Game ends… and begins again.

October 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

One month ago, I started playing this game to jump start my stalled unstuffing. Since then, I’ve gotten rid of (more than!) 496 things. Some of them were at Mom’s house, but I helped her get rid of them, so I’m counting them, too.

After returning home from Houston, I needed something easy for the last three days of the month, so I continued my ongoing war on the paper that’s trying to take over our house.

Days 29-31: Magazines and holders
81 magazines, to be exact, and 9 cardboard magazine holders (4 still in their package), for a total of 90 items the last three days of the month. I went all around the house and collected magazines… magazines in magazine holders, magazines on bookshelves and stacked on tables. This is all of the magazines that aren’t either from this year or part of two sets (American Bungalow and Cooks Illustrated) that I’ve collected over several years. (Those sets will probably go soon. I just need to look at some of them first.) These are mostly foodie, gardening and design magazines, with a few odds and ends (Consumer Reports, my alumni magazine, AARP (!), etc.) that we usually recycle pretty quickly.


And guess what? Even with ~500 things gone this month, we STILL have too much stuff in our house. So I’m going to do this again in November. Anyone want to join me?



Game Days 22-28

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was in Texas October 23-27 seeing family and helping Mom with some household stuff, so I did days 23-27 of the game there. On several days, far more than the requisite number of items were purged, so the total for the week is higher than 175 items.

Day 22: Shredder and shredding
The old shredder mentioned in last week’s post (Day 21), as well as a 3″ stack of old documents (way more than 21 items!) turned into bits by the new shredder. Sorry, no photo.

Day 23: Paperwork
day23 Days 23 and 24 are items that were in a trunk that Dad brought home from the two years (1957-1959) he spent in the Navy, stationed on the Great Lakes. In a box with the many letters that my mother wrote to him (they’d been college sweethearts, and married a few months after his discharge) were a number of bank statements and old checks. One check had the notation, in his careful printing, “fine for speeding 72 mph in a 60mph zone.”

Day 24: Uniforms
day24 In the old trunk, 24 uniform pieces: 3 blouses/jackets, 3 trousers, 2 belts, 5 hats, tie tack, and 10 ensign’s bars.

Day 25: Toiletries
day25Old toiletries, razors, etc. from Mom’s guest bathroom.

Day 26: Hazardous!
day26We cleaned out the storeroom in Mom’s carport, which contained stuff from their two houses, plus some stuff that must have come from my father’s parents’ house. Lots of trash, a couple of trips to Goodwill, and 26+ containers of paint, cleaners and pesticides, including a bottle of Chlordane (banned in 1988!) to the hazardous waste disposal site.

Day 27: Electrical
day27My parents had all the switches, outlets and cover plates in their house replaced 25+ years ago… and kept this box of all the old stuff! 50+ outlets/switches and their cover plates to a building materials recycling center.

Day 28: Books
day28I got back home, and got rid of a few more books. Yes, I know I’ve done this several times before, but there are more to go.

The New York Times Manhattan Coloring Book
George Bain, Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction
William Bayer, Pattern Crimes
Robert Charles Bishop and Elizabeth Safanda, A Gallery of Amish Quilts
Norman Cantor and Harold Rabinowitz, The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
Carol Doak, Easy Stash Quilts
David Gebhard et al, The Guide to Architecture in San Francisco and Northern California
Eve Kirschner Glasser, Orchids
Beth Gutcheon, The Perfect Patchwork Primer
Harper Reference, Seattle Access
Amanda Hesser, Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes
Malcolm Hillier, Book of Fresh Flowers
Margaret Hutchings, Teddy Bears and How to Make Them
Jocasta Innes, Decorating with Paint
Leslie Levine, Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?
Donlyn Lyndon, City Observed: Boston
Ferenc Mate, The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land
Marsha McCloskey, Small Quilts
Robert McCrum et al, The Story of English
John Poppy, The Essential Women’s Health Guide 2001
Fleur Robertson, Irish Ballads
Charlotte Robinson, The Artist & the Quilt
Jaidi Nha Sandra, The Joy of Conversation
Dan Savage, The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant
Penny Sparke et al, Design Source Book
Good Life Staff, Good Life San Francisco Restaurant Guide
James Wilson and Mike Smith, All About Herbs
Patricia Wyatt, Keepers of the Dream

Game Days 15-21

October 24, 2013 § 3 Comments

Blah blah blah 126 fewer things blah blah the game blah…
(Let’s just get on to the unstuffing, shall we?)

Day 15: Plastic drawer dividers
day15Fifteen snap-together plastic drawer dividers. They didn’t help me keep MY drawers organized.

Day 16: Old school records
day16A while back, my mother (who has been doing a fabulous job of decluttering my childhood home over the past couple of years) sent me a box of stuff from my childhood, including this book containing school records: 11 report cards, cards showing my preliminary and final class rank, the invitation and program from high school graduation (that’s 16), plus awards from junior high and high school, SAT scores, and college acceptance letters (another 16). Some to be scanned, then all recycled.

Day 17: Stuff on the basement stairs
day17 beforeThe basement stair in our 1908 house is open along one side. It’s easy to set things on the open ends of the steps, and lots of small clutter has collected there. I cleared the first five steps, which yielded: five drawer pulls (samples we decided not to use in our kitchen remodel six years ago), four cast iron coat hooks (removed during kitchen demo), three magnetic hooks (that were on the old refrigerator), and a kitchen drain assembly (that didn’t fit in the new kitchen sink). Also, three old glass medicine cabinet shelves and a shower head (replaced years ago with a more water-efficient one). Some other stuff was kept and relocated; then I vacuumed the steps. Clearing the rest of the steps will be another day.

Day 18: Cardboard boxes
day18Eighteen smallish cardboard boxes. (They must multiply down in the basement!)

Day 19: Architecture magazines
day19Nineteen architecture magazines, all from between 1997 and 2002. I think (hope!) these are the oldest magazines of mine in the house.

Day 20: Refrigerator clean-out
day20From the corners of the refrigerator: 13 jars of condiments/jam/pickles (oldest with expiration date 6/2009), tortillas, juice, half an avocado, 2 dried out ends of cheese, 2 bags each containing a few withered mushrooms. That’s 20.

The empty containers held old leftovers and new life forms that I decided not to share.

Day 21: Old documents
day21For over a decade, we had a paper shredder that sat on top of a trash can. Worked fine for a long time (during which we were keeping far more paperwork than we needed), but recently, as I used it more, it began jamming regularly. I’d get out the tweezers and pick bits of shredded paper out of the mechanism until it started running again.

Recently, when Paul once again found me hunched over the shredder with a pair of tweezers, he commented that it was not worth my time to fuss over this cheap little machine for which he’d paid very little a long time ago. Why not get a new one? Talk about an Aha! moment. I ordered a new shredder that night. (That’s one of a few items incoming this month.)

With the new shredder, 21 old bank/401k statements became confetti in about as many seconds. And it’s quiet… doesn’t scare the cats like the old one did!

Game Days 8-14

October 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Another week down; another 77 items out the door.
That’s 8+9+10+11+12+13+14, per the rules of the game. So far, this has been fairly simple, which is an indication that I still have lots of unstuffing to do.

Day 8: Old pillows
day8We just don’t need so many old pillows in the guest bedroom. I was trying to find some way to recycle them, but it seems that old pillows are just trash.

Day 9: Dead Christmas lights
day9Yes, there really are nine strands of dead Christmas lights in that tangle. They’ll be recycled as soon as “the season” starts.

Day 10: Old summer clothes
day10Five t-shirts, two tanks, one blouse, two pairs of linen pants. Downgraded at the end of this summer from “maybe fit for gardening” to “fit for nothing.”

Day 11: Little (mostly) blank books
day11Journals. Sketchbooks. A tiny address book (don’t even know where that came from). Some I bought, and some were given to me. I’ve had a lot of little books with 5-10 pages of writing and/or sketching and then I quit. But not these books! I’m passing them on, hoping that someone else might actually fill them up.

Day 12: Outdated toiletries
day12I buy a new lotion, or maybe someone gives it to me. I try the product, and I don’t like it. Maybe it smells funny (I prefer fragrance-free or very light scents), or I don’t like the way it feels on my skin. So it goes in the cabinet with the other rejects. But why? Why do I keep these things, some well beyond the period when they’re good? Out they go.

Day 13: More socks
day13Shortly after the Day 7 purge of mostly white socks, I went back to my sock drawer. Still 29 pairs, most of which I haven’t worn in ages! (Those knee-highs in the front, with the photographs of cats on them? They were a gift, years ago. I’ve worn them once.) These socks go. Miss Maisie gets to stay.

Day 14: Wire hangers
day14I try to keep these things from multiplying in my closet, but sometimes they get away from me. I thought I’d have at least 14; turns out I had 28. Buh-bye.

Game Days 4-7

October 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

The simplest way to play this game would be to gather up the first X items (where X = day of the month) that I could put my hands on that I wanted to discard. And that may be what I do toward the end of the month, but so far, with only a few items per day, I’ve had a daily theme.

Day 4: Picture frames (wall)
It probably won’t surprise anyone to hear that I’m picky about picture frames. Most of the framed art we have is in black metal frames, except for the pieces that are in black wooden frames. (Sometimes there’s a little bit of gilding.) Anyway, these frames either don’t fit my style, or I don’t have anything that fits in them, so they’re going.

Day 5: Picture frames (freestanding)
I no longer want small photos in small frames. Maybe it’s my aging eyes.

Day 6: Shoes
L to R, top to bottom: worn-out Keds; boots I’ve had since grad school that no longer fit; black Munroes that are too narrow; red and black Stuart Weitzmans that are too short; flip-flops I’ve had for 20 years; red flats that aren’t comfortable.

Day 7: Socks
When I started walking 10,000+/- steps a day back in January, I discovered that the socks I had didn’t fit well enough for that much movement. First I got blisters, and then I got a couple pairs of wool socks. They made my feet feel so much better that I bought a couple more pair in different thicknesses and lengths. And when the weather warmed up, I bought super-short ultralight wool socks. At this point, I’m sold; I rarely wear socks that aren’t wool. I definitely have no need for the white cotton (blend) socks I used to wear with sneakers. So out they go: five pairs of white socks plus an orphan, and one oddball pair of black socks.

At the end of this first week of October, I’ve gotten rid of 28 things.

Minimalism Game ON

October 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been quiet around here for almost a year.
I’ve gotten rid of some stuff in the past few months, but not nearly enough. Instead, I’ve been dealing with stressful life events. Something that I discovered while facing with these stressful life events is that I’ve had even more of an urge to be rid of things, but I’ve also felt a bit paralyzed. So the idea of playing a Minimalism GAME (with other people!) to get rid of stuff was appealing. Here’s the way it goes: On the first day of the month, get rid of one thing. On the second, two things. You can see where this is going, right? Day of month = number of things to discard that day. For a 31-day month like October, that’s a total of 496 items leaving the house. Wheee! This is going to be fun. Do you want to play, too?

Here’s what I got rid of the first three days.

Day 1: Broken 50mm lens
day1When I knocked my first Canon DSLR camera off a low table (at the 2008 precinct caucus at our local elementary school), it fell directly onto this little “nifty fifty” 50mm lens. A more expensive lens might have survived the 18″ fall, but this plastic lens cracked and jammed into the camera mounting. I had to have it removed by a professional, who returned it to me looking like this. (The camera was fine for another couple of years.) Why have I kept this thoroughly busted lens for ALMOST 5 YEARS? I don’t know… but it’s gone now. (Box and instructions recycled.)

Day 2: Canon Rebel camera and kit lens
day2Someone else knocked my second DSLR off a table at a conference. The lens (a replacement 50mm) was unharmed, and I didn’t realize that the camera had been damaged until a couple of weeks later, when I couldn’t download photos to my computer. A thorough check revealed that the fitting for the cable was busted, and that the pop-up flash no longer popped up (I never used it anyway). I got a separate flash card reader so that I could get photos out of the camera, and continued to use it for a couple of years. I have a new, fully functional camera now, so it was time to pass this one on, along with the rarely-used lens that came with my first DSLR. While scanning our local freecycle listings a couple of days ago, I found a listing that read: WANTED: DSLR camera, any type. Daniel’s a student studying graphic design, hoping to find a camera to use for a digital mixed media class. Seemed like a perfect fit. He picked up the camera and lens from our porch yesterday.

I love freecycle.

Day 3: Phones and answering machine
day3We had this answering machine when we lived in the Bay Area, over 14 years ago. We used it for a couple of years in Seattle before switching to a voice mail system. It’s been on a shelf in the basement for a decade. The phones are obviously of a more recent vintage, but one of our cats chewed off the ends of their stubby antenni, and they’d ceased to charge reliably, so we replaced them. Their cables and charging bases go with them, but I don’t count those as separate items.

On embarrassing situations

October 31, 2012 § 2 Comments

“Your help will be needed in an embarrassing situation.”

That’s the fortune I found at the bottom of my dresser’s top left drawer, underneath way too much other stuff. I don’t remember getting that fortune, or deciding to keep it, but there it was. And it seemed somehow fitting after my post about all those paint cans, and how embarrassed I felt about having wasted so much paint.

One side effect of having this blog is that my embarrassment about all the extra stuff we have has decreased. After all, I’ve shown ‘before’ pictures of our dining room and office at their most cluttered. Or maybe my tolerance for feeling embarrassed has increased. At any rate, I’m willing to open the doors – and drawers – in our house and point my camera at the mess. It keeps me honest. And if what I’m doing helps anyone else look at their stuff a little differently, I’m thrilled.

But back to that top left dresser drawer. Here’s what I saw when I opened it.

And here are the drawer’s contents when I emptied them out onto the top of the dresser. Yikes! (The fortune is near the bottom, in between the twist tie and the pile of gold origami stars.)

Do you want to know what was in the drawer? (I won’t be offended if you say no.)

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