Tag Archives: clutter

Step 93: Tuning Out

English: January 15, 1938. Mt. Kilimanjaro: Th...

Mt. Kilimanjaro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

March is officially no-facebook and no-twitter month for me. I was in desperate need of a Brain Cleanse, and my days are much more serene without all that online blather.

Downside? Not seeing immediately what distant friends and family members are up to. (ie. sister who’s just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro!)

Upside? More time, less distractions. More time for reading books. And actually playing the piano sometimes. Plus the sudden realization that if I miss a few posts (and even the latest hilarious “meme”) the world will not come to an end.

Is isolation from the outside world a good thing or a bad thing? When you’re young it’s nothing but bad bad and bad. Everything worthwhile is happening elsewhere, and (as Neil Young put it) everyone knows that this is nowhere.

But… as you grow older the cultural white noise starts to make your head hurt and the little house in the deep dark woods starts to look like a pretty good option.

Is this part of my country lifestyle slowdown? I suppose so. I still like the hum and buzz of activity, but this month the hum and buzz is coming from me instead of my newsfeed.

Become a fan on facebook

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Step 70: Final Detritus Expands to Fill Space and Time

Despite your best attempts, despite all well-laid plans, despite everything, the last few items in your house on moving day will suddenly expand into piles and mounds of inexplicable flotsam and jetsam, which you must dispose of before you can leave.

I was tired. I was exhausted. My brain was mush. I chose the least elegant solution possible – leave it on the curb!

To all my neighbours, I am deeply sorry. (I hope there was something in there you could use?) To my garbage collectors, likewise, sorry sorry. To my friends to whom I left the last trip to Goodwill and the last bags of excess garbage… I grovel before you in abject sorryness.

(In my admittedly lame defense the reason for the desperate ditching act will be elaborated in the next post…)

(re. photo above: fabulous, no? Art installation by Moreno di Trapani, photo by Gianpietro Malosio)

Step 69: A Condiments Cleanse

One of the last tasks of the last day was the final emptying of the fridge. (Yeah, should have done it sooner. Didn’t. Okay? Don’t judge me!)

I can’t be the only one who collects bizarre condiments and keeps them for eternity. The crabapple jelly. The fish sauce. The curry paste. The ginger syrup. The odd chutney that I didn’t really like but kept. The salad dressings (why so many?). The mustards. The capers. Pickled preserves and congealed jams. Take-out packets of soy and plum sauce. Ancient tabasco sauce and prehistoric HP.

When you’re just moving across town your condiments come along for the ride. I mean, why start all over, right? The beauty of a loooong-distance move is that there is absolutely no temptation to keep any of these items. It was a clean sweep and I felt a wild sense of liberation. Free as a bird!

I would recommend this to anyone feeling down, in a rut, in need of a big change but paralyzed with doubt about what exactly to change. Just go and throw out all your condiments! You will feel fantastic!!

Step 64: Load the Truck

Inflict another annoyance on soon-to-be-ex-neighbours, as monster truck pulls up. Grovel about asking people to move their cars. Panic over last minute packing. And then panic some more. Marvel as movers manoeuvres the piano. Then get back to panicking. Hyperventilate and dash about. Repeat.

And I KNEW I didn’t need a truck that big! My stuff only took up about 1/4 of the space in that thing. Even so… I came by train to Toronto 24 years ago with all my belongings in a trunk. The accumulation of detritus is sobering. I am a tiny snowball rolling down a hill, transforming effortlessly into a colossal town-crusher of an ice bomb.

But, I hasten to emphasize, I didn’t FILL the truck. I didn’t. I hope my neighbours don’t think I filled the truck. How many of them saw the truck anyway? My belongings only took up the front part of it. I really don’t have¬†that much stuff. I am not a candidate for that hoarders show! (Am I?)

(Hmm. Why am I so embarrassed by my possessions? I rather like my possessions – that’s why I possess them.)

Ah well, back to work. Bubble wrap the artwork, seal up the boxes, stay out of the way of the movers, make the keep-it-or-toss-it decision about a million times in rapid succession… The boss grew weary of the whole procedure pretty quickly, and defected to a friend’s place for the afternoon. I soldiered on, until…

… bye bye stuff! See ya on the other side!


Step 63: Accept Chaos as Inevitable

Moving Day. It came, it went, and here’s the nugget of wisdom I have gleaned from that experience:

Unless you are some kind of minimalist freak with no possessions, Moving Day will Always be a Train Wreck.

It doesn’t matter if you start packing and organizing six months in advance. It doesn’t matter if you are pathologically methodical about it. It doesn’t even matter if you have a killer packing list app. No matter what your state of preparedness, the last day will be a crazy mess. And you will be a crazy mess too, flinging things into boxes willy nilly and dashing about on the brink of total mental and physical collapse.

Despite all your hard work and cleverness, Moving Day will be a disaster. Accept this, take a deep breath and move on…

Step 46: Moving out the Furniture

I’m finding buyers for the larger furniture, thankfully. And during the Boss’s toy sale (see Step 44), we were actually emptying her room of bed and dresser!

rooms are starting to look like this

Also now gone are the basement couch/futon, the kitchen table and toy storage bins. I sent out an email with photos of everything to friends and neighbours, with fantastic results: 8 large items offered up, and found homes for 6 of them within 24 hours!

Step 44: A Yard Sale just for Toys!

So yesterday we hauled out bins and bins of Lizzie’s stuff – just Lizzie’s stuff – and offered it all up at reasonable prices. She is a marvel, entirely unsentimental and avowedly “not so into girlie stuff” anymore. (Not entirely true, but she seems entirely cured of the Disney Princess Thing.) And she was ruthless with the dress-up collection, we cleared out a ton of stuff.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and actually pleasant to sit outside all morning and into the afternoon. (It was so pleasant I forgot to take a photo of her “store” – sorry! It was quite a pink and sparkly sight.)

A few very happy 2, 3 and 4 year olds walked off with tiaras and finery. A good friend bought¬† the toy castle. A neighbour picked up the Groovy Girl furniture for her niece. A lady who said she was a “fairy friend” whisked off with a pile of fairy books. A grandpa who had just built a playhouse for 4 granddaughters took the little vanity and stool. Our wee hockey nets were traded off to a classmate for Pokemon cards. (good deal!) And many outgrown books and DVDs found a new home.

End result? Nearly $50!

Step 42: Regain your Space

It’s been exactly 3 weeks since the last day of House Beautiful, and I’m still reclaiming the useful spaces in my home. Having a spot to leave dirty dishes (that would be in the sink) just makes me breathe easier. And being able to leave keys, sunglasses, loose change, sun block, scraps of paper, hair elastics, safety pins, glitter glue, and subway tokens in a jumble on top of the buffet is absolutely delicious.

Another example… little cubbyholes tucked in behind the fridge. For holding bottles of water, or … ?? Which would you choose?

Step 41: Sell the House


Seven days of showings, one day of bids and it’s all over.

Now life can get back to normal! With a vague attempt to keep things tidy, since the Boss is rather enamoured of the look of our magazine home…

p.s. Back to sleeping in the master bedroom! Embarrassing admission: We have been sleeping in her kiddie bed for the past week because I could not bring myself to reconstruct the big bed every day to look like this –

Life is just too short to have to make this bed every day!

Step 40: Emanate a Vibe of Total Organization

The deal with staging your house is not simply to make it look a) nice, b) clean, c) spacious. I am slowly coming to the realization that the goal is to give the general impression that Organization and Efficiency are an intrinsic part of the property, that they are hardwired into the actual DNA of the house.

“Wha?” you say? It’s true – I want to make the potential buyer feel, on a subconscious level, even a molecular level, that living in this house will make them more organized. As if the way the walls are put together can make his/her crazy life simpler, more ordered, more logical.

It’s all an illusion of course, since the real source of organization magic lies in my newest secret weapon…


If I just collect enough bins my life will be Perfect!