by | Mar 14, 2018 | Uncategorized | 5 comments


by Sonja Stone

University of Oregon sign

100 hours doesn’t seem like much, does it?

I’ve just returned to sunny Arizona after a long weekend in Oregon. I went to the University of Oregon to see a theater production–Mother Courage and Her Children. The performance lasted for three hours (and very much felt like it). To be fair, the show started at 7 pm, and I’m usually in bed by 8:15, so it’s possible that the one hundred and eighty minutes it took to tell me about the Thirty Years War were necessary, but I found the play wanting an editor. However, the actors were phenomenal, the set exceptional, and the live music sublime. 

We packed a lot into the trip, which took place on the heels of my latest project, Cleaning Out The Garage. As I reviewed my cell phone photos on the plane ride home, I realized something: flipping through my photo stream is like peeking into my psyche. It’s very disorganized and fragmented, with very little weaving the myriad threads together. I see something interesting and snap a picture. I currently have over 10,000 photos on my iPhone. My boyfriend is really good about looking through his pictures after every event, and immediately deleting those he doesn’t like. 

I’m not that guy. 

Which brings me to the point of the following picture.

In January, 2017, I wrote a post about my New Year’s Goals. This past January, as you may recall, I again discussed how I move my goals from the previous year to the current year because I never seem to complete anything. And always first and foremost on the list, organize the house, once and for all. It tops my to-dos every year, and every year it just doesn’t happen. Well, not this year, my friends. 

A few weeks ago I started sorting through decades worth of treasures in my garage. I’ve discarded a lot, donated a lot, and still have a long way to go, but I found something equally charming and creepy tucked along the block wall by the electric door.

lizard eggs, Arizona

These are the cutest little things I’ve ever seen. Each was the size of my pinkie nail. I tried picking one up, but they’re so fragile, it crushed between my fingers. So I took a picture.

After finding a stack of books to donate, I drove to the public library. It was time for a new library card, and I discovered my library now offers a choice of photo cards–and the cards include a mini version for your keychain. I was so charmed, I took a picture.

The next morning we flew from Phoenix to Portland, then drove to Eugene. It rained the whole first day, which is always a treat for those of us from Arizona. So much so, in fact, that I felt the need to snap a picture of this rainy highway sign:

The following day we went for a hike. Notice me in my parka. Anything under 74 degrees is chilly. (This one is actually a legit time to have captured a memory on film. Also, I airbrushed myself with an awesome iPhone app called Facetune. I’m telling you this because I love and respect you.)

hiking in Eugene, Oregon
The last day, we drove along the coast to return to the Portland airport, and stopped for a hike and a walk along the beach. The tidal pools inside rocky crevices teemed with muscles, barnacles, and sea anemone. About 100 of the new pictures I took over the four day period are of sea creatures. Why do I need 100 photographs of sea anemone? Time will tell…

the Oregon Coast


Finally, back at the airport, I snapped a picture of one of my favorite bookstores, the infamous Powell’s Books. WHY? Why do I need a picture of the storefront of Powell’s Books at the Portland airport? What possible use will I ever have for such a photograph?

Powell's Books, Portland Airport

So my organizing continues to progress in a two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance. I toss a box of old clothes, I take fifty new pictures. 

I have to admit, the digital clutter snuck up on me. I didn’t even see it coming.

What about you? What’s your vacation collectible? Where are your hidden stores of stuff? Confess in the comments below!

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. S. Lee Manning

    I also have a problem with digital pictures. I think I have about 100 pics of the sun setting over the Everglades. It's easy to let the digital clutter build up. Good post.

  2. Sonja Stone

    S. Lee, it’s so true, isn’t it? Culling takes me forever—this picture of the setting sun has a bit more orange and that one shows a lovely pink. How to choose??

  3. Gayle Lynds

    I do the same thing, Sonja! Will I ever make myself go through them and delete as many as I should…. NEVER. Oh, the past can be so sweet with memories. Thanks for a terrific post!

  4. Karna Bodman

    First – love your photos here, especially the one of the Oregon coast. We all have a ton of photos (does anyone know how many we actually can keep on an iPhone?) As for cleaning out the house — my parents lived in the same house for 55 years — talk about "keepsakes." I recall my father lamenting, "Man is possessed by his possessions." How true. Thanks for a very thoughtful post!

  5. Francine Mathews

    You're probably a visual learner, as i am, and the collection of images is one approach to comprehending experience.
    As I noted when I shared this post: my psyche is apparently filled with dogs.