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.

This Summer’s Decluttering: Deep Storage Phase One

It is not so easy to write four hundred contemplative words about decluttering when I’ve had my hair up in a bandana, my hands swathed in canvas gloves, and I have been hauling boxes up from under the house, and determining where it all should be dispersed.

I’m so happy to report that I’ve finished the initial pass through all of the stuff in the first of three storage areas.  Although there is still a great deal of stuff down there, over this past summer we’ve dispersed about a third of the clutter in that area.

This post is specifically for me to crow about the decluttering triumphs of the last few months:

The public library took ten boxes of books off our hands.
A surprising find of some musical instruments went to augment resources for a friend’s community music program.
My husband’s niece and nephew each claimed a box of their great grandmother’s mementoes.
Five boxes of ancient financial records were dispatched by a commercial shredder.
Three boxes of notes, many from high school courses taken half a century ago by my husband’s deceased first wife went to paper recycling.
Three boxes of decades old magazines also were recycled.
Seven boxes of fabric, patterns, embroidery hoops and crafty stuff were claimed by a local crafters club.
A box of surplus weaving yarn went to the Weavers and Spinners Guild while a newcomer to the Knitting Circle happily took a sack of surplus knitting needles.
Five boxes of art supplies went to a therapist to be used in work with traumatized kids.
And, perhaps best of all, just the other day, my husband donated six variously historical empty suitcases to the props department of a local theater company.
(Later that day we learned where we can take clean styrofoam peanuts and clean bubble wrap to be recycled….  Yup, there is a box of peanuts still down there.  Soon it won’t be!)

Earlier this summer I met a lady who had rented a storage unit to keep her parents’ things.  She knew very well that all of it needed to be sorted through and dispersed.  But, she explained, each time she would go to look through it she would be overcome by memories.  It was impossible, she said, to part with any of it.

Who am I to say what should be done?  But I am here to say that we each have to lay our own ghosts to rest or Someone Else will have to figure out what to do with all of it….

This featured photo is of those six suitcases which are no longer taking up space on our storage platform.  (We kept a healthy collection of suitcases that are in use.)