Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recluttering the House

A few years ago, we put the house up for sale intending to move to Austin to be near my son. After six months, the house hadn’t even shown once, so we took it off the market intending to try again in a few months. In the meantime, son spent most of one year in Paris and then was sent to London. His company has now opened a branch in London, and my son is working there and no longer owns his condo in Austin.

One of the first things we did when we listed the house was to pack up a bunch of odds and ends we figured we could live without for a few months. Most of the boxes have been piled in one of the two guest room closets. Then we bought an artificial Christmas tree that arrived in two big boxes which are taking up space in the walk-in closet in my office. I decided that perhaps I should free up space in the guest room by unpacking those boxes. After all, we had been living without those items for at least two years, so most of them should go to the thrift store, right?

I should know better than to expect anything to be that easy. 

First of all, there were the craft items given to us as gifts from our friends in Hungary. When I first visited and they offered to take us shopping, I expressed a preference for seeing locally made crafts. Every Christmas since, I have been receiving hand painted wooden spoons, specialty jars for condiments and honey, Christmas ornaments, ornamental plates, and one year a decorative bull whip, which is sitting in an African basket on top of the blanket chest in the living room. The wooden spoons and and a three-compartment condiment set were among the items packed, and I couldn’t make myself part with them. I compromised by getting rid of some silver plated bar tools we had been given years ago by a friend of my son, and putting the spoons where those items had been. 

Then there were the nutcrackers, which in Louisiana double as crab crackers. If we ever do have our big seafood boil, we will need them, but I made room for them by getting rid of miscellaneous cheese serving implements that we never use.

One surprise was my spring form baking pan, which I thought was in its old spot in the mud room. The baking pan is the sort of thing I don’t use often, but when I need it, there is no substitute. So it is back in the mudroom, with no obvious candidates yet to take its place in the donate box.

Then there was the small box with my elephants. Back when I went to Zimbabwe, I bought a soapstone elephant. I found a few more elephants at home to keep it company, and before I knew it, I had an elephant collection. Friends and family who know I collect elephants buy me elephants when they can’t think of anything else. A few of them were allowed to remain on my bedroom bookshelf, but several are in the small box. The box is now in a new location, though, inside antique washstand that serves as my bedside table.

Adding to the menagerie are the six painted parrots that my husband bought at Iguazu Falls. “I guess you want to keep them,” I said. “Yeah, we can use them at Christmas, “ he said. “We can hang them on the tree.” They’re about 5-6” long, but they are now in a drawer in the dining room with the Santa wall plaque waiting to see how that works out.

Then there is the mandoline that his sister gave us one year for Christmas. We never figured out how to use it and it sat collecting dust, which it hard to remove from something with sharp blades. It’s a pricey little item, though, and I hate to just give it away. We decided to use it sometime in the next few months, and if we don’t, to donate it. I know how that goes. Three years from now it will still be on the back of the pantry shelf.

I did put some old patterns and unopened packages of cording in the donate box, along with an unused spiral notebook, some ski goggles I bought to use as sunglasses in Antarctica (since they went over my glasses), a cup holder from Adrienne, Texas, the midpoint of Route 66, and a small coaster with a child’s prayer on it that I suspect was MIL’s. The box is looking quite empty.

The majority of the items are framed family pictures. I’m not sure where we used to keep them all. Perhaps new items have taken their place. I can’t really get rid of them, but at least I can get everything down to one box.

Didn’t I have a plan to declutter this space once?

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