The Urge To Purge…Clutter, That Is…

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Copyright : Ioulia Bolchakova

Over the decades, I have accumulated a lot of stuff, and there are many things I may never have the heart to part with, so they remain somewhere in my home, either on display or in a closet or garage shelf. However, the idea of holding onto something I am not currently using has never sit well with me, so I frequently perform purges in which I deep clean, reorganize, repair, and at times sell or donate belongings which are not being used. Since my mother’s family was notorious for being pack rats (to give you an idea, I nominated my favorite aunt for an episode of Hoarders and they were keenly interested in bringing her on, then she fell ill), I have fought against any inclination to hang onto anything which will merely take up space.

I conduct purges about 4 to 8 times per year, and this includes areas such as my garage, all closets, my kitchen, my bedroom, and my master bathroom. Strangely, even though I frequently get rid of things, I somehow still have so much stuff, and it truly bothers me at times. I guess I am not destined to lead a spartan lifestyle, especially when I hold onto keepsakes like the stuffed yellow dog which was in my crib and can still play “Rock a Bye Baby” from the music box which is nestled in its belly. However, old area rugs, candles which I never used, books I have no interest in reading again, decorative pieces which have been ousted in favor of new ones with a different theme or color story, all end up either on Facebook Marketplace or in boxes which are carted off to Goodwill.

For those of you who tend to be hoarders, especially those of you who hold onto a box because it’s a “good box” (don’t fret, I’ve done that too), it might be a good idea to enforce regular purge sessions so that you don’t get pushed out of your own home by your own clutter!

Dipping Into Indie Funk

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Copyright : skovoroda

If you were to listen to the songs which I have in my iTunes and Spotify libraries, you’d probably scratch your head in wonder over the vast assortment of genres which I enjoy. One of the reasons why I have so many different genres in my music collections is that I tend to obsess over a certain artist or genre for a while, soaking it up until I begin to get tired of it. The latest musical genre which has caught my attention is Indie Funk, and I specifically latched onto one band in particular, Magic City Hippies.

If you want to listen to music that has an easy vibe, catchy beat and tempo, and just puts you into a feel-good mood, then I would definitely recommend checking out Magic City Hippies, Cool Company, and other related groups which create this vibey, groovy music. The past several months have been pretty difficult for me, so I rely on my relaxing home space to provide consistency and comfort. This means that on most days when I find myself hanging out or working at home, I turn on the Magic City Hippies Spotify station. Friends and clients have actually commented on the station, asking about the musical artists featured. I’m not kidding when I say that indie funk can instantly put you into a great mood and cause stress to just melt away.

Here are a few YouTube videos from bands within this genre:

My Longest Trailing Plants

I thought it might be fun to cover the trailing plants in my collection which have been the most rewarding in terms of growth. They all exhibit the longest trailing vines among my collection of close to 150 plants.

This Scindapsus pictus was purchased in January 2021, and this image was shot on January 23rd, 2021.
In three months, the Scindapsus pictus I mentioned in the previous image has grown significantly, which you can see here (this image was taken on April 25th, 2021).

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This is another Scindapsus pictus which was bought at the same time the one in the first image was acquired. The longest stem on this one measures 63 inches from the edge of the pot to the tip, and is seen running along the ceiling hooks along with another trailing vine. You can see that there are three other vines which are colliding with the Pachira (which is also growing like mad) which is underneath it. I can’t keep up with the growth on this one!

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I got this Senecio radicans in June of 2020. Here it is pictured with the vines just starting to extend beyond the bottom of the pot.
The longest vine on the Senecio radicans from above measures 46 inches in this image, which was taken on April 25th, 2021.

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Finally, this is a shot of my longest Hoya linearis, taken on April 25th, 2021. The longest strand measures at 33 inches.

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I am so impressed by and proud of my beautiful trailing plants!

Work Logs During COVID

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Copyright : Dmitrii Shironosov 

Ever since the pandemic began, many of us have become accustomed to working from home. For some, the shift to a home office environment may have enhanced productivity, while for those who struggle with self-motivation, a home work environment may have served as nothing but a challenge. Suddenly, work environments became riddled with completely new potential distractions, such as pets, children, package deliveries, and household chores. We have had to take more responsibility over our accountability and work ethic, while also working at a pace which doesn’t burn us out. I have a hunch that while some people have slacked off while working from home, more have probably worked harder while trapped at home than they ordinarily would while in a traditional work environment. I know that I have stayed up incredibly late at night to perform asynchronous telemedicine visits from home, something I would never be willing to do if I was working in a traditional clinic or medical office.

One thing I hadn’t given much thought to, despite the fact that my telemedicine productivity is monitored online, is that some employers have required employees to fill out work logs which itemize every single task an employee performs while on the clock. Given the fact that home distractions are quite different from work distractions, I wonder how much reported work activities have conflicted with what someone actually did during a work shift. On the other side of the coin, should quick bathroom breaks and trips to the kitchen for a snack be reported as scheduled breaks?

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Work/life balance is critically important for us all. We aren’t slaves, nor should we be treated as such. I truly believe that if an employee performs all required tasks for a given day, then the employer has no right to monitor every single second of that employee’s time, whether it is spent in the office/shop or at a home office. Another consideration is that while some would consider the presence of a pet in the home work environment to be a distraction, having a beloved pet around would reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance mood. I know that when I have one of my cats sitting on my lap while I am working on the computer, I am much more at ease. As a matter of fact, I have my rescue cat Shima sitting on my lap while I write this blog post, and I honestly feel that she enhances the flow of ideas and gives me so much love and comfort, thus enhancing my work.

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Copyright : lacheev

There are a multitude of benefits I can come up with for working from home:

  • No need to battle traffic or spend extra time sitting in a car or other mode of transportation as a means of traveling to and from a work site
  • Ability to perform relaxation breathing, rant, etc. while working especially long or frustrating hours without getting berated for it
  • You can work in your skivvies if you so choose

I’m curious to know who prefers working from home, and who is actually looking forward to returning to their regular work environment.

Who Names Their Plants?

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Copyright : Olga Ionina

On more than one occasion, friends have asked me if my plants have been christened with names.  For the most part, I have not gone to the trouble to name all of my plants, mainly because I personally feel that it is unnecessary and silly for me to do so.  I’m not knocking anyone who chooses to name all their plants, but the desire is, for the most part, absent in me.

So how do I discern between the close to 150 indoor plants which surround me at home?  I tend to use certain descriptors when I scribble my plant watering notes each week (yes, I keep track of which plants get watered in a given week), and those descriptors are pretty straight forward.  Usually, I will use the species name as a label, and if I have numerous specimens, I will write down the location of the plant. For example, I have two Hoya shepherdii, both of which are suspended over the two sinks in my master bath, so I refer to the one as “L shepherdii” and the other as “R shepherdii”.  I realize these labels aren’t exciting, but they are effective in helping me to keep track of my plants when I am watering them. 

However, there are three plants with bona fide names which I bestowed upon them, one of which was named the day I received it, one which was christened with a name about a month after it joined the plant brood, and one which earned its name after it exhibited an astonishing rate of growth.  While two of the names are quite fitting for the characteristics the two plant babies possess, one name is reflective of the species of the plant, and quite honestly reveals how lazy I was about using a lengthy German name when I could truncate it and use a fun name.

Sid:  Sid is a Ferocactus emoryi, “Emory’s barrel cactus”

My dear friend Blanche was at my house when I received Sid in the mail as a freebie which arrived along with a much-coveted monkey cactus I had ordered. As soon as I saw this spiky cactus, a name just popped into my head, and I exclaimed to Blanche, “For some reason, I really feel like this little guy needs a name!”, to which Blanche responded with, “I do too, and I’m thinking of a name too! If you say the same name I’m thinking of, I’ll freak!” The name which had popped into my head was Sid Vicious, so I revealed this to Blanche, who immediately squealed and said, “That’s the EXACT name I thought of too!” Later that day, I ordered a Sex Pistols mug to house the Emory’s barrel cactus.

Fred: Monstera adansonii ‘Friedrichsthalii’

This Monstera adansonii Friedrichsthalii very quickly became “Fred” after I needed to find a way to distinguish it from my other Monstera adansonii.

Rapunzel: Senecio radicans “String of Bananas”

This Senecio radicans was quite short when I bought it in June of last year, and it struggled for about two months before I changed its hang spot to an area right near a bathroom window, and essentially let it dry out completely between waterings. From that point, this plant just took off, and got so incredibly lacy and long that I decided it deserved the name Rapunzel. The longest tendril on this plant was measured on April 23rd at 46 inches from the edge of the pot to the end, which is three inches longer than it was a month prior. This radicans has aptly earned its descriptive and accurate name.

For comparison, the plant pictured above is another Senecio radicans which I purchased in January of this year. Both the radicans which I purchased in January and Rapunzel were at the level which you see marked in yellow when I brought them into my home. I look forward to seeing Rapunzel’s sister grow as long as Rapunzel.

Since plant people are increasingly more committed to their plants, often considering them to be pets or family members, it’s no surprise that more people are naming their houseplants. I like Nicoletta Richardson’s idea of naming plants after travel destinations from her bucket list, but for me, and if I had the energy to put into naming ALL of my plants, I could definitely see myself becoming a copycat and doing the very same thing. But I’d rather stick with the assigned scientific nomenclature because it appeals strongly to my scientific nerdiness, as well as to my propensity for properly classifying and labeling things.

How Many Plants Is Too Many?

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Copyright : Elnur Amikishiyev

 

The year 2020 seemed to blow the lid off plant addiction and hoarding.  More people than ever before have developed an obsession for houseplants, which makes sense since we have all pretty much been going stir crazy since the beginning of COVID-19 and lockdown.  It makes sense that we all turned to these beautiful, air-purifying, living things to enhance our home spaces and give us something to focus on besides our troubles.

There is a fascinating psychology behind collecting plants which differs from accumulation of inanimate collectible items.  Houseplants can have an incredibly calming, stress-reducing effect on us, and they also nicely soften the look and feel of home environments while also cleaning the air.  In addition, the rewards of watching a plant thriving under one’s care are considerable.  I know that every time one of my plants pushes out new growth, I get almost giddy with excitement.  

To be honest, I don’t even remember precisely how last year’s plant obsession really started.  I remember seeing and ordering two  Epipremnum cebu blues on May 27th, and two Zamioculcas zamiifolia ravens on Etsy on May 31st, two weeks after my father’s passing.  After that, it’s kind of a green blur.  My indoor plant count is now at 140.  That’s enough for me, because I have run out of reasonable space.

I think my dad’s death, the lockdown and hysteria surrounding COVID, my two roommates suddenly bailing on me, the loss of work, the fact that my weekly in-person visits with my mom were halted for six months, all pushed me into a very specific nesting mode.  I wanted to spruce up my place, and make it cozy and cool.  I added an outdoor fountain which immediately attracted mosquitoes during the warmer months (lesson learned, but I still have the fountain).  I added comfy pillows to all the seating in my living room and den, imparting a Bohemian vibe which I really enjoy.

After lockdown began, I had no desire to hoard things like clothing or little knick-knacks, though I know other people who began accumulating such items.  Instead, I wanted all the plants which caught my eye, living things I could nurture and watch grow, which also helped to melt away my stress. Though I am not one of those people who talks to their plants or names them (a select few have names…more on this in another post), I am aware of every single plant in my home. I know if a leaf is turning yellow, if a specimen needs to be rotated to get more even sun exposure.

So how many plants would be considered overkill?  Though I think the answer is quite subjective, there is an interesting Australian article which analyzes the optimal number of plants one should have in a room:

https://www.bhg.com.au/how-many-plants-you-need-per-room

Plants not only clean the air, they have a relaxing and calming effect on humans, so why have a limit on the number of plants to pack into a space?  My personal take on this is that I think it’s a mistake to allow one’s plant collection to overtake essential areas in a home, such as a kitchen counter, coffee table, floor space in a shower, stairs, and doorways, with the last two creating hazards since they would impede a speedy exit if a natural disaster were to occur.  It’s also a bad idea to put plants in spots where they clearly wouldn’t survive, such as a very dark room with no grow lights added.

I have my plants placed so strategically in my home that no one ever guesses that I have 140 indoor plants.  Although I fully address the light and humidity needs of all my plants, I also make sure they harmonize with the space they are in and look like they belong where they are.   I will never be one to buy a massive shelving unit or glass cabinet in which to shove my plants, because I think it looks supremely unattractive, and also ironically doesn’t showcase the plants optimally.  Whenever I see a plant person with a large shelving unit which is littered with plants, I know that the plant person is the only one who can fully appreciate all the specimens on the shelves, because they all tend to get lost in one big jumble.

I’ve heard some criticism from a couple of close friends about my plant collection, but I know that they don’t have the same mindset that someone who is into plants would have, so I’m not bothered by the snide remarks.  Ultimately, what matters is how a plant person feels about their plant collection.