Breathing spaces

I haven’t posted in six weeks.

Because I haven’t done any formal decluttering for six weeks.

I have been enjoying the wide open spaces of our decluttered lower level.  There’s room enough to really get moving to my exercise videos; room to move and room to breathe!

So today as I was wrapping gifts for my family…

…using a recycled packing box and a roll of gift paper from the substantial (albeit well-culled) stash amassed by my husband’s deceased first wife…

…I pulled off the last square yard of paper and exposed the naked cardboard core…

… and felt the satisfaction of having put to GOOD USE something we’d held onto.

(Later I emptied into the day’s third load of laundry the last specks of detergent from a similarly historical box of Tide.)

The emptied core and box are in the recycle bin.

Our house is beginning to breathe freely.


Inch by inch, one pie at a time.

It all started when my sister-in-law got a late-night yen for some cookies and posted a drawing she’d sketched of herself dreaming about the biggest, creme-filling-filled-est cookie…

That Drawing Made Me Salivate!

So we chatted about what a good thing it was that I didn’t actually have any cookies in my house.  If I REALLY wanted a cookie I’d have to get to work and Bake Some. Only it was already quite late.  And I’m not the greatest cookie baker.

But WAIT!!!!!

Couple of days ago, hadn’t I cored and chopped a bag of apples to make pie filling?

Those apples started humming and singing in my mind, explaining that they did NOT want to end their days in the back of the refrigerator.

So I pulled out the two bowls, the four ingredients, the whisk, the waxed paper and the rolling pin and got to work on a pie crust….

And blimey if there wasn’t EGG-Zackly the necessary length of waxed paper to finish up both the pie crust rolling out job and the paper on the old roll at the same time.

And you can see that ancient orange box at the bottom of the pile of kitchen paper I pulled, two years ago, out of all the hidden nooks and crannies of our clutter-stuffed cupboards while purging and sorting my husband’s deceased first wife’s stuff.

Rest in piece, empty waxed paper box.  You are now off to the recycler.


Day Seven: Tackling the giant bookshelf

It started like this:

For a couple of hours I pulled out this much recyclable paper…  And forty more National Geographic magazines…

(Two boxes of sewing supplies, a half a dozen containers of various machine fluids, some usable office supplies, More Paperclips, picture calendars dating back thirty years…)

I unearthed coloring books, flags, matting boards, a set of Starbucks tea cups, “collectible” Christmas ornaments, a box of raisins, a flower pot, five U.S. and one Israeli classroom decoration flags, three sets of paper place mats… all (except the raisins) for the community rummage sale.

There are a couple dozen thirty year old elementary school texts which will have to be dumped, a dozen do-it-yourself craft books the library will take, and a stack of worn, yet beautiful old English lit books that were my husband’s mother’s.  The Shakespeare anthology feels like a brick of gold; the words waft the fragrance of memory.

I conked out before I cleared to the lowest shelf.

Tomorrow is another day.

Carving Bits Out of the Stacks – Day Two

It’s a bigger job than it looked at first, this shifting of impacted clutter from a teetering sprawl blanketing the open spaces of an otherwise usable room, to stacks of boxes in the storage area.

Here’s a crater I’ve opened up by removing boxes and junk from the midst of the stacks.




I’m irritated and exhausted after today’s session.  It feels as though I’m never going to get this stuff stashed.


But here’s the new façade I constructed in the storage area today to obscure yesterday’s wall.



And actually…

If we look from the OTHER end of the room one begins to see carpet and the fruit of my labor becomes more evident.


Tomorrow I plan to empty this shelf system of its mess.



Wish me luck!

Soap and service in the undertow

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.


…A Paper of Pins….

When Mother died in 2003 I inherited a closet full of fabric, her sewing machine, and a cabinet full of clothing construction supplies.  My father saved out a little packet of mending supplies then I loaded the rest into my car.

The fabric stash was scarfed up by a sewing circle.
I donated her sewing machine.

There was a mending kit from Glacier National Park with Mother’s name laundry marked across the back.

There were her English knitting needles.  She knit a whole suit once, skirt and jacket, but she was so tired of it by the time she finished she never wore it much, and didn’t knit much after that.

There were her mother’s knitting needles and the caddy grandmother made out of an old blanket to organize them.

I stuffed the rest of it into the closet.

Meanwhile in the mountain of flotsam and jetsam on the under-house storage platform we had found the notions boxes left by my husband’s first wife and by his grandmother.

Today I sat down and sorted through the boxes filled with spare buttons, loose needles and pins (and nails, screws, night light bulbs and paperclips), a cascade of safety pins, five travel mending kits, bits of elastic, pattern tracing paper, interfacing, iron-on patches, hooks’n’eyes and snaps, fifty spools of thread in ten colors, two thimbles, two green zippers, embroidery floss and a pincushion.

Peter’s grandmother’s mementoes included a box of old old old bits of lace and a packet of gold-plated hair pins.

Some of my own spools of thread were from the sewing box Mother packed for me to take to school forty-eight years ago.

I saved out precious memories of our grandmothers and decided to keep the buttons, my favorite hand sewing gear and some of the thread.

The rest is packed up for the annual Tuolumne County Library benefit Rummage Sale.  Item drop off is in two days.

From the Stash

This evening I finished the last of three small afghans for my husband’s sister’s son’s kids, the youngest of whom are twins, almost ten months old.

(I started the first little afghan when they were three months old.)

For each , I used yarn from the stash of skeins I’ve scooped up from sale tables.  (I adjusted the patterns to conform to the amount of yarn on hand.)

I didn’t purchase a single ounce of additional yarn.

Decluttering uncovers the treasures that are on hand and makes me more willing to use them.