Tag Archives: getting rid of things

Minimal failure

Perhaps it was because Spring came and went, or for a bit we thought we might have to move again, or because we had to dog-proof the house, or my recent life changes inspired me to take greater control over things I could, but I’ve never felt the pull of minimalism as strongly as I do now.

I’m tired of not knowing where things are – if I use/enjoy something, it should be in a place, not buried in a poorly-labeled box, otherwise I shouldn’t have it… right? This is my mantra of sorts, and is working for me (sort of) now. I’ve blathered on about spending most of my life living in a cabinet of curiosities, so now I’m aiming to cull and contain my most prized pointless objects to an actual cabinet.

Once a year our town has a junk week wherein you put what you don’t want, or what was too big to throw away without paying extra, out on the curb. What follows is a mildly pleasant time of encountering previously un-met picking and promenading neighbors, and scavenging jalopies with faulty mufflers that clatter by at dusk and dawn but disappear the worst of the worst – busted motors from ceiling fans, a single broken shutter, planks from a floating floor that ReStore refused – and by the time the Goodwill truck comes followed by the bulky trash truck, there’s very little, or nothing, left for them to claim.

For the last couple of years I have avoided going on the junk walks – not that I didn’t want to meet more neighbors, I just didn’t want to haul something rusty and broken and utterly useless, but devastatingly beautiful home. I am not acquiring any new [old] things unless they serve a purpose, right? But we wanted to see if we could find anything for the garden and yard – old windows for cold frame beds, bricks/pavers/flat things for stepping stones, or all-weather tchotchkes for whimsy.

orange fabric unfurled

Instead I scored a massive bolt of blaze orange upholstery fabric and a couple of pieces of extra thick canvas.

Do I need them? Nope.

Can I use them? Of course.

Will I use them? Eh…..

orange fabric detail

I haven’t tested the orange fabric yet for content – I’d say it’s likely to be at least mostly cotton and feels nice in the hand. I could make a new cover for the old basement sofa with it, or complete hiking-during-hunting-season in a globally warmed climate ensemble for a family of four, or a helluva lot of tote bags.

(I justify many a cheap fabric purchase or acquisition in the name of tote bags…).

Or perhaps I should sell it.

But I’m thinking of dabbling with painted floorcloths for the canvas – the weight is perfect – perhaps it would make a good runner on our map stairs.

In my defense, when folded, the new fabric takes up less space than the items we discarded – including an extra old microwave oven I’ve been clinging to for purposes of craft or unrealistic thoughts of second workplace abodes…

But I have absolutely no room left for fabric and for now, it’s in the shed where fabric, except tarps and garden stuff, should never be.

But I’m making headway in other areas – a childhood’s worth of seaside souvenir shells have become landlocked in the garden (except for a few extra special ones), I disposed of a cubic foot of (some decade-old) tights, and 4-H trophies have been reduced to parts and donated to the art/craft supply place. The prize ribbons, however, are fiber after all, so I feel obligated to make something from them, but then what? I’d have another thing with memories and then extra making memories I’d want to keep but not store…

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On getting rid of things, part II – of prom dresses and punch bowls

prom dress detail

I still have my prom dress.

I still have two of them actually, but the other one is a very basic and classic black crepe cocktail dress that still fits and no one is the wiser that it’s over 20 something years old – I was a practical, though still obnoxious, teen.

But I really don’t have a really good reason for keeping this one.

My prom wasn’t magical – my date wasn’t my teen heartthrob soul mate (though he was very nice guy), I don’t even remember the venue or the dinner, I’m sure too many country ballads were played followed by metal ones – especially the kind that had a confusing beat of neither slow nor fast, or started slow but ended fast…  And I’m pretty sure I was still suffering from an extended bout of mono, or pneumonia, or other disease that would have finished me off had it been a century earlier.

I remember getting the dress at a small department store, and it was certainly on sale – I wanted something vintage-looking, and I can’t remember why I didn’t actually wear vintage since I had a few 1950s party dresses, but maybe it was because I’d already worn them to other mediocre small-town high school dances?

I considered myself of the counter culture and was non-conformist, so I’m not sure why I didn’t go in drag – I had a lovely old tuxedo from my great uncle Oscar and a sleek pair of grandpa’s wingtips that my freaky feet and lanky frame filled out sufficiently.  But I think I wanted to do something a little more classy – a little more normal – which was abnormal for me.  But then again, this was the ghastly time of the giant hair and jarringly bright, or sickeningly pastel colored gowns, so a black and white dress was different…

But, I’m wrong.

BrenKellyCamera

Apparently, it’s damn close to the most popular prom dress of 1991 thanks to Beverly Hills 90210.

But, in my defense, I never saw the show, and I doubt many others in my ass-backward town did… And I think my dress was from the year before anyway?

So I’m not sure why I still have it, or what to do with it – it’s not the style of teens today, nor does it scream 1980s to allow for ironic wear – and simply dropping it off at the thrift store hasn’t happened. I don’t have the desire to wear it while vacuuming, or cut it up for a satiny small quilt, or buff the car with it, or line a dog’s crate, or wear it as a Halloween costume of myself in my youth, or save it in case one of the nephews might be inclined to wear it fabulously, or modify it in some way to make it acceptable formal wear again…

In the meantime, I’ve been using it as padding wound around an old punch bowl – something else I haven’t used in over a decade…

And an update to part I:

dictionaries - Copy

I still haven’t decided whether or not to get rid of my print dictionaries, but I see that others have…

(And you gotta love a thrift store that actually categorizes their books!)

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On getting rid of things (likely a series, so part I – print dictionaries)…

Will I need to be able to spell during the apocalypse?

Will I need a little-used sly synonym to endear myself to others before I shank them for some shoe leather?

dictionary-thesaurus

I’ve been carting around these two beasts since my high school graduation (I think that’s when I got them?) but haven’t cracked them open in at least 15 years since grad school, though it doesn’t look like I used them much then either…

I love old dictionaries – especially with tiny illustrations – but not my old dictionary, though it does have a few pictures.

dictionary-slowworm

But it doesn’t have some everyday words like internet.

(which is weird since it existed then, just among a more select few…)

I don’t care that I’m missing jeggings or glamping (hah! wordpress ain’t got ’em either…) or terms like “hot mess,” but will I miss the actual book?

Will I miss being able to pull it off the shelf on a rainy day, opening it at random…

dictionary-alembic

…and saying, hey, I thought that thing was just called a still?

But then almost immediately forget what I just learned?

Will I lose out on a princely sum not being able to prove a Scrabble play during a power outage?

Will I miss out-dated or somewhat offensive descriptions like:

Runt – 1. an undersized animal, especially the smallest animal of the litter. 2. A person of small stature?

(Definition #2 is listed as derogatory at least in some online dictionaries now…)

dictionary-runcible

Will I miss turning to the runcible spoon and thinking about how it’s like the ancestor of the spork and remembering when we had those crappy sporks in high school that always snapped before the tastiest bit made it to your gob, and all of us cool kids called them sfoons?

Will all of my oversize documents and rugs begin to curl with abandon with nothing left to weight them down?

Will I need a boost to see over the steering wheel when my elderly bones shrink and curve into themselves?

dictionary-tongs

Maybe I just need a pair of lazy tongs to grab things to put in the charity bin to prevent me from opening/touching/examining/experiencing them again…

How about you (especially you writerly few) have you kept your dictionaries?

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