“death cleaning” interrupted

A horrible translation i’m sure of the Swedish precept that one should clear all “clutter” before one’s loved ones has to deal with the mess when you’re gone……..

My mother has been a proponent of this since long before the idea swept the trends index. She started doing this after my grandmother’s death when i was 21, a LONG time ago. (SHEESH, 40 years ago in fact.) Among other strange and wonderful accumulations, my grandmother had four sewing machines, none of which were actually ever used, eight cases of canned green beans, boxes and boxes of rags, fifteen bottles of bleach, needlework galore unfinished (none passed on, as they were crappy kits and mostly 70’s “design”) and all the other detritus that is inevitable when the collector grew up during the depression and two world wars—-that learned, desperate “don’t throw anything away, and amass whatever you can, because you don’t know when hard times will hit again.”

My mother’s house is sparely furnished, almost monastic, and i rarely send her gifts, as somehow they always come back to me….Β  If it has no function, it doesn’t enter her house. I’m fine with that though.

Years of no money as a single mother myself resulted in an overload of Things when i *did* have some money to spare, and then/now, as Greyman said every time we’ve moved, “the house is gaining too much weight.”

Himself and i decided we need to do the same. It’s painful in some ways, but there’s no one to pass things on to, dear Son excepted who lives a rather sparse and nomadic life himself, so if we’re not using it/don’t need it, why keep it? That “spark joy” thing, where if it doesn’t please you, get rid of it? I bet dollars to doughnuts there are little IG yummymommy’s getting rid of last week’s new skirt and buying another, but “donating” the “old” skirt to someone else, which just perpetuates the problem…..

I’ve come to realize, that especially in my studio, no one is going to want this stuff. It’s rare that even locally placed artists and crafters would take on a whole room full of someone else’s creative impulse/obsession/collections/projects buys, never mind any potential on line listings, without wanting to pick through it. A small box or two painstakingly sifted, when the leftovers add up to a good sized Uhaul does the de-clutterer no good really……. I know this for a fact: a few years back, a friend and i went to the house of man who had lost his wife, and he was trying to clear a lifetime and a whole HOUSE full of these things, and all i walked out with was this amount…. (I heard much later, that the poor guy couldn’t even give it away, and no doubt, most ended up in the landfill………)

In the last week, i’ve done three rooms: kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, and it’s funny because while i can’t see any change, i know the stuff’s not there πŸ™‚

The bedroom is half done, and let me tell you, there are more clothes in bags than Greyman and i could ever possibly need, all from days of yore, as both of us wear limited wardrobes, by choice. My days of thinking a new dress or pair of shoes would change my life, are long long long gone. I admit, at one point i could have worn a different outfit and accessories every day for several MONTHS (all thrift store or made by self, but still…..), but now i live in two different modes: lounge pants and tshirt at home, leggings or pants and a tshirt/blouse for work, Greyman pretty much the same. We dress up maybe once a year, for his company christmas party, and it’s still a pretty casual dress up.

There’s a little back room off the laundry, that iΒ  am petrified to go into. There are large rubbermaid bins full of yardage i will never use, bags of thread and yarn that are probably too old to use (threads do age after all…), finished and unfinished projects, his college day textbooks, my sketchbooks dating back to the 90’s, things packed 10 years ago and never unpacked, boxes of rusty bits, and papers for that damned mixed media craze from 10 or more years ago, a box of old film negatives that really are not that crucial, and gawdzknowswhatelse–why do we do this??????? We never even LOOK at them anymore, never mind USE or enjoy them.

We don’t really buy things anymore. Oh, we replace a dead coffee maker, get new shoes, mitts, underwear, socks, and top up the coffee cup assortment when things get chipped or dropped, but we are no longer consumers. We don’t do birthday, anniversary or christmas gifts. I don’t go to the thrift shops once a week anymore “in case there’s something good”. We’re an advertiser’s nightmare, because we also don’t believe in “laser serum creams”, a new car every year, furniture that can’t stand up to real life with house animals, vitamins that act on a “cellular level”, trendy toys whether adult or not, body products that are Hogwash really, and 99.9% of what is advertised anywhere….. It’s not that we can’t afford them. We just don’t want them, we don’t believe the hyperbole and certainly not that they will improve our lives.

If we won the lottery, our lifestyle would still not change much. Except for that piece of 100 acres with a house and workshop/studio in the middle, all the sad animals no one else wants,Β  and big fences all around.

So WHY do we still have all this Stuff? It’s got to go.

Ok, i had my coffee break from the death cleaning. Obligatory post photo, door valance made from naturally dyed scraps because this old house has strange air movements between the main part of the house and the laundry room.

The sign above the door is most appropriate right now.



11 responses to ““death cleaning” interrupted

  1. Amen Sister!!! My studio space is undergoing the same sort of grand turf-out too – just too much stuff that has (and probably never did have) any purpose is on the way out the door one way or another. I’ve placed a full stop on purchasing anything but absolute essentials and once I’m done with the backhoe I will subscribe to the theory of ‘one in, at least three out’. Thrift stores are pretty much off my beaten path any more (unless it’s to replace a wardrobe item that needs it, or to augment a few things for our grandson who seems to outgrow everything within two weeks). Remember how we used to augment our ‘component boxes’??? Well, in this clear out I finally got it all down to what will fit in a plastic shoe box. Yay me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally with you on this. My ‘aha’ moment came a few years back when I went to a garage sale…same story really…woman died, husband selling all her unrealized dreams….two garages full. This month I am helping to clear out the unrealized dreams of my 86 year old quilt friend who has gone into care. All will end up in the tip if not rescued so I’m trying to help. At some point though – I just have to realize that I can’t rescue 60 plus years of her collecting. And, I too am being very selective on what comes home with me. I have my own dreams (and don’t want to increase my stash of stuff).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder too if for some of us, the children and grandchildren of these ‘collectors”, haven’t a generational “hangover” about accumulation…..

      I think also that when the internet became such a pervasive marketing tool, that it was so/too easy to be swayed by all the “projects” and “express yourself” mentality that resulted in more and more product being pushed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Moved house 5 months ago and had a massive clear out . . . I still have untouched boxes in the garage. I’m seriously considering donating them as is if I haven’t done something with them in the next 6 months.
    Of the studio I will say only that I will not be buying anything other than to replace basic materials when they get used up. Perhaps a time limit might be in order there as well. 2 years? If I haven’t used those thingies they can go . . . and then the week after, just like when you lose a doofer and get a replacement, you find the bloody thing next day . . . yep, did that last week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those damn “doofers” πŸ™‚ i think the only reason you need it, is because now you remembered you *had* one……..

      Fortunately, my studio’s doofers are certain magazine articles–which i took pictures of, stored on my private blog–and cleared 2 and a half shelves worth of space!


  4. Wow ! you are all so inspirational !
    It’s never a fun chore but somebody’s got to do it, right ? … and it’s my time now, too. The old guy & I are planning a major move by the end of the year and sure as hell know that I’d better get at it right now !
    It’s old books and magazine’s, a small pile of ‘fabrics/yardage’ that I’ll never use, notebooks from classes from a long time ago, wool I’ll never knit … but totally manageably … just lacking the drive to get at it ! But, we’re not alone are we ?

    Still reading Arlee … just not getting around to replying often … making a change in that, too πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • What drives me crazy too, is the fact that some i spent actual COIN on, and never got around to using………and no one will buy it, so…what a waste.

      I understand about the commenting πŸ™‚ Few do now, and i myself have found fewer and fewer blogs, either being written, or that i have anything to contribute to in adding my 2bits.


  5. Pingback: wanna see my drawers? (part 1) | albedo too

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