Sign Aesthetics

I lost track of the source for this one.

  • Aries: Swimming pools, cold drinks in the summer. Hazy orange-yellow sunsets, passionate kisses. Hair touching, long car rides with friends, watching the sunrise. Long naps, yelling along to music.
  • Taurus: Secluded forests, slight breezes that sway tall grass. Long, meaningful text messages, chipped nail polish, the smell of the ocean. Having the music at full volume and drowning out the rest of the world.
  • Gemini: Long car rides alone, windows down, loud music. Poetry, typewriter clicks. Laughing so hard your stomach hurts. The color black and navy blue, the smell after the rain. Existentialism, looking at stars.
  • Cancer: Long, warm hugs. Hand holding, kept secrets and light-hearted jokes. The color blue, dogs, wild flowers that grow in your backyard. The smell of new books, and the sound of an old piano.
  • Leo: Clean sheets, sleeping in late. Sunlight pouring into your room. Stretching, the smell of chocolate chip pancakes. CD’s and clothes everywhere, intimacy. Bonfires, exotic beaches, and slightly out-of-tune guitars.
  • Virgo: Freckles, musical theatre, live performances. Harmonic singing, late night phone calls. Raspy morning voices, vanilla, and running until you’re out of breath. Art museums, dancing, dark circles under your eyes. Foreign countries and languages, dogs.
  • Libra: Smiling between kisses, art galleries, paint-stained clothing. The sound of the harp. Graphite, the smell of coffee. Kept promises, swimming, and colliding hugs. Intertwined fingers, cats, crying, and the smell of burning wood in the wintertime.
  • Scorpio: Comfortable silence, nature, relaxation, being home. Thinking, being with family, the color green. Intelligence, old books, and the calming hum of a car engine. Camping, imperturbability.
  • Sagittarius: Colorful hair, falling snow. Hidden rivers, small towns. Art stores, book shops, the smell of baked cookies. Long, meaningful hugs, hand-written letters. The calm before a storm, candids, canoeing. Friendship, drives at dusk.
  • Capricorn: The piano, antique shops. The smell of freshly baked bread. Herbal tea, late night sketches, seeing someone you love for the first time. Knowledge, the color purple, wit, slow songs, and sarcasm. Long, hot showers, the sound of the rain.
  • Aquarius: Travelling, foreign food. The gentle breeze of a fan in the summer, the smell of watermelon. Peaches, musicals, vinyl’s, black and white movies. Sleeping until noon, iced coffee, tanning. Perfume, the taste of champagne, blogging.
  • Pisces: Hanging plants, baby blue eyes. Trying to suppress laughter at 4 am with your best friend, horror movies, conspiracies. The smell of popcorn, swift kisses, constant eye contact. The Beatles, strawberries, and the color yellow.

Clean the Burr Coffee Grinder

I read about using orange seeds or Minute rice to clean the grinder. I think taking it apart would be better for actually cleaning out the old coffee oils and gunk. My grinder seems to clog a bit and stop grinding the right amount of coffee beans each time. So, I was looking at ways to clean it. A little weekend project.

So you’re already on board with the idea that your grinder is critical to making good coffee at home. But…do you maintain it? Crusty, crispy, bean-crumb-filled, coffee-oil soaked grinders can suck the joy out of your brew. A little diligence and regular care will keep things up to snuff—the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Source: 4 Quick Ways to Maintain Your Coffee Grinder | Serious Eats

Urgh…

Today’s title is a sound, not an actual word.

I am tired and I don’t know why. True I took a book to bed with me last night and read about 150 pages before I finally turned out the light. But, I also slept in. That should equal out, right?

But, I started taking medication for depression and OCD (which is short for obsession, really). I didn’t really think I had any abnormal hang ups until I started looking at the things I do a bit closer. I do have a lot of focus for details, especially once something catches my interest. I do get fussy about the smallest things, having them right. Not that I’m a tidy neat freak. Apparently though, being a neat freak is not actually required. Being a hoarder is the other side of the bucket.

Don’t get pictures of hoarders you see on TV. I’m not that extreme. I keep it to one room, mostly. I don’t bring food around here, other than coffee and the occasional snack which I am careful about. I don’t have mice and the only bugs are those attracted to my hoard of paper, not crumbs of food. So, I’m not a disaster of a hoarder. Just a hoarder light. I did get quite a bit of it cleaned up too but it seems to be creeping back. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.

I think the medicine I’m taking is making me tired. That is one of the side effects but I thought by now (over the first month of taking them) Id’ be past that. The tired comes over me all of a sudden. If you have ever taken an allergy pill (anti-histamine) you will know what that’s like. One minute you are fine the next you can’t possibly seem to keep your eyes open and your body wants to melt down and rest on the floor (or something softer if you can pull yourself together long enough). Maybe not everyone reacts to allergy pills that way. I find even the non-drowsy pills get me.

I’m mostly back to working on my sites again. Still getting sucked into little details rather than starting in on the bigger jobs like all those photographs for the exploration which need to be posted to Flickr (no posts since 2013!) and now my own urban exploration site, Wrecky Rat Bird. I also want to find a simple way to watermark my photos. This gets complicated because I don’t want to watermark my originals, just a web copy. Also, I have a lot of photos on Flickr but my originals from years past are burned on CDs and I’m not sure where they are in the clutter. Another thing, I found one of my saved CD’s but it was broken in half. Discouraging. So I guess that is all part of why I keep putting off the big job of posting my photos. Instead I’m fluffing around with plugins which I could really not bother with compared to the actual photo content which I do need.

There won’t be an image with this post. I’m mostly writing to keep myself awake and it seems to be working. So far. But, I need to get more done than this today. I should have gone out to the grocery store but I put that off for another day. I did the same thing yesterday. Urgh and bleh! There are days like that.

How to be a Better Hoarder

It starts out small. You don’t suspect at all. One day you just have a bit more stuff than space, more stuff than time or energy. So you make a pile of it. Maybe on the seat of a chair, a stack on a shelf, a junk drawer in the kitchen or a few things tossed on your bed while you tidy up the rest of the room.

Hoarding comes along easy.

That pile of stuff on the chair doesn’t get dealt with and next time you want to use the chair the stuff is in the way. A minor annoyance so you stash it somewhere else. A temporary fix, right?

Sometimes you may get caught up and avoid the start of a hoard. Usually you don’t. I don’t. I have a stash of unfinished work on nearly every surface available in my bedroom, most of the floor space is taken up with bags of stuff to do.

The rest of the house is tidy. Right now. I don’t live alone half the year. But, that’s part of the problem too. She is a clutter freak. Anything left out bothers her. I like having my coffee pot and the coffee grinder out on the kitchen counter. Why not, I use them every day at least once. I clean up any spilled coffee grounds or drips from the pot. There is no mess, just two pieces of kitchen gadgets out in open space. It took time but I’m now allowed to have them out.

Anything else I want to keep much be stashed away. This means adding it to the other stashes, stacks and piles of stuff in my bedroom. Stuff gets lost in there. It is a jungle or piles and stacks and stashes of assorted stuff I need or at least don’t want to have taken, thrown out or lost.

Ironic that I keep things here to avoid losing them when I’ve long gotten past the point of being able to keep track and find much any more.

Hoarding happens when you need to hold on to things and run out of better options, or space.

Don’t think this is taking the easy way out. Living this way is frustrating, for me more than anyone else. They may think whatever they like and they believe the problem is me. It is and yet it isn’t just me.

A lot of the stuff here are things other people want me to do for them. Tasks and jobs and demands I have not found time or energy to do. Do you know the old joke about a round tuit? Look that one up and if you ever do find that legendary round tuit please send it to me when you’re done tuiting.

I need to say no but that isn’t so simple. I won’t get into all of that. It’s an exercise in frustration to explain my need to be perfect and fix everything, do too much and prove myself to anyone who isn’t inside my own head. So, just know that it is very hard for me to say no to family and friends who ask for simple, small favours. I add their photos, their lists and assorted other things to my hoard of to-do.

I don’t think anyone outside of hoarders can understand the pressure of having too much stuff around them. It weighs on you, it pushes against you and it limits you mentally, emotionally and physically too. I hate having just a small path trough my bedroom from the door to the bed with the computer desk being along that same path. I can’t put my clean clothes away because I can’t reach the closet. I can’t start tidying up because I no longer know where to begin. It’s all a chain. One thing leads to another and another. To pull one string means pulling another and finding a place to put the first string before I can pull the next string. But, there is no more room to put anything.

In frustration I toss a pile of papers and old photos onto another stack of papers piled up on the floor. Another task demanded and no time or energy to do it. Another weight added to the pressure. Another layer added to the stuff I already can’t deal with! It lands atop the other stuff and I’m angry because this was demanded of me and I know I can’t do more and this is just more of more.

People think a hoarder is an awful thing: dirty, miserable, derelict. I’m not any of those things. Not ever miserable. I live my life around this hoard and I try to function in spite of it all. I can’t let go and give up the things in this hoard which I actually value. I can’t give up on the things I said I would do, even the things I never actually agreed to do. I feel pressure and guilt and anger.

A simple solution is to deal with some small part of it each day.

Seems simple enough. Until you start somewhere and get caught up in one thing for too long. One thing leads to another problem when you don’t have enough space to work in. Too many things are buried and it is frustrating to know they are there but out of reach. To begin finding what I need causes the moving of the hoard which means the things which were on top (the things I could locate) will now be moved and become the things I can’t find.

Hoarding is a trap.

During half the year when I live here alone I take a few days and then begin moving things out of my space and into another spare room. I get some clearance, some room to move and work. At first the release of having space and feeling hope again is just nice in itself. I haven’t thrown anything away but I have space again. Having space makes me feel I have some control, and can actually do something about all of it.

I make some progress. The hard part is choosing where and what to start on. Last time I began with clothes. I sorted out a lot of clothes I haven’t worn in years and those which I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing now that I’m no longer 20-something. I had them all ready to go to the Salvation Army thrift store. I felt good thinking some other woman would be able to wear those clothes. But, I got caught up in road blocks.

I was stopped from giving away the clothes because other people thought I shouldn’t just give them away. You can’t just give away something that still has value! Some day you may fit into that again. That dress used to look so great on you.

Isn’t that funny? I thought I was the hoarder.

I originally wrote this for Medium but no one is reading it there so I have moved it here.

Alone for the Holidays

You can be happy being alone over the holidays, even your own birthday. Avoid being alone if you want. Or enjoy being alone if you want a break from being social.

So many of the big family holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and of course New Year’s Eve) arrive at the end of the year. If you are single, not dating anyone or a single parent with kids to celebrate for and with, it can be a bit lonely – if you let it.

I am single, divorced and don’t have any children. I do look after my sister’s children but it’s not the same. I kind of look forward to being alone. Maybe it’s because I’m not alone very often. I share a house with my Mother for half a year. The other half of the year I have a brother and two sisters who keep in touch. It’s all good. But, I crave alone time sometimes. So, I may not be the prime example of being alone for the holidays – because I’m happy to be alone and do whatever I want to do.

Avoid Being Alone

Accept invitations from family, friends and co-workers.

Find other holiday orphans and get together somewhere. Have a great evening out.

Attend events like the office Christmas party.

Invite people over to visit you too.

Go to church. Even if you don’t attend usually, churches will have people and host their own events during holidays.

Go somewhere you know there will be people, like a shopping mall, a coffee shop, a restaurant, and strike up a conversation. Even a short chat can make you feel connected to the world again.

Host a party or get a group together for a day out.

Make the Best of Being Alone

Create a new holiday tradition of your own. Have Chinese food delivered on Christmas Eve. Enjoy a taco salad on Valentine’s Day. Find your own personal way to celebrate.

Plan an event for each day of the holidays, or those coming up to it. Give yourself something to look forward to every day. You can always visit the museum, art gallery and buy tickets for the theatre.

It may feel pretty self-indulgent but, buy yourself a gift or a card for the holidays. Have a Valentine card you sent yourself. Get yourself something you know you really want for Christmas. Send yourself flowers on your birthday.

Write a holiday journal about your adventures.

Be an artist, even if you can’t draw, take along some paper and pencils/ pens and draw some holiday scenes.

Enjoy some alone time to think.

Whatever the holidays and season you can still decorate the house for the holidays: St. Patrick’s Day, Valentines Day, Halloween, Christmas… all the holidays can be an excuse to indulge in a little excess cheer around the home.

Rediscover a creative talent. Become a baker, or a film maker, or take up crochet discover a new creative outlet.

Eat out somewhere new you have wanted to try.

Eat in – cook yourself a wonderful dinner with new recipes and unusual ingredients or go for all comfort foods, the foods you love, cooked the way you like them.

Buy something from a fancy bakery but get just one slice, one piece, one square you can enjoy all by yourself.

Put together a holiday emergency kit for yourself. Stash it with the things you really want like a few chocolates, coffee beans, pick a great wine, a fresh book, candles, bubble bath, gift cards and coupons for a restaurant.

Have some special plan of your own. When others talk about their holidays you will have something to talk about too.

Redecorate your bedroom, your kitchen, find something new and great for the house and make it fresh, shiny and new.

Pamper yourself with all the little luxuries, like a real soak in the tub. Have a spa day at home.

Use the time to catch up on reading, rent movies you wanted to see and anything else you have let slide while you were too busy with other people or a full schedule.

Work on little home repair projects you just haven’t gotten around to yet.

Indulge yourself. Go to the unfashionable, geekiest, nerdiest movies, events, and places you’d love to go but would never ask anyone to attend with you.

Be of service to others. Be a volunteer for a day. Phone or write to relatives and acquaintances you seldom think about. .

Take a road trip, a bus trip, a train trip. Plan a day trip and be home before midnight or plan an overnight away. Look for great tour packages and travel even farther.

Book a room in a downtown hotel and spend your time indulging in downtown holiday events, tourist places and all the holiday decorations.

If you’re single, try a few dating sites, look into a dating service, something where you might find someone new to meet over coffee.

Revel in Being Alone Don’t be SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) creeps up on people during the winter holidays. I think we can feel the same SAD feelings around our own birthdays too, but that doesn’t seem to have a name yet.

If you are feeling alone and neglected let your family and friends know so they can make sure to include you in their events and get togethers.

Avoid being SAD. Use the time alone rather than letting it drag you down into feeling alone around the holidays.

If you need other people around – get them. Make plans with others but understand that plans around the holidays change a lot and last minute things pop up. Have back up plans if you are planning to meet a friend, that way you still have something to do if the friend can’t be there.

Find yourself a patch of sunshine somewhere and sit in it awhile. A great place to try this is a coffee shop window where you have some sun and people watch while you read a book and enjoy a great coffee too.

Not Everyone Alone for the Holidays Needs Cheering Up

People who don’t want to be alone for the holidays are more likely to be upset or feeling down about the holidays.

Some of us, like myself, LOVE having some alone time. For me being alone during the holidays is great. I spend time with family and I make arrangements to meet up with friends and co-workers. I attend the office/ work parties. But, I really enjoy the days I am alone and I can do just what I want to do.

I feel empowered when I am alone. I soak up the holidays: the good cheer, the lights and decorations and the excuse to be self indulgent. Being alone for the holidays is like having an extra birthday – the day that is especially all about you! Make being alone for the holidays all about you.

A Few Links

Join The Holiday Project – Local chapters visit people confined to nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions and enriching the experience of a holiday for everyone.