I love the swirl and swing

“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

I adore writing letters. I love the drag of the pen against paper, and how it brings me fully and completely into the moment. The connection that opens with the simple act of writing the date in the upper righthand corner of a piece of paper, followed by “Dear ____” is invaluable. I get immersed in the comfort and familiarity of the act, envisioning the person I’m writing to. It’s a quiet meditation on love and friendship, with the added bonus of having an excuse to buy gorgeous paper, indulgent pens, and postage stamps.

I would like to write more letters, and I would like to find more people to exchange letters with. The letters don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be done. (Perfection is my nemesis. It’s constantly trying to strangle my work.) If the letters contain a surprise tea packet, all the better.

Letters smell and feel of the hands that touched them, as if the warmth of being held has only just left the paper. There’s something special about the quiet moment before opening an envelope. It’s like the anticipatory pause right before a first kiss.

This last year I spent several months clearing out my home. (I recommend The Minimalists and Unfuck Your Habitat for guidance and motivation.) And then I just fucking went for it, and got rid of everything that wouldn’t fit in two cars, and moved to a completely different state.

The more possessions I found new homes for, the more time I had to spend with friends. It’s opened up space in my life so that I can spend some time doing what I love, and that’s just what I’m going to do with it.

So far this year, I’ve not missed mailing a single birthday card to friends or immediate family. The result has been renewed friendships, and renewed connections. I want to end this year by starting a project to get more letters to people who love them. I want to write more letters, and specifically, more love letters. I want the swirl and swing, and definitely, definitely the tangle.

Do you still write letters? What’s your favorite part about sending or receiving them?

**This was previously posted on my other blog. I’m in the process of combining blogs. So if you feel a little déjà vu, don’t be alarmed.**

Wicked Simplifying

We made the move to Eugene on October 28th, so not quite two weeks ago. We moved with only what would fit in our two cars, and my car was filled with nothing but pets. We did some wicked simplifying. The Minimalists would be proud.

blanket on the floor

Simple first night in the new place, courtesy of my husband (who clearly loves me) running to Walgreens for bedding. I was way too delirious to be trusted to drive, after driving 9 hours to get here.

The kitties (Maggie, Oswald, and Jayne) and our teacup chupacabra (Hank) made the trip without a hitch. Even the Betta, Steve, pulled through. He wasn’t stressed at all – just very, very angry. That’s Bettas for you. Everyone adjusted to their new home surprisingly quickly. We’re in a two bedroom, one bath, 800 square foot apartment. Hank loves the on-site dog park, and the kitties love the balcony. I love that we’re finally in a home that’s the right size for two adults and a menagerie. The house we lived in prior to this was nearly 2,000 square feet, which felt ridiculously huge for two people.

oven jayne cobb

Jayne adjusted quickly.

I’ll be honest, I was unprepared for the home sickness that walloped me between the eyes about halfway through our trip here. The house we moved out of will have been the last place I’ll ever have lived with my Shivers kitty, who I adopted in 1997 or so. She passed in 2011. It’s painful to lose that connection with her.

Even more than that, I miss my stepson. My husband, left on the 7th to go back to Boise to visit him. We’re not big on being the parents who promise to visit and then never do, or only do so twice a year. We plan on being back in Boise for one week out of every month. We text/call/email him almost daily. I missed out on this visit to Boise, because we don’t have a petsitter established yet. I’ll see my boy over Thanksgiving, though. I’m looking forward to that.

I’m completely smitten with Eugene. We found a friendly little coffeeshop called “Vectors.” On our second visit the owner greeted both of us by name. It’s only a couple of blocks from home. Better yet, they have patio seating so that our Hank can go with us. Vectors also has a letter writing table, with supplies. How neat is that?

I love the neighborhood shops. We’re not even downtown, and there are a couple of grocery stores and a library within walking distance. You would not believe how nice their bus system is, too. They’re big on public transit and biking/walking.

And then there are the sunrises. Sunrise over Eugene is a clear, pale gold touched with delicate pinks. Not a hint of orange to be seen. The clouds are impossibly fluffy. I suspect they’ve been photoshopped.

We made friends with our downstairs neighbor. She’s an ex-marine, and an MP. She’s taking classes to go into civilian law enforcement. She has a gigantic black german shepherd with little silver freckles on his head (silver sable?), and a sort of brown merle on his feet. He was insanely intimidating at first, but after she introduced us he turned into a big floppy puppy.

There’s a frog outside that seems to be constantly creaking. It doesn’t really sound like croaking – more like a squeaky door opening just an inch over and over. I hear him every time I open the balcony window. First I thought it was a bird, but it’s definitely a frog. Having only experienced life in aridity, having an ever-present frog is weird. I’m in love.

We caught up with two of Travis’s friends who live here in Eugene. One of them is unapologetically quirky. She’s an accountant and a roller derby girl, and on weekends she hosts a Dungeons and Dragons group. I adore her already.

Have you been out here? Everyone told me how much I’d hate the rain, but so far it’s been refreshing. It washes the sky and renews everything, top to bottom. I haven’t even been using an umbrella, even though that means crazy hair. So. Much. Frizz.

Sending love and impossible sunrises,

And have I mentioned there are a ton of coffee choices here? Deadly.

wandering goat coffee

Unfuck my office

Honestly, I need to tackle my office. I’m done with not being able to find a pen. That’s right. It’s time to unfuck my office.

Following the tips of Unfuck Your Habitat, I worked for 20 minutes, and rested for 10. Rinse and repeat. I also followed their suggestion to take before and after photos, so I can see the progress more easily.




And now for the big reveal.


unfucked office


There we go. Imperfect, but as The Nester says, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Oh, and I did this.


This is my version of an “inspiration wire,” which I read about in The Handmade Marketplace, by Kari Chapin. I highly recommend both the book and the technique.

At first my plan was to stretch black ribbon between silver O-rings, then get tiny clothespins to paint either eggplant or crimson, and hang pretty squares of paper. Then I decided that was merely a clever form of procrastination. So I used ribbon, index cards cut in half, and safety pins, all of which I already had in my office. I’m using my inspiration ribbon partly as a to-do, and partly as creative inspiration/a place to hang ideas to I want to try.


One more photo, because I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Of course, all this organizing and decluttering is going to make packing up my office much easier. We plan to be on the road to our new home in Oregon around the 28th.


I desperately want to lay back down and spend too much of the day in an asleep/not asleep depression fugue.

I have work to do. I have errands to run. I have things that have to get done.

If I don’t leave the house RIGHT NOW I’m going to go lay back down, anyway.

OK. Leaving.

To be continued.

Taking a break while I decide what my blog wants to be when it grows up, or whether it’s served out its purpose, and it’s time for me to retire it.

I wish everyone well. You know I love you.

Things I didn’t realize

Today was an episode of “Things I didn’t realize I had.” Yes, this is the entire girl’s basketball team for our school (the only school in town), when I was a kid. The redhead on the right in the oval is me, of course. I ran across three of these photos sets for different years, covered in a layer of dust. I scanned them, and am now tossing them.

Cascade Idaho 1990 basketball

I also found a new home for this grill. Thanks, Craigslist!

grilling bacon

So, my husband grilled bacon on this, once. The resulting wall of flame and ocean of grease resulted in it no longer being used.

So, here’s something to think about. I didn’t even know I had most of these items. Some of them have been packed in boxes for nearly 20 years. Let me digress (I promise to come back to this). My husband and I went in for couples counseling. We found out so much about our triggers, and the emotional baggage we both labor under. When we have disagreements, we’re not even disagreeing about the subject at hand. Instead, we’re reacting to things that happened to us 20, 25, 30 years ago. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous to hold each other accountable for abuse that happened long before we’d ever met. We’ve been hauling it around without even knowing it. Just having this pointed out to us by a third party has helped our relationship more than I’d have thought possible. We’re more patient with each other, now.

I think there’s something to be said for the symbolic act of going through old boxes and disposing of items that no longer have any meaning. Memories that don’t support my goals and the life I’m now living. Items I didn’t even realize I was carrying from home to home. Far beyond the practical and literal decluttering I’ve been doing, I’m coming to realize what my unexamined boxes mean. The whole thing has been eye opening.

Disposed of, but not photographed:
* Huge pile of brand new bags I used to use for craft shows for buyers to carry things in.
* Various old letters
* Ribbon organizer
* Student of the year plaque
* Graduation board/hat with tassel/whatever it’s called

Total items decluttered this month: 91

I’m playing a decluttering game in June, courtesy of The Minimalists. If you’d like to play along or recommend any resources, I’d love to hear from you!

Decluttering odds and ends, day 12

Time to declutter some odds and ends. That thar is MS Office 2003. Buh-bye. The white and brown bowl-shaped thing is a starched, crocheted plant pot that my grandma made. It can’t be washed, dusted, or cleaned in any way. Also shown: packet of photos from 1993, a magazine on keeping chickens, two old mugs, an old calendar, a Strawberry Shortcake cup, and two plastic mugs with crayon drawings inside them that child-me drew. I think that’s a fair haul to part with, for the day.

crochet flower pot

Total items decluttered this month: 78

I’m playing a decluttering game in June, courtesy of The Minimalists. If you’d like to play along or recommend any resources, I’d love to hear from you!

Decluttering the paper tiger

I’m turning loose a HUGE pile of letters and old paperwork. If it’s compostable, it’s going in my compost pile. Otherwise it’s heading to the recycle bin or the shredder.


Total items decluttered this month: 66

I’m playing a decluttering game in June, courtesy of The Minimalists. If you’d like to play along or recommend any resources, I’d love to hear from you!