Tag Archives: clutter


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.


ask-right-questionsClutter-clearing produces space — physical, mental, emotional. Clutter- clearing is a spiritual practice, one that needs doing on an ongoing basis. And even though clutter-clearing is “first world problem” (and therefore slightly embarrassing to discuss?), it is a vital subject to explore openly because we need support to do it.

And we need reminding of its profound benefits.

I will be talking about clutter and order this year. One of my special challenges. Today, I’ll leave you with my go-to source on the subject:  Sandra Felton, aka ‘The Organizer Lady’, author of many helpful books on household order.  You can also find her at MessiesAnonymous.com.

Today I ask the question – what is it I want to invite in to a beautifully ordered home?

[DO NOT CLICK on light blue words with two underscores…   I have been hacked. Bear with me while I attempt to figure this out].

bare floors

bare-floorI am still in a cycle of purging. While enormously satisfying, the cleaning and chucking of things has also been time consuming. Add to that: computer glitches, high school stuff for D., visits to Salem — and you get a person who doesn’t show up online!

Sorry. I hope to find a rhythm again.

Not only have I kept off the 17 pounds lost in the first quarter of the year, I have given away 15 HUGE bags of fabric.  I am starting to feel lighter!

An energized home can only bring good things along, right?




‘Mystery’ – reinterpreted

'Mystery' - reinterpreted by dee at clothcompany

On of the fun by-products of clearing out clutter is finding things you forgot about.  Things that you like or are intrigued by.

This color collage (top, center — above) was on a bulletin board in my studio, so wasn’t actually unearthed, but in the many, many hours spent bagging up unwanted and seriously-in-the-way-fabric this past weekend, I spied it and was inspired to make a small thread drawing.

The proportions were off (he looked like he was holding a pogo stick or jackhammer, instead of wearing a pair of pants), so I had to add pen marks and additional cloth on the sides to change the edges.

I like it (in part) because — it’s small; it was made in two sittings; it was fairly spontaneous.

GAVE AWAY three more HUGE bags of fabric on Saturday. And guess what? Even though that makes about 10 (TEN — HUGE bags!!) for the year, I still feel overwhelmed and crowded in the basement. So! My new resolve is to keep bagging up fabric and giving it away until I can breathe better down there. I don’t care how many it takes — I’ll know the relief when I get there.

Have you ever noticed that you can’t fake relief? You can’t talk yourself into it or out of it?

And, while I am on this demonic roll, I also cleaned out an upstairs closet (even painting the baseboards to make it look cleaner!). I don’t know what’s inspiring this unbidden drive to clear clutter, but I don’t plan to stand in its way.

TAG sale on for Saturday! Wahoo. Nothing like a deadline to sort by.

Clearing and continuing to connect

20130622-142706.jpgClearing a small footprint in the cellar to install a darkroom for D. It acquaints K & me with the volumes of ‘stuff’ we have — not just in the basement, but everywhere. It took all morning to clear the space you see, and many piles have yet to be resolved!  Some decisions are easy. All those cake pans that I found here and there and that are duplicated? Give away! Ski parkas of the boys that they have long since outgrown but that fit me beautifully? Not so fast! A beautiful red, plaid kilt, that was my mother’s, or her periwinkle pleated dress embellished with sequins? Hmmm, don’t know.

20130622-142807.jpgThat’s the ‘clearing’.  I am continuing to connect sections on the Global Warming quilt above. In some places, patterns draw the eye across seams. In others, as in the above, using both cream and red threads, I am employing a split running back stitch to cross the seams and connect up some lines.

20130622-142835.jpgI am also expanding the spiral patterning with stitch. It is difficult to avoid a ‘nippling’ effect when stitching in a spiral. Any suggestions? I can tamp and press it down and make the circular stitches behave, but perhaps there is an order to stitching that would prevent the inward and upward pucker in the first place?

20130622-142909.jpg These are the kinds of scraps that I vigilantly save when vacuuming, as I have done this morning. “No wonder you have too much stuff,” you intone or kid, depending on the kind of Saturday you are having. Yes, yes, I know. I know.







P.S.  My wordpress dashboard looks dramatically different these days, with fatter fonts and much, much bigger pictures. Does it look different to viewers, I wonder?

P.P.S  Thank you for the technology tips! The phone was fixed (at least for now) by a second trip to the Apple store. They wiped it clean and I reinstalled stuff once home, and I have had no issues connecting since.  As far as Photoshop Elements perpetual crashing, I will look into storing pix in a separate hard-drive, to see if freeing up space improves matters on that front.



sorting through old supplies and repurposing cabinet space




unpacking old things; deciding what to do with them



damp stretching

damp stretching


repiecing, refining, redoing


accentuating; finishing

I want to thank everyone who chimed in on the last post.  Very provocative and I appreciate every one of those comments!