Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pack Rats Anonymous

The Adorable Husband and I are pack rats. Not pack rats as in 'can't walk from one room to another' or 'bags of garbage in the hallway', but we have a hard time getting rid of anything that we bought or were given or, somehow ended up with that might be useful someday.

We don't need four sets of mixing bowls. We probably don't need to keep every tea towel we've ever received. We don't need extra dog bowls. Eventually we should throw sheet sets out. We have a hard time with these things -- it's never been used ! it's probably useful! There's nothing wrong with it! The classic reasons for keeping things.

However, since they are supposed to start work on the basement this week, we had to clear out all the boxes and go through everything that we've tossed down there. Some of the boxes were moved directly from the attic in the old house -- never opened in 14 years -- and some were even earlier than that. When we moved in here, we unpacked most of the boxes and put the daily-use things away and just left the rest of the boxes in the basement. Figuring rightly that we'd open them and get the stuff we needed as we needed it. Well, mostly. Sometimes it was easier just to get new stuff. This is why we have three sets of Pyrex measuring cups.

I'd already gone through the boxes of books and purged almost 3/4 of the paperbacks. (This made me quite nauseous). That only left about thirty boxes and a dozen or so of those plastic storage bins on various shelves in the basement. All of which had to move from where they were to the "new" storage area. We found all sorts of things that we had totally forgotten we had -- down comforters, champagne flutes, hiking boots, christmas decorations, photo albums, my sewing scissors. And a bunch of quite useless stuff that we finally sorted through. The Adorable husband winnowed his army stuff down to one bin, we got rid of clothes we've been hauling around since 1980 (although they are probably back in style now), coats, empty three-ring binders, extra xmas lights, and everything else. Friends took the three room-sized rugs we had, and were happy to take the old computer hutch. I think we donated or simply got rid of. about half of the stuff we had. Perhaps more. And -- we packed everything up in bins and can actually find the stuff we now have. Sailing stuff in one bin, christmas decorations in another, winter toys in a third. I actualy feel organized!

We did keep the two original Macintosh computers, though. One of them has signatures in it -- while it probably doesn't work any longer, we just couldn't get rid of it.

We'll have to go through things once more when the basement is finished, since we packed all the storage stuff in front of the current wine racks, but it should be a much easier process. I hope!

Every once in a awhile I watch the Discovery Home channel, where they have a show called 'neat' (there's a similiar show on HDTV called Mission: Organization) -- where a "professional declutterer" goes into someone's home and helps them clear out years of clutter. It makes me feel better. If "pack-rattedness" has a range of 1-100, with 1 being a zen-like acetiscm and no belongings whatsoever, and 100 being unable to walk through your home or enter rooms because of the junk...well, some of these people are in the 90s. We are maybe 30. We keep too much, but it doesn't actually impact our daily life.

And no, I don't believe you can actually have too many books!

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