"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: simplify

“sparking joy” in our own living room . . .

one of my favorite indoor plants - a maroon leafed oxalis plant that has pale pink flowers when in bloom. . .

one of my favorite indoor plants – a maroon leafed oxalis plant that has pale pink flowers when in bloom. . .

Hey, you know how it’s all the rage these days to pare down, simplify and only keep what “sparks joy” when you pick it up and look at it? Even Deborah Needelman, the Editor in Chief of the New York Times Fashion magazines wrote about it yesterday in her editorial.

Well, I looked around today and decided to do a major pick-up-the-piles-of-stuff-and-sort-it-out this morning. But what sparked it as an enjoyable task rather than feeling like a drudge was to recover and recoup wonderful plants that I’ve had scattered outside for the summer and place them in our living spaces indoors. The maroon oxalis plant, one of my favorites, is now a central figure in a little living room still-life graced also by a tapestry “heron” pillow from France that C. gave me a few years ago.

cyclamen corms . . . still surviving

cyclamen corms . . . still surviving

I’ve also kept a pot of multi-colored miniature cyclamen that bloom and then go bust since a few Christmases ago. They’re sort of in a “bust” mode right now but I love the shape of the pot so much that I put it in a place of honor near the kitchen window where I can water it from below and keep an eye on it. Usually the plants out of sight suffer more than they ought to.

And since we returned from our mini-trip to Halifax, we’ve placed our two canaries closer to us in front of the mirror where they can see themselves and go crazy thinking they’re more of them than there really are. We’ve noticed that they tend to sing their heads off after the 7 o’clock evening news has finished and G. and I look at each other in wonder at the incredible volume their song produces at that time of night. Go figure!

It feels so satisfying to “spark joy” with things I’ve had for such a long time and also refresh our living space without feeling the need to go out and buy anything more than what we already have. Plants especially are satisfying to do this with because they’re alive, just like us. And revive with tender care, just like us too.

(Come to think of it, though, I’m really wanting to replace our electric stove that we’ve had for about twenty years! Maybe in the Fall.)


simplifying. . .

We’re a few weeks into the summer and I’ve been making some headway toward getting things cleaned out (see previous post, “Holding On”.) Yesterday in the muggy heat, I gathered up all the CDs in their plastic holders and many not. I laid them out on the table according to composer and kind of music. Finding the right cases for the loose disks was like playing the game, “Memory,” and I’m relieved that mine seems to be holding its own.

I found a dozen favorite CDs that I hadn’t listened to in awhile: Mendelssohn cello pieces played by Steven Isserlis and Saint Saens piano concerti played by Stephen Hough. All bright, optimistic melodies from the 19th century. The set of Schubert sonatas played by Radu Lupu also made it into my iTunes library on my laptop. I discovered that I buy multiple recordings of the pieces I like in order to listen to different pianists perform them. For example, I have Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavichord recorded by Rosalyn Tureck, Angela Hewitt, Sviatislav Richter, Till Fellner and Glenn Gould. Ditto the Chopin Ballades by Maurizio Pollini, Claudio Arrau and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Beethoven late sonatas played by Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini, and Claude Frank.

Today, I’m going through the rest of the books that I started to weed out last week. There are many books that I value that I don’t look at anymore. I haven’t wanted to just donate them anywhere because I’d like them to be available to others. So yesterday, I talked to someone at the Worcester Public Library who said they’d be happy to take them along with CDs. They also suggested donating books to the local vocational school libary–such as cookbooks. I’m glad these outlets are available for these remainders from my libraries. It allows my conscience to know that they may be part of someone else’s reading and listening life.

There are lots of books to sort through, similar to the task of going through all the CDs yesterday. The result though, is a renewed awareness of not only what I have and want to keep. But also a renewal in appreciating the music I’m going to listen to while I sort through the books, a stack of them growing beside my chair that I want to read the rest of the year.

So, simplifying has been enriching for me in ways I did not anticipate. Meanwhile, the house is stacked with cartons that make the place look like we’re getting ready to move out. When what we are doing this summer is getting ready to move on.