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Life in Napa | The February Garden & Making Progress



My Mum said “Yikes!”, too. I am talking about all my stuff piled up in the living room. But like these lovely bushes of Blooming Quince are making progress in the garden, so am I. I am typing this on the last day of February, even though you will read it tomorrow, on the first day of the new month. Cody is fake-growling at an imaginary squirrel out of the bedroom window, and Tyler is barking at me because… well, because any excuse is good enough to ask for treats, and an imaginary squirrel seen by his brother definitely qualifies.




After she said yikes, my Mum also said that she does not envy me, and to take things slowly and not overdo it, something which I had figured out, too. I have a year, I was hoping to be done in three months, but now that I have started, I am thinking it will be more like six. To someone walking into my apartment for the first time, the spectacle would still be daunting, but I have been making progress. Here is the sorting & decluttering report, in numbers:

  • 1 king-size mattress and spring box: gone;
  • 1 tall and narrow bookcase: gone;
  • 1 box and three bagfuls of clothing and household items: donated to a wonderful local organization called Community Project, with more to follow;
  • 30 boxes emptied and mostly organized;
  • 8 containers sorted and organized.

I am only realizing now that I actually emptied thirty boxes. It may not sound like much given that a month has passed but, given everything else on my plate, I am impressed!




The cathartic effect showed up in the form of needing more rest, a few headaches, and more frequent episodes of allergy. I would say this related more to the adjustment to a new place than opening boxes. And it is now fading out: I feel more rested, and headaches are gone; just allergies remain on and off. I am in the process of unlearning the habit of not acknowledging quite how much I do, feeling I should be doing more, and not giving myself enough time-outs. I am getting better, but it’s a process. Until my body decides different and plops on the bed unable to do anything else but sleep. Good thing the pups are always up for naps. It is their second favorite thing after food.


The other thing my body decided was that there was no way it would allow me to continue working sitting on a zafu with my keyboard on a box. Setting up my desk became a priority on day four, which reminded me of another aspect of moving when I had to dash to the hardware store for a screwdriver as my tool box is… somewhere.

The reminder is this: every new rental we move to is different, with different plusses and minuses, and different organizational set ups, or lack there of. This translates to a series of trips to fantastic places like hardware stores, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target and the like. Half of the things I had bought for my previous unfurnished rental have no use in this one, while others are needed. Annoying? Very. Inevitable? That, too.

Now I have two extra screwdrivers.




Opening boxes has actually been an interesting process. I started with the ones marked ‘kitchen’ first, and those are satisfying to open for one reason: they are small, or smallish, and so well padded with paper that the volume of what actually comes out of one is but a third, so what I found myself having to organize was a lot less than it appeared by looking at the pile of boxes. Wheefff!

While going through this process I experienced that feeling of joy I promised I would stick to when deciding what to keep and what not. I found some plates and bowls I had forgotten I had and loved them again so much it was like Christmas! Definitely keepers, and a perfect example of the difference between: “Yeah, I like this, maybe I should keep it.” and “OMD! I love this, I forgot I had it!” squealing with joy and jumping up and down.

I am still missing some things so I know there must be a few more kitchen boxes I have yet to dig out. Hopefully more treasures are awaiting. Uhm… more like my soup pots and my cutting board, which are indeed treasured. Have you ever tried chopping parsley without a cutting board? I did today. Not fun.




Sidebar: don’t you just love these flowering bushes? They are called Loropetalum Chinensis, and they stay green all year round, with leaves changing color several times over the year. At this time they begin to fill with hot pink flowers adding a big burst of color to the garden. Then they settle with a smaller quantity of flowers for the rest of the spring and summer. To get as big as the ones in these images they need about nine-ten years, but they are so worth it!

Sidebar closed.





Tackling all those boxes and all that stuff meant two main things:

  • clearing space by one of the windows so that light can come in;
  • about six square feet of free floor space where I was able to start organizing some of the things I am keeping.

As it turns out, the idea of getting a temporary storage unit was premature. I hung in there without one for two reasons: the two facilities I found that I liked did not have units small enough for my need, and the thought of going back and forth from apartment to car to storage unit and back with boxes and stuff was just. not. appealing.




A day out with the girls and the pups in the middle of all of that was just what I needed. I loaded the piglets in the car and we drove up Napa Valley via highway 128 all the way to Healdsburg and then Cloverdale. Lunch at a tapas restaurant called Brava’s in Healdsburg was our meeting place, followed by dessert from Moustache Bakery and tea at Nancy’s place in her Cloverdale paradise before heading back home. The drive was one I cannot recommend enough: spectacular! And one I will be repeating again, soon and with my camera this time. Instead of one hour it will take me several with so much beauty to photograph. I will, of course, be sharing it all here on the blog.




Yesterday, as I was making my grocery store list, I paused to really think about what I wanted to eat. If I could eat anything right now, what would that be? I started writing it down, and the list is now two pages long. Ninety-five percent on it is Italian food that can only be had in Italy. Either that or I have to cook it. So I will by and by over the course of this year. Maybe even all of it. I started today – hence the ‘chopping parsley without a chopping board’ experience, preferably not to be replicated. Will share soon.




I hope I did not bore you with my ramblings, and that you enjoyed our walk through the February garden. The rainstorm finally ceased about a week ago, and though Jack Frost is still visiting early in the morning, these sunny late winter days are delightful. Mimosas (they are called acacias here) are blooming everywhere.



“May You Be Happy,

May You Be Blessed,

May You Prosper in All Things.”



More inspirational personal stories you might enjoy:



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