Our Library

You know.
Poor county full of folks on fixed incomes.
Rising infrastructure expenses, loss of manufacturing gigs, drug problems, unfunded mandates…
Budget priorities.

So our county board of supervisors is threatening to close the nearest branch of the public library.
Our frequently used community gathering spot (but the rent is too high, no big bucks donors around, just the seniors and kids attached to nearly absentee hard-working far-commuting families.)

…the American Declutterer would deeply miss the weekend long annual local branch library fund raising rummage sale — where an army of those seniors donate hours of time — which, for the past two years, has accepted car loads of my still-useful discardables.  I’ve got loads more…

I’m not sure how to pitch this particular plea to the board of supervisors.
How would, “Please don’t close down my favorite recycling station,” fly?

That box of books deemed unacceptable for resale by the used bookstore? Remember those?  Sitting alternately in one car or the other?
I finally took it down to the main branch of the library last week while I was down in the city.
I didn’t make it out of the parking lot before a summer volunteer rushed up to grab the box from my hands.
She loved having a purpose. (I volunteered, summers, at the Brooklyn Museum when I was her age.)

Five Things

The (roughly) Memorial Day Volunteer Fire Department Benefit Rummage Sale approaches and the slowly growing stash of culled kitchen equipment and my superfluous desk chair were all ready to go.

A couple of weeks before, faced with the realization I’d developed active distaste for an old research  topic, I purged a section of my office bookshelf and found that four of the relevant background books were acceptable for Amazon’s trade-in program!  Off they went.

This success fired me up to amass a bagful of I’ll-never-read-these-agains with which I planned to tempt the interest of our local used book shop.  My husband found himself caught up in the wave and added an old c.d. of his own to the stash!  Our book shop accepted more than two thirds of the books and his c.d. for credit…

(So it was that he too experienced the sweetness of learning that his discard is a treasure to eyes in the wider world!)

It was in the aftermath of these literary successes that I commanded gaily, “Now you must find Five Things of your own to add to this Fire Department Sale pile!”

He promptly delved into a closet and produced two superfluous functioning desk lamps, three functioning fans, a small space heater and something we think might be an air purifier.  I asked to keep the I-hope-it’s-an-air-purifier.  He decided to keep the smallest fan.

But there they were: his Five Things we’ll never think about again.

We added to the pile the set of introductory math books the bookstore hadn’t wanted and carted it all to the Firefighters’ Auxiliary this morning.

Forging Ahead / Looking Back

I had a dream.
I remembered it.
Taken one way or another it seems I want a change of life direction.

So, with no clue as to just where any turn should be made I tackled the obvious detritus that has accumulated since the last big change.

I shredded a few years of uncontested bank statements.  I shredded my rental lease terminated two years ago.  I shredded the mess of expired post-retirement, pre-Medicare health insurance policies.  I shredded a ream of paperwork documenting an assortment of hassles, miscommunications and snafus involving my cross-continental move.

I had celebrated tax day by shredding all of my sufficiently musty income tax returns.  But while I was sorting and shredding those old bank documents I found the two years of recent tax returns that were missing.  Light shines through where there had been a mess!

Now there’s a thirty gallon bag full of shreddings and recyclable paper down by the trash.

My file cabinet is no longer a jumbled jungle.

Clearing out the rest of it seems almost a satisfying prospect.

But, although I do remember those old days when I was an $8 / hour contracted office temp, usually hired to sort towering piles of paper; I’m pretty certain that’s not the direction I am supposed to go this time around.

Sweet Bitter with the Better

Yesterday my husband and I attended the wedding of a widower and a widow. It was lovely to share in the union before heaven of two people who have been through a couple of thick slices of life.

The invitation said, quite firmly, No Gifts.  Of course not!  Two fully-equipped homes were marrying each other that day…

I smiled remembering our own later-in-life wedding not so long ago.  Everyone had known it was soon to be followed by a cross-country move.  Everyone understood why we were quite firm about No Gifts.  But of course folks had snuck in a few store gift cards into their greetings and it was so sweet to find them.  We decided we would pass that blessing along.

This morning I persisted with shredding old tax returns and found myself battling ghosts as I fed pages and pages documenting half-forgotten memories of old jobs, unanswered questions, questionable decisions and discarded plans past the steel teeth.   If we could put time in a bottle, uncork it once we KNOW, and get to do some of this over again….

This stirring up of memories.  If we look hard and deeply at our reluctance to clear out our closets, I believe we’ll find it’s to avoid facing the memory, both sweet and bitter, of who we’ve been and how we’ve come to here.


I mislaid my credit card and delighted I am that we have the Internet because without any fuss at all I logged on and “froze” my account.

I was SURE I would find it fairly easily.

I tore apart, culled, then reassembled, the piles of books, writing equipment and blankets by the living room lounger where I do a lot of my grading. (Two more books went into the discard box.)

I removed and sorted everything on my desk and a lot that was in it.  In particular I sorted months of correspondence into: recycle, shred, file.  Then to make room for stuff to be saved, I sorted half a drawer of the filing cabinet and shredded another hill of papers.

I scoured my car; took out the floor cushions and crawled in with a flashlight, peering into every cranny.  Pulled out a bag full of trash, found a missing glove, a penny, an old snow scraper and two paperclips…

I emptied my purse and my school bag, discarded all sorts of old receipts and Kleenexes, and checked the linings for holes.

And so forth.

I still haven’t found it.  I stopped looking.  They’ll send me a new one soon.

But driving to work today I opened up a c.d. and found TWO discs nestled inside.  I’d been LOOKING ALL OVER for that Lonesome Ace String Band recording….


A few days ago a group of ladies were gathered.  One of us spoke of having reached the stage where she really really needs to weed out her home.  But the hardest part, of course, is deciding about all those gifts dear people have given her over the years….

I came home to find that a box had arrived in the mail.

My aunt (my father’s younger sister) and uncle are moving to a smaller home.  My aunt kindly tells me how much she appreciates this blog and how it has helped her while she sorts and sifts and disperses all that she is ready to let go as they make this transition.

So.  The box.

In it was a beautiful cream-tinged-with-gold shawl my maternal grandmother crocheted for my mother, who passed it on to my paternal grandmother, from whom it traveled to my aunt.  Who figures she knew exactly to whom it had to be handed.

She’s right.  I’ve missed my Grandmother’s hugs lo these forty years and now I can have one again.

And we’re going to a wedding this weekend.  It will suit perfectly.