Thursday, October 11, 2012


It’s a gray windy start to this second Thursday of the month. 

On the lawn the yellow branches of the birch tree glow like an electric torch.

The fall leaves cheerfully illuminate. It’s as if a light switch was flipped in the yard when the clouds scudded in.

The bright leaves will soon blow away. Until then they form the periphery of my view at my work station and are enjoyed very much.

It’s being typical October weather. October sees a wide range of conditions.

Fifty degrees has been the daily high. That’s somewhat below average. Last year, as an example of how variable our autumns can be, it was 83 on yesterday’s date.  

So you never know. What to expect is up for grabs except there’s no doubt that a forward advance on winter is being made.

It was blustery last weekend as the chilly spell settled in. Al got a taste of it as he volunteered at a soils exhibit at a regional park.

Three days of border collie trials, held at the park where he volunteered, became great spectator sport for him. He told me about it when he got home.

The collies come from around the Midwest to compete. I believe the trials are every year.

These intelligent trained dogs herd the sheep following sets of specific orders. The orders are communicated by blasts of the whistle. This is how the handlers convey their instructions.

Each whistle has a meaning. The collies alertly distinguish between the different signals. They have to be efficient, watchful and ever mindful of the message of the whistle.  

They carry out the directions with purposeful and joyful strategy. They're born and bred to herd.

Four sheep are allotted to each competing border collie. The black and white collies make a wide circle to come from behind as they herd their charges. They do this so as not to spook the sheep.

The sheep aren’t rushed to the gate. A certain pace is maintained. There can't be any nipping if the sheep chance to dawdle. This would disqualify the collie.

A number of herding techniques are tested such as circling a post in the right direction, moving the sheep through three gates, getting the sheep into a pen and separating the four sheep into two groups of two. 

Both the handler and the dog have to be at peak performance to do well in the competition.

It can happen that the handler causes a mistake or delay of time, while the collies are impeccable in carrying out their orders. Handler and collie in all instances have to, together, be at the top of their game.

The various herding skills, in total, are completed in eleven minutes. There’s no time to waste.

I was deep into closets while the border collies were making their times herding the sheep to the finish line. For me, too, there was no time to waste.

My mission was to switch the house over to Central Standard Time.

This wasn’t a matter of setting the clock an hour behind, which will happen soon enough, and with it an extra hour of sleep gained.

My energy was going into closets. The plan was to unplug the previous system, that of the summer closet, and restart our wardrobes in the direction of the cold months which align with CST.

As I plunged in there was initial dismay. If the closet was a garden the closest way to describe it was weedy. It was overgrown. It needed pruning. Somehow it had gotten away from me.

Closets breed mysteriously when doors close on them is my conclusion. The accumulation is never as you remember it of your own making.

With outerwear shifted front and center in the main closet my closet was next. 

Unlike the general closets, which get all sorts of things put into them, my personal space is for the most part neat. Items line up on hangers according to color and type.

Nevertheless the closet has become a bit untidy. The post-Labor Day two-step, as I call it, is responsible.

I dive into cold season items while still keeping out the warm weather clothes. The pieces mix and marry on the hangers.

If the selections in my closet are any indication clothing is becoming more seasonless. Many pieces can be incorporated through the year.

Hurrah, I say. Seasonless is a practical trend. You get more bang for your buck owning a piece that translates into other seasons.

This can be done through layering. Cut  and weight of the material pronounce some separates perfect for any time and almost any situation. 

Bold colors as the new neutrals also help.These pieces deliver year-round punch.

Seasonless purchases are as apt to be in for the long haul as once favorites had their seasonal moment and disappeared until next year, or a Caribbean cruise, came along.

It’s majorly worthwhile to seriously evaluate the collection which comprises your wardrobe. 

This was a discovery made on this cleanout. Maybe it’s not a discovery so much as an old truth forgotten too easily.

Closets tend to be visited via hurried peeks inside to pull out something which will do okay for the day ahead.

This time my approach was businesslike. The items were analyzed as a client or a work associate would be sized up. 

I wanted to determine the growth areas and strengths of my wardrobe. It's a first step in getting greater use out the closet. It's like learning to work together as a team.

Put in this light it gives the items a different value. Outfit possibilities came to mind as each separate was assessed for full potential.

This bodes well for future dressing. Jeans and tees pairings are frequently my go-to choices. Other ensembles can do the job just as well. In using them my closet serves me better.

Lots of us edit our clothes minimally. It’s hard to part with things. Our wardrobes share our story. 

For some of us there is emotional attachment, if even  the tiniest amount. It can be hard to clinch the actual elimination of familiar items.

Our pieces – bought at discount, splurged on, received as gifts, found at garage sales – all of the above and more – have been with us through the ordinary as well as the eventful.

They’ve held with us longer than some friends. They’ve been with us through more than one national election and, to be honest, when it comes to their vintage, through a couple babies or household moves.

Eventually, usually by dint of some mishap (shrinkage, fading, loss of appreciation for a certain color, etc), it's recognized action is necessary. A thorough closet clean gets us to the donation box quicker.

Many places accept clean, lightly used clothing. There are also consignment shops and eBay for cash back on items you no longer love. 

With these helps to make it so easy, clothes editing should happen more often than it does. It’s that it’s work. It’s work, time and process. But the payoff, as we may need to remind ourselves, is grand. It frees us bigtime.

I call my seasonal forays into the closets the grand reboot. It does give the sense of stopping the old series in its tracks. 

You start over. Maybe starting fresh is the better way to put it. It’s an excellent thought as you open your closet the next time.

Despite the piles of clothes laid out on the bed and draped over backs of chairs, and pieces sorted, tried on and rehung on hangers, the time, when I looked up from the closet overhaul, surprised me.

Going pall-mall, with a brief break for lunch, it wasn’t as late as I figured it might be. In fact, there was time to try a new bar recipe, which follows.

There are many ways to reboot, it occurred to me as the pan was removed from the oven in a soothing essence of chocolate and coconut delight.

Quick & Yummy Coconut Bars

In 13 x 9” baking pan melt ½ cup butter. Remove from heat. In blender pulse the contents of one 8.5 oz package Keelber Coconut Dreams into crumbs. (The crumbs make about 2 cups). Sprinkle cookie crumbs over melted butter.

Pour 1 15-oz. can sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top with 1 6-oz. package chocolate chips, ¾ cup flaked coconut (organic coconut flakes is what was used in this recipe as they were on the shelves) and 1 cup chopped walnuts; press down gently.

Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes or till golden brown. Cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Ro Giencke – October 11, 2012

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