Friday, July 20, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: reading writing before writing

My spring-term course has wound up, and I now have the rest of the summer to work on writing projects.

But I need help and inspiration, so I brought some home.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King
The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, by David L. Ulin
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner, by Jon Franklin

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Quote for the day: Perhaps this is the answer to everything.

"Captain Sisko (voiceover): Captain's log, stardate 50929.4. Two days ago, this station felt like a tomb. I'd never seen so many of my crew depressed at the same time. But for some reason, it now seems as though a new spirit has swept through the station, as if someone had opened a door and let a gust of fresh air blow through a musty old house. Why this is happening, frankly, is a mystery to me. After all, nothing has really changed. The Dominion is still a threat, the Cardassians are still threatening to retake the station, and I can still see the clouds of war gathering on the horizon. So why do I sense a newfound sense of optimism in the air? But maybe I'm overthinking this. Maybe the real explanation is as simple as something my father taught me a long time ago: even in the darkest moments, you can always find something that'll make you smile."
(Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "In the Cards")

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Quote for the day: Just human beings

"By thinking of myself as just another human being, my perspective of others has also changed...I can now meet people who own a lot of things or are blessed with enormous talent without feeling embarrassed about myself...Rich or poor, famous or ordinary, we're all just human beings who come into contact with one another." ~~ Fumio Sasaki, Goodbye, Things

Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Infrequent Traveller: In the end

I tried the backpack, etc., and settled for the good old tote bag. I don't know why I was having such a hard time making it work before. Case of nerves?

All set to go and spend time with friends I haven't seen in much too long.

Is decluttering only for the wealthy? (How to be a better materialist)

Minimalist blogger Joshua Becker recently linked to a Wall Street Journal article about Baby Boomers downsizing. The story seemed to be aimed at upscale readers whose biggest downsizing headache is selling off their art collections.

On the other end of the scale is this blog post at This Simple Balance8 Tips for Decluttering on a Low Income (from a mom who's been there). This writer points out the difficulty of asking "Does this bring joy?" when the bigger concerns are "Is this still functional?" and "What if we can't afford another one?"

Our family lived on one income for a long time, and then on even less as we moved to self-employment. We did go through tight-budget, don't-say-no-to-anything times, especially when the kids were young and seemed to need different-sized shoes and clothes every time we turned around.

And even that, compared to serious poverty in this country and overseas, was really nothing. We still had lots of clutter and overload, partly because we got too good at scrounging, and partly because we figured we would eventually find uses for stored stuff. (Often we did.) We were also holding on to many childhood and family items.

So are minimalism and decluttering only options for those who don't have to get anxious about living with less, or about giving away possibly useful things?

I agree with This Simple Balance that some minimalist maxims and strategies work better for those who have more choices. But everybody needs a little of what Amy Dacyczyn calls "margin": clear spaces around things and events, so that we appreciate them properly.  And we may actually benefit when we use our imaginations to repurpose things, or our generosity to share them.

Many of us have stories of our children, or ourselves as children, cherishing one toy, or improvising playthings. When our oldest was a toddler, she used a kitchen chair as her toy stove, with a few yard-saled toy pots. A few years later, we found a large plastic "play kitchen" on Kijiji for her younger sister. Yes, they played with it, but it was an eyesore in the room, and it was always a mess. Then there was even more stress when they outgrew the thing and we suggested passing it on. That would never have happened with a kitchen chair, right?

We also need to claim the right to say "enough," no matter what our income. Someday, sooner or later, the whole economy could change so that we can no longer easily access consumer goods. We might be trading chicken eggs for plumbing work, and making over old clothes because we can't get new ones.  But even then, we have the right to live with, use, and enjoy just enough, and to say no to whatever multiplicity we're stepping on and tripping over. We should feel free to be That Family or That Person, the ones who always sing the same songs, play the same card game after meals, or stop at the same deli on weekends. Maybe your grandchildren will remember your one and only cookie recipe, or your beat-up hat. Call those things quirks, call them traditions, call them your signature item; but don't call them bad things. The author of Affluenza says that if we were a truly materialist (vs. consumerist) culture, we would resist buying new old couches and coats, because we're so fond of the ones we have.

For a few of us, choosing to live with less may start with trimming down the artwork. For others, it's cleaning out the basement once and for all. But the key seems to be, not idolizing, but learning to cherish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

An Infrequent Traveller, Part Four: Sort of a 10 x 10 Challenge

In a 10 x 10 Challenge, you're supposed to have only ten clothing items for ten days. But The Vivienne Files website sometimes does a mini-wardrobe called Whatever's Clean 13. That's what this is, except that I have only twelve items. If I could fit in a thirteenth, and if it was going to be cold at all, I'd take a lightweight pullover sweater. But it is not likely to be cold on this trip, unless I get into arctic-level air conditioning. Well, maybe the pullover's not such a bad idea.

(Almost all the clothes came from the thrift store.)

Clothing items:

Grey cardigan (for cold airplanes)
Raspberry button--up shirt

Blue linen t-shirt
Violet cotton t-shirt
White t-shirt with silver dots
White lace top (the two white tops can be worn together)
Long navy t-shirt
Long pink tank top

Grey jeans
Navy cropped pants
Navy shorts
Navy print maxi dress, worn as skirt



1. Grey cardigan, grey jeans, blue t-shirt
2. Navy shorts, blue t-shirt, scarf
3. Navy shorts (or cropped pants), violet t-shirt, necklace, hat
4. Navy print dress/skirt, violet t-shirt, necklaces
5. Navy print dress/skirt, white tops, necklaces
6. Navy cropped pants, white tops, hat, scarf
7. Navy cropped pants, navy t-shirt, raspberry shirt
8. Navy shorts, navy t-shirt, raspberry shirt
9. Navy cropped pants (or shorts), white t-shirt, circle scarf worn as shawl

10. (No photo) Navy pants, blue t-shirt
11. (No photo) Bonus outfits: any top plus grey jeans

(That's more outfits than days than I'm gone, but that's fine.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

An Infrequent Traveller, Part Three: I bought a suitcase

Things turned out totally different from the way I expected, so this is a totally different post than the one I first planned. 

I messed around a bit yesterday, stuffing things in and pulling them out of backpacks and shoulder bags. The circumstances of this holiday are such that I will probably be living out of those bags (vs. unpacking).  I have made a similar trip with just a shoulder bag and a purse, but that time I was counting on drawer and closet space, so I could cram everything supertight. So my problem amounted to this: I could get everything in, but could I get it all comfortably out, and in and out and in and out?

I went with Mr. Fixit to the usual Monday night Cruise Night, which (if you don't know) is also my chance to check out the Salvation Army thrift store. I headed for the luggage corner, and they had two nice carry-on bags for the equivalent of US$10. The bags were the same except for colour, so I picked the red one.
I feel like I have finally joined this century. I too can now pull out a handle and wheel my bag around.

And everything fits.
As a personal item, I am going back and forth between the satchel and backpack (see previous posts). Or the freebie law bag, because, pretty as the satchel is, it doesn't have a shoulder strap. The backpack...I'm worried that it might not be counted as an okay personal item (vs. baggage). Well, I still have a couple of days to figure it out.

Monday, July 09, 2018

An Infrequent Traveller, Part Two: What to pack it in

Some infrequent travellers have proper suitcases stored away. I don't, so when I do make a trip somewhere, I have to haul out the possibilities and try to remember how much I managed to get in them last time. 

 On this trip I am limited to one carry-on bag and one personal item.
The backpack, the heavy shoulder bag, or the nylon quick-business-trip deal? (Two of them are freebies from relatives.) I have an older weekend bag, but when it's packed it just barely fits the maximum size for carry-on, and it gets stuck in overhead compartments, not good. So it's a choice of these three, or (at worst) thrifting a carry-on suitcase when I'm volunteering tomorrow.
The new tote/purse or the old one? 
Makeup bags, grocery bags, Ziploc bags, laundry bags?

Here are the necessaries, more or less. (There are a few things I can't show in public.)
10 items of clothing (the rest I'll be wearing)
Sunglasses, tissues, makeup, pillowcase, Daytimer, reading material (could be left at home), two scarves (or maybe just one)
Toiletries, snacks, vitamins, towel, handy magnifying glass, gum to stop ear popping
Hat, extra shoes (could be left at home if absolutely necessary), brush, water bottle, and socks I use for slippers

So here is the suspense story: will it all go in? (And in what?) Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

An Infrequent Traveller, Part One: How to get a big hat in a small backpack

Oh, the things you can learn on You-Tube. "How do you pack a sun hat?"

Here's mine.
I used a rubber band to secure it.
I will be posting more "tips from an infrequent traveller" this week.

Friday, July 06, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter has a very quiet week

It was not a week for much finding or choosing. The weather was hot, and I was more interested in finishing a term paper than I was in accumulating anything else to take care of, launder, or read. I did bring home one tank top, one pair of pajama pants, and two books.
The Benedict Option, and This is not a Book: Adventures in Popular Philosophy.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter, channeling Charlotte Mason today

For a very small expenditure today, I thrifted four fun things:
Stuff to do to make your living space more interesting.
A purse/satchel that is going on holiday with me. It needed some serious mending around an inside pocket, but that's fixed now.
Two books of photos about the Lake District. (No, I'm not going that far.) One is old, and the other is a Dover reprint. 
Here's the map on the back of the Lovely Lakeland book. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter makes up for a dud

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about thrifting a pink rayon t-shirt that almost immediately stretched out of shape. Boo, cheap rayon.

Monday night's Cruise Night thrift-stop uncovered a replacement t-shirt, in violet, all cotton, a big improvement. Absolute honesty here: I found a couple of tiny holes in it after I got it home, which is maybe why someone let it go. But as long as they don't get bigger, I'm not going to mess with them.
I missed my usual Tuesday thrift shift this week, but I will be there tomorrow. But I can't think of anything else I need to look for intentionally right now, so it might be a no-shop morning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Quote for the day: Memory demands so much

"Memory demands so much, It wants every fiber
told and retold.
                             It gives and gives
but for a price, making you
risk drudgery, lapse
into document, treacheries
of glaring noon and a slow march...

"Take me flying before
you vanish, leaf, before
I have time to remember you,
intent instead on being
in the midst of that flight,
of those unforseeable words."

~~ Denise Levertov, from "Memory demands so much"

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: Scarves are a good place to make mistakes

Part one

There are some things that are hard to do in a thrift store dressing room. Judging colours accurately is one of them.

But the good thing about thrifted scarves is that they're cheap enough to take home and judge in better lighting. That's what I did this week: bought three scarves for a dollar apiece, and a fourth for four dollars (prices vary), just to play around with colours.

Two of them are just...okay, and I probably won't keep them.  The purple pashmina-type is a very muted version of another scarf I have (see the second photo, old scarf on left, new scarf on right), and it demonstrated something I really knew already but was ignoring: very muted is not so good on me. Too faded.
The blue scarf (in the first photo) wasn't a great choice either. It looked like it would work, but it had too much pale blue in it; it reminded me of those ugly robes you put on at the doctor's. Plus it felt like polyester. So far: a two-dollar reminder to trust my own instincts. 

Part two

The third scarf was a quick pick to match a deep red sweater I wanted to try on. It starts out blue-red, and fades to pink. Weird, I know.
And the red sweater? OK, nothing unusual.
But the scarf with the sweater: it works. Wear pink earrings, be a rebel.

Part three

This is the sort of scarf that thrifters underestimate: a circle scarf in white and shades of blue, from light through navy.

Another look at it...
The thing about circle scarves is that they're just a rectangle of fabric, seamed up. (Or cut without a seam.) There's usually a lot of fabric in them!
Enough to wear as a shawl/poncho.
This was definitely the best of the four! Favourite colours, favourite style. It is going on holiday with me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Intentional Thrifter: Not a wet t-shirt event

I thrifted some summer t-shirts earlier in the year, and I have been pretty happy so far with happy that I've moved on to looking mostly for fall clothes (leggings, a sweater). Recently, though, I found two more shirts that I liked. I bought them  (intentionally) to fill a clothes gap for a planned few days away later this summer.

The blue shirt is linen, except for the pocket and the bottom bit. Linen t-shirts seem very luxurious to me (yay thrift stores). Until a few years ago, I had no idea that t-shirts came in anything except cotton, polyester, and cotton-polyester, which pretty much tells you what kind of stores I've shopped at. I still don't understand how "napkin fabric" can take on t-shirt qualities, but somebody out there obviously knows how to do it.
The pink shirt is rayon, so I don't expect it to be as durable as the linen one. I chose it for the colour, the interesting stitching, and the fact that it's lightweight and layerable. The front v-neck is deep, meant to be worn over a tank top, or a swimsuit.
If you're wondering about the variations in colour, I took the photos soon after I hand-washed the shirts, and they were still damp. Just pretend I've been swimming. HARRUMPH update: after that first washing, the rayon t-shirt stretched more than I expected or wanted. Sigh.

Besides the two t-shirts (and the leggings and the sweater), I also thrifted some multi-coloured double knitting yarn. The thrift store price was $8 for the bag of four balls, which does not sound like that great a deal, but it's nice yarn, just what I wanted for a fun summer crocheting project, and less than I would have paid for either the yarn or the completed project at a retail store. 
Now I have something to do while we're watching Deep Space Nine.