It’s Total Eclipse Day.
We watched on television.
Then we went to see Dunkirk.
Then it was time to find some closure.
Just simple, repetitive, box-breaking
Over and over and over
Battling all stray notions that some of those boxes will be JUST PERFECT someday for something
Because they certainly will not.
There they are.
HELLO Long Buried Bed!
Tomorrow we return to actual decluttering as we head to the recycling center to discard the boxes and to the dump with a load of trash from the garage and back deck… (And there are still some shelves to clear.)
Dear Wife of my husband’s first wife’s brother,
Your erstwhile brother-in-law brought his new bride, me, to his home two years ago.
Since then, slowly but surely I have been respectfully emptying it of your deceased sister-in-law’s personal and professional effects, releasing them to friends and in venues where she is remembered and loved as the beautiful woman and skilled teacher she was. I finally finished this dispersal a few months ago.
Finished, that is, except for a substantial stash of items and furniture. These are mementoes from my husband’s deceased wife and her sister who predeceased her, as well as gleanings from their deceased antique dealer mother.
My husband feels these all rightfully belong to you and your husband. At this point in time these items fill our storage areas; space we want to put to other uses than warehousing.
Several times these past couple of years my husband has asked when you folks plan to come to collect these items. Your few answers signal to me that perhaps you folks aren’t particularly interested in reclaiming any of it. I understand. Lives move on and priorities change. But, if you do want any of it we need to make a firm plan for you to come get it, otherwise…
We plan to disperse these things at two community rummage sale fundraisers before the end of the coming year. The first benefits our public library while the second benefits our volunteer fire department. Whatever remains that we cannot disperse through those events will be donated to area charities.
Please be sure to let your husband know of our plans to disperse the remainder of this legacy….
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.)
If there’s one thing that’s come out of the current American — yea global — political maelstrom it is that every woman jill of us had better get very clear about what she believes and what she holds dear and exactly what she’s prepared to do to hang onto those beliefs because the times they certainly are fast a-changin’ and whatever we love may be gone, or become unrecognizable, in the twinkling of an eye.
So, it was high time for me to apply some more elbow grease to the building up of some face-to-face relationships in my not-so-new-anymore home community. No effort, l believe, and no wealth is worth much unless it’s done to build and serve community. That is the heart of my faith. I had already found a knitting group and a parttime job; I settled on a church to try out.
Lo and behold, the council announced a February drive to collect all the soap and shampoo samples folks had likely gathered during hotel visits over the years for distribution to folks who could put them to good use Right Now.
And so another shopping bag filled from the pack rat’s hoard walked out of our house yesterday morning. As always, may it prove to be a blessing.
We get two free trips to the dump each year. Our 2016 vouchers have been sitting in the glove compartment while un-reusable un-recyclables wait patiently for their turn to leave the house. Although we’ve hauled out bags of tradable books and some clothing to donate fairly recently, we haven’t dealt with the trash. Releasing and recycling things feels light and happy but a shadow of failure clouds the decision to consign anything to the dump
A couple of posts ago I wondered, “Whither next?” as I marked the end of having dispersed the greatest part of the sea of materials left behind by my husband’s first wife. It turns out that both my husband and I have ideas about what to do with the storage space we’ve begun to clear out. The satisfaction in having a plan for the space eases any sadness about heading to the dump.
And it’s already November! We must not waste this year’s dump vouchers!
But I don’t have the final say over what can be dumped or recycled, or what must be saved. My husband, the direct inheritor of this house full of stuff, must make all the final decisions. Until today it’s usually been I who have done the sifting and sorting and suggesting while he comes in at the end to edit or ratify my decisions.
Today was different! Today we sat together while he sifted and sorted then I stowed and stashed. Together, we amassed a dump load; together we selected out a boxful of rummage sale candidates; together we began to assemble a wall full of boxes intended for delivery to his deceased wife’s relatives.
The picture is of a quilt we found at the bottom of a box of forty years stored curtains. It might have belonged to my husband’s mother. Of COURSE we are keeping it!
At first, of course, it is a matter of pulling out the obvious trash — from an irreparable broken lounger to the ossified candies stuck inside old pocketbooks — and expending the necessary energy to get it all to the dump. When that is done, it is a huge relief.
After that, antennae tun to finding way stations — from resale shops to libraries, rummage sales, a theater prop department, craft guilds — for all the usable clutter. There is pure joy in the detective work to find folks willing to re-sort and recycle my clutter.
Up another level, it is supremely sweet when a friend or a neighbor needs something and we have it to give: furniture for an empty room, extra craft supplies for children’s therapy program, a cake pan for a friend who doesn’t have one…
But the very best joy is when I can pull from my wealth of saved yarn the perfect one to knit an answer to a friend’s request. It is especially sweet when that yarn proved inadequate for three previous projects….
I’m making a scarf for a sale to help a family dealing with a terminal illness.
I’m weaving my yarn into the hope of some gold.
The ancient food processor awakened and declared its willingness to serve a new mistress; to work in tandem with the newly arrived hand mixer; to accept partnership with the inscrutable microwave.
(The range was an old friend, but they knew better than to fraternize while on duty.)
The assigned mission was familiar, welcome, enlivening and just specialized enough that if well-performed the food processor’s place in the permanent arsenal would be assured.
It played its rôle, waited and watched as the purée smoothly filled the pie shell then baked to firmness.
The shower afterwards felt good. Secure in its new commission, the food processor returned to its shelf.
Decluttering my new home of the hoard accumulated by my husband’s long ago-deceased first wife feels like traversing a minefield. There is always the danger of rubbing against unexpected emotion. But, too, I’ve learned to anticipate my own sudden eruptions of anger borne of exhaustion.
Six months ago while staving off intense irritation at having uncovered Even More Christmas stuff — enough to decorate five homes, and very little of it to my taste — the sentimental poem, “Little Boy Blue” of Eugene Field sprang to mind. Its references to the little dusty toy dog and the patient rusty tin soldier left behind by a child who had died years earlier rang so truly that I was in tears and in the twinkling of an eye my views on the whole process of discarding for reuse or recycling shifted.
Last night as I was preparing a dessert, I wrote the first line of the preceding vignette. I finished the tale for this post.