One Year…A de-cluttering tail (tale).

This week marks the end of year one with three cats in the house.

I am surprised we all survived. Seriously. I almost hesitate to mention it, as we have gone something like seven weeks without an accident. I feel we are overdue.

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(GANDOLF. 8.5 years old.)

We adopted Rory and Gandolf last October, after our Hamish died suddenly. To say it’s been an adjustment is something of an understatement. Tatiana was left alone, and Timmy was missing his good buddy. He found Gandolf, and Rory came with him (or the other way around.) Whatever, they came as a set, and we agreed, considering their past history. Gandolf settled in rather easily. It was HIS house, right? Tatiana moped and hissed. (Perfectly in character.) Rory decided under the couch was a lovely home for the first few weeks. Beyond that, nothing major. They shared food. (Well, to a degree. All food belonged to Gandolf—and three bowls made it VERY hard for him, as he couldn’t eat out of them ALL at once.) They shared a litter box. They didn’t destroy the Christmas tree. Life was good.

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(RORY 3.5 years old)

Something happened come spring. Suddenly, Tatiana was being stalked at the litter box. We got a second, removed the lid from the first, and have ultimately moved both to locations I would prefer they weren’t in. Gandolf spends his days lying in the doorway to the studio, or in the studio itself, always in view of Tatiana. Tatiana spends hers under the cutting table in the studio, or on the ironing board. Rory is off somewhere. Is Gandolf jailing Tatiana? Or, is he guarding Tatiana from Rory? We still can’t say exactly. Rory wants to play– he is a baby, a clown,  and these two sulky adult cats don’t like it. There is a LOT of hissing. There is a lot of fur flying. (Literally.) I spend my days thinking I am the mother of three toddlers, hearing in their hisses and growls, “Mommy, he’s looking at me; make him stop LOOKING at me!”

(What exactly, you are asking, may this possibly have to do with de-cluttering? Unless I am flinging a cat or three? Patience, young grasshopper. I am building to the climax.)

This, I could tolerate. Hey, who doesn’t want to be mommy’s favorite? However, suddenly our noses were getting a workout. Someone was not using the litter box. Was it Tati, because she couldn’t get to them without assault? Was it Gandolf, aggravated that Tati gets first dibs on my lap? Was it Rory for reasons un-guessed? Number 1 and number 2, but not every day, indeed, not every week. Just often enough. Gandolf had the nerve one night to go right in front of us in an empty cardboard box. The couch, the table, the floor….Someone decided since we abandoned them on vacation they should go on a pile of quilting fabric.

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(TATIANA  11 or so years old)

Yes, FABRIC. Nervy, I tell you. It’s not a happy house. They are segregated for feeding, they are examined by the vet. They all get lap time. There is no proof of it being one or the other or the third, (with three exceptions), so they are ALL to blame. I spend copious amounts of time and money cleaning, washing, deodorizing, disinfecting, and then discovering some other place someone went, unnoticed.

And can I just on the side mention Rory never learned to groom himself? I don’t know if he was taken from his mother too early, but the boy knows nothing about cleaning his own backside, or coat. It’s not a good thing when you are a long-haired cat. It’s not something I have ever dealt with before. Cats like to groom!

Ok, ok. The de-cluttering part of the post. I ordered new carpeting for the house. A risky move with pee-ers, I know. But if you could see the carpet the house has now, well… circa 1980 and gross. It is time.  Anyway, they will be installing in about two weeks, and so I have a drop-dead deadline. A good thing for me. I am trying to do this the smart way, and not end up with boxes of things I don’t need getting boxed and then having to be unboxed. (Or worse, left boxed for months afterward.) So, slowly I am working on things in the studio, because it has the most “stuff”.

I discovered a plastic tray, with sheets of sleeved negatives in it, with a layer of dried out pee. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH, I was SO aggravated, you just don’t know. This container was apparently once in a location they could aim at. (Where I just pulled it from it was impossible, even for a cat.) That means that months back they did this, I didn’t notice and moved it after it had dried. I can’t get mad at them– they don’t know why I get mad at them WHILE they have a knocked over house plant between their teeth– months is out of their scope.

The sleeves seem to have made things better than they could have been. The de-cluttering part of the story? Last week, I was up in the attic, and opening one of the totes during my flinging, discovered I still had a bunch of darkroom supplies.  (I haven’t had access to a darkroom since 2002.) I put the lid back on it to deal with it another day. Classic procrastinators move, don’t you think?

I am now slowly removing negatives from sleeves, and rinsing in Photo-Flo–which helps dry without water spots–(circa B& H Photo back when they were still a hole-in-the wall on 17th Street, NYC) and hanging them to dry. Its a long, slow process. The moral of the story?

When “flinging” I suggested you think about:

  • whether you need the object,
  • do you use the object,
  • and if you needed to replace the object, how hard to come by and how expensive would the object be to replace.

Two potato peelers? If you have two cooks, I guess you could keep two. Six potato peelers? Can you FIND that many people to put to work, let alone fit them all in your kitchen?

Photo-Flo is definitely worth not flinging, as to get a new bottle when I needed it would have been somewhat less than simple.

It’s a VERY good thing the cats are cute.

Eating Crow…

(….Well, just a small ‘no thank you’ helping, please.) Two short weeks ago I mentioned that I wasn’t a fan of the ‘self-help’ genre of articles about de-cluttering because the majority seemed to be sponsored by some retail organization in an attempt to get you to SHOP.

I am, however, a semi-regular reader of Zen Habits. I enjoy the writing, the variety of links,  and the intellectual aspect of living with little makes some serious amount of sense. (But not in the reality based world I inhabit.  Again, let me state…I LIKE MY THINGS!!)

Zen Habits often has guest blogs, and I am lead hither and yon around the web, discovering one after another fascinating blog to follow. This post gives a quick and simple approach to de-cluttering that complements what I have said over the course of the year (and in far fewer words, and all on one page!) I may spend a good amount of time poking about on the blog that this came from!

So, to recap. It’s ok to read these types of articles, if only to see you are not alone, and to find what level of de-cluttering and simplifying you can handle. You don’t have to commit to their entire philosophy.  (Which is why I will not be linking the blog I ran into discussing trying to pare down ones life to 100 items.)

I did get my website all set up for the holiday gifting season. BREATHE color

Check out my WordArt and ABC’s as I see them! A unique, personal gift……

(Now, if my daughter reads the blog, she will find out that it’s entirely possible that she will be sleeping on the couch or an air mattress, because it is almost impossible that the carpet will be installed before she arrives, as I still haven’t had a firm estimate. If she doesn’t read the blog…oh well…surprise…!!) I am still going at the flinging, albeit slowly and I am attempting to use the 9 rules that were set out in the blog I linked above. 

What do you think of those criteria for de-cluttering?

You can’t force it…

I said last week that I would be putting the pedal to the metal, and getting on with it, right? No more procrastination, and no goofing off online. I was going to DO IT.

Uh huh.

I did get up into the attic, and emptied out 3 totes of stuff. The majority of it, I admit, were Halloween decorations. But that means I can state that I have finished decorating far earlier than normal for Halloween. (Somehow, it sneaks up on me. It might be that I am surrounded by the decorations at the store from August, so it’s not fresh in my mind. Or the fact it was almost 90 today could be contributing to the lack of belief that time is moving so swiftly.)

I told myself (although I don’t think I said so here) that I would do the studio last. I Can’t. I feel somehow compelled this week to weed through my quilt magazines and books, collected over the past 20 years. Who am I to deny the urge to purge? Two bookshelves in the living room also saw the axe…they are still full….just not as over-full as they were before. Goodwill got a visit from me, with a load from the back of the Aztek. I almost have everything set up on the website the way I want.  And I bought my first Christmas gift.

Overall, not a spectacular start, but not a total dud, either.

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2010 Hallowee n

Memorial Day….

Who doesn’t love a parade? In my childhood days, the first parade of the year was for St. Patrick’s Day. And it often happened that there was snow on the street corners, and the wind was whipping and bitter; but the idea of summer existed, we welcomed the idea that winter would indeed end. We stood and cheered, and listened to the bag pipers and waved to friends marching along, and visited with neighbors you missed while hibernating all winter long.

The next parade was the biggie, however.  Decoration Day! (Now called Memorial Day.)  I have old black and white photos of my Dad and Aunt Gael and various cousins as children at that parade, back in the 50’s. (There are no photos of us at most of the events of our childhood that I know about. There seems to have been a vacancy for ‘family photographer’ for years after Henri died and before I began.) The parade would pass by the front porch of 183 Victory, and we would watch with all of the older members of the family. We sat on the edge of the porch, we wandered up and down the stairs visiting with cousins and friends, we ran up and down the alley between the house and the funeral home. We had fun! We bought poppies from veterans, and waved our flags and marched along the sidewalk.

I don’t recall when we stopped going to the parade every year; I am unsure of whether the parade stopped for a while, or when the stepping off point changed, or if it was simply that after the funeral home moved up Victory we no longer had front row seats and ample parking.

But I do recall one year when Arlie was about 4, taking a folding chair and Daddy Gus to the corner of Hart and Forest and sitting him down to watch the soldiers and the bagpipers and the other marchers go by. I have a photo of Arlie and her little friend Molly, waving flags, and I remember  Daddy Gus wiping the tears from his eyes as the bands played on.

Ours is not a military family. We don’t have the old stories, the old soldiers who silently saved the world for us. But we do know what they do, and what they risk, and what they leave behind. We appreciate the sacrifices that their families make, we love the soldiers that we do know, who continue to make our world a safer place to live.

This Memorial Day the parade of my youth is hundreds of miles north, and I will be at work, near a military base.  But the meaning of the day, the sacrifice that our soldiers bear—it’s not something that can be measured, nor is it something that is to be left for one day in any event.

Happy Memorial Day. Have a safe and happy summer, and remember the reason you have this time to spend with family and friends at the beach or BBQ or even, like me, at work….

And now for something completely different:

An update on my studio cleaning. I have this photo of the fabric wall, completed.fabric after

I chose not to remove works in progress from the smaller containers on the top shelves at this time. The bins they are in fit relatively well, so I am leaving well enough alone.

I also finished a little baby blanket for a co-worker’s grandson, a super-preemie born back in February, who will probably be coming home within the next month!

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A simple patchwork blanket with fleece backing and blanket binding…a perfect snuggle for Alexander.

There was a post the other day, I didn’t send out a reminder, scroll down to catch up!

(Welcome to my blog, if you are new here! I hope you’ll subscribe for updates, to the left, and leave comments, I love to hear from readers!)

27 books…27 Magazines

Oh, books, magazines, you are going to be hard.

Books mean a lot to me. I have them everywhere. I even read some of them. Others, I just keep for the pictures!

But books do not stay in one location in this house. There is the pile in the bedroom—reading, about to read, finished reading.

There are similar piles in the guest room.

And shelves in the studio, and the den and the living room. All full of books.

I want a “KindleNookSonyIpad”—an E-reader. I haven’t settled on which, I am curious to hear from those who have them already about their pros and cons. But even if I own one, I don’t truly see books going away in this house. Too many of them are reference. The photos, the how-to’s, I don’t know that E-reading is the way to go (or that it’s even supported well…)

The financial difficulty of replacing all the reference of my life precludes being able to assign new roles to all the bookshelves in the house. (Although if forced, I COULD reassign them to hold fabric….)

The joy of wandering through Goodwill or yard sales or other thrift stores, and investing a quarter or a dollar in a new author and discovering something special—that too will be gone with E-reading. The idea of having anything that I might want at my fingertips on vacation? In the car? Bored on my lunch hour?? Heck, yes!

Still. The books currently in the house–27 flinging. Right, get back on target.

Do you live in an apartment but have a shelf (or more) of garden books? Do you not cook but have a shelf of cook books? Think on why you have them. Is this about who you WANT to be versus who you ARE? Is it a temporary situation?

Some may be worth keeping, because they ARE special, and do have great information. Some, well. Fling them. We live in the information age. We CAN find the information again.

Travel is a great past-time, but travel books are often out of date by the time they are printed. As reference, the internet is far better, or contact AAA just before your vacation and get up-to-date publications.

Books about crewel, or needlepoint, when you can’t remember the last time you threaded a needle?? Fling.

That small bit of shelf of children’s books that you saved? Keep’em. (No more than about a dozen really special ones, unless you currently HAVE children in the house. In that situation, you keep them all, lol!) They bring back memories, and it will tickle your child some day that they still exist. They are a great thing to have if you have unexpected small company.

Novels you read and can’t recall? Fling. Novels you enjoyed, but the TBR pile is so overwhelming you can’t imagine the time you would ever read it again? Fling. (Write down the title and author, and get it onto your E-reader eventually.) Novels you have started to read more than twice and STILL haven’t finished? Duh! Fling.

Novels that you have written in the margins of, dog-eared, bookmarked and underlined passages of? They get kept. They are old friends. (Still, you may want an E-copy eventually.)

(Let me clarify this word FLING for this topic. This should read a bit more like ––Share— Give away to friends who read the same things you do. Introduce a neighbor to your favorite author. Donate the entire pile to your library for their book sale. Sell on Ebay, Half.com, put up on PaperbackSwap.com, etc. Save the whole bag/box till your next family gathering and put it on the counter for people to take as they please.)

Magazines are an entirely different sort of animal. My first suggestion is to not allow them into your home. Barring that, weed out the titles you subscribe to, keeping only the ones you actually READ when they are still fresh. Do NOT get sucked in at the grocery store line and toss them into your cart. Really, with magazines, you need to take a firm line!

I only purchase quilting magazines. And I try not to even buy them. I am seduced by the pretty colors of the quilts, yes, but even more so by the setting the photo was taken in, the clever title they gave to a block I own the directions to already (5 times, in many of the books I own)….

What I do with magazines like this is allow them to gather. When I have a large pile, I sit on the couch, or on the floor in the studio, with a stapler and rip out the patterns I really like. Staple together all the pages, and make a pile. The rest gets flung. (This pile should be moved to a magazine holder, of which I have cleared out a few that were being used for other things, like files)

I sometimes even hole-punch and put the patterns into three-ring binders. The fact of the matter is, unless I run out of THREAD, I need not another scrap of fabric, nor another pattern purchase in order to continue quilting—unless I live to be 300!!!

Oh, and tomorrow is March 1. (Happy Birthday, Jeanine)… Go back to the blog at the end of January and REPEAT the digital photo process!!)