Tag Archives: clutter

Evidence of days gone by

A weekend of clutter clearing turned this up — one stuck to the other, found in the way-back shelving of our bathroom. I can make up a whole story about the boys from it — probably none of it true — but it does speak to a certain kind of effort that happened over a period of many years.  (I don’t think I ever used lollipops as bribes, but who knows?!)
Bathroom shelving is one thing. The garage is another. It’ll take more than a couple of afternoons to clear this up enough just to be a workable storage space again. It’s always been a mess, but after in-law downsizing, it’s REALLY a mess.

Fortunately that work can be alternated with effort out of doors.  I pulled out a lot of English ivy over the weekend… while tossing a dirty, drooly ball for Finn, who seems to possess a bottomless love for playing fetch. The vine below is hydrangea and a real keeper.
IMG_8816Everywhere around the neighborhood, people are making repairs to damage done by this past (unbelievable) winter. If my neighbor’s basement cleaning crew shows up again today, I will need more than the ‘jackpot boy’ I made for Finn to keep him distracted (speaking of days gone by — that fleece was one year’s Christmas pajama bottoms).  Finn has no trouble with humans, but I guess men in hazmat suits don’t look like people to him!

whale bone and other treasures

A IMG_2704Spine. Having a spine. Standing up for oneself.

Having just bailed on a volunteer commitment that was way bigger than expected, I am having to rest in the awareness that I am better off suffering temporary negative judgment than jostling a set of tasks that I really really don’t want to perform. Oh well.

C. came and went last week. We hardly saw him. As it should be. As it should be. Meanwhile, my younger son is making prom arrangements. As the light lingers well past dinner time, the season reminds us all of the inescapable passage of time. Sometimes we meet the changes with a glad heart. Spring is comin’!IMG_7526 Scrubbed a wall and floor in the studio on Monday. Dead mouse stink is a great motivator. (Product note:  I have fallen in love with orange-scented oils to clean wood). Little fella below was discovered around this time last year.
TRAYThe space is beginning to feel welcoming. Open. I burned sandalwood. I moved stuff around. At this point I am not getting rid of clutter so much as consolidating it.
IMG_7518Lastly, I bought one of Saskia’s beautiful pieces (more pix soon). Just look at it! It couldn’t please me more. It feels important to recognize the economies of happiness. It’s different for everyone. My recent rather pedestrian conclusion is that such domestic equations rely on more than dollars and cents to come out properly.

Is it an indulgence for someone confronting TWO college tuitions this year to buy a piece of hand-worked art? Perhaps. Perhaps. But when I consider how much pleasure it gives me, the calculation comes out with a different answer — absolutely worth it; a bargain.

Reminds me of a Nicole Hollander cartoon from ages ago, where her character, Sylvia, asks, “What is a good hair cut worth?”  The answers were:
a) three months of therapy; or
b) six months of therapy.

And check out the package Saskia used to ship my quilt from Holland.  And, I’m not even showing you the handmade paper it was wrapped in, or the lovely laminated tag enclosed. Delight! And more delight!
IMG_7519If you are not familiar with Saskia’s work, you are in for a treat. Her blog, Tales from the Birdhut, is listed on my sidebar under her name.

(And by the way? That cool skull block print in one of the studio shots was a freebie (!!yes!!) by Brenda Beerhurst, inserted in a package when I bought a print of a banana bike from Rick Beerhurst a few years back).


IMG_7056Value doesn’t necessarily relate to dollars and cents. My plaster Native Americans were a garbage pick, and yet they give me no end of pleasure. I photograph them through the seasons; try to guess what they are thinking, imagining conspiracies, turns of mood, and the vagaries of friendship. Recently, one tumbled off the deck (probably the result of a hungry squirrel’s movements). It was shocking to see this guy all by himself. They had moved around the yard, but never been separated. Of course, I had to ask: What happened? Was there an argument? An ugly remark? Or has the fallen given over to an unseen grief?

Some garbage picks end up back on the curb. Even though ANY possession can be thrown out, we ought to feel a particular ease putting something we found in the garbage BACK into the garbage.  Alas, such is not always the case. To cultivate this ease, I have developed a clutter-clearing mantra especially for found items: (to be said in the voice of a graveside pastor) — “Here you go, thing, curb to curb”.

What will you carry?


“It’s Not about Me — Questions for a 19 Year Old” (Sketchbook Project, 2014)

“What will you carry” is a question that confronts all ages, of course. As my in-laws empty their house to move to a retirement community, the question is quite literal. Some of the things they will not be able to take are being divvied up among their children. And then, of those same items, we need to re-ask: “save, give away, throw away”? As I continue going room to room (now with a focus on the rat’s nest that is my studio), I am remembering an interesting novel on the topic, in which the protagonist had a hard and fast rule. Every January she surveyed her apartment and if she had not touched the thing during the previous year, she got rid of it (“My Year of Meats“, by Ruth Ozeki). That is more severe than suits me, but the question of maintenance is not:  “Do I want to have to keep handling this thing to keep it clean and in its proper spot?” The answer, surprisingly, is often NO.

Young people ask “What will I carry” in an abbreviated way, using the dorm checklist as reference, and if they are reasonably nice, they let their mothers buy them some linens. Now that we know that D. will be going to college in Colorado (big HAPPY news of last week!!), the question gets asked with the logistics of flying in mind.

There are the less literal ways to ponder this, too. When I ask, “What will you carry” of my children, I say it with the deepest hope that they will carry forward many memories of caring, humor, and nurturance from home.

If it is true, as Gretchen Rubin says in “The Happiness Project,” that “[a]ny single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it,” then I want to figure out how to do this better.