A (metaphorical) thousand emails moldering in Inbox
A thousand historical emails…
Look one over,
Click on Delete!
Nine hundred ninety-nine emails to go.
In that particular account it was maybe only six hundred emails.
Less than an hour later I had chucked four hundred of them into Trash…
The thing about living in a sparsely populated county full of hard-working folks is that every church in the county runs a thrift store but many more people want to get rid of stuff than want to buy stuff.
And a lot of folks want to get rid of big, battered, broken, torn, stained stuff; stuff that should go to the dump. But it costs to use the dump. And folks here don’t have extra income or time.
Over a year ago the local Salvation Army drop off center closed up shop. It wasn’t a store, just a place to take stuff. But they wouldn’t take big, battered, broken, torn, stained, stuff that should be taken to the dump. (But it costs to use the dump.) So folks would quietly dump that broken, stained stuff in the dead of night by the closed gates of the Salvation Army drop off center.
The Salvation Army got tired of losing money paying the fees to trash it all. So they closed up the drop off center and that was the end of the only donation center with out-of-county connections to sell the stuff.
Within a week of the Salvation Army drop off center closing, every thrift shop in the county was overflowing but with no new customers. They wouldn’t take another stick or stitch.
Anyway. To cap off clearing the Giant Bookshelf, my husband and I also cleared closets of all that stuff we didn’t like or didn’t need anymore. Two, thirty-gallon trash bags full of professional quality clothing from two young folks’ long-ago careers. I tried twice to give it to the biggest of the area thrift shops. But even now, a year after the Salvation Army closed, they simply wouldn’t take my contributions.
What to do….
Twice a week I work over on the big city side of the valley. Yup. I found a sweet big thrift store that draws clientele from three urban centers. Our two bags of stuff disappeared…
Would you just LOOK at this room! I’m standing in the rear corner looking diagonally toward the door and would you just LOOK at that acreage of clear, freshly vacuumed carpet! After eight days of shoving stuff into boxes, shoving boxes out of sight into storage, and running the trash to the dump, this room finally spells (to misquote an old ad) POSSIBILITIES.
On the left side of the photo is the giant media shelf I cleared down to the bare shelves for the first time in…. Ever. It was so stuffed and covered with jumbles buried behind other jumbles when my then-new husband moved me into our California home that I couldn’t actually see it.
Here it was a week ago, after I’d finally gotten almost everything out from in front of it and about half the stuff off it. A lot of what you can see are piles of old calendars, ancient old school books, old worksheet duplicates and an entire shelf of crumbling piano music. My husband’s deceased first wife was a school teacher and an accomplished pianist.
At this stage the shelf is a temporary staging area for, on the bottom right, the unsorted piano music; on the lowest two left, the useless school texts; on the wide shelf, the books my husband wanted to keep; and on the top, about seven bottles of fuel for a propane camp stove, two bottles of candle lamp oil and a box of household wax all of which had been buried for decades…
Then we took all the textbooks to the dump. I moved my husband’s keepsake books to other shelving. The fuels got properly stores and I boxed up and hid the music in storage.
At this point I declared, “I cleared it! I claim it.”
Do you think I’ve got enough onto the shelves to stake my initial claim?
We drove friends and a few dozen books for a birthday celebration trip to Modesto, CA.
As we have done before, we offered the books for credit at Yesterday’s Books and were rewarded by several of them being taken in exchange for a $48 store voucher.
So each of us got to pick out a new book we wanted.
For our household the net gains were: twenty books gone from the house, welcomed birthday presents for our friends, fun for all and $15 remaining on our credit account.
And something new happened this time. Five of the books returned to us bore a note, “Try again.”
Yesterday’s Books knows it can sell them but has too many copies on hand just now. Ahhhhh yes. We’ll shoulder the warehousing. We’ll bring them back the next time we’re out Modesto way.
The featured picture is of the left over books I donated to the public library this afternoon.
This post is dedicated to my hard-working husband, my partner in decluttering, care taking and the maintenance of sane living spaces.
From May to October, our region is subject to wildfires.
So each spring, homeowners are required to clear from around our homes a thirty-foot radius of all yard debris: pine needles and cones, fallen branches, and of late all the flotsam and jetsam left by the felling and chain sawing of hundreds of drought-killed trees in our village alone. At first the debris is damp, but by June any mess that remains is parched tinder itching to be ignited by the smallest spark.
They start inspections in May giving out informative warnings. In the first week of July they begin their second rounds to issue citations to homeowners who have not complied.
So, from the last week of May through the third week of June, five mornings a week, before the heat of the day set in my husband hauled three wheelbarrows of debris a day up a sixty degree incline to the roadside. During the last week of June he trimmed back branches and took out two saplings.
My photo does not do justice to his trophies: the two impressive heaps he amassed on our parking pad. Please! Admire them anyway…
But the best part….
I arrived home the other day to find our parking pad swept clean as a whistle. Our Man With a Truck had come and my husband watched as his piles required TWO trips to be hauled away.
Even better than knowing he is my hero, is being able to be his own hero.
Poor county full of folks on fixed incomes.
Rising infrastructure expenses, loss of manufacturing gigs, drug problems, unfunded mandates…
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.)
Here’s a picture to celebrate the very hard work my husband has been doing to haul this year’s crop of fallen pine needles up from the lowest reaches of our mountain property to the road side.
Once the fire inspectors are satisfied we are prepared for fire season, we’ll hire someone to haul out the debris.