At our house, after twenty years, we’ve finally decided to remodel and add to the dining room and kitchen. Given that the so-called dining room is scarcely larger than an extra-large walk-in closet [no, I’m not kidding], and that I’ve been promising my wife that I’d do something about it for fifteen years, it’s definitely overdue. Why so long? Let’s just say we’re conservative about spending and raising eight children was expensive… but that’s not what the point of this is all about. It’s about stuff.

When you remodel, we’ve discovered, you have to move things out of the space to be remodeled, and in our case, out of the adjoining garage. And then you discover the stuff… stuff you vaguely realized you had and kept, just in case. But, guess what, in all too many cases, just-in-case never came, and you’ve still got the stuff. Like fifteen baskets, of different sizes and assortments. Like five boxes of extra tiles for counters and the like [which we’ll now never need because the 1980s tile is going].

Then there were the flower vases. My wife’s a performer and director, and she gets flowers occasionally. I also send her flowers. They come in various vases, and we’ve kept the really nice looking ones – and then in cleaning out things, you discover several boxes of really nice flower vases, some of them red glass and green glass, and a couple – maybe more than a couple – that look like crystal but really aren’t… and only three or four have ever been used again.

And paint! There were four gallons of dried-up gray floor and deck paint,not to mention five separate gallon cans so old, and of such strange colors that I wondered if they might have been left by the previous owner, except that they never left anything. I did keep the newest can of deck paint.

Now, not all stuff is useless. I really wondered what I was going to do with the eight different socket sets I inherited from my father-in-law, but having those eight socket sets has saved me more grief over the years… and the same with the four sets of Allen wrenches,and the fifteen that don’t belong to sets. Why does every furniture manufacturer, every tool maker, everyone who makes everything use a different dimensional Allen screw?

But then I found more replacement parts for the sprinkler system than I ever recalled buying, most likely because I couldn’t find the first sets because they were in another box, neatly stacked, but unlabeled, on the garage shelves. We’ve always been fairly neat and organized, but when you don’t look in those neat and organized boxes and stack another neat and organized box on top, well…

And, oh, yes, the broken Christmas deer lawn decorations – three gathered over the years and left stashed in the garage attic because they wouldn’t fit in the mandated city garbage cans, and I never took the time to make the ten mile trip to the city dump [and yes, it is ten miles away, in an abandoned open pit iron mine, but that’s another story]. I could go on, but I think I’m made it clear.

And the sad thing is… we really thought we were organized and only kept what we really needed.

5 thoughts on “Stuff”

  1. Grey says:

    “And the sad thing is… we really thought we were organized and only kept what we really needed.”

    I feel your pain. My significant other and I are cleaning three closets, and it’s been an embarrassment.

    First, things were loosely packed in too-large containers; just by condensing items that actually needed to be kept eliminated 30% of the bulk.

    Second, I rethought my record keeping and tossed several bankers boxes of materials. Keeping ancient cable bills in nicely-labeled folders was not superior organization, it was a pointless, anal-retentive act of vain self-indulgence.

    Third, on sentimental items and knick-knacks, consider taking a picture or scanning them and then tossing the original.

    Incidentally, is running a series on spring cleaning. This article on knee-jerk sentimentality leading to pointless clutter is excellent:

  2. Alison Hamway says:

    I sympathize; I just remodeled our 1970s kitchen. In clearing the kitchen out we discovered way too many duplicate items; unnecessary stuff; outdated items. It’s a great opportunity to clean out clutter. Living during the mess of construction is a challenge too — but it’s all worth it when the project is done

  3. Jim says:

    I sympathize, too. We’ve been lucky enough to move about every 8 years. At one place, the girl was born, the boys grew from Ghostbusters to girls. We had a yard sale, donated more ‘stuff’, & finally filled a 30 yard dumpster.

    The last move was 600 miles which limited us to 2 PODS, a moving van, & our vehicles which were crowded with dogs. And two trips with the truck & trailer to move the horses. Yeah, we have stuff! I pity the kids cleaning up after us because I don’t intend to move again. With 2 barns & a shop, we have plenty of room to store more stuff!

  4. Wine Guy says:

    I was looking for one of my powertools (I was sure I had a router, I just couldn’t recall where I put it) when I came across 7 boxes from one of my PCS moves when I was in the USN. My last moment on active duty was >10 yrs ago… and this particular move was >15 yrs ago.

    My wife and I spent a fun hour reminiscing over everything we found and then I loaded 90% of it (and several other boxes of flat out junk) into the trailer and made a run to the dump.

    I DID find my router… but it isn’t working well enough to actually use.

    So now I have to run to the hardware store to buy another one.

    I won’t mention to my wife that this is the icing on the cake…. but she already knows that.

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