The pace quickens and the volume increases…

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Got rid of shedloads this weekend. Not all of it was photographed and so not all of it will count toward my goals of throwing out 35 things.
NEVERTHELESS!

Here goes.

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First off, my partner and I went through all the junk that had accumulated on our back patio. We threw out bags of gardening waste (does not count toward my 35) and several pots, plant holders and small gardening tools (which do count). We put them out by the bins at the end of the street. They were swiftly snaffled by eager local gardeners… or whatever.

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Second, two old laptop bags. One that I got in 2001 or 2002 and on which about 82% of the zips had busted and the other which got issued to my partner when he got a work laptop but which no longer fits his laptop since it got replaced. Binned.

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A boxful of gardening supplies. Binned.

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All kinds of random crap from the back patio. A BBQ, a Xmas tree, a tarp, etc. We had to call the city waste collection and they will pick it up on Wednesday.

We are also making plans to get rid of some other, bigger ticket items. My bike, for example, needs a bit of work and then will go on the local internet marketplace. Also, our pet bunny. Hopefully we can find her a home where they already have a bunny so she can haver a little friend.

It feels good to clear these things out. certainly I find it visually relaxing not to look at a big pile of junk. mentally, it also feels like we are starting to get somewhere and make some real plans for the future.

On the other hand, I will miss the bunny. Anti-social, furniture destroying, allergy inducing bastard that she is, I will still miss her.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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Once again, the time has come to talk of shoes and ships and sealing wax.. Of cabbages and kings… And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

Or, you know. What have I gotten rid of recently?
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First up, a hat/scarf/glove combo that my grandmother sent to my partner for Xmas this year. Lovely sentiment. Not needed. Went to  charity shop.

Along with that went a necklace/earring combo and a bracelet, also from my grandmother, also from Xmas, also went to a charity shop.

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The next couple of gems included a pair of fluffy and sparkly pink socks. These were also Xmas gifts, but this time from my dad. Again, a lovely idea. I do love me some socks. However, I have perfectly serviceable houseshoes so these bad boys went to the charity shop.

Also in the bag with them? A selection of travel books, map books, and pocket dictionaries. I love to travel, but won’t be repeating the trips that I have already taken. Also, these books go out of date pretty quickly so there is no use in holding on to them. Let them find a new home through the wonder of charity shopping.

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To wrap things up, I have a bunch of stationary supplies. I had several sheets of stickers and a pack of card plus envelopes that I would never get around to using. So I stuck a sticker to each card, put into an envelope, and left them in the carry baskets of all the bikes that I passed on the way home yesterday. I hope the confusion makes at least one person smile. This might be my favourite disposal technique so far.

Finally, I went through the medicine drawer in my bathroom and chucked out everything that had expired, that I hadn’t used in ages, or that I had any doubts over. These just went in the bin cause I wasn’t in a mood to empty them out and recycle the packages.

Gone daddy gone!

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Anyone else love the Violent Femmes? I so need to learn to play some of their songs on the ukulele like these two. 

But now is time for the ejection of more stuff from my life! First off, three different sets of books.
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When I first got to the Netherlands, I was keen to learn me some Dutch. My university offered some courses, so I signed up, bought the books, and started the learning engines. What a waste of time. The classes were structured in a really stupid way and nobody gives half a shit about my efforts to learn Dutch anyway. They just speak to me in English as soon as I open my mouth. I gave the book and associated CDs to someone else in my research group who has yet to become jaded about the whole experience.

Then, a big stack of books on my research topic. I never read them anyway and I kind of want to move into a new topic anyway, so… Bub-bye. I left these in the leave-one-take-one book exchange spot for my research group.

And last, two books that I had borrowed from colleagues. I love both of these books and kind of wanted to keep them, but I hate it when someone doesn’t return the books that I loan out. Morals and all. They went back to their owners.

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Then, quite a lot of cleaning out and decluttering. Here we see the massive stack of paperwork that I had been holding onto `just in case’ knowing full well that that case will never happen. Most of this went into the recycling bin, some into the shredder.
Next, some old and expired gym cards, a health card and a credit card (not shown). They got cut up and distributed across several bins in the building.
After that, a pair of sunglasses that has broken in several different ways. I loved those sunglasses, but I chucked them in the bin.
Following that, a pile of electronics that had stopped working altogether. I get through a pair of headphones most years, but somehow had not managed to actually throw out the old ones when I bought a new set. They went into the electronics recycling bin at the supermarket.
And finally, some batteries. Obviously, these can’t just go into the normal trash so they tend to accumulate, confusing people about whether they are dead or not and waiting for the time that I can be bothered bringing them into the office to be thrown into the battery collection point. That time was earlier this week.

This exercise is starting to feel very liberating. I have several more things in mind and I am looking forward to using this weekend to really dive into some trouble areas. I shall keep you posted.

It’s the beginning of a story

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To tell the truth, every moment is the beginning of an entirely new story, so the title is a bit of a wash. Never mind. Here is what has been happening.

  • I jogged a very slow and wheezy 4K yesterday. It was 1K short of what my training schedule said I should have done, but it was also, miraculously, faster that what the schedule said I should have done. I didn’t use my race watch, so I was kind of winging it. Lesson learnt for next time.
  • I put a load more clothes, shoes and bags in the off-season suitcase. How much? This much.
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  • I found a few more things to donate to charity, including a vintage white leather jacket that I LOVE but which just doesn’t fit me. C’est la vie.
  • Between the additional off-season clothes and the charity donations, the wardrobe and dresser are now pretty darn empty. In fact, there are probably about 22 items of clothing left, far less than the 33 allowed in the project 333 challenge. I will have a separate post on what those items are later so that you can all be nosy and see what I chose. Unfortunately, those 22 items do not include accessories, shoes, bags, jewelry, gloves, sunglasses, etc. I am having a devil of a time deciding on these, because I just don’t know whether this winter will turn out to be blisteringly cold like the one 2 years ago, or quite mild like last year. I might have to cheat (ish) and swap out some items half way through if the weather takes a turn.
  • I attended the PhD defence ceremony of a colleague this morning, which made me really eager to just get mine done and out of the way. She is going on to be an assistant professor in Beijing! Well done to her. I don’t imagine that I will have such a short route to proffessordom, although maybe I could if I were applying to universities in China. I imagine that their universities are growing along with their economy, unlike all the universities (and economies) in Europe.
  • The double knit scarf is coming along, albeit slowly. I doubt I will finish it before it becomes scarf wearing season. Fortunately, there are other scarves to use in the meantime.

Flawed but forgiven

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Hello all! I am sure you will be delighted to hear that I have been working on the double knit scarf as shown in the featured image.

I think it is looking pretty good. There are, however, a couple of flaws, including at least one time that I failed to move both yarns forward (or backward) when I switched from a purl to a knit, and at least four stitches where I apparently had a massive brain fart and just broke the pattern. Ah, well.
I have learnt a few useful things. First, bigger needles is easier, possibly because of the fuzziness of these yarns. I started with smaller needles and just had a devil of a time trying to see which stitches were knit and which were purl. Second, it is important to twist the yarns together immediately after the first stitch of each row. This keeps the two sides from separating. It isn’t so important during the rows that start with both colours in quick succession, but it is important for the rows that start with big patches of solid colour. And third, relax. It is hard to maintain an even tension of you are not relaxed. Remember, this is a hobby, so should be fun, not work or anxiety producing.

One the wardrobe challenge front, I have identified at least 3 more items to pass on the the charity shops. I have also identified at least 3 more items that can go into the off season clothing storage to make more space in my limited wardrobe (and also to make the project 333 challenge easier by virtue of not having to look at loads of items that are not in my 33).

The thesis is making less progress, although there is really nothing I can do about that at the mo’. I have implemented all the feedback and comments that have been given to me and am waiting on the supervisors to make the next move. I do plan on printing out the first two chapters to give to me partner to read. Mostly, I need him to tell me if there are any typos, Americanisms, confusing parts, or illegible graphics. I suspect there will be more than a few. In the meantime, I am searching for and applying to job offers, prepping one chapter from the thesis as a journal article, and continuing to work on the scarf during my RSI breaks.

The wheels have been put into motion.

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First off, minutes (and I literally mean minutes) ago, I submitted all the required paperwork to initiate the PhD graduation process. Bam! (Emeril Lagasse style… you’ll just have to imagine that in your head.) There are six parts to this paperwork and I just submitted one and two, which are arguably the easiest ones. Despite being the easiest, they were still a pain in my ass. Honestly, why do they need to see the grades from my masters degree when I also submitted the diploma from my masters degree? Fortunately, it turns out I did have a copy of those grades and didn’t need to contact my old uni to get them.

Next, I have started the double knit scarf (no picture yet because it is only one and a half rows in and doesn’t look like anything) but have learned that fuzzy yarns are not ideal for learning to double knit. They just make it hard to see which loops are knit and which are purl. I originally bought this yarn for a stranded knit-in-the-round hat, which of course only ever has knit stitches so the fuzziness was not an issue. Nevertheless, I shall overcome. Mostly because the fuzzy yarn is what I have to work with but also because I can be very bloody minded when I choose.

Then, I started the wardrobe detox. I took 4 dresses, one skirt, one t-shirt and a pair of trousers to the charity donation box. I feel good, and I vow never to buy cheap crap from H&M again. All but two of the items were H&M and I really should know by now that their stuff doesn’t hang well, doesn’t fit well, doesn’t wash well and doesn’t look good. There is also a pair of sandals that I think might get the boot and some belts and scarves that I haven’t used in a while. I should also go through my jewelry, but that is a little emotionally charged so I am not sure I am ready to do that.

I also swapped out the clearly summer stuff for the clearly winter stuff from the suitcase where I keep my off season clothes. Flip-flops, summer dresses and swimsuits are gone, sweater dresses, sweaters, knit hats and furry coat liners are out. Unfortunately, the winter stuff takes up more space so the drawers are still crammed full, despite the trip to the charity box. Le sigh. I may have to be a bit more ruthless than I originally thought. My partner is out of town this weekend, so I may take the opportunity to lay everything out and have a good look at the big picture without worrying that he will make fun of me for my OCD tendencies.

Two new kick-ass goals.

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So, since I have been struggling with the fitness goals, and because things are so up in the air right now and I don’t feel comfortable signing up for any runs, I am setting those goals aside. This decision took a bit of soul-searching. I have to be ok with not reaching all of my fitness goals, and ok with not working on them right now, without being ok with quitting them altogether. This is just part of a acknowledging that life is fluid and unpredictable and that changing my mind and reorganizing my priorities to deal with life’s vagaries is not a bad thing.

But I do like to have some goals on the go at all times, and they should always be kick-ass. Naturally, I still have the goal of getting my PhD. That one is highest priority, and definitely a sound, kick-ass goal. There is still a lot of work to do on that, and it does involve some work every day. Nevertheless, that goal is clearly a career thing and I need some non-career goals to occupy my time outside of office hours. I have selected two.

First, I want to teach myself to double knit. I have been crocheting for a decade or so, but only took up knitting in January 2013. I have taught myself a lot, like stranded knitting, knitting in the round, seaming, etc. I have made some items that I am pretty happy with, including a pair of spats that I recently wore to a wedding (they received confused compliments, and some gifts for others (I promise they weren’t horrible). Now is the time to raise the bar again, so I will be making this pattern, in blue and off-white, as a gift for my partner. I made him a hat last year out of the same yarn, so it should be a nice set without being too matchy-matchy. I shall keep you informed.

Second, I want to overhaul my wardrobe. I have been researching capsule wardrobe plans, clothing challenges, etc. I have previously done a few wardrobe challenges, like the six items or less challenge, which was really enlightening and surprisingly easy. I have been wanting to do something like that again. At the same time, absolutely all the clothes that I own have to fit in half of a tiny wardrobe, slightly less than half of three drawers in a dresser, a drawer in a nightstand, a rack of scarves and belts, a rack of jewelry, a shelf for hats and half of one suitcase for out of season clothes. That sounds like a lot of space, and I honestly classify myself as a minimalist, but I am seriously struggling. I haven’t had a clear out recently, I have inherited a fair few new, high-quality and emotionally charged items, and I have purchased a few new things of my own recently anyway. For example, my partner encouraged me to buy a new dress for a recent wedding (the one with the spats) rather than re-wear the dress I had bought for a wedding earlier in the year. I thought the first dress would be fine for all the weddings I would need to attend for the next year or so, but the partner found it distressingly 90’s. I also bought a fedora in what a shop clerk described as `petrol’ coloured, and I picked up a few new things in the sales that perhaps I did not strictly need.

So anyway, I am feeling overwhelmed by the clothing, the lack of space and the emotional baggage. Thus, I will be overhauling the situation and using this blog as an emotional outlet and progress tracker throughout the process. What’s that? You are not interested in knitting or wardrobe organization? Well then, to quote Malcolm Tucker… Fuckety-bye!