Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Cleaning the Clutter"--I might literally be cleaning my closets or figuratively clearing the excess from some other part of my life. I'm sure you can think of other things this could mean for you as well.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Volumes and Violins ( #AtoZChallenge )

The volume of stuff in our house is not disproportionately frightful in the sense of hoarding--right now everything in our house could probably fit into our living room with a comfortable pathway to other parts of our house.  But then there would be new space for more things.  That's where the scary starts...


      In a number of places throughout our home you can find volumes of books.  Most of them are encyclopedias ranging from child level to adults.  About half of these are in Spanish.  I wonder how many homes still have encyclopedia sets? 

     When I was growing up, we had a set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias that I used from elementary school until college.  That old set sat on a living room book shelf for decades.  Over the years my mother added new encyclopedia sets.  It seemed like any respectable home forty years ago had at least some type of encyclopedia.

      Now I don't know that encyclopedias are an especially wise investment for most families.  After all much of the information one might research can readily be found on the internet.  Still, I find myself looking things up in our encyclopedias.  When that happens I sometimes start getting lost in the book as I read through entries that catch my attention.

       And when that happens I feel like a kid again.  Back when I was a kid the encyclopedia was one of my favorite reading materials.  My reading habits back then probably are partly responsible for my eclectic interests.  A couple of encyclopedia sets might not be bad to have around the house, but maybe we have a few too many.  Volumes of encyclopedias need to go.   Now to find the party who is looking for rather outdated encyclopedia sets that are in very good condition.

And Violins

       I've got a few violins around the house, but I could only easily find one for my photo.  One violin that I used to use in my juggling act is packed with the props in the garage.  My electric violin must be in my office closet, but I'm not about to tackle digging that out quite yet.  Also sitting out in my office are a mandolin, a keyboard, and two guitars.  I could supply a band.   

       Unfortunately, I rarely play any of these instruments any more.  I probably should take the time to fiddle around occasionally, but there are a lot of things that I probably should do.  Like my juggling props I consider my instruments tools of my trade.  No telling when having them around could come in handy.  The violins are staying and that's my verdict!

       Do you still own any encyclopedias?   Did you grow up with encyclopedias in your home?   Do you have any musical instruments that you used to play but haven't in a long while?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Uniquities and Ubiquities ( #AtoZChallenge )

    I want my home to be like a book with pages to be read and lots of stories to tell.  And indeed, my home is like a thick volume that can't be read in one sitting...


          Upon first entering our home, a visitor might not find anything particularly unique at first glance.   As with any of our dwelling spaces, the uniqueness of who we are often requires a closer scrutiny.   Perusing the artifacts of a home one is likely to see representations of family history, personal interests and pastimes, as well as those assorted oddities that might leave one scratching their head or could be the opening of an interesting conversation.

          The built-in shelf seen above gives a good idea of certain things that are ubiquitous in our home.  There are books, media (CD's, DVD's, etc), decorative items, and even a set of juggling beanbags.    In nearly every room of our house you can find these same things in an assorted array of formations.  Each room is like a variation on a theme.  My home is my personal symphony--or more appropriately a symphonic duet between my interests and those of my wife.  

           Our home is my comfort zone.  If I were to be plopped blindfolded into my own home I would immediately know where I was.  With a feeling of security I would relax and settle into that homey feeling.  But if my blindfold were removed and I were to find myself in a room at your house, please let there be books, music, or something to explore and wonder about.

          While in your home I want to see your uniquities and I want them to be ubiquitous.  I don't just want to know where I am, but I want to know who I am with.  Excuse me if I look at the things on your shelves or on your walls.  Tell me what this odd little mystery item means to you.

          Tell me a story.  What you have around you provides me the details, but you have to tell me the words.

          Have you ever visited someone and perused stuff they had on display?   Would you be offended if a visitor started looking at what was on shelves or on the walls?   What might the decorative items displayed in a house tell you?  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Traveling and Touring ( #AtoZChallenge )

        Once when I was a kid someone told me to "collect my wits"--that's when I started my collection of Mad magazines and joke books...


Traveling and Touring Things

         Travel mementos can be found throughout our house both in the open and stored away.  Refrigerator magnets, curios, pictures, or travel books are likely to be found in every room of our house.  While doing my garage cleaning I ran across a number of things related to my travels or just related to the subject of travel.

        As I've mentioned here before, I grew up in a show biz family who frequently traveled for our performances.  Back in those days I began collecting matchbooks, soap bars, and other freebies labeled from establishments that offered them.  Those items actually got used up after I entered adulthood, but I still have a respectable postcard collection that I started when I was a young boy. 

        Postcard racks used to be prominently displayed in restaurants, variety stores, and any other places that might be frequented by travelers.  When I was an avid collector and cards might be something like six for a quarter, I would buy several from whatever area we were in at the time.  I'd also pick up post cards from motels where we stayed and other places that offered free cards.  Over several years I accumulated a great many cards.

        The bulk of my postcards are in a box in my closet, but I often will notice postcards in drawers or other boxes.  When I was organizing our garage back in December, I ran across a lot of cards which I kept aside and placed in a box to be further sorted in the upcoming months. 

         The post cards are merely one more example of the travel things I have around the house.  In the garage especially there are a great many maps, travel directories, and tour schedules from my years on the road managing shows.    Most of this has been well organized and fairly neatly boxed--it will be easy to go through with some probably minor culling.  Old hotel directories will likely go as will a few of the maps.  Not all of them--but some of them.

         There were always maps in my life and I became a proficient map reader at a young age.  Map reading became a past time for me sometimes just for fun and other times because I was traveling and needed to see where I was going.  At home I can spend a good bit of time studying maps.  I enjoy studying how highways are routed and interwoven.  I like to think about the little towns where I may likely never go or remember the places I have already been.  When people used to tell me that they got confused and couldn't read a map I was somewhat baffled.  Now this response makes more sense.

         Now most of us probably use GPS for telling us where to go.  Sometimes my wife tells me where to go.   Still I like the visual aid of a good map.  And suddenly an idea popped into my head:   I should draw a map of my house and where the main cache of certain things (postcards for instance) are.   This would be good if I started  developing memory problems and needed a prompt.  It would also be helpful when I die so whoever was left could figure things out more easily.

         Not a bad idea perhaps.   But actually I hate thinking about stuff like that.

       Do you tend to collect a lot of souvenirs from your travels?   When is the last time you sent someone a postcard?   Are you good at reading a map?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Stuck No Longer--Unleash the #BOTB Winner!

      No A to Z on Sunday, but still I'm posting.  Today I've got the results for my most recent Battle of the Bands.

Battle of the Bands

Stuck in the Middle with You

       In the middle of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge which falls in the middle of the month seemed like an ideal time to revisit the Stealer's Wheel song "Stuck in the Middle" using two quite different remakes.  For reference you can find this Battle on my last Sunday post of April 15th.

         My reaction to this Battle between the mellow sounds of Jodi Pederson and the hiccuppy bouncy Frantic Flintstones was that Jodi gave a pleasant listenable performance which was my favorite at first.   But then after several listens, like happened with some of the voters, I began to prefer the Frantic Flintstones.   Jodi was off to a good start early on in the contest, but the wave for Frantic Flintstones swept through and gave them a decisive win.

Final Vote Tally

Jodi Pederson                  5 votes

Frantic Flintstones         12 votes

Next Battle of the Bands on Tuesday May 1st.  Since I've got just about a week of A to Z to post and I'm still writing those posts, I have no thoughts about my next Battle.  Guess you will have to find out then what song I'll be using next.   The Battle will happen since it is one of my favorite things.

        Are you ready for the upcoming summer months?    Any vacation plans for this year?   When in your life have you felt most stuck in the middle of your situation?  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Statements ( #AtoZChallenge )

Say what you want, but whatever you say is your statement.   Please make it mean something or make it funny...

A Statement About Statements

         Back before this past December I had several boxes of bank and credit card statements going back to the eighties.  After years of delay I finally culled through those boxes and reduced my statement collection into two relatively small boxes, labeled and stacked together on a shelf in my garage.  This was achieved by getting rid of envelopes, advertising inserts, and pages with no relevant information on them.

         You might wonder why I would continue to keep these statements from so far back.  These records of purchases long past and other money flow in bank accounts that no longer exist seems rather non-functional--at least from any standpoint of personal finances.   But for me these statements are a record of something different than my spending and saving habits in the past:  They represent a part of my past life.   Cumulatively taken, these statements are like a diary that reconnects me to who I was and what I was doing.

        If arranged in chronological order, I can read through the statements as though they were a journal that I had kept during that time period.   I can see times of frivolity as well as tough financial straits, I can see what was purchased and where and when.  By deduction and memory I can figure a lot about the times surrounding the statements.

          Now that I've rid myself of the junk portions (it all went into my recycle bin) I have a compact record of facts that I can relate to emotions and events of another time of my life.  This goes into my research library.  This is the memoirist in me--the writer.  Those statements can help set the scenes for stories and even tell stories themselves.

          I don't know if I've convinced anyone other than me that I have some good reason to keep these boxes of statements.   It probably doesn't matter much to anyone but me since these boxes represent my history and my research files for some later time.  That's why I think they are worth keeping for a while at least.  Besides, who is to say whether reading a great or even average novel is more satisfying than reading a stack of receipts.  It all comes down to the story being told and what that story means to the reader--a reader who might also be a writer.

Has a credit card or bank statement ever inspired you to imagine a story?   What kinds of things might  credit card charges tell you if you were looking at someone else's statement?   Have you ever gone back to look at the charges on an old statement?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Receipts for Recordkeeping ( #AtoZChallenge )

        I was just reading my Walgreens receipt.   They put a lot of information on those things.   And in two languages!

My file cabinet laden with receipts.

Receipts and Records

         One of my weird bad habits comes out of an old good habit of saving receipts.  When I started working as an independent contractor I saved any receipt that I could use as a tax deduction.  Also I kept receipts to check against my credit card statements if I had charged something.  And there were the receipts I kept to make it easier to return something if that needed to be done.  There are a lot of good reasons to keep receipts for at least some designated period of time. 

          Now I'm in the habit of tossing receipts on top of my office file cabinet whenever I have them in my pockets.  They pile up until they overflow onto the floor and I attend to the fallen while ignoring the pile.   Periodically I'll weed out some of the receipts or file them accordingly, but the pile seems to grow faster than I can keep up with. 

           I need to come up with system that works for me--probably a neater variation on what I've got now.  For the time being I've cleaned the receipts off the top of that file cabinet.  I like seeing it that way, but a few things on top don't bother me either.  But the neater cabinet top will be an inspiration for at least a few days.

After cleaning receipts from top of file cabinet.

         My father was an accountant so he was kind of a stickler about saving receipts since we could take a lot of tax deductions for our side job as a juggling act.  He ingrained in me the idea of saving receipts.  Old receipts and statements can be helpful for jogging the memory, something which I wrote about several years ago on my memoir blog.  I'll have a bit more to say on this topic in my next post:  S for Statements. 

          Do you save a lot of receipts?   Do you use expense deductions for your income tax?   Have you ever run across very old receipts for past purchases by parents or others?  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Queue ( #AtoZChallenge )

         Having to wait in line seems like an inefficient and uncomfortable way to do things.  A long line is essentially people clutter... 

A queue in front of a shop - a common sight in...
A queue in front of a shop - a common sight in the People's Republic of Poland during the 1980s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


          At some point in time we all wait in line.
          Lines to buy tickets or buy other things,
          Long lines of traffic when we wish we had wings.
          Waiting our turn at the DMV--
          That's not a place where I like to be.

          Please pick a number, then wait for your turn
          While employees work slow--they have no concern
          About people who wait for hours on end.
          Lines take up time that we didn't intend
          To be wasted on waiting and even more waiting.

          So if you need to do something then what do you do?
          Go stand in a line and wend your way through.
          Through to end of the line you're in now
           And on to the next one as time will allow.

          Time marches on, the days seem to fly.
          Minutes, hours, and years pass us by.
          We're part a system.  What else can we do?
          We're all waiting for something while stuck in a queue.

         What is the longest line you've ever had to wait in?    What kinds of lines do you dislike most?  Can you think of some better solutions than having to wait in lines?


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Plastic Bags ( #AtoZChallenge )

          I still remember when the grocery bagger would ask, "Paper or plastic?"   Now they ask if you brought your own bags or do you want to buy some?  But that's California.  Perhaps coming to a town near you...

Picking P's 

        For the letter "P" I had first considered using "Plethora of Pants" as my topic because it sounded funny to me.  I do indeed have lots of pairs of pants. If I wore a different pair every day I could probably go for a month without repeating.

        "Pieces of the Puzzle" was the next thing that came to mind.  All of my A to Z posts in this series are pieces of a larger puzzle, but I guess all the posts on this blog are pieces of an even larger puzzle.  I like pondering metaphorical puzzle pieces to try to put them in proper place.  However, I decided to postpone the puzzle post. 

         Then I thought about the large plastic trash bags filled with smaller plastic grocery bags.  The bags are something else I have in my garage.  For many years I've saved the bags for utilitarian household purposes such as trash can liners, totes, wrapping, or whatever reason I might need them.  As time went by I kept bringing more grocery bags home than I was using.  They were amassing to an obtrusive degree.

        Eventually I decided to start throwing them in the recycle bin now and then.  That plan came to an end when the California government decided to ban the plastic bags.   Now we had to bring our own carriers to the store or buy reusable bags.   I put a hold on my mission of getting rid of my cache of plastic bags.  Now I'd be using them up.

          The Bag Ban has been in effect for over a year now.   For the most part I've gotten used to bringing my own bags into the store.  At the rate I've been using the old grocery bags I figure I'll have enough to last probably a few years.  They're talking in the California government about banning plastic straws next.   In a few years I can imagine that we'll have to take our own reusable cups to places where they sell fountain drinks.  When that happens I'd say that there will be a big business in selling reusable cups to people who want to buy a drink.

           I think I see where this might be going.  People will get used to it I suppose.

            What do you do with your plastic grocery bags?   Has your local or state government banned anything that you have found to be useful?    Do you sometimes think of your life as a puzzle that you are still trying to figure out?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Over-sized Olympic ( #AtoZChallenge )

        Someday I might have a two car garage big enough for me to actually park my cars in--oh, wait!  I have that now except it's filled with stuff...

         There's a monster in my garage.  This behemoth has been there for the past twenty years.  My Tennessee friend Marvin gave this to me in 1989.  I brought it with me to Los Angeles where for many years it served as a place to put my television and stereo and have storage space underneath for record albums.  When my wife and I moved into our present home I brought this thing with me for lack of knowing anything else to do with it.

         Back in the early seventies when Marvin bought this it was quite the display piece to have in ones living room.  Marvin said he remembers it having a great sound and he used it for nearly twenty years.   I never used this stereo for its intended function, but it still works.  I tried it out back in December and the turntable sounded fine.  Since I still had a number of 8-track cartridges I tested the player and it also works though the tapes themselves haven't fared well being about thirty years old.

        This thing is not just huge, but it's heavy as one might expect.  I can slide it across the floor with some effort, but I don't know that I'd want to try to pick up even one end.  If someone wants this thing they will have to come and move it themselves.

          Perhaps I'll put it on Craigslist to see if anyone is interested.  I'll start with a price at first to see what the market might be like.  I've sold some rather odd things for pretty decent prices on Craigslist.  Once I advertised an outdated, but well kept set of Spanish language young peoples' encyclopedias asking $100.  It didn't take long to get a response.  A young man and woman in their twenties came by to pick them up.  Since they didn't appear to speak Spanish after my initial encounter with them I asked why they wanted the books.   They said they were making a movie and needed some books in volumes to create a library that looked like it might be in a lawyer's office.  They handed over my $100 without even trying to dicker the price down. 

          Maybe someone will be needing some retro-look props for some upcoming film.   Or maybe I'll have to call the city to have it picked up.  This old Olympic Home Entertainment system has seen its last days with me.  Now I need someone to take it off my hands.

           Did you or your family ever own a giant home entertainment console?    How much do you think I should ask as a starting price for this Olympic stereo system?     Any good ideas about how to get rid of this antique?   

Monday, April 16, 2018

Newspapers and Necessities ( #AtoZChallenge )

       When I was a kid I used to put out editions of my own personal newspaper.  There was always only one copy since I had to write it out by hand.   My two readers would each look at it and then give it back to me.   My career in newspapers didn't go far...

I've got a lot of "necessities" that I don't think I need any longer. 

        Newspapers have always figured into my life in some way.  My parents always had a newspaper delivered and I would usually read through it for at least the comic section, but also to read some of the stories.  It was not unusual for me to find research data in the paper that I would use for school projects.  Then there were the days when we had current events show-and-tell in class.  We'd all have to find a newspaper story to explain to the classroom.  As much as I disliked standing in front of the class and speaking, this was one activity that I enjoyed.  Typically I'd bring an unusual story buried within the paper--a story that I didn't think any other student would duplicate.  And usually no one else had brought it.  I felt like I was delivering news that no one had yet heard and to me that seemed exciting.

       During my high school years I began saving the old newspapers that came to our house.  They began piling up in my room and then later in other parts of the house.  This was me thinking ecologically before conservation became a fad and then a relevant issue.   Later, a couple of years after I had entered college and began working at a warehouse during the summer, I discovered a recycling center where I could cash in the old newspapers I had been saving.   I loaded up my van and went to the center.   Now, I can't quite remember how much I got for the accumulated newsprint, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty dollars.  It was enough to fill my gas tank with plenty of cash left over for other things.   Gas was very cheap at the time and thirty bucks could be stretched nicely when hourly pay was $1.85.

       Over the years I've read newspapers for entertainment, information, and a general awareness of my world and my community.   During the decade plus that I worked on the road I regularly read papers that would be discarded.  When I settled down into my life in Los Angeles I subscribed to the L.A. Times and began saving papers which I would bring to work to be used for packing boxes being shipped.

        There has always been something special to me in newspapers.  There still is even though I've stopped subscribing.  I don't think any newspapers are like they used to be, but nothing is.  We don't need the daily paper to keep us updated on the news.  Coupons are available in many places.  If I want crossword puzzles I can always buy a puzzle magazine which for now I won't need to do because I have a few years' worth of puzzles stored up from old newspapers. 

       We really don't need newspapers like we might need our medicines, household supplies, and toilet paper.  We need food and other stuff to keep us properly nourished.  We need many things and even many of those things that we think we need are just things that make life better.  But it would be hard to convince me that we need newspapers in our day and age.  And it pains me to say that.

       I used to think that my newspapers were necessities.   Then after they stopped coming it didn't seem to matter that much.  Instead of reading newspapers I did something else.  I still have a dwindling stack of newspapers with some dating back to 1999.  Mostly they are book review and political commentary sections.   I'm slowly reading through the dwindling stacks that remain.  When they are gone I'll be happy that I have space in my closet for something else.  That's probably all that I'll feel unless I really start thinking about it, which I probably won't.

        Do you still have a newspaper subscription?   What continued value do you see in the existence of newspapers?   Do you trust the news that you get on the internet less than that which might appear in a newspaper?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stuck in the Middle (#BOTB)

       Here I am in the middle of the #AtoZChallenge on an off day of letter posting.   So what am I going to do?   

Battle of the Bands!

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Stuck in the Middle

         Instead of using a theme that I connect to a song, I'm just going with the obvious.  This post will only be at the top of the page for a day since it's stuck in the middle of thirty days of posting so I hope I get enough voters.  For me the Stealer's Wheel song "Stuck in the Middle" immediately jumped into my head when I was looking at the current Battle positioning.

        This song has been stuck in my blog queue for a very long time and this seemed like a good time to use it.   I know this song has been used in at least one previous Battle on another blog, but I don't think anyone has yet used these versions linked below.   So nuff said about that.  Let's just get started...

Jodi Pederson   "Stuck in the Middle"  (2011)

        This young singer comes from Vernon, British Columbia.   What do call this style?  Folk-pop maybe?

Frantic Flintstones   "Stuck in the Middle"  (1999)

         Here's a British Psychobilly band that's put out a whole bunch of albums since 1986.  Get ready to bop...

Time to Vote!

 Which way are you gonna vote in this contest?  Are you kind of stuck between--wavering in your choice.   Please vote. What's your preference between these two choices? Which song version do you like best? You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

Please vote on your favorites by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands


'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Cherdo on the Flipside 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Sunday April 22nd

         There will be plenty of daily activity on Tossing It Out between now and then as I continue my posts for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Throughout the month I've been cluttering my blog with posts as I ponder the concept of clutter.  Let's face it--clutter never really ceases.

        Have you been following any of the A to Z Challenge posts on my blog or any other?  When do you feel stuck in the middle?    Did you finish your income taxes?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Money ( #AtoZChallenge )

I had a dream where I found a lot of money in my house.    Then I woke up.  All day I was trying to think where that money was and how it got there in the first place...

Money Places

            One clutter problem that I wouldn't mind having more of is the money that gets strewn about a house.  Most of you probably have a similar situation of change thrown in drawers or other places.  Since I don't typically accumulate much change in my pockets, I don't have too many places where money ends up.  Most of my loose change is in a drawer where I toss it or in my van by the driver's seat. 

            A friend in Tennessee was telling me how he throws all of his change in coffee cans that he keeps in the kitchen.   He uses cash for everything and consequently always ends up with change.  He told me that once a year he empties the cans to take the change to the bank.   His last visit reaped him over $300 he said.   Maybe that isn't that bad of a way to save money

            If I could say that I had too much money laying around then apparently I'd be far wealthier than I am now.  Maybe it would have been a good idea to clutter my life with more pocket change and stray dollar bills.  I keep hoping that someday I'll find that secret stash of cash that I had forgotten about.   I don't think I'm going to find it, but if I do find it then I'll be a pretty happy fellow.   That is until I've spent it all and then I guess I'll still be happy just as though I had never found that forgotten treasure.

           Have you ever found a cache of money that you or someone else had hidden and forgotten?   Where do you tend to throw your loose change?    What is the most amount of change that you've ever cashed in at a bank or coin machine?  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Limits of Accumulation ( #AtoZChallenge )

        If we could play a good game of hide seek in my house based on the amount of stuff stored in it then I'll deem that a limit of accumulation has been reached.   Likewise if my stuff is piled so high that I fear one day being buried in it...

Out of bookshelf space for books and out of house space for more bookshelves.

Limits of Accumulation

          In 1980 I took most of the year off from traveling with a touring show.   A divorce situation had come up in my life so I was working a regular job in the same city where my ex was settling with our son.  My situation at work was such that I could take off time when I wanted to work short show biz gigs.   Almost a year in one place meant that I accumulated furniture (mostly purchased from yard sales), stuff that I brought along with me, and the stuff that my new girlfriend brought with her.

          At the beginning of 1981 I secured jobs for myself and my girlfriend with the show with which I had previously toured.  Before leaving for the road life, we moved all of the stuff in our apartment to a storage unit.  At the end of that tour year we decided that since what we had spent on storage probably exceeded the actual cash value of what we were storing, we should get rid of most of it and store what little must-have keepsakes at each of our parents' houses.  We had reached our limit of accumulation. 

            Now, after being off the road for over 25 years, I have a houseful of space to store possessions.  As much as I like warehouses (I've worked in various warehouse situations), our house is not a warehouse.   This is a place to live and not a giant storage unit.  Fortunately I am nowhere near capacity stage other than a few corners and closets.  My books runneth over as the overflow goes into piles and boxes.  But they are books and by my estimation books deserve special consideration.

          Oftentimes, good organization masks a hint of over-accumulation.  That's been one of my main focuses:  I've been tackling potential trouble spots where amassing great quantities poses a threat.  I've been sorting, boxing, labeling and re-stacking wherever this has seemed appropriate.  My garage is far neater with everything more compact.   My office closets come next.

         Do you have things that you rarely see, stored in closets that you rarely open?   Have you ever rented (or do you now) a storage unit?    What would you deem worth storing in a space that you rented?   

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Keepsakes? Land Sakes! ( #AtoZChallenge )

    What we keep might say as much about other people as what it says about us.  I enjoy looking at the things another person has decided to keep on display in their home.  If nothing else, having stuff out for others to see can make for good conversation starters.  

           Knickknacks can be found throughout our house.  Those are accompanied by numerous framed photos and other items someone felt worthy to display.  My wife, who is a teacher, receives lots of inexpensive figurines and the like from her students.  Some she puts in view for a while and others stay stored away until it's time to donate them. 

            Keepsakes--that what they are until we don't want to keep them anymore.  Most of us likely have keepsakes that we display throughout our households.  There are probably thousands, maybe millions of those trinkets like the ones my wife gets from her students in homes all across the world.  And likely even more in thrift shops and landfills.

           Land sakes alive!  All the essentially useless stuff that floods the marketplace fills up our lives.   Somewhere in the world people are sifting through the dirt to find enough grains of rice to make a meager dinner for their families while tonight I'll eat well within the walls of my dwelling filled with the stuff I need along with the stuff that I want in my life as well as the stuff that waits to be tossed out. 

           Keepsakes?   Land sakes!  We've got them at our house.  I guess they create a sense of decor.  They also can be connected to specific people or memories.  That works for me and if it doesn't then I start a donation box.  Maybe someone else will find their own meaningful keepsakes in what I've gotten rid of.

            Do you have a lot of knickknacks sitting on display in your home?    Do you collect things with any particular theme in mind?    Do you like to look at the knickknack collections at places you visit?  


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Juggling Stuff ( #AtoZChallenge )

 Juggling is a full-time job that we all deal with every day.   There was a time for me when this statement was more than a metaphor...

My Strange Career of Yesteryear

      As some readers know, for many years I worked as a professional juggler.    It all started with my parents, who were also jugglers.  I grew up working in the family juggling act and then after college went on for the next fifteen years as a juggler/show manager for touring theatrical productions. 

       That all ended around 1990 when I settled into a regular job so to speak.  Occasionally my juggling skills would come into play since I was still in a theatrically related business in the Los Angeles area.  Any juggling would have been for impromptu demonstrations of equipment we sold or just for fun.  I haven't juggled at any length for quite some time, but I still have plenty of juggling props just in case the urge ever hits.   I should probably go to one of the busking places in my area and try to juggle for tips to make extra money.   Hmmm--nah, I'm not sure about that gig.

        Over the years I acquired several books, magazines, and other items that are good additions to my little juggling research library.  Before my mother died she gave me books that had been my father's.  The juggling books would probably be among the last of my books to go if I were to start clearing out my shelves.  They're not especially interesting to read for the most part (though some have pictures), but they might be considered among my more curious collectibles.  Keepers for now.

       Then there is the Juggling Jackson Gallery of Wall Art--and I use the term very loosely.  I have an array of old juggling photos given to my parents over the years.  For years those hung on the walls of whatever room in our house we practiced juggling.  Also there's the collection of dime-store framed prints of clowns--most who are juggling--that hung all around the house.   If something had to do with juggling or reminded my father of juggling then he'd buy it.

        We got rid of most of the family props by sending them a juggling museum that I wrote about on my memoir blog.   Still I have quite a number of props and other fun items mostly stored away in my garage or closets.  This is a collection for which I wish I had a special room set aside.   I guess for now I'll just dream about that room and hang on to these personal treasures.   It's not clutter to my eyes and it's not junk either. 

         Are there any tools of your trade that you have hung on to?  Have you ever bought a how-to book even though you already knew how to and just wanted the book because you liked the topic?  Do you have a special room in your house that is focused on some certain theme?  


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I'm Working On It ( #AtoZChallenge )

           If thinking got things done, then I should have built great kingdoms...

Thinking about it is still doing something.
This Project Life

          I've often used the line "I'm working on it" because it was true, but also as a flippant avoidance of the subject.  Actually I've been working on it--the stuff of life--since I was a kid.  Back then my stuff was mostly confined to my closet or drawers.  It was not that much overall, but every now and then I'd organize things better and get rid of things.  That's the way it's been for my whole life and it seems like that's how everybody I know is. 

           My work will come in bursts.  I'll do a lot and then wait a while--rest you might say or I might say a retreat to do something else.  There's no specified deadline to get this cleaning the clutter job done so I'm not stressing out about it.  But it will need to get done.  When I feel like it.

          This project has taken a lifetime and this lifetime is not over yet.  My past, present, and future are all of the chapters of my project life.  There are so many life projects going on at any give time on this Laboratory Earth.  So many different projects...lives.  Like grains of sand on the seashore or stars in an infinite universe.

          Life is like a never-ending coal mine that mostly has been lit up in a miraculous way.   Gems embedded in the walls along certain parts.  There are periods when the digging is good, reaping great rewards, while at other times there are dreary stretches of dark coal stuff.  Fortunately it always got better for me and those stretches weren't all that long anyway.  I hope it was that way for you too.

         Do you feel like your life is an experiment?   Do you have projects that you walk away from to return weeks or months later?    If you were one of the Seven Dwarfs from Disney's Snow White, who would you be?   

Monday, April 9, 2018

History ( #AtoZChallenge )

        To what extent do our possessions reveal our pasts?   Does what we own tell the story of who we are or were?   Or does our life accumulation only deepen the mystery?

History and What Our Possessions Tell About It

        At times I feel like an archaeologist or historian digging down into the strata of the past as I'm rummaging through my accumulation of possessions.   As I continue digging I come to the realization that time does not necessarily correspond in any logical chronology in the way things have settled.

         My previous forays into sorting and organizing have caused a commingling of the older with the newer.  Like things have been placed together in some instances, while at other times, for the sake of expediency perhaps, things might have been boxed together because of size, shape, or some other non-historical criteria. 

        There is usually no great mystery to me concerning my possessions, but to someone else coming upon my trove of material things, perplexed head-scratching might a common reaction.  There is a lot of history confined within the walls of my home, but unraveling the past through my possessions might take a lot more research than anyone might care to put into it.  My history is probably not important unless it somehow affects the one examining my history. And even then would anyone care to invest that time?

        We each have a history that is meaningful to ourselves and not to many others.   Unless we are famous or with some significance to the greater history of humans and the world in which we all live, we and our possessions might be meaningless.  Looking at a city, a neighborhood, we see many microcosms of personal histories.  No one person can study all of those histories, especially when it takes the detective work of piecing together clues by studying the possessions of each individual.

        No one will care about my history like I do.  And no one will understand.  If I get around to it, I will try to categorize and label as much as I can.  That is, if I get around to doing that.  Then, even if it is all neatly sorted and tagged with identifying descriptions, who will care? 

        Do you try to identify things you own so that others will know what it had meant to you?  If you've ever had to sort through an estate, did you ponder the personal historical significance of items?   Have you ever found something in left behind possessions,  in a second-hand store, or elsewhere that had an interesting background that you were able to discover?


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Verdict on "Ashes To Ashes" (#BOTB results)

        No Blogging from A to Z Challenge in this post--just results from my Battle of the Bands.  No day of rest in April at Tossing It Out...

 "Ashes to Ashes":  The Outcome

         My previous Battle was between versions of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" as performed by Los Angeles group Warpaint and the Canadian group Fish and Bird.  This turned out to be a very tough one for me.  And the results were not what I expected going in to this contest.  That's no surprise since my own vote turned as the week progressed.

          From the start of compiling this Battle I had decided on voting for Fish and Bird's version.  I made that decision even before coming up with an opposition candidate.  The Fish and Bird performance is musically eclectic and to me outstanding in every way.  The upright bass and the violin were aspects that I particularly enjoyed.

          But wait!  As is typical with these Battles, I continued listening to the additional selection I had chosen--Warpaint--as well as the version that I had thought would be getting my vote.  The more I listened to both versions, the more I began to like the version by Warpaint.  I listened to more of the recordings they have on YouTube.  This is a great band by my estimation--they play a style of music that I like.  Dream psychedelic rock might be one way of describing their music.  However one describes it, I think it's very nice.

          Though I still think the Fish and Bird shows a greater amount of eclecticism and some brilliant musical arranging, their version drifted to second place in my mind as I found myself listening to the Warpaint version more and more.   I became a turncoat against the group that I figured would have no musical match.  My vote now goes to Warpaint.

          I fully expected Fish and Bird to run away with this Battle and that's certainly how the voting started off.   Then the votes for Warpaint started coming in.  Thankfully a number of voters were able to look past the somewhat ragged performance to see the real potential of this band--or maybe they just liked that version better.  Whatever the case, the L.A. girls were able to zoom ahead with votes to surpass the Canadian band and capture a win.

Final Vote Tally

Warpaint                 12 votes

Fish and Bird          10 votes

Next Battle on Sunday April 15th

       Since the next Battle will again be on a Sunday I won't be including the song as part of my A to Z theme.  Not exactly at least, although I guess my Battle theme will have a certain connection that will be obvious.  In the meantime I hope you'll stop by Tossing It Out daily this month to read my alphabetical entries about Cleaning the Clutter.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Garage Sales ( #AtoZChallenge )

  I've been to yard sales that were in yards I guess you'd say, but I can't recall ever having gone to a sale inside a garage.  Does a carport count?...

Garage Sales

         There have been a few liquidation sales in my life.  Things piled up so much and due to circumstances I had to get them out of my possession somehow.   As a young man I left some stuff at my parents' house.  But at times things have gotten to the point where things had to go. 

        Rarely have I made much money with a sale at home.  Once I tried going to a flea market and didn't do much better there.  Maybe I should come to the conclusion that I've got a lot of stuff that people don't want or perhaps that I'm just not reaching the right market for what I have.

        The latter is probably true.  I haven't done too badly on Craigslist, but Craigslist is as far as I want to go for now.  There are still a number of things that probably could go on Craigslist.  I'll be working on that.

       In the meantime, there is a community yard sale coming up in a couple of months.  I might do that or maybe not.  But I better not keep avoiding getting rid of stuff.   The garage is poised like a sleeping beast to begin growing anew.  I can't let that happen.

        Sell, sell, sell!  That's my first focus.  But I think a lot of stuff will be given away or tossed.

         Except for the stuff that I will keep for the time being. 

What do you have that you can't bear to get rid of?    What is the dumbest thing that you hang onto?  Have you ever been successful with garage sales?