Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ruby Clears it OUT

At my mom's house after her death I was kind of surprised to see how much STUFF she has kept. Although only my mom and dad are living in the house she has every single room, closet, drawer and cabinet completely filled with stuff. The garage is incredible. I especially noticed that she had at least 1000 books on shelves and in bookcases in every single room. There were paperback novels, hundreds of self-help books and tons and tons of cookbooks. In the garage there were bins of magazines that honestly were too heavy to move. The one that I opened was all Christmas magazines.

This is a four-bedroom house and my sister's former room seems to be exactly as she left it when she went to college 20 years (or so) ago. Her record albums are in the closet along with her prom gowns and pompoms.

My mom had about 300 bottle of vitamins and "supplements" in cabinets in the laundry room and kitchen. She also had an entire garbage bag filled with vitamin bottles. Now - the vitamins I suspect were the result of Mom's generosity. She was a target for any of her friends who decided to sell Amway, Shaklee, Melaleuca, Arbonne or any of the others. I am sure that if a "friend" suggested, "Why not order a 1-year supply?" she would.

Mom also had a thing for "new" clothes. Whenever she traveled she had to have new clothes for the occasion. She didn't even really like to shop - she usually just mail-ordered. So... every closet is filled with her clothes.

I also discovered that mom apparently never threw out a single Christmas decoration in the 48 years that she and dad were married. Also any picture (photo or artwork) that ever hung on her wall was stashed in various closets.

None of this is 'bad' or 'wrong' - it is just how she chose to live - BUT it caused me to look around my own house. I realize that I have WAY too much stuff as well.

I am guilty of saving magazines and books. And fabric. And neckties. And vintage laces. And buttons. And quilts. My shelves and niches are "decorated" with various vintage knick-knacks and antiques items which were quite charming when I started out, but now have become too much.

So I have embarked on the de-cluttering-and cleaning journey. So far I have donated about 300 books to my library, filled the recycling bin twice with magazines, made three trips to Goodwill and one to the dump. And best of all - sent ten cartons of sewing supplies to the high school "textiles" department.

As long as I am pulling everything out I though we should perhaps paint the house a new color - so it is now a warm light taupe. (Bland yes - but I am going for something more neutral and calm.) I also had all of my cabinets stained a cherry color. They look great with the taupe. I have cleared my niches and shelves of all "accesssories" and even sold a lot of it to an antique dealer!

Of course I am nowhere near finished. I'll keep you posted.

Can anyone use any neckties?


Dave Jackson said...

My Dad, who passed away in 2001, collected neckties for a seminary in Brazil - where he was a missionary for over 30 years.

I remember the boxes and bags of neckties in every nook and cranny of the house. Stuff!

But someone was able to get good use out of it.

I know once when sending a special card to an old friend who was CEO of a very large boat company in Orlando, Florida, I bought an old ad from an old magazine off eBay. I paid like $15 for it... and old advertisement of his company in a popular magazine - so you might have some value even in those old things.

Nice story and I'm sure you're as good and generous as your Mom.

Heidi said...

I use vintage neckties as handles for my recycled sweater felted purses. If they're cool colors and older than 20 years old, I might be interested. I find most of mine at the thrift shop, but I'd love to check out your collection if you're getting rid of it.

LauraK said...

Heidi I will send you a box - if you have any color or style preferences just let me know!

Anonymous said...

Laura - helping my 10 brothers and sisters clean and sort and get ready for the farm auction after my parents died was an eyeopener from many angles. We all worked (VERY HARD) for the common goal, got along well, ate tons of Ibuprofen for breakfast,lunch and dinner, and cleared out a huge house (8 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms) and at least 7 outbuildings and all the machinery that goes along with a farm operation.
Now I really understand where MY pack rat gene came from.
It was wonderful to find all the memories among the 'trash'. Our parents were raised in a different time where you almost always had to make do -- or do without. One of my moms sayings was "Make it do or do without, use it up or wear it out."
With 11 of us working HARD for a solid week, we almost had it ready for auction. It was the hardest I've ever worked, and the most fun I've ever had. We laughed, we cried, we laughed until we cried, and we healed.
The auction was another story. It was hard to see the remnants of their entire life just go away to some friend or stranger (and sometimes the family) and the pieces never to be put back together again.
All of our hearts are still back in western Kansas, and we all have pieces of the farm with us.
We will always have those memories, plus the memories of how we all pulled together when we needed to, and got it done.
Mom and Dad would have been very proud.
Laura, I think of you often and hope you are healing and getting lots of love. Time IS a great healer. Your Mother would be very proud of you, too. Tucson Patty

Seven's Heaven said...

I did think of you today. I can't imagine. My mom went through that with her mom and learned her lessson, so I know it won't be too bad.

But my husband's folks is a whole other story. I think of it every time I go over there and see shelves that have so much stuff on them, you can't dust them. Maybe it would be good for husband to do when the time comes! My rule is if you don't use it in a year, some one else could.

Well, you were missed this morning. Looking forward to Saddleback!

woof nanny said...

Neckties? Ooh. I love the weird novelty print ones (Ralph Marlin and the like), or the ones with trees, or dogs, bananas, etc. I wish we lived closer, but I'll gladly pay you for some.

Marsha said...

Laura, I can imagine how powerful an experience it was to go through your mom's house like this. It is astonishing how much Stuff we bring into our lives, even when we do not plan to. It's a big enough task to clear out either your mom's things or your own -- but tackling both is a huge task. (((hugs))) - Marsha