Describing what they face as the familiar clutter, mess, chaos, disarray, congestion, roadblocks, or the unique paper salad (one of my all-time favorites) or landscape of piles is a state of disorder that is real for and relative to each and every client I meet.
One person’s chaos is another person’s bliss and vice versa. I will never forget a phone call from a woman who confided that photographs of super tidy kitchen drawers made her extremely uneasy. She was most comfortable with a degree of “stuffedness” that would frustrate or overwhelm someone else.
I appreciate the diversity of and challenges for every person who invites me to enter their home, the bravery it takes to call for help, the transformations that happen within and around them. Everyone has muscles to stretch and new things to experience.
So it will come as little surprise I was filled with intrigue when I was invited to be the guest lecturer for an experimental weekend workshop titled “Chaos to Clarity: Finding Order in a Disorganized World,” at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (a.k.a. the d.school). The invitation also included an offer to attend and participate in any or all of the workshop. Knowing this was a rare opportunity, I opted for the latter. Continue reading
I couldn’t believe it either. I had no idea a cat could eat a blog post. But she did. I hope you realize this is possible only at that delicate intersection where the cyberworld meets the analog world and where the waiting-in-a-pile-on-my-desk-to-be-filed paper world meets the filed paper world.
I’m terribly allergic to cats, so I cannot take credit for having a feline who enjoys some 100% recycled post-consumer paper content in her life. If I could claim to have any influence on a cat, I suppose that introducing it to sustainable paper would be an excellent, albeit unusual, place to start.
Obviously, Stretchy the cat had good taste. She chose the pages that were about the magnificent Christmas shoe tree that stands on of her back porch this time of year.
Stretchy lived downstairs and was one of my landlady’s two kooky felines. (All cats are kooky, right?) I learned that Stretchy liked eating paper during the same conversation in which said landlady asked me for a new printout of the blog post for her archive. I never thought to ask how selective she was and if bank statements, greeting cards, or gas bills were ever victims of her nibbling ways. Did she liked the taste of photographs or the glue of postage stamps, too? Maybe she had a thing for little shoes, and she pined (tee hee) for the return of the holidays when the collection would come out for her to admire. Maybe she tried on the shoes when no one was looking to see what all the fuss was about.
The little shoes are epic and their numbers vast. When Sven and I were in Germany this fall, we brought home what we thought would be a nice addition to the holiday collection. A kitchenware vendor at the Volksfest in his hometown managed to find a little shoe cookie cutter in his collection of small useful objects. We delivered the shoe, a little high heeled number upon our return, and have since found out that it was put to use – for making holiday cookies! Obviously, it was a very multi-functional gift filled with lots of creative potential. I wonder if it may eventually hang out with its footwear friends.
Wishing you a festive and delicious solstice and holiday season.
This post is dedicated to Stretchy Gordon.
Organizing can be this way: You start with a desire to make something better and more efficient. You get started on that single task, but then you find that one thing leads to another, and suddenly you’re going on an unexpected journey around your home or office. Sound familiar?
The interconnectedness of the seemingly disparate parts that make up workable and efficient systems is among the many features I love about the organizing process. It takes you places, it helps you discover things, and it lets you improvise along the way. There are no “rights” or “wrongs” but what works for you, the individual. The process can be overwhelming and a complete diversion that ends in a larger sense of disarray than you could ever have imagined. I’ve been there. Who knew that giving laundry day a lift would provide one such voyage. Continue reading
It may come as a refreshing surprise to learn that I am not immune to impulsive purchases. The most common are farmer-generated and occur at outdoor markets year-round (at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area). Visually inspiring and delicious, veggies and fruits often lead to impromptu desires. That’s me (right) communing with a bundle of scapes at a friend’s farm stand at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market in Seattle last month. The temptation was strong, but I resisted them despite the lure of their curls!
But here’s a first for me: while leaving the Mission Community Market last night, I got side-tracked not by produce, but by a towel. Continue reading
It was 20 years ago today,
That my train pulled in across the bay ♫
I was here to start a west coast life
And I brought my handy pocket knife
Rode a bus and then a yellow cab
Inhaled some Cheerios and took a nap ♪
My San Francisco adventure began!*
Yep, that’s right. Twenty years ago marked the beginning of my residency as a San Franciscan and a Californian. When people ask what brought me here, I usually respond with one word – Amtrak. It’s true, but that’s not what they expect. Continue reading
I love simplicity. I seek it out and it seeks me. Summertime seems to bring it to the surface: the non-essentials are stripped away and longer warmer days slow me down and invite me to savor whatever inspires and comes my way.
So what is simplicity?
Simplicity is about finding magic in the mundane. It’s about an unlikely pair – a garden hose and a shoe rack – becoming friends. It’s a backyard garden party with a “cup rinsing region.”
I’ve always wondered what it was like to have my clothes clipped to a line outdoors in the sun and the breeze, to bring ’em in when the clouds threaten, and to experience the real springtime-fresh scent that laundry and fabric softener manufacturers add in a chemical-laden attempt to connect consumers with nature and simple living.
The only clothespins I recall from my childhood were in my father’s darkroom, and they were used to hang freshly processed rolls of film for drying. Continue reading
One of the happiest joys and honors is an invitation to witness friends unite their lives. As a natural observer and sometimes documentarian, my eyes are always drawn to the quiet details that make each event so unique. In recent years, I’ve notice a proclivity to incorporate incredibly personal handmade or D.I.Y. (a.k.a. do-it-yourself) elements, and this has been most notable in the flowers.
A wedding I attended last year featured arrangements and a bridal bouquet lovingly homegrown by the bride’s sister. I consider this to be a brave and stunning undertaking, especially when one is at the mercy of Mother Nature!
I’m sitting at the kitchen table absorbing whatever rays of reflected or direct sunlight are finding their way through the east- and south-facing windows on this, the shortest day of the year. I’m also absorbing the heat emanating from the oven as a kabocha squash browns in preparation for it’s entry into today’s menu. The cherry tomato plant out my back door (below) is also working the light, this despite overnight temperatures in the 40s and the fact that it’s December 21.
On days like today, when I’m not seeing any clients, I like to maximize the work-from-home opportunities to do one of my favorite things: cook.
“What!?” you may be thinking, “You’ve got time to cook while you’re supposed to be using your office time to balance the books, take care of billing matters, and work on outreach?” Continue reading