And the Good News Is…

This is the sequel to yesterday’s post: Setting Limits https://americandeclutterer.com/2017/07/23/setting-limits/

Dear American Declutterer,

Your message, sensitivity and patience is much appreciated.  Knowing my brother-in-law has found such a loving supportive wife is comforting to us.

You two have done more than expected in a situation like this.  We should have taken care of things long ago.  I’m very sorry.

We will come pick up the items you still have.

We are looking forward to meeting you

Setting limits…

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….

Credit where credit is due

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.

Hats and Thrift Stores

For the Fourth of July, we drove to the bay and took in the annual picnic fundraiser at the Governor (1903-1907) Pardee Home Museum where they garnish the event with live music and open the house for guided tours.  Folks dress in suggestions of period costume, overt combinations of RedWhite’n’Blue, or not. Straw hats abound…

We traveled with a couple new to the proceedings; indeed the wife is new to the United States so I stowed two summer hats for ladies in our weather gear bag, just in case.  It turned out that the extra (a hastily acquired replacement for one previously mislaid) matched the lady’s outfit perfectly.  Her husband crowed in delight as she tried it on; my closet was immediately decluttered of one hat, she looked lovely and would be well-protected from the afternoon sun.

During the drive we learned that the couple had spent the previous day shopping local thrift stores for home decor and essentials to adjust her new home to her own housekeeping style.  Lots of dust and dross and a few treasures.

For me, the high point of our annual excursion is the Home Tour.  The George Pardee family was full of collectors who “kept everything.” For now, the curators have it all gathered on side tables, in closets, on shelves, in glass-fronted cabinets.

My inner kid loves to stare at a cluster of carved miniatures, say, from all corners of the world: to admire the colors, imagine the craft of the toymakers, then fantasize a story for each item in turn.

Of course I want to examine every title in the library and every scrap of needlework in the place.  At the tour’s end, I determined to gobble my lunch and rejoin a later party.

I turned to my new friend to ask how she’d enjoyed the house tour.

“Just like the thrift stores,” she sniffed, and trotted off to ask permission to pluck lemons from a tree in the garden.

It’s a spiritual journey…

I had planned this day at the heart of the luxurious midsummer 4th of July long weekend to be my one completely unscheduled day.  A day to do nothing at all “by the clock” while my mind ran free to walk, to write, to read.

Lo and behold, at eight thirty this morning, my husband precipitously invited a couple I don’t know well (the wife is accustomed to having a housekeeper) to come over for a noon visit.  The house hasn’t been vacuumed since May, the bathroom …, yesterday my cat deposited hairballs on the comforter, and there are absolutely no snacks or drinks in the cupboard.

The key to serenity, I am convinced, is to eschew tantrums through a process of mental decluttering.  After a short rant among trusted friends…

… I threw out any notion that preparatory house cleaning or worries about entertaining preparations are in any way, shape, or form my responsibility.

… and I determined to salvage as much good stuff as possible.

So, while this post isn’t the post that’s been deliciously marinating in the back of my mind in anticipation of today’s unfettered writing time, it is a post that has something to say and I’ve enjoyed the work of letting it say what it wants to.

And my husband has vacuumed the living room, mopped the kitchen floor and cleaned the bathroom while I have been writing it.  (I’d already thrown the comforter in the laundry.)

The excuse for this incursion is that the new bride is bringing us some soup she wants us to believe that she promised us.  I’ll respond by serving that up for a light lunch they dare not refuse…

If I decide to go that route.