Minimalism, Old Diary

Shredding Desperately To Stay Downsized

Keeping resolutions isn’t necessarily related to the New Year. This is my annual tax shredding season and it comes with a new Prime Directive:

Stay Downsized, While Waiting to Sell the House

Paper Shredder

One topic I’ve heard very little about from RV’ing bloggers is how they handle the paper trail.  After meeting with my new insurance agent and my old banker last week this subject has taken on a new sense of purpose.

The insurance agent doesn’t keep copies of applications! (for that matter you don’t even SIGN applications anymore!!!!)  That is SO not my way of thinking.  But it makes sense. With so much being done online paper copies create a needless waste of resources.

enter key

I stopped at the bank to make some changes in our depository agreement and there too:  no paper copies except those physically handed to the depositor for their perusal before hitting the big Enter Key.  Confidentiality, you know. And security.

Before we downsized I had the equivalent of 6 – 4 drawer filing cabinets.  (4 – 4 drawers, 1 2 drawer lateral which is the same size as a 4 drawer laid on its side, and 2 – 2 drawers)   That’s a lot of paper when they are all pretty much full up!

I had no problem getting rid of all that junk.  The problem arises now; keeping it all gotten rid of!

We’ve been here in Cudahy since mid October.  So that’s a measly 5 months.  In the five months we were on the road last year in Journey we managed to contain the paper-flood by scanning documents we needed to keep and then destroying them.  Since returning to Cudahy I’ve gotten lazy and piled them on the corner of my desk — literally.

Einstein at Work

I’m in good company — I know.  Einstein was a clutter-holic.  A lot of people I know are clutterholics.  I’m a clutterholic too! There’s nothing wrong with being a clutterholic as long as:

  1. you can find what you need
  2. you don’t burn down the house

The Iron Maiden — a torture device

Alas, Journey has no tolerance for clutter.  She refuses to open her walls even 1 cm beyond their design parameters.  She is the iron-maiden of my torture.

And so it is that I spent part of yesterday “Merrily we shred along,
shred along, shred along.
Merrily we shred along
All the live-long day.”

It wasn’t ALL day — but it seemed like it.  And I’m not done yet.  Of course sitting here writing my blog is a good way of delaying the inescapable.  🙂  I guess that’s my way of Jonse -ing (sp?)  Withdrawal is a bitch!

I do wonder what other RV’ers do for document retrieval, or just for tax purposes.  The scanner we carry allows me to turn documents into PDF’s.  Adobe Acrobat allows me to join PDF’s together so when I get newer statement (credit cards and bank) I can accumulate them all in one document if I choose — but it’s that dealing with the mundane that I’m not so good at.

I’ll get the hang of it. It’s not like I’m the only person in the world to struggle with document retention.  I admit that each time I deal with documents I wonder all over if there’s a better  way of handling them.   Which, of course, is really my problem!  I am always in pursuit of a better way.  And sometimes there is no better way.  You just do what you must.

Ok — off to run some errands in the cold.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Journey DL, Minimalism, Old Diary

Oh Dear, and Headlights

It got to me today.  Don’t ask why.  Maybe the weather.  Maybe the cold.  Maybe the waiting.  Maybe the … well, who the heck knows…. Maybe I’m just crackin’ up.

I keep saying that this is my diary, and today’s entry (more than some) is primarily for me:  Moi!,  μου, mnie, мене, minua.


someone else captured that deer in the headlights feeling quite well

Today I’m feeling paralyzed. Kind of “deer in headlights” paralyzed. That’s it in a nutshell.  I am sitting here without tools, without normal household furniture and possessions laying around with no idea how long we’ll be here and no idea whether anything we might do around the house would be of any help in selling it.  If I had the slightest idea that some particular action would move something forward, anything forward, even imperceptible distances I’d jump on it right now.  That’s what I do — I move forward.  I tackle the problem and get it fixed.  But I don’t KNOW the PROBLEM.  I have no idea WHAT to FIX.  Which, to those of you who are eavesdropping on me today you know is to get this house sold.  It’s a great property.  It’s a huge property.  The possibilities are virtually limitless — but we need to find someone with 1.) vision and 2.) money who wants to buy it.

I’ve been putting off doing our taxes  just because I AM feeling paralyzed — Oh, I have time yet; and I have completed my taxes well after this date several times but I’m usually finished by now and halfway to getting my refund by the middle of March.

I have been dawdling around on my insurance decision — that medical insurance change because our COBRA expires at the end of this month.  I had a conversation with an Independent Agent on Friday — (so I am doing things) just not quickly the way I usually would do them.  I think I know what will ultimately happen but I’m awaiting a certificate of credible insurance in the mail.

Every time I start thinking insurance or tax, or whether to remodel anything, or not, or whether to plan future movement — pretty much anything — I just feel like the walls are closing in.  It is so unlike me; but the problem is that movement in almost any direction seems completely wasteful.  The things I could do are all in areas I’ve never been skilled and frankly don’t want to be skilled. It’s transient.  It will pass.  Others have much worse situations to deal with.  They, however, are not me.  And I can’t walk their mile.  I have my own to walk. I’m doing the best I can but I’ll admit to feeling weaker about this circumstance than anything I’ve ever faced in life.  There seems nothing I can do to change anything.  Even if we were to decide to abort our mobility plans — which we have no intent on doing — we still need to get the house sold so that the money can go to other commitments — commitments other people are now depending upon.

I have even been wondering whether some of my frustration relates to the way I have avoided waste.  I have always wanted to be efficient; and I have always avoided doing things that had to be redone. I put off deadlines so that when I was done I could not decide there was a better way of doing the job, or that someone else would say they changed their mind. I avoid repetitious tasks; I love learning, but don’t ask me to do something I learned over and over and over and over — I’d rather learn new things than just keep repeating what I’ve done 1,000 times.  When I drive I usually go the shortest, or the most efficient way.  But I don’t like returning the same way I went out.

Yesterday Peg said something about touching up the woodwork around the bathroom window.  There are two windows up here in the residence that could use some work.  Well, actually they all could but that’s another story for someone who intends to put new  windows into the place in the future.  So, I went to look at the kitchen and bathroom sills.  They need scraping, and heavy sanding.  Then I could paint or stain the lovely old wood  — and they would look freshly painted.


I could just scream

But that’s the rub.  I know that when I look at real estate my eye is always drawn to those things that are freshly done — and I always ask myself — for a house this old, why is that freshly refinished?  What was wrong?

Do other people do that?  I have no idea.  I rarely seem to think the same thoughts that others do.  I just seem to have a different approach to life.  Therefore I never know whether my take on how to appeal to other people’s interests is valid or invalid.

apple splatter

Apple splatter on a wall

So, I could just about scream — but even that wouldn’t accomplish anything.  I’m not even sure it would release all that much energy.  I remember mom telling me the story about one time that dad was really upset about some argument between the two of them.  He left the kitchen and went out side.  He picked up a fallen apple from a tree and threw it against the garage. The apple splattered to smithereens.  Mom decided that if dad could do that to an apple, she’d hate to think what he could do to her if he got angry at HER (he never did), and ever after behaved in such a way as to be a peacemaker, not an agitator.

Kathryn offered us tickets to a local chili cook off.  — sounds nice but the only way to go and enjoy it is to go back to meat eating.  We’ve been working at staying OFF the animal products.  I could have accepted, and we could have gone and noshed all afternoon long — but that’s not where I want to be.

I have a couple image projects to work on but right now I don’t even have the heart to tackle them.  I thought about picking up some more furniture when we were at IKEA but what’s the sense of buying “stuff” that we’ll just have to sell or store when the house finally sells.

Peg suggested that we hire a rental car for a couple weeks allowing her to stay home and me to make a photo trip somewhere — I usually seem to do phototrips in mid-winter.  But, now that we are retired I don’t want to travel without her.  I have gone so many places alone and I’d really prefer going with her. And it’s not warm enough yet to take off in Journey, not that there’s anything wrong with traveling in Journey at this time of year, but because we’d have to pack everything in the school into Journey and then unpack it when we return  — and it’s too early in the year to leave the house unattended.

We clearly will never put ourselves in this kind of limbo again. Accepting an offer to purchase with a home sale contingency did not work out for us. That deal dragged on for 6 months, each extension allowed because we hoped the buyer could get their home sold.  Having bought Journey when we did we also limited our subsequent options.  That one choice further dictated how we could get from here to mobility.  Downsizing was something with which we desperately needed help. The only person we knew with experience in estate sales was leaving the area permanently.  We made the best decisions we could make at the time, and within the time frame we could foresee.  I’m not regretting anything we did; but I would not put myself in the situation to do the same all over again.

temper tantrumI’m recounting these things as my way of reminding myself that I am not a victim.  I made conscious choices at each step of the way and some of the choices did not work out the way we “planned.”  I guess at the moment the subject of planning is not my favorite subject in the world.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Minimalism, Old Diary

Wait and See

The second and third showings are done.  We did our part on Wednesday.  Now we wait to see what the prospective buyers do.

What can I say…

Two long showings — a good thing.  I have given up guessing whether the showing went well, or whether the prospect is a serious buyer, or seriously interested — my “gut” feelings for people seem to be challenged when it comes to buying and selling.  There was a lot of measuring and drawing going on, in addition to copious question asking and note taking.


The rest of the day was OK.  We went back to Royal India for lunch in between showings; there are not many buffets with strong vegetarian choices but this is one, and it’s near the school.

We also went looking for rug binding tape to finish up the rug Peg completed.  That was an exercise in futility. Michael’s stores didn’t have what we wanted.  Hancock Fabric drew a blank as well. Hancock has completely remodeled their store and we could not find a thing.  It’s easy to tell how difficult the economy has been; their product lines are vastly altered. By the time we left the store we needed to get back to the school for the second showing.  We are still searching for a solution.  We might try JoAnn Fabrics — the store right near the school — might have better luck there.

Gas prices have been on a wild roller coaster here.  in the last week they went up $0.50, and then down by $0.10 — it would be nice to know what’s going on.

And at the same time the new congress still hasn’t done anything about the fiscal cliff — looks like all our elected politicians wanted was a paycheck, and not a job.

Oh well…. I gotta go turn off all the lights in the house now.  The last showing is finally over and there are about 25 light switches to hit before I take my shoes off, and put my feet up so I can enjoy a nice glass of wine.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Minimalism, Old Diary

Catch Up Day

computer-repair1I hope to get caught up on a few things today.  Sunday was a quiet day for us; not much accomplished other than working on my MacPro tower.  Still many hours of file moving and sorting to be done, but that’s all boring stuff.

I keep forgetting to call Rand McNally about my RVND7720 about the internal speaker that is wonky.  I’m hoping that it’ll get fixed under the warranty. Of course that probably means a visit to FedEx….


I need to get on the horn and talk to our R/E agent. There are papers to fill out so we can get this thing moving.  And bye the bye, we  discovered two little repairs needing doing that I complete before we start showing again.

By the Way….

Going grocery shopping the afternoon of the Super Bowl is less of a challenge than I expected.  We’ve done that before, but I think we were closer to the start time of the game on the last visit.  This year we showed up about noon and while there weren’t huge numbers of grocery shoppers there were way more MEN doing the shopping than normal.  And a lot more charcoal being bought (In February) than one might expect.  🙂

elementary-showWe skipped most of the Big Game, tuning in for part of the 4th quarter — not so much because we wanted to watch football but because they were running a new episode of Elementary right afterwards.  Turns out right afterwards wasn’t all that early!

I’m amazed at how much this new version of Sherlock has grown on me.  I didn’t care much for the first episode, I watched it mostly to see what Lucy Lui has been up to lately.  For all his idiosyncrasies this new version of Sherlock has something going for him.

The show does have me wondering though.  It seems that the likes of Sherlock and House might be signalling the rise of a new anti-hero — the hero with major character flaws — on a scale that seems to dwarf prior historic examples of fictional characters.  It also makes me wonder why so many entertainment projects involve the re-make of other successful theatrical franchises.  Movies remade three and four times, TV series borrowed from other countries,  series spinoff that imitate others.  Creativity really is hard to find.  There are a lot of schlock-meisters, but not a lot of geniuses. Oh well….

Old Diary

Old Dog New Tricks

mexican food signAs a lifelong Midwesterner with strong Eastern European leanings the idea of spending a lot of time in the South is exciting.  But….


Yeah, there are “but’s” to everything….

And I’m wondering what does a guy who’s eaten stroganoff and goulash and pierogi and pigs in a blanket all his life do when he’s surrounded by corn tortillas, beans, menudo and cabrito?  I’ve been pondering this for some time now.

Historically we don’t eat a lot of rice. We do eat rice, but we eat a lot more pasta than rice.  We do eat beans, but more commonly it’s baked beans, or white bean soup,  not refried beans, or pintos or black beans.

I love bread, but when I say that it means I love leavened bread.  When I say bread I’m never thinking of tortillas.  Just saying.

Barbacoa de borregoI use a lot of cayenne and peppers; I don’t use jalapeños or serranos.  I like them well enough, and I like heat in my food — but my recipe repertoire simply never included them.

I’ve been wondering what I should start cooking to “prepare” my new recipe book for retirement in the S.W. It’s a quandry.  We have a significant Hispanic population in Milwaukee, and several very nice Hispanic grocery outlets — but when I walk the aisles I’m a bit at a loss about what to try.  I love the wider variety of produce and access to some of the offal that is harder to find in mainstream Midwestern groceries. But walking the aisles I draw a blank when I think about what I should buy for the next week’s menu.


I’ll figure this out.  I’m sure I will.  We should probably visit a lot more Mexican restaurants ( snicker – sounds like a good excuse to eat out a lot, doesn’t it? ).  That way we’ll expand our repertoire of tastes and maybe even learn some recipes.  Kathryn (our daughter) has found a place here in town that she really likes, Guanajuato. She thinks it’s authentic and tasty.  We have yet to make it to the place to find out.



Family, Minimalism, Old Diary

What the Heck Have I Done?

Ever look back on a day and wonder just that?

I hardly got out of my desk chair yesterday.  I suddenly realized that my recent attempt to unify my keywording across 4 image collections and thousands and thousands of images could be simplified by temporarily bringing all four catalogs together into one and then re-separating them.  I also realized just how inconsistent I can be; and once again I reinforced my dislike of categories.

But what’s a fella to do.  If you wanna find something you have to have some organization.  Goodness knows that expecting this lad to find something based upon year and month is an exercise in futility.  Heck — I can’t place days and months in my curent life.  Of course there’s nothing new about that.  I have always had a tenuous grasp on time.

When my parents were alive and we all lived in the same apartment building (different apartments)  dad would sometimes come over to my office asking for help for some task or another and I’d blithely say, “Give me 5 or 10 minutes, and I’ll be right with you.”  On many occasions he’d return an hour, or two hours, or even as long as four hours later to say, “I thought you were going to help.” And in my mind I was still well within my 5 or 10 minutes. When I get to concentrating time ceases to exist.  That other people continue counting time at such junctures simply confounds me.

And so it is that I worked all day, slept for 4 hours, got up and worked another 3 hours in the middle of the night and then went back to sleep for 3 more hours.  I’d like to think that I was just eager to get back to my project.  Truth be told I’ve been waking because of nightmares — something that has rarely happened to me ever — but I guess the tedium waiting on the school is just wearing on me.  I can’t think of anything ELSE I’m stressed about, so I just mark it up to that.

baking cookiesOn a positive note, Kathryn and Mel come over tomorrow to bake Christmas Cookies.  A yearly tradition that may end this year; but then we said that last year anticipating a quick sale of the house.  So, who knows.

But, we are all floured and buttered and sugared up, awaiting the arrival of our co-cooks.  It’ll be fun.  I suppose there’s a radio station that is already playing carols?  Or don’t they do that any more.  Wait…. do we have a radio we can listen to?  Hmmm… Maybe UVERSE has a music channel dedicated to Christmas music.  I’ll have to check.

Family, Old Diary


My Take on Thanksgiving

You don’t have to pat yourself on the back and tell everyone how thankful you are. If you really are thankful your behavior all year long will speak louder than your words ever will.  I guess I’m a little bit tired of the many ways in which the U.S. has become self-indulgent.  If we are thankful it shows in our every action.  If we are just doing what everyone around us is doing — that too will show.

I guess for me, Thanksgiving Day has become a sort of notch on the wall.  A tallying up of sums.

Here it is 2012, coming up to the end of it at that.


Peg and I have completed a year in retirement.  Frankly, I never thought I’d get here.  With my odd work history we kind of thought that we might just end up working till we couldn’t work anymore.  But change happens and we have had a wonderful year together. Sure, we’ve had our frustrations about the house, but it’s been a pretty amazing year what with the downsizing, 4 months on the road, and everything else that’s happened.

44 Years Together

In a few more weeks we will have completed 44 years of married life together. Another milestone that I never thought much about approaching.  I have always been happy with this moment, and this day, and this experience.  I don’t spend much time anticipating anniversaries. But as the end of our 44th year approaches (Dec. 21) we still love each other and we still ENJOY each other.  In my eyes, that’s pretty wonderful.  With all the people I hear about who are getting divorced or splitting up before they even GOT married… well, it’s a lot to be thankful for.  I hope I show Peggy every day how happy I am to be married to her.

All my life I have been waiting for the time when Peg and I could spend our lives — day in and day out — together.  All through the working years we had ideas about how we could quit whatever job we had and do something together.  We never found the right thing to “do.” then.  But we sure are finding it now.  In my eyes, it’s pretty great to spend 44 years with someone and still want to spend all your time with them.


We have a wonderful daughter, and a pretty great son-in-law, and a darling grand daughter.  We try to show them regularly that we love them, and that we are thankful for them. I’m sure they know that.

Thanksgiving Day will see the family all gathered here at the school.  We’ll eat too much and I hope laugh too much.  We’ll commiserate about the real estate situation, but we’ll have even more than that to look forward to.  So, whatever our hearts may be longing for wont hold a candle to those things that have been in our quiver of joys.  (how’s that for mixed metaphors?)

I have no idea where we’ll be next Thanksgiving.  Assuming we’re all still alive.  But this moment in time is a pretty great place to be.

Old Diary, RV Living

Curtains, Curtains, Everywhere…

As is often the case, just when you think you’re done with something, a new project crops up.  Thus it is with life on Ramsey Avenue.

For six years we have lived with sort of crummy looking curtains in the lower East room, mostly because we don’t use that room very much.  In the lower West room we put 2″ slat blinds because I used that space as a studio from time to time.  But the East room just sort of sat there.

But Peg wants to do “something” about the crummy drapes…

Nieither of us was all that ambitious this morning and in fact I’m not sure if Peg even got fully alert until lunch time.  But the morning was all about “What to do about drapes?”  In the grand scheme of things I find this whole fix-the-house-up-for-the-next-buyer concept to be rather wasteful and on some levels even insulting.  Heck — WE bought the house in much worse shape than it’s in now.  Why are we putting all this effort into a grand building that another owner is going to use very differently than we used it?  Our idea of decorating may be horrible to them.  Or their idea of decorating may be horrible to us.  I’m not good at selling and buying — and some of the psychology of sales completely eludes me.  But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t get my nose out of joint.  If we lived with it for 6 yrs why are we fixing it up for someone who may turn around and trash all the effort we just put into the building.  I dont know — that’s why we hired a real estate agent.  I just don’t get it.

But then…. we saw a diamond in the rough when we saw this building.  I’m just hoping we find someone else with a sense of the future and a good imagination.

Anyway… we have had this basement window conversation before and we have looked at curtains and drapes before.  Never have we found anything that appealed to either or both of us. Over the last few days we’ve made a couple scouting trips: Anna’s Linens, Walmart, Kohls, and finally today Target.  Finally we found a solution we both liked and we now have our basement curtains.  We need to do some sewing.  We bought longer panels and Peg will cut them in half for the shorter windows, then put in rod-pockets and hems.  That means we have to borrow Melanie’s sewing machine.

Oh, this whole downsizing mess….. Stuff we had for 40 years and knew how to use we no longer have and are re-learning all sorts of things.  But, at least we live in a safe country, with enough food on the table (too much even), and our health with our family nearby.

And that, my friends is my rant for today.  TTYL,