Bakers dozen

A testament to my clutter
A testament of my clutter problem
A gratuitous photo of Bear

Hello, my name is John and I am a "clutterholic." There I said it. Step One is to admit I have a problem and that I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable.

Who needs 13 pillows in the bottom of their closet? Not me anymore. There is a voice in my head saying, “Everything must go. All decisions are final.” Then another voice, somewhere else in my head says, "There is nothing wrong with those pillows. They can be used for something. If you throw them away, you will need them some day and then you won't have them."

Insert Charlie Brown utterance of frustration loudly here: ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

I have gathered clutter into large piles. Mountains of boxes, plastic containers (originally purchased to organize clutter), plastic bags, and loose items that do not lend themselves to any container system of which I am aware.

I have moved the piles from one room to another. They have sat. Then I moved them to the shed, to the attic, and now under the carport. Why do the thieves not steal it all and rid me of my nightmare? Must I deal with my own problem? Is there no way out short of dealing directly with the situation?

Crickets sound goes here.

I take it then that I must follow some of the advice I dish out at the clinic. I get paid to tell people things I could do better myself, like just do it. Don't tell anyone, I have an image to maintain.

My lungs are coated with ancient dust from boxes and things I just let pile up, because I figured life without IT would not be as good.

I am at the place where the guy in the Bible was. He had the good fortune to have more stuff than he had house for, or in his case, barn for. Then he got an idea, "Hey, I'll just build another barn." Unfortunately for him, his idea was motivated by selfishness. It did not end well in for him.

I am not going to build a bigger shed, although the thought did cross my mind. Nope, I am going to liquidate. If the economy is doing it, why not me?

I have a zillion books, college and seminary class notes, school work going back to the first grade, trinkets, toys, and memories from my childhood, Barbara's childhood, and my son's childhood which is technically still going on.

It all amounts to a lot of stuff. When I consider the pile, I reach in my pocket for a match to deal with the problem. It is when I hold an item and turn it over in my heart and my mind. The nostalgia rises and tossing said item becomes tantamount to throwing away that memory. To throw away a letter my mother wrote is like putting a piece of her in the trash. So you can see, that kind of thinking does not result in clutter pile reduction.

I did have an idea though. I could take a few pieces of paper from the first grade work and get rid of the rest. I could even scan some things and trash the originals. Digital files take up much less room.

Perhaps in a few days I can write a post of victory. Time will tell and so will I.

Until the next time
John Strain


Some gave all

Happy Veterans Day and a special thank you to you Vets.

I have talked about Justin McLeese before. He was a local boy who died in Iraq on November 13, 2004. My previous posts about him and some other Veterans Day writings can be found HERE.

Justin D. McLeese
Justin's Hero Card

I think about Justin quite often. The church where his funeral was held is on my route to and from the gym. On my way home in the morning it is usually about 6:00 AM and the church bells are ringing. For some reason, they toll for about 15 minutes. It always brings to my mind memories of that day, followed closely by a simple prayer and a feeling of gratitude.

How we breeze through our days taking for granted what we should value as treasure. We must take time to reflect on those who gave their all in order for us to have no fear of harm. Some gave all.

Freedom has its price and many pay the price willingly so we can bask in its warmth. Some gave all.

The sentiment in the movie "Saving Private Ryan," was to honor the ultimate sacrifice by doing something good with your life. What a wonderful gift we enjoy. May we all look into the mirror and ask ourselves the question, "Am I honoring their sacrifice by the way I am living?"

I hope we are.

To all the veterans and their families, to the price they have paid - Thank you.
Wounded Warriors

Until the next time
John Strain


Home sweet home

Hi Everyone, it's me Bear,
My mama went to India, but now she is home. I think I'll just sit here and guard her for a while as she sleeps.
Home from India

My mama helped little children while she was in India.
Barb with Dalit children at a school

Bye and Love,


Dear Barbara (Part 4)

I missed your call this morning. I had my phone by the computer and I was listening to my iPod while using the sink at the bar. I thought I heard something, but it never dawned on me it was my phone. When I walked over to the computer, I noticed I had a voicemail. I hated to miss talking to you. You sounded a bit down or maybe you were just tired. By the sound of things, you all have been seeing an enormous amount of people.

If you are not tired now, you will be. As I write this at 9:45 PM Thursday, it is 9:15 AM on Friday for you. After you work, you have a 1:00 AM flight to catch out of New Deli. So after flying 13 hours you will land in Chicago at 5:00 AM. Time will seem like it is standing still. If all goes right, you will go onto Houston and then land in New Orleans at 12:30 PM. You will need to take a nap, because we are planning on going out to eat with friends.

I have been cleaning. You won't know our room. It is almost completely decluttered and thoroughly cleaned. I vacuumed tonight and I am going to get LJ to clean the bathrooms tomorrow. Then all I will have to finish is some dusting, clean up the kitchen a bit, and mop. A woman's work is never done.

John and I ate at WOW tonight. Bear says hi again. He just polished off his evening treat.

We are looking forward to your return and hearing all about the trip.

Until the next time
Love, John


Dear Barbara (Part 3)

It is Election Day here. John and I are going to vote later on. I am helping him with his paper.

The LSU game was fun. Brian, John, Jonathan, his friend Luke, and I went to Baton Rouge about 3:00 in the afternoon. We grilled steaks at Kevin’s apartment. John and the boys went to the game. For one reason, the boys wanted to soak up the Tiger Stadium atmosphere and see the band come in. For another reason, Kevin had two cats and John was beginning to feel his head close up.

Sitting behind us was a few rows up was a little girl, probably 4 years old. She was dressed as an LSU cheerleader complete with pom poms. She was very cute anyway, but she had skills. The little girl did the cheers the big cheerleaders were doing. Her dad would even lift her in the air at the right times and she would strike the appropriate pose. I would be shocked if she isn’t on the sidelines for real someday. She is destined to be an LSU cheerleader.

I am finding it is time consuming to be a single parent. I did not get the time to write on Sunday, what with shopping and washing three loads of clothes. While I was washing clothes, I tackled some of the clutter areas in our bedroom. My section of the dresser and top drawer have been cleaned up nicely.

I also got rid of all of the stuff by the closet. We have a lot more floor space now. Part of that mess, was the sock basket. I matched socks for a long time and now I have gillions of new socks. There are still a lot of mismatches and they may wind up in the trash. At any rate, it looks a lot better.

Yesterday evening, I hit the Tupperware drawer. I hate that drawer. I never can find a container and its matching lid quickly enough, and then it is hard to close, which makes it difficult to open. Part of the solution was better organizing and stacking like containers, but the other thing that needed to be done was to remove about half of the contents.

At work yesterday, I was bragging to the girls about washing clothes and grocery shopping. It was fun to be able to share stories of domestic servitude with them. I told them how I was buying brands different than you usually get, just for a change. For instance, bread, I got some rye bread. I also bought some different apples – pretty green ones. As I was telling my tale to Monette in the break room, I was carving one of them. I started eating it and it was really tart. Monette asked me what kind of an apple it was. "I don't know," I said and passed her the little sticker. She told me that it was a Granny Smith apple and those apples were usually used for cooking - not eating. I ate it anyway and told her I thought it was good. She was telling maybe I should have stuck to the usual brands. I tried to defend myself, but I got that look mothers give their children. The look that says, I will be polite and listen to you, but you are so pitifully wrong it isn’t even funny. I just liked the green for a change.

John and I ate at Outback on Sunday and Monday night we ate at the Mexican place that used to be BJ's Pizza. I think Marty will be coming over tonight to watch the election results.

Everybody asks about you. We miss you. I haven't heard anything from you since your text message on Sunday. By now you are well into your work with the Dalits. I hope it is going well.

Well, I need to get the coffee going, walk the dog, and get on with the day.

Until the next time
Love, John