The Flip-Side

0049-got_coffee_3-3-1Hi!

There is a flip-side to the clutter issue. This was something that I read about and I believe I heard of on the news around 6 or 7 years ago when I last moved. I was researching the subject of reducing clutter in anticipation of that move.

Homeless person, with shopping cart

Homeless person, with shopping cart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my research I found something about the folks with a with disabilities that are on the road to eventually being homeless. The issue is that with each move they are forced to make — to less and less expensive accommodations — they are forced to divest themselves of possessions.

There are many exceptions of course, represented by those folks living out of a multitude of shopping carts or living in a warren of appliance boxes and crates.

Large and small skillets

Large and small skillets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is that problem of a person basically losing a bit of themselves with every move they make. Precious keepsakes get lost, sold, or stolen. House-ware such as the basics like pots, pans and linens are reduced until not enough to sustain a household are left.

Eventually a person ends up with just the clothes on their back; the shoes on their feet; and perhaps a shoulder bag with a few prized possessions. They end up losing that mooring in life we call possessions. Writing as a person with issues surrounding hoarding and clutter I can see this sort of thing being a double-edged sword.

English: Photo of the living room of a compuls...

English: Photo of the living room of a compulsive hoarder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the one hand, we can be anchored too soundly by our possessions. They can keep us from doing those things we most want to do by taking up every nook and cranny of our lives. “Excess baggage” is the term that comes to mind. But I have seen images fo the homes of hoarders where even the kitchen becomes a closet and no cooking can be done… or safely done. A person that might get joy out of cooking no longer has access to their stove. Too many possessions can be a burden.

On the flip-side, slowly losing everything is like cutting ties with your past. You lose the treasured photos of friends and family both alive and dead. You also lose any record of contact you might have with these people. You lose the ability to move into a place with a kitchen and be able to cook without repurchasing those pots and pans that you got rid of.

In some ways you lose your place in society.

Compulsive hoarding in a private apartment

Compulsive hoarding in a private apartment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know there are some that live quite well with a minimum of possessions, in fact people who are quite happy in a Spartan environment.

I don’t know if these are the exceptions or the rule?

I would have problems living without familiar possessions — though i think I might like being in touch with some things that those possession represent.

But, I don’t want to get rid of my Father’s portrait and his old hard hat. I don’t want to get rid of my library of books that I have collected over the years. I don’t want to get rid of the tools that I use for painting, sewing, leather-work, or computer repair.

I wouldn’t mind getting rid of some broken things and a build-up of recyclables. For some reason they keep piling up… oh yeah, if I get rid of them they won’t pile up… if it were only so simple, for me.

Dusty
D. Cluttermouse.

Break a Leg!

0049-got_coffee_3-2…well, break a chair in any case.

Dusty has… had a favourite chair. It was an old off-white tweed-like swivel rocker that Dusty had for over 15 years and had been in the family for perhaps 5 or 10 years before that. It had been the accent chair going with a full sized sofa in the family, family-room. The sofa was something Dusty had hated to get rid of a number of years ago when forced to downsize — from a nearly 900 sq foot — two-bedroom apartment suite with large closets and storage unit — to a 450 sq foot basement suite with one small closet… which Dusty could luckily add an 8×8 storage shed to.

…getting back to the story…

I did love that rocker. My Dad had fixed it once, welding a broken piece back onto the swivel base where it had broken off. It was an earlobe shaped loop used to fasten it to part of the base — one of 4 on the swivel rocker base. That repair worked for a dozen or so years until perhaps 6 years ago when the weld gave way. I had no way to weld it and Dad wasn’t in a position to be able to help. The head of the screw on the remaining lobe on that side had broken off and the screws in the supporting piece of wood loosened allowing the whole base to pivot… not good. Anyway, I fixed it by taking the good screw from the side with the broken lobe and fastening the swivel base with only 3 screws and lobes and taking extra wood screws and good white glue and reworking the wooden supports for the base.

Black recliner (arm chair)

Black recliner (arm chair) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That worked for the 6 years… but bang! the chair broke a few weeks ago! This time, I figured I couldn’t fix the base again. I removed the base and put the chair on a board (to protect the carpet)  and sat on it (a lot lower to the floor) and pondered getting a replacement. I really used the chair more as a recliner than a rocker anyway so I started shopping for a recliner — even on my low budget.

I actually did my shopping online seeking out the best store to buy from. I looked for the greatest selection and best prices… good quality and a store with a decent name were important as well. I wanted a place that I could trust in case there were issues with the purchase like damaged merchandise. Actually the best place I could find was a chain called “The Brick“.

“The Brick” had a good selection and good prices even though their sales came and went like the tides. (regular and frequently) I went there and actually got a great deal on a very nice recliner… because it was a colour that most might not care for… but Dusty could live with.

Some call it “Spice”.

…most would call it “orange” or “pumpkin”.

That sounds pretty bad, but actually it goes well with warm wood grains and adds a splash of colour to an otherwise dark room. Besides it is high quality and very comfortable and I like it. (I might prefer brown or a dark colour but… the price was right.)

…getting on with the story.

English: art deco club chair

English: art deco club chair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chair is a fair sight larger than the swivel rocker and it doesn’t swivel. It also needs room to recline even if it can be placed fairly close to a wall. I also wanted to place it in a different location… and there were boxes there.

clutter clutter clutter

It also meant that they had to deliver the chair which meant delivery men had to get in the door and move in Dusty’s rather cluttered nest. That meant one thing… some organization was needed. (Maybe even some de-cluttering?)

It took a lot, but I reduced one box, moved four more to a more convenient place and got rid of a bunch of long past due recycling. When the recliner finally came, it could go straight where it belonged. I placed a floor lamp where it belonged and two side tables et voila, I had a living-room!

I really hadn’t had a living-room since I moved here due to the clutter.

I have a bit of inspiration to do a bit more clean-up and de-cluttering as well.

The point?

It seems that one way to de-clutter is to make a change in your life. In mine it was the need to replace that old favoured chair. What might you change… or what change might be forced upon you? Can you deal with the change, or will it break you?

Bye for now,

Dusty
D. Cluttermouse.

Boxes Little Boxes

Hey!

I my quest to go through all my stored clutter “One box at a time” I have a new approach to try. I want to get away from the stacks of cardboard boxes. I would like to start using plastic bins and crates.

This idea is many-fold. One, cardboard deteriorates and gives off paper dust into the air which does not help for a healthy environment. This deterioration also means that the boxes collapse and do a poorer and poorer job at protecting their contents. The cardboard boxes also add to a more cluttered appearance. The plastic bins will also with luck protect what I value, but need still to store.

The very action of switching over a box at a time from cardboard to plastic gives me a chance to go through all of my possessions and hard as it is, perhaps get rid of some — whether by donation, selling, recycling, reusing… using or trashing. With luck I can reduce the space taken and number of containers. Optimistically perhaps by 2:1 cutting 2 cardboard boxes down to 1 plastic bin of comparable size — and perhaps the plastic bins will take less room. Pessimistically perhaps it will only be 1:1 meaning 1 cardboard box goes into 1 plastic bin. But I will have checked on what I own and things will be in better order.

I do believe it will be closer to 2:1 —  maybe 4:3? I hope that at least I’ll be able to control where things are and know where they are.

But it will have to be one box at a time… or two, hoping to cut them down to one.

Ahhh, but where can I get very inexpensive bins? They need to be sturdy, protective, and I need to be able to count on getting more of them as I progress because I want to be able to stack them. I rather like the sort with the interlocking lids which are hinged so that you open them without removing the lids. But I suspect they cost a lot. I am using a lot of bankers’ boxes… you know the folding file boxes that offices use as well as a certain number of moving boxes.

I want to make a start by collecting all of my tools into one bin. I want to put hobby supplies into another one or two. Then I want to keep those bins in an easily accessed location. Another bin or two will be used for storing out of season clothing, linens, and fabric.

So, do you have any ideas?

End of Summer – Warning Trees Planning to Clutter Up Yards!

Dusty - D CluttermouseHowdy!

I guess it is only a month since my last entry. Not much has happened. It is so interesting that with such a cluttered environment, my life is so uncluttered. Meaning I don’t really get much accomplished. Well, that is not entirely true. I have started getting out of my cave and into the world, if only to my parents’ place. I did take care of some important tasks in the last two weeks — well, important to me — which is very good.

I am trying to psych myself up to do some possession reduction. Perhaps if only to get rid of the obvious recyclables and trash to start, I might then move on to some other things. Of course many folks don’t understand emotional attachments to mundane objects. I don’t quite, but they are there and can be very strong and I can sympathize with others who have them. Perhaps my calling is to council those who must cope with downsizing?

Later!

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

The Dust Lay Thick and Deep, Like Freshly Fallen Snow

Your Host, Dusty

Hi! It seems my last entry was about an extended absense…

Gee… and that was over just short of two years ago! Depression can be like that. To start off with you don’t have energy to keep up with things and so you begin to live by triage. You start doing only what is necessary. After a while you forget some of the things you only did infrequently that were not “necessary” to life.

That is what happened to “No A’s B’s or C’s”

The depression still lays heavy upon me. I’m not sad… I wonder what percentage of people with major depression actually are sad? In any case the depression mostly takes away my energies. I say “energies” because as well as emotional energy, there are physical energy issues and spiritual energy issues. Anxiety, one of the main issues in Chronic Hoarding, also plagues me more strongly — I think. I find it difficult to get out. That restricts what I can do in my quest to put order in my life — even the small amount of order that “I” desire… and in truth I do desire an ordered environment.

People who know me and the rare few who have seen my living space comment that it is very well ordered. I think that is true of certain types of hoarders. I’m not one to obsess on pictures that are hung slightly crooked. But, if someone were to put a glass on the wrong shelf or rearrange stuff in my bathroom… I will feel uneasy.

I must say that many things are more organized. I must say that my shed, while a success in giving me the storage space I needed, has become a black hole. I have not even looked into it for over a month except when some sneak thief opened to doors to check it out for valuables. I checked that nothing was missing… strangely I could tell what had been shifted even will all that is in there. But that is a sign of the order involved. I do still have a half dozen or so moving boxes in my living area in addition to the file boxes I have stored in my bedroom semi-permanently. It is difficult… I do need help to cope with the clutter and I am just barely coping.

Perhaps starting back in with my writing is a good sign? We shall see. You will probably be able to judge by the duration between this and whatever post will follow it.

For now, that is the ending of this entry.

~ Dusty

D Cluttermouse

Shock in a Box!

Eep!

I have been good and in keeping with trying to at least look in a box a day, I actually dealt with one box yesterday and then I opened a second! EEP! I realized that I hadn’t opened that box in 9 years! It had gotten packed at the place before the place I last lived at and wasn’t opened! Now it wasn’t that the stuff in the box wasn’t missed. I just made do without. But it is like you can make do eating French fries without ketchup or make do with eating fish without lemon or… well you get my drift.

Seeing some of the stuff was like getting reacquainted with old friends. Granted most of the box was filled with old paperwork and books, but they were manuscripts I had written and will now be able to make use of without having to write from scratch. Others will give me an indication of how my writing skill has progressed over the past decade – some of the articles and papers were from 3-5 years before that move.

Anyhow, who knows what other buried treasures there are out there.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

The Bouquet of Flowers that Cleaned a House

Have you ever heard of the bouquet of flowers that cleaned a house?
A woman – let’s call her Irene – who had a problem with clutter and who was overwhelmed with the state of her home was given a bouquet of flowers by someone who cared about her in hopes that the spring blooms would cheer her up. I am not sure if the gift giver included a vase, but I think in such a situation that I would considering just how much anxiety it might cause someone who might not be able to put their hands on one right away.

In any case Irene looked for where she could put the flowers and could see that one place she might put them was a messy coffee table in the corner of her living room. She had to do a bit of work to clear a space for the flowers so they could sit on the table even at that.

Irene looked at the beautiful bouquet sitting on the cluttered table and decided she might clean the end of the table the flowers were sitting on so they might look a bit better.

The flowers looked just beautiful sitting on the end of the coffee table, but thought how much better they would look in the centre of the table if she would just clean the other side of the table. So Irene spent a half hour and cleared off the other half of the table. The flowers looked even better sitting in the middle of the table and Irene was pleased. But she saw how dusty and grimy the table was… or at least the spots of the table that weren’t covered by clutter. So she got out an old towel and a bottle of furniture polish/cleaner she had and she dusted the table.

Irene was very happy at how the table now shone and reflected the beauty of the flowers in the fine grain of the wood. But it also reflected the stack of boxes by the curtains and the Chesterfield covered with coats, books, and file boxes. So Irene went on and sorted through the books and file boxes on the couch returning the coats to the cloak closest and the books and file boxes to the office and bookshelves. That took the afternoon, but nearly half the living room looked so very nice and inviting! She sat on the now cleared Chesterfield and looked at her flowers… and saw how dingy the rest of the room looked. It wouldn’t take very long to straighten the rest of the room…

The next day dawned and Irene was welcomed by a beautiful clean living room. It really did not take her long into the evening. It was a bit of work but she did a bit at a time and she even considered showing it off… at least to the friend who brought the flowers. They would marvel at the change.

Irene sat for a while and considered how cluttered the entrance hall looked…

Well, one room at a time she got that house straightened up. One bit inspired her to do the next. Being able to reopen an area to use as it was intended was a great incentive to her.

Of course, many of us have more clutter than just “straightening up” and returning things to their proper places will cure. Part of our problem is that we have more pegs than holes regardless of whether they are square or round. Still the idea of a bit at a time and having that bit inspire us is important.

Another crucial element is having that initial impetus. And I think that a positive impetus is better than a negative one. Rather than a deadline before guests arrive or a landlord’s visit or a move – something like receiving something that isn’t overwhelming, but nice would be good. Or a good friend offering to help with some difficult task that you are ready to do.

It is very important that the task be one you are ready for as well, I figure.

For me… at the moment my incentive an impetus can come from rediscovery of something I need or miss in amongst my moving boxes… after a season I still have boxes I haven’t opened.

I still wish for some sort of magic genie to come down to help… I guess I have to go a box or shelf at a time until then. I still hope to at least “look” into a box a day.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

__________
I am broadly paraphrasing a story that I have heard from a number of sources. The idea though is captured with perhaps a bit of my own slant on it… oh, and “Chesterfield” is another name for a “Sofa” or “Couch” that I thought I might throw in for colour.

Tea 4 Too

One minor thing I did today was to have a look at my tea collection. I went and moved my regular teabags from the Hershey’s cocoa plastic “tins” to some stackable clear plastic deli containers. The advantage is that the deli containers nest into each other when empty, as do the lids — and being transparent I can see what is inside them. Still… it won’t be easy to toss the Hershey’s containers into the recycling bin as it takes a long while for me to empty a whole cocoa container and they are nice plastic containers that seal fairly well.

Clutter experts would probably recommend just getting plastic storage containers… but I feel why buy what I already have… but then again how many containers do I need…

In any case I am thinking of moving the tea to those stackable containers. Since you don’t know, I have over a dozen types of tea. I have two or three types of Earl Grey, Two or three types of Green Tea, Various Herbal Teas, and a number of Black teas. I tend to reuse the nice Tetley Tea cylinders, but wonder about using the deli containers for the others… I just have to make sure they are identifiable if they are not in individual envelopes.

I did make a bit more room on my tea shelf… oh dear, I have a tea shelf! It is right below my spice shelf. The shelf above has sugar, brown sugar, Splenda, Sugar Twin, Real Lemon & Real Lime crystals, icing sugar, Koolade, and a few other things that seem to fit with that.

The big thing is working to keep them all organized and useful.

I still have to find a way to corral my plastics and store them.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

Clutter here Clutter there, Clutter can accumulate Everywhere!

Here is a question for you fellow clutterers… when was the last time you sorted through your bookmarks, favourites, or whatever you call the address of your favourite places on the Internet?

Do you go through them:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Seasonally
  • Yearly
  • Every once in a while you get a new computer and the browser is empty
  • You can delete bookmarks?

I have to admit that I just never get rid of mine and in fact, I don’t even get a clear out when I change computers or browsers because I am computer savvy enough to be able to migrate my bookmarks.
I’d love to put up a poll of readers, but really don’t have any to speak of yet — however, I suspect a lot of people with cluttered homes would likely have cluttered bookmark lists as well as hard drives. Of course at the same time I know sometimes these organizational-emotional things don’t cross such boundaries, but I bet for many they do.

I know I bookmark many things just because they are just so very interesting and I want to be able to come back to them when I have time to really take a good look at them — others I want to share — others I just want to prove they exist — and being a writer, some I just want to be able to call on as a reference. Mind you for the last category I will most often cache the page on my own drive in case it might disappear into the ether on me.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get to really Spring Clean on my bookmark list, but… I do hope some day to put them into better order so I can find them more simply and also will have places for the new pages to roost.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse

Another One Bites the Dust

Well, it wasn’t a big accomplishment last night, but I got into another box, emptied it, put the contents into places I wanted them to go and flattened the box for recycling. When I flatten a box it goes one of two roots. If it is a “moving & storage” box that I or a family member paid money for and is in decent condition I place it behind a dresser near the door so that my parents or brother-in-law can take it for future family moves. If not, I flatten it and put it outside to be bundled for recycling.

Well… there is a third category for special boxes… I have purchased over years filing boxes — they used to be called bankers boxes — which are sturdy and can be folded or set up without tape and can be stacked filled fairly high. They are also the same size so they stack well. The are the size of a letter file folder wide and a legal one long. They have separate tray-like lids that fold flat too. Anyhow I flatten them and put them under my bed to be used for storing things in my closet and eventually in a wardrobe or storage shed. There are also small boxes I might keep for sorting stuff into larger boxes.

Anyway the box I went through last night was filled with a set of mugs I collected which have Canadian scenes on them and I use for company. I have them now displayed on the back of my stove and they look nice there. The box they were in also was on a shelf in one of my book shelves so that meant that I could then put an armload of books onto the now vacant shelf.

I might not be going through a box a day, but it is a start.

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse