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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Decluttering: Abundance and Memories

It's getting to be spring, plus my mother will be visiting in a week or so. Time to declutter.

I live in a little house that is almost 100 years old. There's little storage space and what there is is ad hoc. Not only do I not have a linen closet, but I don't have a real laundry area. The washer and dryer are in a small closet off a hallway. My linen storage is above, on shelves. It's a good thing I don't iron, because there's no place to do it.

Experts say to start with what bothers you the most. Because my house is small and I have so little storage space, things reach a critical mass with unsurprising regularity. Well, the laundry area has gotten so bad that I had to avert my gaze.

Mr. FS built a small storage area off a little building in our yard. It used to be a kindergarten. Mr. FS has claimed that as his study. He says the storage area is mine, however.

One rule of organizing is to only have things you use regularly in prime space. Well, all the storage in my house is "prime," owing to its scarcity. So I now have boxes to go in the storage shed.

Even though the process is a painful one for a clutterbug like me, I had an emotional afternoon. There were the tin soldier quilt covers my kids used; there was the beautiful baby quilt my old friend made for my son; there were the dancing duck pillow cases my son loved; there was the Japanese shibori fabric I bought at a fundraiser before Katrina that was donated by neat people who moved away; there was the old table cloth from the 40s that I bought at a yard sale when I was in graduate school; there were the toile sheets with hidden cherubs that fascinated my children when they were little. There was the Marimekko fabric I bought in Finland when I was 18 (shout out to Metscan). For a few years, it served to hide my doorless closet in college. That's just for openers.

I hope you don't think I'm getting rid of any of this. I see though that I won't need to acquire anything for a while. What wonderful things I found!

P.S. I did find a few things to donate.


metscan said...

F.S: I heard you:)! Our 100+ house neither had closets for starters, no storage place either. When the stuff from our previous home started arriving, I simply had to donate it away. Now, this giving away business, has become a part of my personality. We actually have only 1 closet hall and everything else is placed in removable cupboards or is in sight. Getting to this point has taken many years and means continuous weeding ( very refreshing ) all the time. I have had no regrets after parting with something, once I have made my mind.

simple in France said...

Frugal Scholar--what a good point on not having to get rid of everything you find. What if there was a way to keep some of this stuff in view or use it?

I found my husband's old tin bicycle toys (like toy soldiers only they are figurines of Tour de France competitors back in the day). I think it would be great to Frame those and put them up somewhere--instead of keeping them in a plastic bag in his desk.

Funny about Money said...

Some things you just CAN'T get rid of.

I have a footlocker filled with old stuffed toys from my childhood. They were my only "friends" in grade school -- being a weird little kid, I didn't have any human friends. At first I kept them because I imagined that whatever children I had could play with them. My son, however, wasn't interested in stuffed animals. So they've lived inside a box for 50 years.

Some of them are Steiff animals. At Christmastime in Arabia, the company shipped in tons of gifts to sell at the commissary; prominent among these were Steiff products. Unfortunately as a little girl I took the tags off -- made them less like "real" animals, in my fevered imagination -- and that affects their value. But from what I can tell, they apparently still are worth something.

Otherwise, my father used to make me and my mother divest ourselve of junk. He didn't let us buy much, because felt that at any time we could be evacuated (fundamentalist Moslems were no fonder of Americans during the 1950s than they are now, and there was a great deal of potentially dangerous unrest) and so there was no point in owning a lot of expensive stuff that would have to be left behind (read: he was very, very cheap). Having gone to sea all his adult life, he traveled light and would not tolerate having a lot of unused stuff laying around. It actually made him uncomfortable. So we learned not to keep things we weren't using.

Your post reminds me that it's past time to clean out the drawers and closets!

Shelley said...

Boy do I hear you! Even new houses in England aren't built with closets in most cases; everyone buys 'wardrobes' that they can take with them when they move. My washer and dryer are in the garage, though under the counter types are common enough here I could have them in the kitchen if I wished. I've just never thought dirty clothes belonged in the kitchen, or food near clean, wet clothing.

Our rooms are fairly big, however, and so the walls are lined with bureaus and wardrobes and chests. I can count on it that whatever I want right now, it's in the loft, which is also very big (and that's not a good thing for a person like me...)

I'm trying to harden my heart and get rid of more, but there are things that have belonged in my family that I will never get rid of and your treasures sound just lovely.

Duchesse said...

Hope you kept the shibori! I have shibori napkins, easy to make. Do be careful about storing fabrics outdoors, in humidity. Must is hard to control in the best of spaces, never mind the humidity of LA.

I just toured a cute cottage- owner had the greatest curtains, all room,s from vintage fabrics.

Duchesse said...

Fugal, would you please contact me through my e-mail (on my profile)? I have a pleasant small thing to do for you.

SLF said...

Very good post Mama and, for me, very poignant.

--Frugal Son

Frugal Scholar said...

@metscan--I think you are way ahead of me. I am trying to improve...

@simple--Those toys sound wonderful. We've discovered that if you put something in a frame--it becomes "art." So I would make simple frames for the toys. (Actually, Mr. FS does this. I would tell him to do it!)

@Funny--Those Steiff toys sound great. None of my "treasures" has any monetary value.

@Shelley--Except for the baby quilt--not lovely, but important...

@Duchesse--Your warning has been noted. We do have a dehumidifier, but I will check the boxes mid-summer. many things are yours.

Duchesse said...

Frugal, just installed a working "About Me" linke which will take you to Contact Me" info.

If willing, pls do so :)