Monday, April 15, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 6 Stuff

Adding pictures of our stained glass lamps because they are prettier than the boxes and boxes of stuff I'm dealing with.

 George Carlin's hilarious and all too-true stand up routine on Stuff has a quote that is ringing very true to me these last six months:  "A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff."

Well, here we are in mid-April and things are starting to get real up in here.  I've been going through forty-one years worth of stuff we've accumulated and all I can say at this point is, HELP!  Where did it all come from?  Though our remodeling project won't be starting until sometime in June or later, I've been working on sorting through our stuff since last fall. 

 Ann has come over to help when she has some spare time, bless her heart, but she has precious little time to spare being the busy woman she is.  

Trying to be methodical, I more or less pick one room at a time.   I've finally finished working on the Christmas closet last week.  The closet isn't very big, really, since it has a chimney inside of it, but it measures roughly four feet wide by three feet deep, but as I said, there's a chimney in the middle, so not all of the space is usable.  I should look on the bright side, though, because if there was more room in it, there would be more stuff.  

I will readily admit I am not an organized person.  For years I've vowed every Christmas that I would sort through the boxes and get them organized, but then the holiday would sneak up on me and I'd concentrate on just getting the tree up and promise myself I'd deal with the mess when I took it back down again, but for the same reason I'm not fifty pounds lighter, I had yet another excuse in January.  I'll sort through it next Christmas, truly I will.   For now, eh, just put it all back in the boxes and if the door shuts on the closet, it's a win-win. 

It's tough for me because the majority of the decorations I've kept were my late mother's and I am a sentimental dimwit.  When Carl and I married, my mother gleefully lugged out the old suitcases she had stored her Christmas ornaments in and said, "Here you go!  I have no more need for these, I'm done putting up a big tree."

And, true to her word, at the age of fifty-eight, she was indeed done.  She downsized to a tiny tabletop tree and never looked back. 

I, on the other hand, was young and dumb.  I could have stopped with my mom's decorations, but did I?  Oh no. Over the years, I added more of my own.  Too many more.  We do not have the space for a big tree anyway, so I don't know why I fell for every bauble that caught my eye during the Christmas season for at least a decade, but I did.  

I finally came to my senses at around the age of thirty-five, but by then my collection was really out of hand.  And here I am at sixty-one, wondering what I was thinking way back when.  I thinned out a lot of the decorations before packing them off to temporary storage at Carl's folks' house for now.  My goal is to sort through them again before we bring the boxes back home after the remodel and pare things down for good.  (We'll see how that goes! Will I actually do it??)
Throughout this whole house cleanout, I kinda have a system.  I sort through things in our house and categorize them by destination: charity shop, recycling, dumpster, or pack up and save. Then when I cannot stand one more minute of making the tough decisions, we load up and take the donations in to the big city.  

Our next stop is back to our home to load up the boxes of stuff we're keeping and haul them to the in-law's house.  

Once the car is empty again, we start the process over at Carl's parent's house and their six decades of household goods.  I'm slowly getting through one room at a time there, too.  We do the same routine, sorting through everything and determining what should be kept and what needs to go.  In no time we have the car full again for another run to the charity shop.  We try to work it out so Carl can haul loads in after work during the week.  When he gets home at night we fill the car up again for the next day's run.

It is truly amazing how much stuff gets accumulated isn't it?  For months our house has been full of boxes coming and going.  Thank goodness Joel and Abby kept their moving boxes for us, it's made the chore much easier.   

The only thing that I'm really happy about is the fact that hopefully I will whittle down our stuff enough so that when we leave here for the last time in our lives, our sons won't have to deal with as much junk.  I've completely changed my philosophy on collecting much of anything anymore.  In fact, when I walk through stores now, all I see is stuff that will eventually be destined for the landfill.  So much stuff!

My mother had downsized when she was in her seventies, and though I have yet to go entirely through her belongings, she had everything tidy, in order, and only kept what she was actually using.  I won't have to wade through decades of stuff at her house, thank goodness.  I mentally thank Mom every day for her forethought.  She did me such a wonderful favor.  I want to do the same for my own kids, it's only fair.  

Carl and I have never seen eye to eye on stuff, but even he has now come around somewhat to the futility of keeping everything for 'someday'.  When we die, no one will want our old clothes that no longer fit, no one will darn the socks that need mending or the jeans that have holes in them.  No one will want 99% of any of the junk.  It's just the way it goes.  

I think even Carl has reached a saturation point with keeping everything; you can only deal with it for so many hours a day before you start to lose a, shall we say, cheerful countenance?  He's actually parting with more things than I thought possible, so maybe there is hope.  (More on how tough this process can be on a marriage at another time....)

My friend Sharon had gone through a move a few years ago after she and her husband built their gorgeous new home.   They also had to deal with their forty years of stuff, so she knows exactly what we're going through.  Sharon recommended that if time runs out, we just box up everything and deal with it later, when the construction here is done.  That's sort of what I did with the Christmas stuff already.  I thank Sharon for her words of wisdom on a daily basis.  

Our friend and neighbor, Gloria is in her seventies and has also recently moved from her house to a different home.  She stopped in last week with a few prayers for me to read when the going gets tough. I didn't even flinch when I let her in the house since she knows all too well what moving a house looks like.  She simply removed a couple of boxes and a roll of garbage bags from the dining room chair and sat down for a short visit.  We laughed about the process and how silly keeping all of this stuff is and afterwards, I felt a lot lighter.  

I guess this is sort of like the Konmari method of cleaning after all.  I just wasn't ready to clean out two houses at once as it does get a bit overwhelming, but hey, progress not perfection. 

We'll get there.  

As Steven Wright said, "You can't have everything.  Where would you put it?"


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Karen ~ congrats on you and Carl getting rid of 'stuff'. I am working on that myself and it is NOT easy.

Have a wonderful Easter ~ FlowerLady

outlawgardener said...

It's interesting how our views on stuff change as we get older. I'm so happy for you that this first phase of your house project is underway and that you have a place to store your stuff for a while.

Karen said...

Rainey, yes, it is very difficult to face all the stuff we've saved and try to figure out what to do with it all. I hope you have a wonderful Easter too!

Karen said...

outlawgardener, yes, what was I thinking back in the day? I was so silly. We are lucky to have a place to put the stuff we need to keep, that's for certain.

Alison said...

I remember going through this process with our stuff ten years ago when we moved from Massachusetts to Washington state. We got rid of a lot. I've already started accumulating things, but for the most part I think I've kept our new home pretty sparse. Nigel and I sorted a closet over the weekend and it didn't take long. I have to make a run to Goodwill today. I wish you luck on your sorting, and in your early stages of the remodel.

africanaussie said...

It sounds as though you are making great progress, and I agree with your statement about not leaving piles of junk for our kids to go through.

Karen said...

Alison, thank you! Yes, this is really an adventure, alright. I'm not sure I'm going to make the deadline, but I'll do my best. Good for you on staying clutter-free!

Karen said...

africanaussie, thank you! I never knew we had so much stuff but I want to spare our sons the bother, too!

El Gaucho said...

Karen - Ugh. Best of luck getting through this process it is truly a slog. It sounds like you're doing a good job of pacing yourself and sticking with a system. Hopefully you'll be through to the other side soon enough.

Having been through this with our move just a few years ago this struggle is still fresh in my mind. Quotes and inspiration from George Carlin should help you get through it!

Karen said...

El Gaucho, thank you for the pep talk, goodness knows I can use it.

chavliness said...

I have been sorting through my mom's "collections" for the past few years, so I feel your pain.
The most important lesson is: "I've completely changed my philosophy on collecting". And maybe going through two houses at once (OMG!) is just what Carl needed to come around, just a little. At the end it's even better then losing 50 pounds, you'll end up lighter then ever, and feeling amazing.

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