Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Posts tagged “packing

Cooking Up Something Good

Tasty victuals and critical productivity tools...

Today was the first day in weeks I’ve been able to take a deep breath and fully exhale. We had no plans except those of our own choosing, and no schedule to keep except to get a run in before dark. We slept a little later than usual, huddled under the covers in the guest room. (In a story too long and boring to tell here, we sold the bed we’ve been sleeping in at the yard sale last weekend, and we’re keeping the heat off so we don’t have to pay for another oil delivery before we sell the house next week. It’s really a circus of the absurd around here.) Once we finally rallied downstairs, we cooked up a delicious breakfast of lentil hash and eggs scrambled with sweet onions and cheese. We sipped cups of coffee and read the news and paid bills. We relished the return to quiet normalcy, to a day when we did not have strangers or appraisers or buyers pushing their agendas on us. We drove to Portsmouth to procure boxes and tape for packing, grab a few fresh veggies at the grocery store, and pick up a replacement screen canopy for our upcoming camping trip to Acadia National Park. We were back by early afternoon and each headed out for a run. Distance didn’t matter today; just getting out there mattered. Our next race is in Virginia on Memorial Day weekend, so we have plenty of time to train. What we needed today were fresh air and clear minds, and we found both. We capped the day with a delicious dinner collaboration, one so tasty that it will probably make its detailed way to my food and fitness blog soon. The short version: spicy apple tofu roasted over fresh asparagus and paired with sweet potato fries and a chipotle-lime aoili. Pick a word: delicious, fantastic, balanced, amazing. They all apply to dinner, and they apply to the rest of the day as well. I hope your Monday was as balanced as ours, but if not, there’s always hope for tomorrow. -J

The Art of Losing

Before and after the garage sale...

We’ve been losing a lot of things lately: weight, earrings, and the lottery, among others.  We’ve even been losing track of time, spending hours in a dusty basement sorting through boxes of stuff we’ve been lugging around for years.  Last weekend, we took a break from purging to attend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem.  This weekend, we held our first (and only!) yard sale to rid ourselves of extraneous possessions.  How are all of these events related?

One of the sessions at the festival featured a reading of a favorite poem we hadn’t heard or read in a while.  The poem is “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, and the opening stanza goes like this:

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Bishop goes on to suggest that we should all “practice losing farther, losing faster”…and that seems to be the theme of our April this year.  We started the month staring down a houseful of stuff, wondering how we would decide what to keep when we moved into our next  place…a much smaller, cooler, easier to handle space, by design.  Sometimes those keep-or-ditch decisions were easy, but often they were difficult, getting caught up in memories and emotions and absurd hangups on financial value or sunk costs.

But as the month progressed, we seemed to get better at losing.  Every box we touched became easier to go through, every letter we read became easier to recycle, and every possession we evaluated became easier to part with.  We sent hundreds of items home with new owners yesterday, with the intent that their useful lives be extended in someone else’s  care.  We then took most of the remaining items to a local non-profit with the same outcome in mind.  A handful of leftovers wait patiently in our garage to meet their fate at our town’s recycling center.

It turns out that the art of losing is difficult to begin, but with a little practice (Write it!) it isn’t hard to master. –J&M

In honor of the festival and national poetry month, we suggest you check out Bishop’s entire poem, available on the Poetry Foundation’s website here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176996

Spring Cleaning

It’s possible—strike that…it’s a fact—that being home is more frenzied than being on the road.  In the two weeks since we returned from Key West, we’ve had zero plans on exactly one day—and that one day was spent sorting through the contents of our kitchen cabinets.  In that same period of time, we’ve managed to put up just four blog posts.  Not because we haven’t had much to say, but because we’ve been distracted and exhausted.  So what’s been keeping us so busy?  Where to begin?  We’ve gone under agreement to sell our house, celebrated holidays and family birthdays, run a half marathon, babysat for my niece, gone to concerts, hung out with friends from near and far, played charity trivia, and found a new place to live.  The new place won’t be ready until July, so we’ve also been working out arrangements for two months of temporary living…which for us will be a combination of campgrounds, friends’ homes, and an occasional hotel.  Whatever isn’t going in our car for those two months is going in storage, so we’re spending a fair amount of time sorting through things and being tough about what we really need on a daily basis.  And if things don’t make that cut, we’re deciding whether they have a place in our lives at all.  It’s a good exercise to go through, and our test trip a few weeks ago helped clarify our requirements.  This time, we’ll be wandering for six additional weeks, but our gear requirements won’t be much different.  It’s easy to live simply when you’re simply living.  Although the simplification process might seem minimalist, we’re actually taking our own maximalist approach to life these days…in other words, attempting to maximize the utility and value and enjoyment from each object we retain.  That doesn’t always mean the smallest or cheapest items; on the contrary, it often means trading quality for quantity.  It also means being very thoughtful at the point of consumption (i.e., time of purchase) to ensure any new items won’t end up in a donation pile the next time we move.  It’s rather depressing to sort items for a garage sale and realize how many things should have never entered our lives in the first place…how many dishes or vases or electronics or souvenirs should have never been purchased.  And it’s not just the wasted money that’s depressing.  It’s the wasted materials and resources along the way.  No one needs those things, and certainly not that many things.  More often than not, things won’t make you happy.  They’ll suffocate you and depress you and clog your closets and drain your bank accounts.  If you haven’t already done so, stop watching commercials on TV, stop looking through catalogs, and stop buying things you don’t need.  You’ll be happier and better off for it, and you’ll have fewer things to sort through next time you move. -J