New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

The dreaded closet cleanout.

Two shirts from the 70’s that I’m determined to wear again.
Belts from the 70’s that are still cool.
Enough black con tees to equip a regiment.
A pirate coat and shirt and boots…
A 1960’s velvet shirt that—oh, dear, I’m not sure I have the nerve to wear.
Now, mind, we moved up here in 2000, and moved to this house in 2007, so these have survived several culls.
Mostly—a lot of shortsleeved tees that don’t do well in snow…but are good for intervening in the fish tank. I can do with fewer of them on hangers.
Sweatshirts: those that say ‘halloween’ and that come with poinsettias are going into storage for a bit.

This goes into a giant Rubbermaid fliptop that will get revisited in early spring, when tees become the mode of dress. And the sweatshirts will go in, the tees will come out.

I love my room. But it is only about 13’x 14′, and with a queen bed and an armchair, two small drawer-chests and a trunk—it’s small. My closet is about 64″ wide, and there are just limits. I do have a window with a lovely view of the pond—it’s where I sit in my mini-armchair recliner and work. But there are some aspects my room shares with a space capsule—and storage is huge—well, a huge *problem,* that is. Both chests are stuffed. The trunk is stuffed. I have an AC register and an AC return that can’t have furniture up against them. I’ve measured every which way, and I don’t think I can do better than the arrangement I have, which means I have 1 foot between my bed and my chair and 2.3 feet on the other side, where chest #1 is. Furniture? Not so much. Everything in here is modular: baskets in wooden shelves; a bed that breaks down to an inflatable bag inside foam and a cover, and a base that breaks into 4 pieces held together by a quilted cover. So it’s not what you’d call high decor. And it’s real easy to move—if there were any other possible arrangement. It’s sort of like a Rubick’s Cube, however: there’s only one right answer…and that’s pretty well where things are, unless I want to give up my seat by the window, and that’s a no-go.

But I have a mantra: I am not a teenager living in one room…I have a house with a basement. I have other storage. I think the next thing that gets consigned to a Rubbermaid box is most of the contents of these drawers.

The good news is, I now have empty hangers.

28 comments to The dreaded closet cleanout.

  • chondrite

    I haven’t even the benefit of a nice view; the one large window in the bedroom looks out onto the neighbor’s driveway. We had to replace the old jalousies there because that is where the neighbors like to grill anytime the weather is nice, and all the lovely BBQ smoke pours straight inside our house.

    T-shirts are a perpetual problem. We collect them from events and vacations, and usually accrue them faster than they wear out. I have 4 or 5 that are in questionable territory that I have designated housework shirts (like your fishtank shirts). I wear them for gardening, painting, or other grubby activities, and if they encounter something that tears them or otherwise renders them too disgusting, I throw them out.

    Sweatshirts, sweaters, and other little-used clothes are stored in suitcases tucked behind the headboard. It makes the suitcases do double duty, and prevents the cat from lurking back there. We have no basement, but *do* have an attic; the effort involved in moving things in and out of it means it doesn’t have anything we definitely don’t want to keep, and must fit through a 2’x2′ hatch. The smallest spare room is the ‘captain’s cabin’, and has anything that is accessed irregularly but needs to be kept available, like the vacuum, or the telescope, or the spare chairs.

  • CJ

    Tees are my working uniform. And I have my favorites, one of which, a black one with a red t-rex skeleton on it, has a hole, a bleach spot, and is getting thin, but I absolutely will not turn loose of that shirt. I got it up at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, and wish I had gotten a dozen. Jane and I have a notion to drive up there and see the dinos. I don’t think Dr. Philip Currie is still there—he’s a great fellow: met him at a local convention, and he was a great deal of fun; gave us a nice tour behind the scenes…I so treasure that. And that shirt reminds me of it. I have a few other favorites. Oddly enough, two of them involve dinosaurs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • chondrite

      Everyone should have 1, or 2, or a few treasured t-shirts. I have one my brother bought me when he was a subcontractor for NASA; it has the ‘flying meatball’ logo, with Lewis Research Center underneath. Another is from our expotition to Florida to see the last Shuttle launch. The front has the last Atlantis mission patch, and the back is all the patches from preceding missions. I received a number of librarian-themed shirts when I got my MLIS, but by this time, most of them are wearing out.

      Jalousies = glass louvers, yes.

    • paul

      When you go to the Royal Tyrell, the most awesome thing you could do is hike up the hillside and sit down for snapshots–across the KT Boundary,with your butt in the “Age of Mammals” and your heels in the “Age of Dinosaurs”. There are places it looks to be narrow enough to do that. And it’s too late to try to rename it! What one learns first has precedence.

    • paul

      I suppose if I had to pick a favorite T-shirt, it might be my birthday shirt, but only by coincidence. It has a picture of a crazy Chinaman standing down a tank in Tianamen Square!

  • Walt

    “Jalousies.” Interesting word. I assume you mean glass louvers and not Venetian blinds.

    I have the opposite problem. So much storage space there’s no urgency to get rid of stuff I will undoubtedly never wear again, use again, read again. It’s discouraging to sort through stuff for a negative result. Maybe I need to take a roll of dollar coins and throw them in so there’s some treasure in there. (Yes, we do have dollar coins in the US; they sit in a corner of the mint. I think they’ve been bad.)

  • Aja Jin

    I have oodles of stuff. I’m not a hoarder, I’m a “collector” LOL. My wife and I are planning to retire soon-ish and move (likely to a smaller place), so downsizing is on the way. In theory I’m ready for it… in practice, not so much.

  • ryanrick

    I hear you about the T-shirts! Not sure what I’d do if I couldn’t wear my jeans and tees. A run up to Drumheller would be fun (been thee and we thought it was great too), but you might be able to get it online. I made sure I could replace my Lions of Tsavo tee from the Field Museum online — it shows the actual lions that Patterson shot. Admittedly it was a tough choice even though I loved the movie The Ghost and The Darkness — they also have Sue. So I best friend Sue a Sue t-shirt and I got me a Sue me

  • Walt

    Five pirate coats… (and shirt and boots)…
    Four shirts from the 70โ€ฒs (that Iโ€™m determined to wear again)…
    Three belts from the 70โ€ฒs that are still cool…
    Two regiments of black con tees…
    And a 1960โ€ฒs velvet shirt thatโ€”oh, dear, Iโ€™m not sure I have the nerve to wear.

    ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†


    (do I hear six?)

  • Tommie

    Wear the velvet shirt! Even if it is just around the house as a sweater, you deserve to wear velvet!

  • chondrite

    Dumb question #82: Is it possible to have glasses that correct for astigmatism at a distance, but are too strong for close work? After the debacle with the wrong lens in my new pair and getting a replacement, my new glasses still aren’t great for reading or anything closer than about 5′; things are blurred and I have to take the new pair off to read or do computer work. I have slight nearsightedness that is improving as I age. I wonder if the optometrist said, “Well, she doesn’t want to get bifocals, so we’ll just take care of the astigmatism and if she needs to get bifocals or another pair for near work later, we’ll sort it then.” I tried bifocals several years back, and was not impressed with the utility vs. the price.

  • CJ

    I’m farsighted as all getout. WHich is a situation I like. Storebought reading glasses aren’t too bad, but if I want both eyes to work, I need ground lenses. I need some superstrong reading glasses-the cheap sort–to see really up close. I have the optometrist do a pair for working on my laptop on my lap…not a desk: screw the test they try to apply!

    Unfortunately I can’t wear bifocals. I have a ‘torque’ in my vision which means the astigmatism is a moving target depending on the distance. I consequently have multiple pairs of glasses, but (again, thank God for the farsightedness!) I can get by without glasses for seeing trees and mountains.

    One of my ongoing embarrassments is that I can’t always recognize people at conversational distance, and I can’t read name badges any more. They look somehow different to me, not blurry, but something in the algorithm has changed and I don’t interpret the sight quite right…so if I look through you as if I don’t know you, I’m not being a snot. Just say, hi! I’m Fred! and: From —[fill in blank]! helps, because there may be 2-3 Freds.

    • paul

      I’m near-sighted, and getting better with age! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I have a โ€˜torqueโ€™ in my vision which means the astigmatism is a moving target depending on the distance. Wait, wha?! How can that happen?

      • chondrite

        From my limited understanding of astigmatism, there are two types: one which involves having a football shaped lens, rather than a spherical one, or a strangely-shaped retina. I suspect that nand’ CJ’s ‘torque’ arises from having a non-spherical lens in her eye(s); as the muscles change the shape of the lens to refocus for near or far objects, it does not do so uniformly. Consequently, the value of the astigmatism changes depending on how near or far the object might be.

        Gaaahhh. I am beginning to think I may need a separate pair of glasses for computer work. At least I can still read, sew, etc. within arms’ length fairly easily.

        • I really have to get to the eye doctor, because after years of being nearsighted in the extreme, my eyes have definitely changed. I don’t think I need glasses for close up because I can see just fine without the glasses, but I may need bifocals that are plain glass on the bottom.

          Oh, the joys of being over 50

        • playswithhorses

          Yes, you will probably need a separate pair of glasses for computer work. I have tried bifocals, and those durn progressive lenses. I was always using the wrong focal point (which doesn’t help your vision). So I went back to regular lenses for regular distance vision and driving and then got myself a another pair for computer glasses. I find it works great.

  • Walt

    We were discussing English’s anomalies here a couple days ago. I came across the article below about the African American pronunciation of “ask” as aks (or ax). The linguist asserts that -sk, -ks (-x), and -sh words have been shifting sounds for centuries. He quotes Chaucer as using “axe” for “ask” and notes that “fish” was formerly “fisk”. So, add to everything else we discussed, freezing spelling while many words were changing sound continuously.

    For some reason I’m reminded of a high school friend outraged that absorb and adsorb were both words, with slightly different meanings. Would English be poorer if we had to say “soak in” and “soak onto”?

    When I see a language as orderly as Japanese, I think someone must have gone through and re-engineered the language.,0,1054315.story

    • GreenWyvern

      Here’s what Caxton had to say about variations in English, which were an even bigger issue in the 15th century than today. He tells a story about how the common word ‘eggs’ was not understood by someone at the Foreland, only about 70 miles down the Thames from London.

      This is his original spelling and punctuation (and he also says ‘axe’ for ask). If you have trouble understanding it, then read it aloud, because the spelling is more or less phonetic.

      And certaynly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that. whiche was vsed and spoken whan I was borne / For we englysshe men / ben borne vnder the domynacyon of the mone. whiche is neuer stedfaste / but euer wauerynge / wexynge one season / and waneth & dyscreaseth another season / And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a nother. In so moche that in my dayes happened that certayn marchauntes were in a ship in tamyse for to haue sayled ouer the see into zelande / and for lacke of wynde thei taryed atte forlond. and wente to lande for to refreshe them And one of theym named sheffelde a mercer cam in to an hows and axed for mete. and specyally he axyd after eggys And the goode wyf answerde. that she coude speke no frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry. for he also coude speke no frenshe. but wolde haue hadde egges / and she vnderstode hym not / And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde haue eyren / then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel / Loo what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte. egges or eyren / certaynly it is harde to playse euery man / bycause of dyuersite & chaunge of langage.
      – Caxton, Preface to Eneydos (1490)

      The conclusion is as true in our own time as in Caxton’s: “Certainly it is hard to please every man, because of diversity and change of language.”


      • Walt

        Very nice! And then there’s the expectations appearances promote. A fluent Mandarin-speaker phoned a Chinese store and asked if they had this or that; perfect communication. Then she went into the store, and the same person couldn’t understand a word she said; he couldn’t reconcile Mandarin from a Caucasian mouth.

    • paul

      It’s the essence of “regional accents”, of course.

      Robert MacNeil, formerly of PBS’ “The Newshour” (himself from Nova Scotia), did a 9-part series on PBS, “The Story of English”, (OMG, was that back in ’86?!?!) about the spoken English language, including several “creoles”. His conclusion was they are all equally valid “Englishes”.

      IMO, there should be some sort of official “drag” on the speed of differentiation. After all, the goal is communication and if language drifts unimpeded so far that communication is inhibited, then it has failed.

      One may be so bold as to suggest that the British Empire was not the sole reason for English’s worldwide, if not universal, adoption. It’s regularized rules of spelling allows everyone to at least recognize the written words without confusion. Writing is so much more important today than it was a millenium ago! One might still grouse about the pnonetic confusions of the orthography. ๐Ÿ™

      • Walt

        I can think of two unofficial retardants to English drift. BBC English and Midwestern American English, used by all the news networks and most American video (unless they have a story reason for something else).

        Also, a great number of sciences are dominated by English. I know a couple dozen computer languages but not one is in a language other than English, unless you count Gibberish. It would be trivial, but I don’t know of a language that has been translated so the keywords are not in English. (Still, they probably exist somewhere as teaching languages.) Even Pascal, designed by Switzerland’s Nicholas Wirth, has English keywords.

  • ready4more

    IMHO French would be a dead language if not for French Canada and the African former colonies. Official French en France has been so buttoned down by the French academy that new words can’t work their way into the language. Just read the French instructions versus the English instructions for anything. It takes twice as many words, most of them modifiers when stated in French. That is one of the reasons French is not used for computers or computer languages.

  • GreenWyvern

    It’s not at all the case that French and other languages are not used for computers and programming.

    Even if the keywords in a programming language are English, typically the variable and function names, and everything else will be in French, or German, or Chinese, or Russian, or Portuguese, or whatever.

    Full translations of major programming languages also exist, as well as various local programming languages.

    If you were to buy a computer in France, you wouldn’t see a word of English in the menus or anywhere. Everything would be French, and the keyboard would be French. The same in Germany, Italy, Japan, etc.

    If you went to a typical French company, you would probably find that almost the whole of their code base is in French, and you wouldn’t be able to work on the code without knowing French. The same in any country that speaks a major language.

    Just because we may not have been exposed to it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Typically every country has a vast network of websites and apps in their own language, including programming sites and forums.

    Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has over 500 million registered users. Orkut in Portuguese is more popular in Brazil than Facebook.

    English may be the lingua franca of the world, but national languages are not dying in the Internet age, they are thriving.

    To do a Google search in another language, go to, click on Settings at the bottom, then Advanced Search. Then you can choose a language to search in.

    For example, here is a search for ‘PHP’ in French:

    You can find any number of sites dealing with PHP programming in French, the same as you will find for any major programming language, and any major spoken language.

    e.g. here is a PHP reference manual in French

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