Stuff and things

This month, I’m getting rid of stuff.  And things.  Well, that’s the plan, anyway.  I suppose we’ll have to see how things go.  Technically, this was supposed to be an “I’ll do it over the whole of the summer” thing, but…well, that didn’t happen, largely due to a whole bunch of work projects.  But now, it’s time to get down to it and at least make a good start before the new semester starts and I’m spending much of my time dealing with teaching-related thing.

I know – and have known for awhile – that I have too much stuff in this small-ish apartment.  If I want any semblance of functionality, organization, and tidiness, I’m going to have to clear some stuff out.  It’s difficult to put things away (and I’m a tad lazy about tidying up), which means that there’s usually some kind of mess somewhere.  Anytime I want to do a bigger project – like canning or starting seeds, I have to move or clean up lot of stuff up first, which is time consuming and takes some of the fun out of the whole process.  Heck, sometimes I have to do that just to sit on the couch and read.

Part of the problem is that I’ve had this understanding of the world for awhile now that includes scary concepts like climate change, peak oil, and economic collapse.  I try not to dwell on them too much, but I’m aware and making moves to help soften what I usually refer to as an uncertain future.

Unfortunately, this means keeping a lot of things.  Useful things.  Practical things.  Backups.  Things that may not be so easy to find or to replace if things get bad.  I have extra cold-weather clothing and sturdy shoes.  Reference books and food.  Canning jars, cast iron pots and pans, and various fermentation and storage containers.  Yarn for socks and fabric for clothing.  Board games and books for entertainment.  Candles and lanterns.  Bikes, a bike trailer, and a variety tools.  And the list goes on…you get the idea.  Right now, this is all crammed into about 700 square feet of living space.  The bike trailer alone takes up a third of the front hall closet.

This also means that I’m rather reluctant to get rid of things that might be useful (and by reluctant, you can safely assume that I spend a lot of time clutching things and cooing “my precious” when I go through this process).  When I work on getting things, what I usually have in my head is Chile’s somewhat humorous view of the future for those who got rid of too much stuff (in light of her Cut the Crap challenge).  Given this understanding of what the world could be (not that it will, but certainly that it could), it’s pretty easy to assume that anything and everything could be put to use in some way, shape, or form, which makes it more of a challenge to put into the donation box.

And so, the challenge right now is to get rid of the things that aren’t necessary, or that I have enough back-ups for.  I really do need the space this will free up so that I have more room to work on important tasks, like food preservation, cooking, sewing, and exercise. Having a bit more space and a tidier apartment would certainly be helpful.  At the same time, I also want to clear some room for some of my wish-list items that I just don’t currently have space for, and that I think are important to have – things like a pressure canner, grain mill, water filter, and really good quality gardening tools.

Today, I start small, and deal with the overstuffed containers and drawers of kitchen utensils.  I’m reasonably sure that there are at least three sets of measuring cups and two sets of measuring spoons lurking in there somewhere (no, I don’t really know why, other than I make far too many trips to the thrift store), plus goodness knows what else.  After that, I’ll tackle one shelf of the overstuffed “linen” closet (which actually contains very few linens, but quite a lot of a whole lot of other stuff).  Ideally, I’d like to turn that into the main space for storage (food, tools, yarn, fabric, and so on), so the more I can get out of there, the better.  These aren’t huge steps, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so a bit of really focused decluttering is the way to go, at least to start with.  Who knows, maybe by this time tomorrow I’ll have dumped half my stuff, leaving only the practical, necessary, and beautiful.  It’s not likely, but a girl can dream…

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A day “off”

Recently, life hasn’t been pulling any punches.  It’s been a heck of a week, following what was even more of a heck of a week.  All in all, I’m feeling rather wiped and ready for a bit of a break.

Happily (mostly), one of the punches from this past week was the fact that  the research associate job I’ve been working on has run out of money to pay me, so I won’t be working on that project anymore.  There’s a long story behind that one, and mostly I’m just grateful.  We’re fine financially, so the loss of a month’s worth of very part-time income isn’t that dire.  On top of that, I could certainly use the extra time spent not-working to put some more time into planning courses, writing, and doing other work over the next month, so I’m actually pretty happy about one less thing on my plate.

And so, with a bit more time available, I’m going to take today “off”.  Why is the “off” in quotes, you might ask?  Well, despite the fact that I won’t be working on any professional work, I really want and need to get the apartment in order.  Between a few rough weeks, not having a lot of time to clean, stocking up on some extra food, and plans to order a new couch (first time ever!), this place needs a good clearing out and straightening up.

While I doubt it will all get done today, I’d very much like to:

  • Clear out and clean up the kitchen
  • Turn the big cupboard with shelves in the main room into more of a pantry/food storage/small appliance/canning supplies storage area
  • Get together a box of donations for the thrift store
  • Organize (and possibly purge?) my cookbook shelf
  • Process some of the frozen things currently residing in the freezer
  • Tidy the living room enough that we can move the furniture in preparation for the new stuff

While a day well-and-truly off sounds rather nice too, I know I feel better when the apartment is in good shape around me, and when I feel as though I’ve accomplished something.  As much as I’d like to while the day away reading, I’m going to leave that for a bit later on and take some time to try to clean up my outside world in the hopes that it will leave me feeling a bit calmer and more ordered in general.

Morning storm

You love the thunder, you love the rain
You know your hunger, like you know your name
– Jackson Browne

I woke up a bit late this morning, but by 8 am the sky was no brighter than it usually is by 6:30.  By 8:30, the thunder was rolling – sometimes for minutes at a time – and forks of lightening could be seen falling from the sky.

I love a good storm.  I open the curtains – or even sit outside, if I think it’s safe – and watch.  When I’m done really watching, I make a cup of tea, find myself an atmospheric book to read, and sit myself as close to an open window as can.  Barring a few exceptions (teaching, I’m looking at you) no matter what else I’m doing or should be doing, I always press the pause button when a storm starts and settle in to relax for a bit in the midst of the fury.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere.  And if not, there should be.