67. Gadget stuff

This is part 5 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

I need want a new IPhone.

There is nothing wrong with mine, except it’s old. A 3GS. If you’re not up on IPhones, that’s 3 models ago. The 4, 4S, and 5 have come out since. A few months ago, I got Mr. H.C. an upgrade for his. He needed one; his little slider thingy (technical jargon) was broken, and he couldn’t silence it, plus it was looking pretty bad because he is a construction guy, and his phone gets a lot of hard use, and he just needed a new phone.

He didn’t want one. Mr. H.C. is not a tekkie; he uses his phone for convenience and work and just wants a phone that will do everything for him and has a short learning curve. (He’s a busy guy.) So I bought him a 4 — not that much different from his old 3G, but it has Siri, and it has a great camera. Yes, a great camera. That’s why I need want one.

Unfortunately Richard Foster reminds me (yet again) that I am falling short here too. I know, I know, we all fall short…

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Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, said in a recent blog post, “Incidentally— when you start a blog, you have NO IDEA that you need to take 12,000 pictures of EVERYTHING.” And yes, she is absolutely right! Not only does one need space for one’s thousands of photos, the new IPhone cameras take Panoramic shots, which one absolutely needs if one is trying to show a room transformation… Look at these panoramic shots of the kitchen:

Apple Hill Kitchen

Panorama Apple Hill Kitchen
Yes, these were taken by Mr. H.C’s phone. And not only does it have Panorama options, it also has HDR capabilities. Right! I’m not really a tekkie either, so I only recently learned what this is. It means High Dynamic Range imaging; a few posts ago I complained about not being able to get a good photo of the inside and outside of the kitchen windows in the same shot. That’s what HDR does —

By definition, photography is the art of recording light. This act must be done with the camera sensor — which is only capable of capturing a certain range of light intensity at any given time. Even the most expensive and most professional cameras on the market are not equipped with sensors that can capture all ranges of light in one photograph. That’s where “HDR photography” comes in.”

This was from an article on IPhoneography that I went back to study. So, this photo was taken with Mr. H.C.’s camera as well:

Kitchen Windows at Apple Hill Cottage

HDR technology at work — this is the shot I could never get with either my Canon or my IPhone. I deleted all the tries or I would show you the difference.

If I had my priorities straight, I could be in agreement with TWO of Mr. Foster’s rules for a simple life here.

Most of the time Mr. H. C. is agreeable when I ask to borrow his phone. Last weekend I took eight pictures with it. But sometimes he wants to use it himself? Like tonight, for instance, I wanted to upload the photos onto the Mac and he said, “Well how long will it take?”
Right. Never mind, I’ll do it later.

Convenience! That’s what we want, and we want it now. (Sigh) Oh those wants vs. needs… They are so troublesome. Especially when it comes to tech gadgets. Those custodians of modern gadgetry sure have us propagandized, don’t they? Face it, I have three perfectly good digital cameras at my fingertips, and I’m not satisfied? There is something wrong with this picture. (It must not be in HDR!)

65. More Stuff on Stuff

This is part 4 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

Of the ten practical ways to embrace simplicity in your life that Richard Foster discusses in Celebration of Discipline, this next one has made me most uncomfortable. I must confess here: it has taken me several weeks to write about this one. Oh, I started it. Three weeks ago I started it…

Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.

Foster is not talking about dangerous addictions here; he is talking about the generally good or fun things that people enjoy, that become obsessions or idols in our lives. Such as buying books, shoes, clothes, watching TV or other media, sports, games, Facebook, Blogging, Pinterest, or ________________(fill in the blank here.)

But please note that Mr. Foster says specifically, “learn to distinguish between what is a real psychological need, like cheerful surroundings, and an addiction.” That line made me smile — Right, we’re just making the cottage into a place with cheerful surroundings!

Bookshelf

“My heart will be on books when my strength has failed.” –Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

But I spend a lot of time buying books. I’m a librarian. I buy books from Amazon, Half-Price Books, Powell’s, Abe Books, Barnes and Noble (I’m still in mourning for Borders…) Westminster Book Store, Christian Book Distributors and others. I buy them for work, and I buy them (ahem) for myself…Is it a real psychological need? Yes — for study, for serious reading, for reference; I don’t buy fluff. Well, not much.

And the other thing is — I like owning books. I like the way they feel in my hands. I love opening new books and reading the dust jacket. I enjoy the art on the dust jacket — if you ask me Nooks and Kindles can’t compete. But that’s another post…

And I do give them away. If I loan a book, I generally loan it with the expectation that I won’t get it back. (Unless my name is on the flyleaf; then there are no excuses, right?) I’m glad to give away books I love. And sometimes I buy myself another copy…

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My nightstand is proof that I don’t need to buy myself another copy — I have plenty to read. And this is just one nightstand; I have another that looks just like this one at the cottage. (This feels like True Confession time…)

It’s interesting because that’s what Foster recommends — give away the stuff that you love to prove it has no hold over you. He tells a funny story about a young man who was so addicted to his morning newspaper that when it didn’t come one morning, he found himself plotting how to steal his neighbor’s paper. Horrified, he immediately called the newspaper to cancel his subscription. Cold turkey on newspapers! Not because newspapers are bad, but because he didn’t want to be obsessed.

And another suggestion for simple living that goes right along with this one is this: Learn to enjoy things without owning them.

Could I get my books without buying them? Yes. I’m a librarian, for goodness sake! Amazon just makes it so easy…

Bookshelf

Support your local library instead of Amazon. Rent a vacation house instead of buying one. Go to museums. Window shop. Rent tools. Lease a car, or better yet, take public transportation if you can. Celebrate public parks. Do free stuff. Steal share your neighbor’s newspaper (with their permission, of course.)

So, some of my books are going to have to go…One of the rooms I love in my city house is the library. Built-in bookshelves all along a wall — such a luxury — and we don’t have the space at the cottage. Though Mr. H.C. has offered to build me a wall of bookshelves in the living room… But boxes of books are so heavy. Should I give away the ones I’m saving to read some day; or my favorites that I’m saving to read again? Hmmm…

Is there something you need to be careful about buying because you buy too much? Is there something that you need to be careful about doing because you do it too much?

63. Apple Blossoms, Lilacs, and Birdsong

This is part 3 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

Ahhh, spring!
The flowers, the colors, the smells, the birds, the sun… It’s just good for the soul.

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We’ve been talking about Richard Foster’s practical ways to simplify your life. And today we are skipping to #6 because this is an easy one: “Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation…Walk whenever you can. Listen to the birds. Enjoy the texture of the grass and leaves. Smell the flowers. Marvel in the rich colors everywhere. Simplicity means to discover once again that ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.’ (Psalm 24:1)”20130421-002630.jpg

And when better to start this part of your new simpicity regimen than spring?

The view from my back porch...

The view from my back porch…

My back porch workshop is open for business again, and I was painting out there on Saturday morning. Painting is a quiet, lovely, simple activity, and I was enjoying the birds. In the two hours that it took me to paint the shelf boards for the built-in spice rack, I saw a flicker, a dove, robins, a red-winged blackbird, a phoebe, a female cardinal, mockingbirds, wrens, a starling, goldfinches, and a turkey. What joyful songs they were singing… I had stepped off the porch just to turn my face to the sun, when I heard a bird sing “Look here, look here. Tuweet, Tuweet.  Over here, over here, Tuweet, Tuweet. Right here, right here. HaHaHaHaHaHa.” 

I laughed just for the gloriousness of it. I was sure that mockingbird was teasing me. But just a few minutes later, I was back painting on the porch when I heard him singing the same song for his girlfriend. She turned her back to him, totally ignored him and soon flew away. He stopped singing; he may not have won his lady love, but he certainly entertained me.

maple tree in spring against a blue sky

Somewhere in this fuzzy spring maple tree sits that singing mockingbird…

Mr. H.C. could hardly wait to get on his tractor for the first time. He was spending a lot of time mowing, but I was busy and not paying attention to how long it was taking him to mow the grass. He finally came and found me and said with a grin, “Want to go walk around the estate?” If you knew what the “estate” looked like, you would laugh. Apple Hill is not exactly an English country cottage on manicured grounds. In fact, where the moles don’t live, these do:Dandelions

But we have wanted to mow paths around the berry patch since last year, and Now Is The Time! So we walked around the newly mown paths, scoping out the possible berries, and discovered an apple tree that we couldn’t reach last fall because of the briers.Apple tree blossoming

Under the dappled light of the apple tree the air was sweet from blossoms, the bees were humming, and the grass was trampled low from deer sleeping there.


We walked home clutching handfuls of wild chives and sticks of apple blossoms to add to the vase of lilacs in the kitchen.apple blossoms and lilacs
How easy it is to be joyfully at peace on these glorious days of spring.