Monday, June 21, 2010

Still in upheaval

A few weeks ago I suddenly became determined to organize my house and get rid of anything unnecessary.  Almost every day since then I have worked on that project.  Yesterday, for example,  I spent all day organizing those records that everybody has to keep for a certain number of years.  The files I ended up with look suspiciously slim.  Have I gone overboard?

I had consulted the internet beforehand.  Some items, like statements from bank accounts, should be kept "a year or indefinitely" according to the website I ended up on.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a big difference between a year and indefinitely.  I opted for the year.  Why?  Because I'm sick of stuff, including paper stuff.  And what's the worst thing that's going to happen to me if  I'm caught not owning a piece of paper from 10 years ago?  Good heavens. 

Apparently our society has not gone paperless at all.  I have a workplace retirement account which gives big fat quarterly statements (fat with paper, not with money!) which I receive at work, whether I want them or not.  On another account which I'm in control of, I went online to see if I could reduce the paper influx.  Then I caught myself, remembering I that I might be applying for a mortgage soon, if things go my way.  I found a website explaining what's needed to apply, and found out that some mortgage companies will not accept statements printed off the internet- they insist on real, old-fashioned paper statements- the kind I just hauled to the recycling bins yesterday.  Uh-oh.

Ironically, this project originally started with pure intentions.  I just wanted to be organized and efficient.  Then I learned that the last house I tried to buy downtown has been slated for sale again in July at a sheriff's auction.  So the project's purpose morphed into "clearing out space to make room for change in my life" (not to mention the practical aspect of making moving easier).  And now I may have disposed of the very paperwork I needed to apply for the mortgage!  That's no small matter, since mortgage companies are now regarding any applicant with grave suspicion in the wake of the housing/mortgage crisis.

I'm going to keep on purging.  The mortgage company can receive up-to-the-minute information about me and my finances on the internet, whether they want to admit that or not.  I know they love to see their customers jump through hoops, but I think it's more important for me to jump through my own hoops right now.


Friday, June 11, 2010

a second chance, maybe

Those who "know" me are aware of my desire to live in a downtown neighborhood where it is possible to live without driving a car.  I believe that oil addiction will soon change life as we know it, and society will reverse its trend of the past century.  Instead of spreading out to the suburbs, humanity will scurry back to the city core, giving up the extreme luxury of personal motor vehicles for much more healthy and sustainable mass transit, walking and biking. 

I love the idea of walking to the grocery store or farmer's market to buy fresh local produce.  I want to walk or bike to work.  How nice it would be to be able to attend the many downtown festivals, entertainment options and events without worrying about finding and paying for parking!   (How many times have I tried to attend events downtown and given up after not being able to park the car?)

The urban neighborhoods are expensive to live in, but three months ago I was informed of a rare opportunity- a Victorian house near downtown which was in foreclosure and being sold at the Sheriff's auction.  I was all set to bid on the house on the date of the auction when suddenly the house was withdrawn. 

After getting over the disappointment, I decided to examine myself in the house I am currently living in.  Did I appear to be on the verge of moving on to a new lifestyle?  No.  Instead, I appeared bogged down by accumulation of unnecessary, meaningless items- anchors preventing my ship from sailing.

I set out to change that.  I wanted to be light and flexible, ready to move with the flow of whatever opportunity might present itself.  I started the purging process, and tried not to be impeded by the nagging sense that my efforts fell short of perfection.

Imagine my shock when 2 days ago I went online to check out the status of upcoming Sheriff's auctions and found that the house I wanted has been added to the list of houses to be auctioned in mid July. 

Did this happen because I took the steps of preparing for change?  Well, we've all witnessed evidence of the laws of the universe, whether we know it or not.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Field trip

The last day of school for The Child's 6th grade class was also the day of the highly anticipated field trip to the city zoo.  The chaperoning parents, myself included,  were instructed to meet the students and teachers at the zoo.  I wondered how that would work.....the day before the field trip, I had been in the vicinity of the zoo for a work-related project.  I saw hundreds of school buses entering the zoo!  How on earth would I be able to find The Child amongst thousands of swarming children???

When I arrived at the zoo on the day of the field trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the zoo was prepared.  (They had done this before, apparently....)  There was a huge tent set up with a sign in front indicating that this was the meeting area for chaperones.  I asked the woman in charge how I would find The Child's school, and she said that they announced each incoming school.  Wow!

I noticed a huge board listing the schools which were sending students that day. There were around 200 schools on the list.  No buses had arrived yet (I showed up early to increase my odds of finding The Child) so I took a seat and watched the goings-on.  The woman in charge told an impatient parent that the buses were usually late- very late, and we might have to sit there for an hour and a half waiting for them.  I had brought a book, so I started reading.

Glancing up from the book, I saw 2 yellow buses approaching. The woman in charge shouted, "Here we go!"  as she started walking toward the buses, which were allowed to pull up to the zoo entrance.  She checked with the first adult off the first bus, and walked back to the tent, yelling the name of The Child's middle school.  I couldn't believe his was the first school to arrive.

Within moments I was being told by The Child that he and his friends "didn't need to be chaperoned" and he'd see me later.  This zoo is the size of a small city, so I wasn't counting on seeing him anytime soon.  The school allowed the 6th graders to roam unattended, with the only rule being that they had to be with an adult to enter the gift shops.

I had anticipated this brush-off, so I wasn't terribly devastated as I took off on my own.  I had never been to the zoo alone before, and I enjoyed the freedom of deciding how to spend my time there.  Had I been with a group of kids, I may not have entered into the conversations with zoo workers that I ended up having.

I spent a couple of hours in the Australia exhibit.  The birds were amazing, and their keeper filled me in on some fascinating details.  This is the largest pigeon in the world (which doesn't look like any pigeon I've seen before):

Most of my time was spent at the koala exhibit.  They were actually awake, which only happens for a couple of hours total per day.  They were also being fed eucalyptus, but they couldn't have cared less. 

I envied the koala keepers.

 I stayed until the koalas were asleep.

This koala encounter made my day.  I had never seen koalas with open eyes before!

I recovered from all of this excitement in the food court with my book.  The food court was filled with people, many of whom seemed to be screaming for no obvious reason.  Suddenly in the midst of the chaos I spied The Child holding court at a table about a tenth of a mile from mine.  I waved.  I think he was actually glad to see me because his group wanted to enter a gift shop, so I was for once a welcome sight.

We shopped, and most of the kids bought a souvenir.  The Child picked a panda mask to match the shirt he was wearing:

It wasn't quite time to leave yet, and I wanted to rush to the polar bear exhibit which was rather far away.  The child and his buddies had already been there, but one volunteered to show me the way.  We jogged through the North American exhibit, past the rides, and beyond the petting zoo.  After a glance at the Arctic foxes, we found a polar bear posing as if he knew we had little time:

Rushing back to the zoo entrance, I stopped to photograph a wayward flamingo strutting his stuff:  ( I don't know how he escaped from the flamingo exhibit!)

When we arrived back at the zoo entrance, the 6th graders were gathering to walk to the buses:

I really didn't do any chaperoning to speak of, but I did have a memorable day at the zoo.