested I post these, so here they are.

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Sandals, boots, canvas lace ups and “yard work” shoes

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white T, brown jeans

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blue/black heather T, skinny jeans

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Blue T, wide leg linen pants (with pockets!!!)

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Another white T and cut-off brown jeans. You will note that these are a discreet above the knee length and not “Daisy Dukes.”

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Grey T and olive-green linen wide-legged pants. Also with pockets.

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Grey leggings and green sleeveless top.

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Knit linen white/grey heather top and black jeans

I have four exercise outfits. I sleep in those before I wear them to the gym. That minimizes the number of clothes I need, and also reduces my outfit change by one per day.