Thursday, March 15, 2018

Old Day Planners

Today, I was going through the shelves/overhead bins in my office cubicle.  There are three of them, with lids that come down and can be locked.  Actually, we are supposed to keep them locked for safety reasons, so that the contents won't fall out and hit us on the head during an earthquake, but I've noticed that not all my colleagues keep their bins closed and locked; but that's neither here nor there!

What is important is that the cubicles in our new offices won't have these overhead storage bins, so we will all have to find other storage space for the contents of our overhead storage shelves.

I am on a mission to go through what I am storing in them with an eye towards discarding as much as I can, so that I will have less to box up and move (although movers will do the actual moving) and have less items to store at the other end.  I am also thinking this is a good time to declutter my stuff, if I am planning to retire sometime this summer.

One storage bin was already mostly empty, with only a few (five) brochures/binders stored in them.  I managed to declutter/recycle about 6 or 7 out-dated reference manuals from the other two bins and made room for the brochures and binders from the third bin on the other two shelves. 

One of the items I recycled today was my appointment book/day planner from 2011!  I took a quick look through it, before I tossed it in the recycle bin.  Among reminders about meetings and appointments, names and phone numbers, various due dates and to do lists, etc., there were some additional things that struck me as interesting:

The furlough reminders - this was during the economic downturn, we were required to take an unpaid furlough day, every other week (1 per pay period).  I am not very good at math, but I believe it amounted to a 20% pay cut.  We were also facing layoffs at the time and had been required to review our employment history, dates of hire, etc., as layoffs took place on a seniority basis, with the newer hires being the first to be laid off, although, there was some talk among the upper management about removing "dead wood"!

I remember going through an exercise, on paper, to figure out how much I would need to live on, on a "bare bones" budget, if I needed to find work at minimum wage after a layoff.  I still had a mortgage and I was putting my daughter through university at the time (there were reminders of when tuition payments were due, etc., in the planner).  My bare bones budget showed that I would need to do two full time jobs that paid minimum wage, to make ends meet.  The bare bones budget meant no more dance/gymnastics classes for daughter, having her attend a community college instead of university, etc.  Giving up my house and renting an apartment was out of the question because I had a relatively low mortgage and an one bedroom apartment in my area amounted to almost as much, if not more, than my mortgage!  Getting a roommate/renting out one room was one option, I considered, but, I didn't have to.  I had a pay cut, but I didn't get laid off.  I cut back where I could (halved my Christmas gifts budget, eating out budget, practically eliminated my clothing budget, consolidated and reduced my books/hobbies/crafts supplies budget, etc.) and managed on my reduced salary. 

On February 4, right after a reminder stating "Furlough" (it was a furlough day), there was this quote from Shakespeare:

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them" - Hamlet (part of his "To be or not to be" soliloquy")

Not sure why I felt the need to write that out...

Then, on February 13, I guess I found it important to make a note, in red: *P-Me, indicating that I was still undergoing menopause (I was 55 at the time).

On April 7, I had noted:  # words that end in "mt" = 1 (dreamt); # words that end in "gry", other than angry & hungry = 0.  That's an interesting bit of information, isn't it?  Only one word, "dreamt" ended in "mt"?  And, these days, dreamed is replacing dreamt - very soon, there won't be any word ending in "mt" in common usage!  And only two words - angry and hungry - ending in "gry".

On June 15, I had jotted down:
Medicago lupulina
Trifolium dubium 
Euphorbia helioscopia

These are the scientific names of three plants:

Medicago lupulina  (common name: Black medic)

Trifolium dubium  (common name: Lesser trefoil, little hop clover)

Euphorbia helioscopia  (common name: Sun spurge; I found this one to be especially funny because I was looking it up, again, just this morning!  LOL!  I know the plant by sight/common name, but often forget the scientific name)

This is a picture I took of Euphorbia helioscopia, in my garden, today:

Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)
All three are considered weeds, but, the sap from the Sun spurge has been found to be helpful in treating skin lesions and skin cancer.

The other two plants also grow in my garden, but they haven't appeared, yet, this year.

I guess I was doing some species identification either for a friend of mine (she used to take pictures of wild flowers and insects she'd see on her walks and the biologist in me would come out and try to identify them for fun!  Ask Nathalie - she knows all about it!  LOL!) or for my own amusement!

On July 18, I had written:

Psoloessa delicatula (Brownspotted)

Melanoplus kennicotti

They are both grasshoppers; the first is also known as Brownspotted grasshopper and the second one is Kennicott grasshopper.

Apparently, I was still identifying wildlife!  If I recall correctly, my friend had found a little green grasshopper in her apartment and took a photograph of it and I was trying to describe the grasshoppers I find in my garden, which start out small and green and soon become large and brown.

There were various other, more mundane things written down, but these were the ones that caught my eye, today, as I looked through the book, before tossing it in the recycle bin.  I was not blogging, back then, but I kept written journals.  What I wrote in the planner were just notations, but I thought they were interesting - a brief glimpse of what was happening at that time. 

Do you keep a day planner?  Or do you journal? 


  1. I've started many a journal but given up fairly quickly. What I write seems of no consequence. But it's reading about your furlough days and the economic crisis etc. that makes me regret not being more disciplined at times. There are probably lots of things I've forgotten about.

    I obviously blog and find it easier and quicker to type rather than write, but it's not quite the same as turning the pages of a diary. I'm the same with books. No kindle etc. It has to be the real thing with pages I can turn lol.

    I keep thinking about starting a scrapbook but something is holding me back, although I don't know what. Have you ever done one? xx

    1. Suzanne, like you, I had started diaries and journals, over the years, and given up after a few months. Back then, my thinking was, if I kept a diary, then, I had to write every day; if I couldn't write every day and skipped a few days, then, it was no good! That old, "all or nothing" concept that can be so self-defeating! Then, I decided I would journal, and, in my mind, a journal was something you didn't have to write in, every day (this definition of journal/diary might be wrong, but that was how I thought of it). Then, of course, I couldn't stop writing, almost daily! LOL!

      Yes, I have done scrapbooking, although not recently. I think it is partly because I don't get a lot of photographs printed out to scrapbook. My blog is now, both a journal and a scrapbook, I guess. Maybe I'll take up scrapbooking, again, when I retire and have more free time! Your monthly re-cap posts are a bit like a scrapbook of the month that was. Maybe you can start out with something like that? Sometimes, it is the fear of commitment that holds me back from starting something - that, "if I start, then, I will have to continue and where will I have the time/energy/resources, etc." type of feeling. Sometimes, just giving myself the permission to do something on a one-time basis helps me get over it - there is no commitment to continue. Perhaps, the next time you go on a weekend in the caravan, just decide to capture a moment or two in a notebook or sketch pad - you might not do one for every trip, but, even one will be a reminder of that weekend, and, who knows? Maybe you'll do a page every other trip, and by the end of the summer, you'll have a nice little scrapbook. It doesn't have to be perfect. When we went on a trip to Taiwan, years ago, my step-dad received an autographed book from a friend of his and, when I went through the books on the shelves, looking to toss a few, I came across this book and at the very back, where there were a couple of blank end pages, my step-dad had jotted a few entries - a date and a brief word or two "visited the museum" and there'd be ticket stub from the museum or the bus trip there, and, suddenly, it was like a vacation journal/scrapbook! I didn't toss that book, by the way! Because of the notes and stuff my step-dad inserted. :)

  2. I learned a long time ago that scrapbooking can be done with no photographs at all. Sometimes there are no pictures of the day but you want to remember some of the details. That is where a ticket stub, a picture clipped from a magazine or a post card with a few written words journaling the event can bring the most wonderful memories to mind. I love coming across an old recipe book with my mother's handwritten notes, or finding an old letter written by my dad in the back of a drawer. I am sure that my blog will someday bring back memories for me and my kids, but it is the keepsakes and the written notes that affect me most keenly. And you don't need to do it everyday or catalogue every photo you have ever taken. I can't wait to see how your new direction in life will take you Bless, after retirement.

    1. Susan, you are right - a little memento is all it takes! A scrapbook is just a place to keep it all in one place, perhaps organized by dates or topics, or something, and a little note to help jog the memory, a bit.

      As for what happens after retirement, we'll have to wait and see, won't we? At this point, I am just hoping that I will be blessed enough to have some time in which to enjoy it, you know? There are still a few things I'd like to do while I physically can. :)

  3. I used to journal and I used to write daily on foreign trips to interesting places but this was all pre internet. There are journals now taking up space in a plastic basket on my shelf in the closet. I do keep a little planner for daily notes so that I remember what we had for dinner the week before as I would never remember and it helps me to plan when I look back. Also I note when I had a haircut, etc. and when certain chores were performed (to remind myself that I do actually do something around here, LOL).
    Regarding clearing out stuff in your office, like you, my DH had the right idea as every day he would go through something and see what he could discard, and when he actually retired he didn't have a lot to take with him.

    1. Bushlady, maybe, one day, your granddaughter might like to look through your scrapbooks and see the places where you've been and what you saw and did there. Even if she were to visit some of those places, herself, things might have changed since your visit, so that might be something she'd find interesting.

      Yes, when I retire, I am not planning to bring back anything with me, except, perhaps the copy of the award plaque the project team I was on received (I didn't attend the awards dinner and I didn't want to get a copy of the award for myself, but my supervisor and colleagues got me the plaque, anyway!) I don't think I'll even bring my name plate home - what would I do with it? I don't keep any personal items at work - no pictures/photographs, knick knacks, plants (I brought home the one plant I had in my office, before I started to work from home during treatments), etc. Oh, wait, I have a little plastic flower pot I use as a pen/pencil holder. I might bring that home with me. :)

  4. I find looking through old papers interesting which is not always conducive to cleaning up in a timely manner.

    Your furlough days reminded me that I had furlough days several years ago. I don't remember the details, but I didn't have as many as you did. For now, those days are gone and I'm glad.

    1. Live and Learn, you are right - going through old papers can be a hindrance when trying to declutter! If I am really pressed for time, I will just box up everything and have it sent to the new office, to go through there between when we move and I retire. I did, after all, estimate that I'll have 35 boxes of stuff to move - one box per year of employment! LOL. Just one of my projects has 15 boxes of related materials, although I spoke to the administrative staff, yesterday, and asked that some of it be sent to file storage. I am hoping I can cut down the number of actual boxes to about 10 or so, but, we'll see how it goes.

      I, too, am glad that the days of furlough are behind us! Hopefully, it will remain that way and our children won't be required to experience them in the future!

  5. How fun it can be to read through old day planners and reminisce. My day planner, back when I worked, was my life. I kept my work calendar printed out (that was before smart phones!) and then I'd carry it everywhere so I could also jot down doctor appointments, my kids' schedules, etc. Recently, when I purged my office supplies, I found a pack of blank pages for that particular planner, unopened. I donated it although I'm doubtful people use it anymore.

    I was at Michael's the other day and there was a whole dairy and journal section! I guess a lot of people are journaling? I'm not creative enough or have the patience to hand write a journal and make it look pretty with stickers, etc. Also I'm cheap! As you know my blog is my diary. This is where I recount all the minute things that happen to me and my kids. Sometimes it seems unimportant but as someone who is super forgetful, I'm so entertained re-reading my posts and reminiscing about what happened. Sometimes, like when my friend Pixel comments a month late on a post, I re-read a fairly recent post and I had already forgotten about what had happened or a hike, or something that I said I would do! And I can "make it pretty" with my pictures and clip art, which is something that I enjoy.

    Back when I was homeschooling YS, I did a "yearbook" for him every year in Powerpoint, where I recounted what we had worked on, inserted pictures, clipart, etc. Sadly, I believe that I lost those when one of my hard drives crashed. I really should look through all my files on USB sticks, external drives, etc to see if I can locate them. Also my old blog lost all its pictures when Blogger switched from Picasa to Google Photos so I had started recreating my posts with pictures in Powerpoint documents so I could keep them and maybe even print them since it was a private blog and I talked about all my kids and what they did and posted their photos. I had an ambition to recreate the whole thing, but the project was so huge that I never finished it. I ought to work on that this summer. I do have a record of all the emails that my ex and I exchanged back and forth every day when we divorced, recounting to the other parent what the kids did that day. We always shared custody 50/50 and the kids switched houses on a 3 day/3 day/2 day/2 day schedule so emailing a recap of their day every night seemed the right thing to do so we were both on the same page at all times. Again, back then we didn't have smartphones, Facebook, etc. I'm glad we did it that way rather than calling because not only did we not have to talk to one another too much (LOL) but also now we have records of that if the kids are ever interested in reading that they were up to for a few years in the early 2000s.

    I'm relieved that you found the fortitude to recycle the old day planners, though. I thought you were about to tell us that you had decided to keep them. I know you've been trying to declutter! And I'm glad that you never did get laid off, although it sounds to me like you have a lot of seniority (I think you said over 30 years in one post?) so surely you would have been pretty "safe" by their criteria, no? Although you can never count on such things, I think. Being furloughed, though, especially as a single parent, could have been catastrophic. It's a good thing you were already very frugal (despite the expenses that you did have).

    1. Nathalie, sounds like you've got yourself a nice summer project to work on! :) At one time, I collected all of daughter's school work, etc., so she could look back on them one day and reminisce, but she's not interested, so going through and tossing them will be another project for me!

      At the time of the furloughs, I had some seniority (20+ years) and wouldn't have been in the first couple of waves of layoffs, but not enough to qualify for early retirement (after 25 years); I was trying to hang on till then, because after 25 years, I could have opted for early retirement instead of being laid off! The advantage was medical insurance for myself and my daughter. Yes, as a single parent (I didn't receive any child support), I worried about supporting us, but, I had lived beneath my means for several years and built up savings, so, it would have been alright. Still, it was a time of anxiety as I watched cousins and friends getting laid off and not being able to find jobs that paid as well, etc.

    2. I'm only replying to you because I'm being YOU and still up at 2 am when I have to get up early! Your post inspired me to look up my old blog and I have been re-reading, with great pleasure, posts about when I was homeschooling YS and what we were doing as well as what was happening with my older kids. Only part of my posts had lost pictures and those still had them so it was even nicer to see the kids when they were younger again, especially YS without a beard and back when he was a jovial child (something hard to imagine nowadays!). OK, now I'm turning off the light because I'm going to be dragging myself out of bed to go walking with Middle Son and my grandpup early in the morning! Maybe your Daughter will be more interested in her old things once she had kids of her own. Good night!

    3. Glad you got to enjoy re-reading your old blog, Nathalie, even if it kept you up till 2:00 a.m.! Hope you fall asleep right away and wake up feeling energetic enough for your walk! Sleep tight!


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