Tag Archives: counting stuff

Stuff Purging

Going through some of the things from the attic. My concrete and measurable goal there and the other “dump” room is to walk, unimpeded from the door to the far wall. In both places, the space is filled with boxes and loose stuff.

Today was dump day, but I was busy, so tomorrow a.m. I should have a slug o’ books (and maybe other things) to go to the swap shop.

I think I might want to reinstate counting the things out, but I don’t really. If I did, I’d just make a “thermometer” for a month’s worth the year and fill it as I purged. 2017 pieces out should be easy to do. That’s only 169 a month! Maybe I will start again?

Right now I’ve got 12 or more books on my desk to review for the swap shop. Given that it’s the 28th and I have my first tax appt. next week, I don’t have a lot of time to be purging, instead doing the tax data round-up. Also I tutor and have other commitments. So, it’s unlikely I can get rid of 169 items by 1/31/17. However, 338 (169 x 2) by the end of Feb.? Now that’s possible.

We’ll see!

7 books out, 2 new books in= 5 out 8 books out, 2 new books in = 6 out

(I sold a few things this weekend too! Later.)

I started a list on the tally page, so I won’t clutter up posts here. If you’re intersted, go there!

More Merry-Go-Round Chores

The wall over/under the window and behind the hearth has been cleaned and knot sealed. Tomorrow I can put the first coat of primer on it. The next day it gets sanded. Then it gets primed again. The next day it gets sanded the 2nd time.

The next piece of the living room  wall is truly inaccessible. It’s behind the roll flooring (remember that? I bought it two weeks ago) and the large oak (it’s on wheels) flat file. There’s a major piece of equipment  and a metal sculpture there too, but the equipment is made to move and the other hangs on the wall.

The problem isn’t moving this stuff. The roll flooring can be moved with a dolly. It’s that there’s nowhere to move it to. The center of the room is already filled with furniture, books, misc. pieces from the living room teardown/painting already in process.

However, I’m determined to get the living room painted, and before the middle of August. I want to put it together, the way it’s supposed to be by or before Labor Day. Some of that is in progress  — the chair being reupholstered starting next week, for example. Removing the chair will create a hole in the island of stuff in the middle of the room, but not enough.

The sculpture has a designated new location, which was cleared months ago. It just needs to be taken down, cleaned, the wall where it’s going dusted and then the piece put up. That wall is only partly wood, so not all of it needs the extra step of knot sealing before the primer.

Today we got the next 2 pieces of the log wall sanded, cleaned, and knot sealed. Also today, DH made the pull out shelf he was going to — works great! And otherwise? We cooked, cleaned some, went to the dump and I have a box of books to be mailed to a friend, tomorrow probably. Those books and the books I decided to take to the antique store completely emptied a box which was hiding in my office. [That’s effectively 2 linear feet of book shelves I will NOT need. Hurrah!]

Although I’m not counting stuff out here

I have been counting books out, elsewhere. I sold/donated or trashed (usually  they’re falling apart) 1,000 books from 6/1/14 to 4/10/15. Which, considering the quantities of stuff I used to count “out” here, is nothing much. But it’s an update, just as folks here know that I had a LOT of books and I’ve been doing this purge business for quite some time now!

So, an update —


Woodstove Going and . . .

our furnace is on the fritz (part is on order). This has meant that things in the living room have been majorly upset; a good thing. I’ve been whittling away at the bedroom a bit at a time, but the living room needs it too.

Had a friend over for tea last week, that got the table cleared off, which also needed it. Unfortunately, this meant the downstairs table was cleared off just in time for the colder weather (in an unheated house), when the inclination is to eat in the warmer rooms, upstairs! Backwards, that’s us.

So today started with me trying to make waffles. The waffle iron surfaced during the table clean out, for a long time I didn’t know where the waffle iron was, then the cable was missing. Found that. Thankfully I had marked it with a bread tag! (Do you use bread tags to mark things? I’ve done it for years, way before I ever saw a pic of such on pinterest!)

The waffle iron needed to be cleaned & seasoned, (it had been cleaned before it was put away, but the outside had gotten sticky somehow) so no waffles. Decided I was going to make pancakes instead. While looking for a missing ingredient in the canisters, one package of hull-less barley came open in the bin — another cleaning project.

My day, if you’re counting, before breakfast consisted of cleaning projects: the wood stove area, the waffle iron, and now the canister, sigh. At this point, DH took over and made pancakes. I finished cleaning/organizing the tools, etc. that had been used on the wood stove, so DH could put them away when he got there. He dealt with the barley (at that point I was still going to be the cook). And I put dishes away.

Almost every day now, when I put something away, I make a point of culling what’s stored with it, at least once a day. This has yielded a bunch of stuff, and the wagon is pretty full of things culled this way: a time card rack (factory type), a brass lamp shade, tape tins, etc. stuff — that’s going away, today (didn’t yesterday, stayed home, cleaned and wrote mostly).

The culling sort makes me almost miss the counting thing: combining stuff in the pantry, filing papers or tossing them, tossing excess clothes, etc. I know I’m doing it, not counting. I do notice though!

I sometimes wonder how I’ll know when I’m done? One paradigm I’d set was “being able to walk across my living room.” I haven’t accomplished that, yet. But the house is cleaner and I’m managing to not undo whatever I’ve done; a major victory, if you’re me.

For years, the idea of keeping some space clean would give me panic attacks. This going one-step-at-a-time isn’t fast, but I can sustain it, which having a professional organizer, spring cleaning or what have you doesn’t.

The dishes get washed daily (although I can honestly say they don’t ALL get washed all the time)! The toilet/sink/bath counter get washed regularly, but not on a schedule. The bed is made almost every day. The sheets have been getting washed every weekend. And I’m culling/selling/tossing stuff every week.  This is a slow but steady process, it has to be slow to keep the panic at bay.

When I wrote the memoir, I wrote about me and stuff and the woman who was my abuser. When I put the realities of what happened to me in a few succinct paragraphs, my being a “hoarder” makes sense. It also makes sense that I’m not attached to the stuff as much as the mess. I learned real quickly that anything of mine was subject to be “acquired” by someone else, or derided, or damaged, or broken, or given away. I learned that to protect myself I had to act as if my “stuff” had no value. The more I valued something, the more likely it was to be derided, broken, “lost” or stolen. I learned to hide behind mess, it was the only thing that worked.

Fifty-plus years later, I’m trying to undo that process. Not easy because most of it became unconscious behavior, and the panic is real. How often would you clean if the idea gave you a panic attack? That’s where i was for most of my life.

It’s changing. One piece at a time. Wish it was faster, but it is what it is. And, if this is like the PTSD behaviors, what will happen is that I’ll reach some point where 1)I’ll panic big time because the old behaviors are nearly gone and 2)I’ll ride that out and learn to live with whatever vestiges of the panic remain for the rest of my life, in a probably mostly clean & tidy home.

Took a lot of years and stuff to get here, it’s going to take some time yet to get out. Too slow, but it’s what works; and that’s inarguable, since the alternate just stops me cold!

Major Progress!


We worked on the living room tonight. Got a metal decorative thing that’s been hanging around for years off the ground — yeah! The bookcase boxes got rearranged some, the new graphics table got cleaned off, well, the top of it did. The mess underneath is DH’s to deal with. The cast iron lamp also got cleaned and one of my pieces of art was put into a frame we had handy. It doesn’t exactly fit, but the artwork is up on the wall instead of languishing on top of the graphics table. Definite progress!

If I was counting, let’s see, it would be 3 reveals — corner of the living room, the microwave and the top of the graphics table. We used the new display stuff DH had bought, found a home for 2 pieces of fabric, the two pieces of artwork, used a frame, and deep cleaned the microwave. All in all it was a busy evening!

3+2+2+1 =8

Earlier today, I mailed off a box to a customer — that used 3 boxes, 3 mailers, 1 newspaper, 5 grocery bags, 1 sleeve, 1 card, mailing 7 books, with 7 dj protectors.

3+3+1+5+1+7+7= 27

So, today we culled, used or cleaned 35 pieces. Not enough to make the 39-40 pieces I’d have to get rid of, daily, to make the 2014*7 goal (14,098 pieces out) but pretty close! More, my house looks better than it used to AND there’s artwork on the walls that had been sitting around waiting to be put up for some time.

Also Up in the Air

about the idea of counting stuff this year. I don’t know that I want a goal like the past 6 or so years, but keeping track, good or bad, doesn’t seem to “push” on me the same way.

We’ve decided that rather than wait for spring to do whatever stuff in the house that we’ll do whatever we can to the house and stay indoors. One of the long-range plans is a place for DH to put equipment for his hobby, which there hasn’t been room for frankly, because there were too many books here.

Also, we have been talking about, for years, about rearranging our bedroom. That’s on the queue for this winter too.

There’s an old studio light that we got from the dump (the kind they used to use for making movies). It has been hanging on a pipe in our kitchen for years. DH got it down, put a new light fixture in it and hung it in the living room. Looks great, won’t use up bazillions of watts of power and hard-to-find-bulbs, and it isn’t obvious that it has been hacked. Win! Less stuff, more useful objects and things being used!

I’ve gotten rid of 31 books in the past 5 days. I have packages to mail to various people. Today we went to the dump and a chunk o’ stuff that I had in the booths went to the swap shop: a 2 bay chafing dish, a serving dish, three gold chargers, and 5 Christmas tins.

We forgot to take the old shop vacuum cleaner. It’s a flying saucer, literally, it floats on a pocket of air. I couldn’t resist it when I found it, I mean what OTHER type of vacuum cleaner could a science fiction bookstore own, I mean really? But we forgot it, so it’s still here. Decided it had to go last month when I realized we had six total vacuum cleaners: two uprights, 2 wet/dry ones, a portable and the flying saucer. The best wet/dry one has a few vital pieces missing for the wet function, which it does much better than the other. (It’s in the attic.) The two uprights each “live” in their designated area of use. The portable is what gets used most often, and it’s all over the place. But the flying saucer had just been stored in the storage unit, for !0 years now, and there’s no reason to keep it, so it’s going out — when i can remember to get it outta here!

So . . . .

Happy New Year!

Bad year last year for me: gave up on counting the out stuff, lost our cat. Got stuck around the time I gave up counting and only started getting rid of stuff again a few weeks ago.

What happened? I panicked. The major reason that my hoarding hadn’t gotten controlled or taken care of before was panic. I panicked at the idea of getting rid of so many things. I panicked at the idea that I was doing it with an audience. And, as usual, I found a “reason” and just shut down.

Months went by and the low stress cleaning idea emerged. That seemed to work for a while, then stopped when I got to phase 2. What happened? I panicked again for much the same reason.

But there is progress and there is a difference between the two occurances.

The first time I did what I’ve always done: I panicked and the house got WORSE. I found some reason to create new messes and keep them that way long enough that I could “forget” them. And life went on, like it always had.

The second time with its emphasis on trying to make some chores into habits rather than something I had to think about? Well, phase 1 of that worked. The four daily things are still getting done. Even when I notice and panic and drop it for a while, I pick it up again in a day or so.

My house isn’t uncluttered, but there IS less stuff here than there was a year ago AND it’s cleaner and more the change seems to be permanent. It may not be 12.000+ items out, but I’ll take it!