Come On In and Set a Spell

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. After a few months of trying different things, this seems to be the way I want to go. For now.

If you are a long time reader, you know I like to change things up every now and then. If you are new to the blog, Welcome!

I hope you find this place a warm and welcoming space to learn new things, have conversations and find a bit of peace and quiet.

Old Friends

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C. S. Lewis

I’ve been having a conversation with a new acquaintance about our interactions with some old friends. It has been a very interesting, and enlightening, discourse.

Some of these folks I’ve known for 5 decades, give or take. Others came along at varying intervals. My acquaintance, however, is a bit younger and that perspective is different.

Disclaimer: Our conversations have focused on a shared love of the various parts and pieces of “Star Trek” et al.

As I’ve contemplated our discussions, it occurred to me that the relationships we have with people, and characters, are built on how we connect. That spark of recognition, understanding, curiosity that began the connection.

I’m a long time Trek fan, but I also have similar connections with characters of other works; Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings”, “NCIS” et al, to name but a few.

For most of my life, I’ve been around people who never quite understood why I enjoyed certain things. Science Fiction was way out of the comfort zone for many folks I knew. I was a reader, something else that confounded people, and that didn’t begin to include the types of things I read. To be around people who enjoy books is a rare and wonderful pleasure. To be able to share a media franchise, like “Star Trek” can be great fun. “Outlander” books are my preferred version because they are Gabaldon’s work unfiltered, unedited, unchanged. Tolkien gives me nightmares along with some truly amazing stories. Being able to talk with people who have similar reactions is very enjoyable.

There is something about being around people for a long period of time. You get to know them. Their habits, quirks, warts and all. One may be a bit of a curmudgeon, but underneath has a heart of gold. Another will give you the shirt of his back, no questions asked. A third loves the adventure, just isn’t quite sure when, how, etc.

Each brings something to the table – as we do ourselves. That is something I would venture is rarely thought about. 🙂

On a recent episode of “Star Trek Picard” I spent time with old friends that have been a part of my life for around 35 years. Coming together again after so many years was full of joy, serenity, safety and comfort. This was a group of people I knew and trusted and they were just as I thought they would be. Riker cooking, Troi keeping watch, Picard looking for a place to just be. And those of us who came along for the visit sitting in the background watching, listening, remembering. There is a lot to remember.

As I reflect on 50 odd years of Trek, there is, indeed, a lot to remember. Good and bad, happy and sad. A lot of the person I am today came from those people. More, perhaps, than the ones I spent time with outside of the book, TV or film.

I’ve always thought of “Outlander” as being up in Grandma’s attic reading journals from her trunk. The story spans such a large time period there is a lot of people, let alone history, to take in.

A recent episode of “NCIS” brought home the idea of how these characters become part of a family – the viewer’s family – in ways we don’t always recognize.

Gibbs watched Bishop do something that would have been inconceivable when she first joined the team many years before. Watching him stop and observe her, and then smile, made me smile. The kid, who, when she first came along preferred sitting on the floor with her laptop, was growing up and turning into quite a formidable agent.

I had a similar moment many years ago during a first run viewing of “Star Trek: The Search For Spock”. I was sitting in the theater surrounded by hundreds of other fans and there was a moment where Kirk plotted to embark on a scheme that Starfleet would not sanction. We all knew he would find a way to do want he needed to do and we all shared a knowing chuckle as the plan unfolded. We all knew that no matter what, we would be right at his side, too. We trusted him that much and what was at stake was far too important.

In my life there have been very, very few people that I know I can trust that way. I suspect it is a similar situation with many people. We like to think that our group of friends will always been there, but reality tends to show otherwise for a variety of reasons.

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I treasure those few people, ‘real’ or not, who share the pleasure of their company along with many years of memories. They are true treasure.

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, Mate”

Captain Jack Sparrow

Pondering Time Travel

A while back I came across a couple of people who are costumers by trade and by design. These folks are interested in clothing from different eras. Very. Different. Eras.

In the midst of listening to a couple of vlogs, a comment was made about their journey being, in some form or fashion, time travel.

Hmmm

It makes sense, if you really think about it.

Some folks absolutely love antiques. They fill their homes with furniture that was made long before the current owners were born.

Some folks love reading books or watching TV or films set in time periods that are definitely not their own. Or, more precisely, their current time period.

People love foods that are prepared the way Grandma used to make it or love vintage recipes.

Some folks thrive on Old Time Radio shows and/or music.

All of these things are, essentially, an attempt to time travel.

Yes, even when the person(s) is watching science fiction and looking forward, that, too, is time travel.

We tend to look at this fascination with old things as a more reflective and nostalgic exercise, but maybe…maybe it is an attempt to create a time and a place where the ‘now’ is a lot less chaotic, busy, noisy, cluttered existence.

Not exactly ‘easy’, just different.

What do you think?

Peace and Quiet

Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is Patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When the world is in an uproar, sometimes you just need to find a place to find quiet.

Yesterday I happened across a posting by one of my YouTubers that caught my eye. He mentioned “the mason jar I put my phone in”. I looked and, yes, it was a mason jar and, yes, it had a lid with a clasp.

The idea was so simple, yet elegant. To disengage from the world at large, put your phone in a place that would require Effort to pick it up and scroll messages, social media, etc.

I am certain I am not alone as one who is exhausted by all The NEWS that might, or might not, be necessary to know right now. Repeats of repeats of repeats, etc. Things that tell me nothing new. Granted, there are those for whom such information is new, but still…

I find myself recalling when the local newspaper (in my town at least) was a once a week occurrence. The nightly news was exactly that: nightly. It wasn’t every hour on the hour with all sorts of interruptions. You had the evening broadcast, usually at dinner time, and the late news, usually just before the “Tonight Show”. In our case, 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The sad thing about cable is that it is voracious. It needs to have material to broadcast even when there really isn’t that much New Material. Hence the 24/7/365 news cycle.

And we wonder why the world today is exhausting.

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.

Oprah Winfrey

While the world sorts itself out, I can not but consider that this might be the Universe’s way of informing us that our priorities might be out of whack, that we need to slow down – or more accurately that we will slow down. Now. That, perhaps our attention has not been on the things of real importance but on things that pretended to be important.

Food for thought.

Treasure Hunting

I’ve been clearing out bits and pieces from boxes, bags, corners of closets. Things that I no longer need are being assessed for recycling. Items that can go to second hand stores. Or just trash.

The Treasures, however, those stay with me.

I’ve found cookbooks that I’ve had since I was in elementary school. Collections of cards and foods that I haven’t seen or made in years, but remember fondly. I’m looking forward to sharing those creations again, soon.

I’ve uncovered paint chips. Samples that were part of ideas to redecorate rooms, or just part of a collection because I loved the colors.

Bits and pieces of ideas for vacations, or just wandering about. Notes to remind me to do more research on a topic of interest. At least it was when I first tucked the items away until “Later”.

Sometimes treasure hunts can be frustrating because the item we are looking for simply can not be found. I’ve been searching for a particular recipes for “Chicken Supreme” that I made back in the 1980’s that bears no resemblance to any I’ve found on the Internet. I am certain that I know where it came from, but when I explore that place…it’s not there.

Treasure hunts are like going through old photo albums. The journey is more about memories than the tangible item held in our hands.

The Journey is the point of it all after all. Right?

Are You A Follower or A Leader?

A few months ago I came across something unusual on YouTube. A young woman who was dressed in not so modern clothing who was reorganizing her small New York City apartment to be a sewing room.

The video quality was amazing. The background music was above par – obviously not cheap filler. The perspective and attention to detail was impressive.

I’m not a seamstress. I have no desire to make clothing – of any era. And yet, I was intrigued.

After a few months of following this woman, I was introduced to some of her costuming fellows. Turns out she is one of a cadre of people who, for a variety of reasons, makes clothing to replicate earlier eras. And they are all darn good at what they do.

Last week three of these women (including the original I talked about) made a video about their various preferred eras and why they dress the way they do. You see, each dresses within their own preferred era(s) to a degree each day of their lives. For some, the “costume” might be wearing regular 21st century dress not what they choose to wear on their own.

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

Over on another channel, I found myself watching a variety of manufactured home walk throughs. These are of relatively new homes that are being marketed at various home shows. All are quite nice sized, although the one prevailing thought I had was that it would require a lot of work to keep them clean and tidy. The other prevailing reaction was to the decor used by the various manufacturers.

Disclaimer: If you prefer this style, great. It really isn’t my cup of anything.

The majority of the homes were presented in the current modern style. Predominately white, grey, charcoal with little to no actual other color. There were, however, one or two that had rooms with a focus wall with Color or a room that had Color on all the walls.

I found myself drawn to the homes that had color on the walls. The ones with architectural details. The ones that had some personality and didn’t look like a cookie cutter version of a Pinterest spread or the latest edition of some home decor magazine. In short, the homes where it looked like a real human being lived there, not just spent a weekend.

On top of all of that, one of my favorite home DIY vloggers posted this week about a project she is doing for a family member in a small apartment. Her taste is very different from that of the person whose apartment she is working on and she commented on the fact that she was looking forward to exploring that difference. One of the commenters remarked on how that would be great because while the rooms on Pinterest and in home decor magazines looked beautiful, most people don’t live like that.

It got me to thinking.

Human Beings tend to not only be tribal but followers. The majority are more inclined to follow the latest trends, be it in home decor, clothing, food, music, media or pretty much anything else, rather than step away from the tribe and decide for themselves what they prefer.

Granted there is a percentage of people who follow their own paths. We see it in pretty much any category, but even within those categories we can find leaders and followers.

When the three women were talking about their clothing choices, the comment that prevailed was one of comfort. One remarked that while it seemed a bit unusual to use natural fibers, it turns out that those fibers were more efficient at heat control, were easier to clean and maintain and were more sustainable. Above all, however, it was the way she felt wearing the garments. She felt comfortable in the them. More so than in any modern off the rack garment.

Self comfort is something that I think we don’t always consider when we choose what we wear or how we decorate our homes or even, to some degree, what we follow. The rest of the pack might not agree with those choices.

The irony of this idea is the lack of realization that the “rest of the pack” does not wear the clothes, live in the homes, or occupy the same space as the one making the choices.

I’ve been around long enough to remember when there was no cable TV let alone streaming. Some folks are shocked at the thought of that. They can’t imagine not having that monthly bill, let alone all those channels they don’t watch.

Some people can not consider not having a monthly loan payment on a vehicle. The idea of not having a brand new vehicle each year or so is so alien they can’t contemplate it.

Some folks come home to a house that may be Pinterest friendly but isn’t comfortable, let alone “homey” and don’t know what they can do to resolve that problem.

I think one of the reasons we have so many leaders in social media is that so many more people are looking for ways to resolve problems they feel unempowered to deal with on their own.

The problem is, making changes takes courage. Stepping away from the pack and going a different route can be frightening. It can also be strengthening.

There is a natural phase when you evolve from the way you were raised into the way you choose to live. That being said, there seems to always be carry over; family traditions, family recipes, for example.

When you choose not to make changes that you know (or at least ‘think’) will make your life more comfortable, you deprive yourself of self comfort. You deprive yourself of self expression. You deprive yourself of you.

When fear of the unknown stops you, you lose.

Now I’m not saying you need to jump out of an airplane or go cliff diving or swimming with sharks – unless, of course, that is what you really want to do. What I’m saying is that you can do little things to see if you really like something. If you do, keep going. If you don’t, stop. Re-evaluate. Reconsider. Try a different thing.

You do You.

The only way to know what “you” is, is to try. Experiment.

A sample sized can of paint is inexpensive. If you don’t like it, paint over it. And, by the way, painting as an activity can be very therapeutic. This can be applied either to a canvas, as in “Art” or on a wall, which, ironically, can also be “Art”.

Trying different clothing can mean a trip to a charity shop or a visit with a consignment shop. Or, if you are up to the challenge, a trip to a fabric store.

Exploring different music, books, and various media is a simple visit to the local library – which is usually free.

Speaking of free, check out the local museums in your area. You might be surprised at the treasures they hold.

Curious about craft projects? Visit your local hobby shop and see if they hold classes.

Ditto regarding home do it yourself projects. Many local hardware stores either hold classes or will know where to direct you.

The point is simply to take baby steps. Dip your toe in the water to see if it is something you want to explore or not. It doesn’t have to be expensive or drastic.

What it does have to be is something that allows you to be come more comfortable living your life.

One step at a time.

A Touch of Organization

Getting Your Life On Track

It seems that January is all about losing the weight gained during the previous few months (holiday time) and February is recovery from January’s efforts. March, however, seems to be a reminder of those pesky resolutions to Get Organized.

Since we seem to be halfway to March, it feels somewhat appropriate to at least address the organization issue. A bit. Think of it as a headstart with the ambition of tackling the problem.

I’m not the most organized person on the planet. I’m better than I once was and, at the same time, seem to have new issues with the same old problems. Confusing? Yep.

I used to be able to keep my shopping list in my head. Now, if I depend on that method I find myself missing items I Really Need while stocking up on things that aren’t used that much. Fine if you have an extra roll of bath tissue when you need it. Not so fine if you don’t.

One of my Pet Peeves is food waste. So, for me, having a disorganized fridge that allows the fresh veg to go bad because I (a) forgot I had it on hand or (b) couldn’t find it when I wanted it without cleaning the fridge is not a viable option. The equivalent of setting fire to my ATM card. After burning down the bank.

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.

Benjamin Franklin

Like many people, the idea of “Organization” is a touch repellent. It somehow seems to take the spontaneity out of pretty much anything. I get it, I also get the reality that without a touch of, shall we call them guard rails, nothing gets done that needs to get done. (Putting off doing the laundry because it is a bore tends to lead to some other issues…)

So, in the effort to get yourself on track and reduce the potential problems of not doing stuff, how do you go about getting organized?

The K*I*S*S* Method

Keep. It. Simple. Silly.

We live in a world that bombards us with the idea that Everything Should Be Done Immediately if not sooner. The reality is that things take time. Not always as much time as we think they will, but occasionally more than we thought they would.

If you are one of those folks who look at the <cough> Huge List Of Stuff To Do and find yourself a bit overwhelmed, might I suggest that you stop. Take a breath. Take a second breath. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write down what you need to accomplish and put it in some sort of priority order.

Notice I didn’t say pick up your phone or your computer to do this. Why? Because it is very easy to get distracted using the tech. Let’s go a bit Old School on this project, okay? Trust me.

Here are some items you might add to your list:

  • Make your bed
  • Laundry
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Sweep / vacuum the floors
  • Dust
  • Take out the trash
  • Wash the dishes
  • Clean the kitchen

Before you groan and slide back into the “That’s Too Much Work!” mode. Let’s think a bit, shall we?

You will never be completely ready. Start from wherever you are.

C.J. Hayden, MCC

Start somewhere, anywhere. If you feel overwhelmed, set a timer for 15 minutes and start on a task with the goal of getting as much of the task completed before the timer goes off. Once that happens, stop and look around. You might be surprised at how much has been accomplished.

There are things you can do to help yourself to avoid being crushed under the weight of So Much To Do. Make your bed every day. Set aside a specific day (or night) to do a load of laundry. Spend one day a month preparing foods for the month’s meals.

Okay, that one may be a bit much for now, but file it away in the back of your mind for “Later”.

I remember when I was a youngster there was a set of kitchen towels that had the day of the week with a specific task assigned. Monday was laundry day. Tuesday was ironing day. Wednesday was for vacuuming and dusting. Thursday was mending day. Friday was baking day. I forget what Saturday was for, perhaps shopping? Sunday was designated a Day of Rest.

We can follow a similar plan, if we choose. If our homes are small enough, several things can be accomplished on the same day. Put in the laundry, dust, do the floors, take out the trash, clean the bathroom. Laundry pretty much does itself, so the rest of the time can be put to good use. Dishes can be put in the dishwasher every day. Handwashing can be done either every day or every other day, depending on the amount. I like to do mine every other day, putting them in to soak when I’m done with the meal. Less water and soap used and reduced time to spend doing the chore.

If our homes are larger, we have the option of spreading tasks out over the week. Or weeks.

You can take that original paper list and build on it, or you can move to a white board, calendar, bullet journal to help you keep track of what needs to be done – and when it is done.

The idea is to break down that Huge List Of Things To Be Done into smaller, more manageable steps that can easily be accomplished in the time you have.

One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.

John Wanamaker

In a Nutshell

  • Make a list of what needs to be done
  • Assign a priority to each task
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes per day to complete at least one task.
  • Repeat

Give yourself one month with this process and see what you have accomplished.

Leave me a comment about your progress. 🙂