Downsizing

In an update to a post I made…oh dear 3 years ago…

https://willowrs.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/downsizing-and-my-families-apparent-marie-kondo-obsession/

I eventually gave in and read this book. Well, I say read…and I say book. Really the whole premise of her ‘method’ could be summed up on a post-it note. I am not going to be the one to begrudge her a decent moneymaker however…and I never finished the book, because I came to this conclusion at a relatively early point about a third of the way in. Skimmed the chapter headings and realised she hadn’t actually got that much to say on the subject to warrant killing the trees and pulping them for this particular book.

In my opinion!

I know lots of people who think she is great and that’s absolutely fine. She does have some very sensible suggestions though.

a) Discard first and then put things away.

b) Don’t do it by storage area…drawer etc, Do it by ‘subject’. For example; clothing. Gather ALL your clothing and lay it out in front of you, so you can see exactly what you actually have and then start making your discard decisions. Don’t put anything back unless you really want/need it.

c) Don’t let anyone else get involved, as they will persuade you to keep things or pass them on to people etc.

Kondo reckons you should do it as one big event. Personally I did it in as many subject sections as I could feasibly manage at one time, and still make good decisions. So mine took a few days. But actually I think that that was a good thing, and ultimately far less stressful.

I do have one stipulation on her suggestions of discard however. I do not know if Charity/Thrift shops are a thing outside of the UK/USA/Canada type places, so maybe there aren’t really any other options, but she advocates binning the lot. I advocate donating all that is suitable instead. Invariably their probably will be a spot of landfill. Hopefully a lot that can be either donated or at worst; recycled.

End results;

a) I charity shopped a hell of a lot more stuff than I had really anticipated I would.

b) I had more things than I really thought I had…granted, now I don’t but…

c) My room is much easier to keep tidy and uncluttered.

I got rid of penfriend letters from my teens, which I have never re-read again (I did reread them, before recycling as I wanted to make sure), clothing, books, stationary, excess all sorts. Generally I feel more…free and actually slightly invigorated by the deep clean and reorganisation.

Give it a whirl. Just please recycle/donate as much as possible.

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10 books to re-read (part 1 – 1-5)

Mostly, whilst agonising over the making of this list (and believe me I did… at least after the first 5 were filled in) I realised that it is mostly series of books that I am looking at wanting to re-read as opposed to novels singular, there are only a couple of exceptions to that statement.

I guess the main reason for this is that (generally) series take longer to read, therefore in re-reading them I am choosing to commit more hours to the endeavour and thus taking away from time spent where I could be exploring the thousands of books I have yet to read or are already on my ‘I would like to read’ list.

After all there is no earthly reason why I should not go back and ‘re-read’ whatever and whenever I choose to. It’s just that sometimes I am reluctant to, as a person is only around for so long… and my TBR list grows every day. So many books, so little time.

All of these books I initially read quite some time ago. The point is the choice of what tore-read.

1. Lord of the Rings – Tolkien (re-read January 2016)

The time has come…

I read this for the first time the Christmas after the final film had come out at the cinema. I was still in University, so I think I was probably 19 or 20… I realise that generally no self-respecting geek waits for that late in life to read Tolkien’s masterpiece of epic sword and sorcery fantasy but this one did. In my defence, and I do feel that I should proffer one. I purposefully put off reading it until after I had seen all of the films. I wanted to experience the whole in spectacular cinematic glory, to realise the full scope of what was being offered on screen without spoilers or knowing most of what would or wouldn’t happen. certainly, for me this was the perfect way of going about it.

The books themselves hardly need any introduction by now I am sure. However my reasons for wanting to re-read this trilogy (or rather one epic tome cut into three marginally smaller bricks of slightly easier heft… at least that is how my edition of LOTR has been published).

I read them the first time round in 8 days (with one off in the middle as I strained my eyes reading it). So for a week of my precious Christmas vacation, when truthfully I should have been doing revision for January exams, I read LOTR. That’s ALL I did, well, Read LOTR, made/drank cups of tea and slept.  Perhaps that explains my ‘reluctance’ to re-read them… that and the finger strain alone was phenomenal. It’s trying to find a decent chunk of time where I can OCD to my hearts content.

That and the bird paranoia that ensues is not always quite as worth it as I might have thought.

(I finally got around to re-reading them in January 2016, then followed them up with a first time reading of The Hobbit. LOTR was even better the second time round, and I took a touch more time reading them and therefore saved myself the repeat of eyestrain…which is NOT an experience that bears repeating! The Hobbit however left me somewhat cold. Whether it was due to leaving it until I was 32 to read it…or it just did not gel with me, I do not know. It was lack lustre in comparison to LOTR (granted, perhaps an unfair comparison really), did not hold my attention very well and honestly I found it really hard to persevere and crack on to the end.)

2. Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan

I absolutely LOVED this series! The man wrote about Ancient Greece (in a modern setting) with all the cultural trappings and myth based reality to utter perfection, staying as true to the subject as I could have ever hoped.

I’m a classicist. Trying to find anything (fictional) written about Greeks or Romans that does not make me want to curl up into a sad little ball of depressed classicist is truly hard to find. A roughshod mythological throwaway pleases no-one.

Again, read these in 5 days and yes that is indeedy a book a day. Not an unusual occurence I must admit.

An amazing, well-written, epic young adult/children’s fantasy series. Which is continuing with a further quintet based at the Roman equivalent for Camp Half-Blood. (Which I have now finished, I enjoyed them a great deal, but the first Quintet remain the best and the most gripping.)

For those who prefer Egyptian to Greek (and Roman), Riordan has also written a series starting with “The Red Pyramid”. Bast makes a surprising and most welcome appearance and other than Khufu the gibbon, is probably the best overall character.

My 9 year old cousin recommended them (way back when they were that age…they are now 15). I had seen them around for quite some time and kept picking them up and humming and ah-ing about whether or not to read them. It was his rave reviews that finally pushed me over the decisive edge.  He and his twin sister  have read and re-read them, as had their 14 year old sister… and they  ‘spread the word’ amongst their classmates who also read and enjoyed them.

Rick Riordan has been the cause for not only getting an entire class of 9 year olds into Greek/Roman and Egyptian mythology, but also into reading bigger and harder books than might have been expected of them previously. My cousins’ remarks sparked a general exchange of reading suggestions and book sharing amongst their classmates.

An excellent endorsement if ever there was one.

3. Pages for You – Sylvia Brownrigg

This (as mentioned here http://wp.me/pHZFO-40) is one of my Top 10 reads. It’s deliciously devourable prose and narrative flow make it (for me) an absolute pleasure of a read. It’s almost…edible.

I’ve read it only twice, for fear that upon getting to the end I’d just turn it over and start again.

Truthfully I don’t know what it is about this particular book that draws me so thoroughly. The story isn’t entirely happy, though equally it isn’t unhappy. I suspect that it is the writing style and the tone that ultimately draws me in, especially as it is in a style one could only ever aspire to achieving.

Oddly I have never picked up any of her other novels (of which she has written five…though I think this is the only queer one?). Partly I believe that this may be due to fear of disappointment that anything else would not pass muster. Usually I find an author and then promptly continue to devour everything they have written until I am thoroughly saturated and have run out of material.

A book of first love, experience it’s progression and its demise. Utterly beautiful.

4. Thursday Next (series) – Jasper Fforde

The more I read this series the more I love it and understand the complex literary references and find it funnier. Equally the more I read classical literature in conjunction with Fforde, the more I appreciate and understand not only his works, but the classic works also.This is one series where I suspect that I could read it an infinite amount of times and still be finding new ideas/things/references and nuances within their pages.

I generally don’t want to be offering to much in the way of synopses for the books I am choosing for this list, because it is about what I would like to re-read, NOT what I want to recommend to folk. (Though, naturally I do recommend everything on this list) but if you have never read Fforde, a) he kind of defies defining. (in a similar way that Douglas Adams is sort of indefinable) and b) you will be SOOooo lost.

This particular series by Fforde are, in a way, crime novels. Though that does them no serious justice (and is possibly an injustice to the crime genre?). Essentially fiction within fiction.

Thursday Next, a “LitraTech” (my personal ideal job) for Spec Ops in an alternate universe set in Swindon from the 80’s onwards. In this role she verifys forgeries, goes on book raids and generally solves fictional related issues, whilst trying not to get caught dealing on the illegal cheese market. She is then recruited into Jurisfiction, which is the police force that serves within fiction (which, lets face it is my real ultimate job, but the first one is ever so slightly more likely to emerge as a real one…shh let me live my dreams). Jurisfiction work in offices set at Norwood and Sense and Sensibility and they maintain the narrative flow, ensure characters don’t make ‘in-house’ changes, that Emperor Zhark does not take over the world. That war doesn’t breach the tenuous peace between ‘Racy novel’ and ‘Feminist fiction’ and that fiction is not overrun by murderous Danvers clones.

All in all an utterly bizarre, unique, engaging series that truly defies explanation.

Having said all that, they are admittedly somewhat like Marmite from what I have heard. You love em or you hate em. (Only one of those two groups are right!)

5. The Dresden Files

Four words: Mouse, Bob, Molly and Ivy.

Admittedly it wasn’t until I was half way through book three that I had the ‘aha’ moment as to why people where raving about this series. Now whenever I recommend them, I suggest keeping with them until then and if you then don’t like them, then you probably aren’t going to.

It isn’t anything specific that happens in this book, more that the overall tone takes a maturity leap in the writing style that comes as a bit of a relief. The first time I re-read books 1-3 the style of them didn’t bother me as much as they did the first time around where they just smacked of ‘new author’ and a bit of a cheesy one at that.

An urban gumshoe fantasy series, that Benedict Jacka writes a much simplified British one clearly bouncing off the initial Dresden idea. ( Another great series, but not nearly as complex overall)

 

 

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Downsizing and my families apparent Marie Kondo obsession

My aunt recently read Kondo’s book about tidying (“The life-changing magic of tidying”), promptly, and in her usually mildly obsessive way, then re-read it, followed the rules, waxed lyrical about it to all and sundry and inundated various charity shops with her recently Kondo-d items.

My Mother, naturally having spoken at length with my aunt, has likewise devoured the book (and is on a slower, second run through) and is steadily working her own subtle warfare throughout her house.

I have, admittedly, NOT read the book. Nor do I particularly intend to. that is by no way disregarding (or advocating for that matter) it’s merits, merely that I find myself unmoved by the temptation to read it.

However, the similar desire to seriously downsize my possessions, granted not quite in a Tashjian’s “The Gospel according to Larry” 75 items in my possession kind of way, but a similar overall approach, also loomed large in my mind.

It has been extremely…liberating. I have been extremely ruthless and I have gone through EVERYTHING I own, which whilst not particularly extensive, has been a pretty decent undertaking. I have been particularly ruthless with my books. *shock*gasp*horror* (choose your own reaction) I honestly have no idea as to the quantity of books that have recently been evicted from my shelves and packed off to Oxfam post haste, but we are talking multiple boxes of a reasonable size. I do have some stragglers remaining, but that is because they have been purposefully hived off for my cousins perusal and that is time permitted. However, anything that they reject will also make it’s way to Oxfam.

On the book cull front, my parameters were thus;

1) Did I really like it so much the first time around that I need to keep the copy?

i) Do I have it as an ebook? (see #2)

ii) Will I actually re-read it? (a) Have I ever yet re-read it, b) Based on that, am I likely to want to read it multiple times more?

2) Do I have it as an ebook?

i) Yes, but the physical copy genuinely means something to me (that premise only actually accounts for three of my books as it turns out, thus despite an ebook, their little paperback heiny’s were saved)

ii) Does it not work as an ebook?  (a) Pratchett/Fforde, anything with footnotes does not. Therefore they stay on the shelves as do the Graphic Novels.

3) Do I really want to keep it?

i) Granted this is really a tie-in criteria to all of the above.

End result? Much empty shelves, a spot of rearranging and my Brent-Dyer, Paddington and picture books from my childhood have finally made their way out of their boxes and onto shelves with a little wiggle room to spare. Incidentally, it took me more than one go through the shelves to finally reach the kept books I have remaining.

So far, nary-a regret, and I don’t see any arising in potentia either….which is nice.

love books (mine or otherwise), but for many of the books I love it is not the physicality of the book itself that is necessary, but knowing I have an ebook version is often enough.

The main reason for such an extended cull was that I felt I had removed myself too far for comfort from the public lending libraries, and that that was something I really wanted to re-engage with.

With everything else (and granted books made up the large majority of my possessions) I went through I became better and judging whether or not I genuinely wanted to keep something. I went through the attic at my Mom’s, liberated my tent (aired it out in my living room for a couple of days), rid myself of things I either no longer cared for, or held no especial attachment to.

All of this sounds like I just did it in one fell swoop. It took multiple days and quite a lot of tea to make up my mind on some things.

Part of me feels like this was just Phase 1. I feel as if I may have to go through everything else again at a later date, and check to see if I was right the first time around in wanting to retain a given item. Only a very few things were allowed to stay based upon my indecision.

Ultimately it has been a freeing exercise from the trappings of material possessions. Now I need to go through and check that everything is appropriately housed and available to be accessed easily.

Oddly, all of this was primarily down to wanting an actually comfortable chair for reading in. For my 32nd birthday, this past March, my Gran decided (granted based upon my own muttered musings) to buy me a decent reading chair as my gift. I’ve gone with IKEA’s Pello type, a nice affordable model, that is actually exactly what I would want from a reading chair. It is comfortable, with a low enough seat and high enough arm rests, a big enough seat that should I wish to curl up I can and a back that does not throw your head forward when leaned back upon.

Perfect.

I’d like to take this opportunity to revisit my Larry list now that I come to think about it, and that I threatened to do at the end of the last list version I made…however many years ago and see whether or not it has changed or not.

In no order, and the caveat is that clothing counts, household items (within reason) such as cutlery, chairs, fridge do not)

1. Bananagrams

2. Rabbit (knitted – had it since I was born)

3. My mini Bast – cat statue

4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop cafe – Fannie Flagg

5. Little Women – Louisa M. Alcott

6. Shakespeares Comedies collected volume

7. 7 Wonders Board game

8. The World Unseen – Shamim Sarif

9. Lirael – Garth Nix

10. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett

11. Collected poetry of Rainer M. Rilke

12. Photo of Dad

13. Notebook

14. Pen

15. Dogger – Shirley Hughes

16. Diary/notebook thingy

17. Camera

18. External hard drive

19. Passport

20/1. Craft Knife and board

22. Lava Lamp

23. Clock

24. NUS card

25. Library card

26. Driving License

27. House Keys

28. Glasses

29. Sunglasses (prescription)

30. Pj’s

31. Cagoule

32. Comb

33/4. Laptop/charger

35. Button up shirt

36. Rucksack

37. Sleeping bag

38. Tent

39. Sandals

40. Boots

41. Gloves

42. Hat

43. Sweater

44. Towel

45. Swimmers

46. Belt

47-52. Boxers/Pants

53- 58. Socks

59. Underwear

60-5. T-shirts

66. Jeans

67. Shorts

68/9. Kindle/Charger

70. Bank Card

71. Oxford English Dictionary

72. Complete British Wildlife Guide

73-4. Toothbrush/Paste

75. Lighter sweater

Hmm, seems that the majority of my list is devoted to pretty practical items and not a great deal of ‘frivolous frippery’. I do quite like that for the most part it would pretty much fit in a decent sized backpack.

Tobi

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Election 2015

I think that this was the most disappointing Election result I have ever witnessed…or voted in. Another 5 years of the Tories led by the Hamhock. I cannot decide whether I am simply surprised that people voluntarily voted him in again (at least he legitimately takes power this time as compared to the last election, I suppose) or disappointed at the apathy (66.1%) of those not even bothering to turn out and vote that enabled the Conservatives to gain more seats.

Also the utter, I want to say idiocy but I equally firmly believe that every person should vote without the constraints of other peoples opinions…so I think I will settle for  incomprehensible to me vote for the Tories. Why would you want to vote for a party that wants to ruin the school system, eradicate the NHS making basic medical care cost for those who really cannot afford it. Ultimately they are only benefiting the microcosmic sector of the rich and those willing to take monetary bribes in order to ensure that they can continue tax evasion etc.

That Liberal Democrats lost so many seats is not in the least bit surprising, given their utter failure to follow through with any of their 2010 election campaign promises. In one foolhardy desperate bid for a glimpse at being in power, Clegg has managed to effectively erase all the forward movement the Lib Dem’s have done over the years in striving towards a genuine bid for sole leadership. I honestly cannot see them ever gaining the momentum to be a serious political threat for a very long time.

The SNP did extremely well in Scotland. I am curious to know (which we never will) if the SNP landslide was due to the strength of Nicola Sturgeon or if the Scottish Referendum failure led to a higher SNP vote. I suspect that if they held another Referendum, Scotland would now gain independence.  But there is the whole Catch-22 element in regards to SNP/Referendum.

Interesting. In a wholly depressing, genuinely cogitating moving to a desert island kind of way.

I voted for the Green party knowing full well that they would never win. I voted for them in the vain hopes that they would gain even a few extra seats in order to ensure that some sort of moral, ethical and reasonable voice was involved in Parliament, because there was no other way for that to be achieved (if the last 5 years are anything to go by). Considering the amount of votes they did get (eta: 1,157,613), it is a real shame that their seat count is not representational of the amount of people voting for them.

Also, rot in your little bigoted, homophobic, xenophobic little hell Nigel Farage you ignorant little rodent. His smug weaselly loss was the entire highlight of this plane crash of an election.

Hope you voted.

Tobi

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Long time, no entry…

I have not had the need for this type of…expression in quite some time. However, I am looking at new entry topics as of this moment. First up is likely to be Literary Heroines…but not definitely. 🙂

Thinking of a bit of an overhaul of various bits and pieces on here also.

No promises.

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Apologies

I have been nothing but neglectful of this space on the web in the last year (or two). Apologies to those random few who pass through here and to those that for whatever reasons check in to see if I have posted anything else. 

Inspiration and desire have both been absent, and therefore no posts. Perhaps I will attempt to reengage. It remains to be seen as I have taken upon myself further commitments of work and study that whilst interesting eats away at both my natural inclination towards personal reflection and engagement with topics outside of the remit of my specific study area. That said, I am now closing in on the end, so perhaps both will return.

 

 

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Political disgust

Whilst I am never going to be accused of being a Thatcher lover, and as person from an ex-mining town; devastated by her policies and isolated due to the removal of public services such as buses; not to mention her vicious and unparalleled attacks upon single mothers as abusers of the dole system. I do think that this glorying in her death is somewhat abhorrent. She was somebodies family, regardless of how you feel about her politics. Do the people doing so actually understand all that she did? Or is it a case of jumping on a popularist bandwagon just because it seems subversive?

Equally this glorification of her and her achievements by the state is also rather distasteful and unmitigated. It begs the question, if Labour or Lib Dem (proper) or in fact any other independent political party was leading the country would this celebration of her death have happened?

St Paul’s for fuck’s sake? How the hell does she warrant that?

I understand and agree with Churchill having such an Honorable funeral, Thatcher I do not. She did less to benefit the country as a whole and more to marginalise the lower classes…which is pretty much what the current government seem bent on emulating.

Also, the pillocks who are claiming her as a feminist need their heads seriously examined. She was extremely anti-woman, at least policy wise. She succeeded by playing the ‘man’s game’ not by becoming a better woman or leading through a feminist perspective.

Iron Lady, rust in peace.

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