Thursday, February 10, 2011

Attempts at Decluttering

This is not my actual home (but it could be if I bought NEW furniture to pile up in the kitchen...):

I'm a 3rd generation pack rat on both sides of the family. It may go back further. The records are buried under piles of crap.
Mom pretends she's not a packrat but my sister (Hi Pam) called and told me that Mom had gotten Pam's tutus and leotards out for the little cousins to play with. Uh...Pam wore those when she was about 6 til she was about 10. She's 38 now. The folks have moved and been through 2 major floods. Pam was not an award winning ballerina. These are not the early togs of Maria Tallchief. She wasn't bad. But still. 28 years is a long time to store mounds of tule and spandex. I wonder if it still "spands."

Fred...well, isn't he the one who pulled copper pipe out of one house to store in the next?

Mom's mom's apartment is packed to the gills with stuff. Nice stuff. But packed. On the paternal side. When the tornado hit back in the '80s Grampa Wagner's canceled checks ended up in Wisconsin. Grampa had been dead for more than a decade and these were not the last checks he wrote. They were decades old when he croaked.

So, it appears that both nature and nurture program me toward packrattery.

Part of the packrat motivation/justification is that it is thrifty. It is. To a point. But when I can't find crap because it's lost in piles of other crap, that's not thrifty. For example, when I needed to "tidy up" so the landlord could fix something, I took clutter off the counter and shoved it in a box and put it in the storage room (the front bedroom). At some point after that I gave up looking for a favorite kitchen tool, this wooden dough scraper. I asked for one for the holidays. I didn't get one because they have disappeared from the kitchen shops. Last week I'm sorting through boxes and go through the "tidying up" box. There, among some junk mail, a few small bags from the co-op with spices in them, and other counter top detritus, is the missing dough scraper. Why the junk mail didn't go right in the recycling? Probably the bin was full that day or I was in a hurry so I set it on the end of the counter. That wasn't thrifty (though now I can take the cash I got for christmas earmarked for that and buy some new undies...woohoo). Neither was letting the spices age and get bland. It's only a couple of bucks, but I'm sure there are other things in other "tidy up" boxes. Time for another major decrapification. I used to do some when I moved every year or so. Staying put for a few years is working against me.

I'm making decrapification efforts but it's a long road. When I was in Iowa last fall, I went through about 13 boxes in Pam's basement. I cut it down to two. I've gone through 4 boxes last week in the trailer and took 2 plastic bins of stuff to recycling and a smaller box to Goodwill. Some of what went to recycling was books to the free bookbin. I tried to take back more books to the bin than I've taken out of the bin. From now on, more has to go out of the trailer than comes in (except for food...I'm not tracking outflow on that).

In theory this process should work. I'm not sure it will go so smoothly in practice. I DID bring 6 candles, a VHS tape and a DVD back from Goodwill (the VHS is "Shirley Valentine" and the DVD is "All About My Mother"). The total bill was 3$ which would be good just for the candles. And I need to put an equal volume of stuff in recycling or donation bins. Should be easy. I'm culling the VHS collection. As much as I enjoyed that 25cent copy of "Ice Castles"...I don't really need to watch it again. It's just as horrible (in a good way) as I remember. I have two VHS copies of "All About My Mother" which can now go to the library or Goodwill along with the "Anne of Green Gables" series I got for 25cents a while back. That will be 7 VHS tapes. That should balance things out.

I did find an entire box of baking pans I forgot I had. Some of them I've never seen before so I think Sher (Hi Sher) slipped some in while packing for my move (thanks for packing me for my move, Sher).

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