My Marie Kondo Obsession

Update: Root Simple reader Ruben left a comment with a very funny New Yorker cartoon about Kondo.

It’s the time of year, after the excesses of the holidays, when folks, including ourselves, start thinking of paring down. And when it comes to decluttering, the current reigning champion of the subject is, of course, Marie Kondo. She is both loved and loathed. Her philosophy, no doubt, splits many partners sharing the same abode.

Personally, I’m a fan, though I have to admit stalling out in the middle of her sequence of decluttering actions (I promise to start up again this year!). What I think Kondo understands that other decluttering experts don’t get is that we imbue objects around with supernatural qualities that makes stuff hard to part with. This, at least in part, reflects the influence of Shintoism on Kondo’s work (she worked at a Shinto shrine in her youth).

If your Marie Kondo fandom is as obsessive as mine (I proposed to Kelly that we put up a portrait of Kondo in the house) you will enjoy the NHK video above that introduces you to Kondo’s mentor Nagisa Tatsumi, author of the Art of Discarding. Once you declutter you’ll need to clean. To that end, the video features a segment on Japanese cleaning expert Keiko Takahashi. Sadly there’s some audio problems in that bit and the interwebs don’t yield any other information on Takahashi (too common a name to Google). If Root Simple had the budget you can bet we’d be flying a crew over to Japan to shoot a web series with Takahashi. At least you get to see her DIY, foaming stove cleaner tip.

Last night, in our nightly YouTube hole viewing experience that’s part of Kelly’s recovery process (and mine too!), we watched Kondo take on an American family with kids:

As usual the kids and the man of the house seem to have disappeared while the decluttering was taking place. In fairness, Kondo addresses this issue. She suggests soldiering on in spite of reluctant housemates in the hopes that your new clean habits will be infectious. I suspect there will be some grumbling in the comments about this thoughtstyling.

Perhaps my Kondo obsession reflects an attachment to the idea of decluttering rather than to the practice itself. My office sure could use some work! While things aren’t too bad in the rest of the house, but there’s always work to do. This includes, of course, not accumulating stuff in the first place.

How are your cleaning plans or actions going?

Saturday Tweets: It’s 2017!

Kepler’s Snowflakes

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In honor of the 12th and final day of Christmas, I offer an illustration from Johannes Kepler’s ponderings on the origins of the snowflake. Too poor to buy a Christmas gift for a friend, Kepler penned an essay instead, “On the Six-Cornered Snowflake” (Strena Seu de Nive Sexangula). The short pamphlet, written in 1611, begins with Kepler crossing the Charles Bridge in Prague and noticing a snowflake land on his jacket. He goes on to ponder the geometry via a detour into Neoplatonism. Thus was born the first work of crystallography. If only we could replace the commercialism of the season with well crafted essays!

Hope you are all staying warm or cool (hello Australia!).

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096 Photographer Babs Perkins: The Land, People and Cheese of the Balkans

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Listen to “096 Photographer Babs Perkins: The Land, People and Cheese of the Balkans” on Spreaker.

First of all, a big thanks to Eric Rochow of Garden Fork. He wanted to do something for Kelly and me, so he set up an interview, guest hosted and edited this episode of the podcast. Please consider subscribing to Eric’s Garden Fork podcast and YouTube channel. Also take a moment to leave a review of the Garden Fork podcast in iTunes and share his podcast and YouTube channel in social media. And Eric has a great suggestion: if you want to do something for Kelly consider donating blood. Thank you Eric Rochow!

Eric’s interview is with photographer and writer Babs Perkins, who documents disappearing foods in the Balkans with a emphasis on cheese making. In the conversation Babs and Eric discuss the politics of cheese in the EU, the challenges of doing a documentary project in the Balkans and the cross cultural values of sharing food. As you listen to the podcast I’d suggest you take a look at Perkins’ stunning photos on her website:

Cheese Stories: Bosnia

Cheese Stories: Serbia

The incredible natural beauty of Bosnia

And those strange concrete monuments put up by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito.

@babsperkins on Instagram

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

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Happy New Year 2017!

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Happy New Year everyone!

I thought I’d first let you know how Kelly is doing. Recovering from open heart surgery, even for a young healthy person like Kelly takes time. Leaving the house for more than an hour is still a great effort. She’s not up for blogging just yet but we hope to record a podcast soon so that she can tell the story of her aortic misadventure.

Speaking of the podcast, I want to thank Eric Rochow of Garden Fork for recording an episode of the Root Simple podcast that I will put up tomorrow. The podcast features an interview with a very gifted photographer named Babs Perkins.

As for New Years resolutions, after trying both publicly announced resolutions (a big mistake) and privately held resolutions (also unsuccessful), I’ve decided to forgo the idea altogether in favor of a vague notion of just staying positive, grateful and keeping a sense of humor about life. We have a lot to be thankful for, in particular Kelly’s recovery and being surrounded by many kind and compassionate people including you, our dear readers.

Do you have plans for 2017? What would you like to accomplish this year?