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.

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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

Three “R”s to Decluttering…..

For me it is very difficult to get rid of things. It is virtually impossible to throw things out, but I have found that those “Three ‘R’s of Recycling” to be very helpful!

  1. Reduce
  2. Reuse
  3. Recycle

I have applied these to my problem of “compulsive hoarding”… or is that “obsessive hoarding”? I always forget… anyhow, I apply them to my hoarding problem.

First, I “REDUCE”:

I am very careful not to take in anything that is not necessary. One of the early steps I took was not to take any physical Newspaper. That means I won’t subscribe to either of our daily papers no matter how much I love to read them. I simply found that I had problems getting rid of the papers. There were many reasons including being worried that I might have missed an article or coupon. Even with the option to recycle newspapers it was nearly impossible to keep up. I will admit that it is far far easier for me to “recycle” than “throw out”, but I’ll get back to that. I found that I can not even take in the weekly, biweekly, or tri-weekly papers – even just the fliers or catalogues. I just can not bear to get rid of the ads… So I do not take them in and instead I take advantage of services like Google’s News search service which will scan the net for local news of interest to me and to be able to scan fliers online. …I just have to make sure not to download, print or otherwise save the electronic fliers.

That is one area of reducing. I also make sure I don’t start buying any collectible items. I know I will want the whole set and will be unable to part with a single, even broken or duplicated item. That includes the wee toys you might get free in cereal boxes.

Second I “REUSE”:

If I do find I simply must buy something neat or keep something that might not seem of value. I realize now that I simply must find a use for it. For instance. I was keeping those very large spaghetti sauce jars. They are the large ones — the 4 litre/4 quart glass ones that you really can’t find now — that have been replaced by plastic. I find they are so very… hard for me to part with especially now that I can’t find sauce or other products sold in them. For a long time I used them for “bug proof” rice storage. I bought the large sacks of rice as a way to economize for a while, but with living in older basement suites… well bug proof was important. Anyway the rice storage was a way to “reuse” the bottles. I also used them for iced tea and for juice in the fridge. Their biggest flaw was the metal lids with the very thin plastic lining. They really weren’t intended for long time reuse. I’d love to find a source for more reusable lids for them.

I have found that since that time I can not use so much white rice. My blood sugar can not handle the refined starch in the white processed rice. This summer, I shall figure out something for iced tea and Koolaid. I make it myself and add my own diabetic friendly sweetener — sometimes very little sweetener at that. However, I have taken to reusing the jars now for things like…

  • My marble collection
  • My dice collection
  • My plastic toy collection — like the little things you get in Kinder Eggs and cereal boxes

Third I “RECYCLE”:

This might seem a “no brainer”. Perhaps it is, but before easy recycling I had very difficult problems getting rid of things that “should” be reusable or recyclable. I mean metal, plastic, glass, and that sort of thing were very hard for me to just throw out — unless of course they were soiled so that they were difficult to clean. I guess some of my favourite toys were the broken ones. I also used metal, wood, and plastic bits as accessories to my toys and to help build and fix my toys. It wasn’t that we were really poor, but we didn’t go buying toys all the time and I tended to be happy making do. I guess it led to where I am in other areas too…

I have belonged to, and in my spirit, though I am not currently active, still a member of a medieval recreation society and the keyword to that group is “participation”. Being that medieval gear and equipment just could not easily be purchased, we ended up making and creating our own. Of course with my typical “Church Mouse” budget I would have to often improvise and would use old clothing, blankets, discarded furniture, and drapes for resources to make clothing and items for medieval implements and garb. That is cool… but you end up keeping nearly everything on the hope that you can make use of it and not toss something that would be of value and use to you in your hobby — especially when you have seen others using such things in their own equipment. Part of what I am going to be getting rid of now are things I have saved to use for that hobby. I know I will be able to purchase or otherwise find for nearly nothing the equivalent or better.

It would have been difficult to get rid of that stuff other than now knowing I can recycle the materials.

Recycling and reducing are probably the more important to me as I have too much stuff at the moment. I imagine selling and donating are as important or more important than the recycling bin to me. Or for that matter finding friends and family who could actually use the things I do not have a need for and do not have room for.

I guess “3 R’s” sound better than “3 R’s, S, D, & G”  (Sell, Donate, & Gift)

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse.

Life’s Journey

When I was born, I was very young…

When I grew up living with my parents it was in houses with more than ample storage space for toys and all the things of my youth. My parents had room for their hobbies and crafts and the family things like camping equipment and sports equipment — not to mention room for retired furniture kept for a future “rumpus room”.

For health reasons I lived with my parents through my twenties while going to university. At the time we really didn’t know what the cause of the problem was, but they were keeping me from successfully competing in the job market or completing my degree. I did get a great education though.

Finally Mom and Dad decided to move into a townhouse condominium and while I would be welcome to move with them, I figured it was well past time I should “launch” out on my own.

Problem was with coping with all my acquired possessions while renting…

It hasn’t been easy despite five moves (Five and a half, and perhaps I shall talk about the half some day here.) and trying very hard to reduce my possessions with each move. Each time has been very stressful for me and I have at least on one occasion gotten rid of well over a ton of material to the dump. (Literally as measured on the landfill scales.)

Now I find myself trying to squeeze into a one bedroom basement suite with a single bedroom closet. I still have ⅓ of my stuff out on the covered porch waiting while I cope with finding places for the stuff that I already have moved inside.

I do need help to cope with it and am trying to figure out just where to find it while living on a disability income. I have plans to get an outside storage shed and a wardrobe closet for indoors, but they cost money and money is a precious commodity. Even then those storage items might only be temporary as I may yet have to downsize from a 1-bedroom unit to a bachelor suite sometime in the near future.

Still, I know that it will be worth it to downsize no matter how difficult it seems.

I’ll let you know how it works out and how I get there!

~ Dusty
D Cluttermouse