I keep a neat house; you can ask anybody. I have exceedingly tidy and ruthlessly efficient domestic habits. I abhor clutter and all other forms of chaos. And I don’t buy things unless I know how I’m going to use them and where I’m going to store them.
Even so, the tide of stuff creeps up even on me, stuff that seemed like it would be useful at the time but proved not to be or is no longer so, or things that people have given me that I’ve never found useful. So today I took a tilt at clearing the decks–and the shelves and the drawers and the closets.
I used to work in marketing for a company that had a lot of vendors who handed out a lot of freebies. Coffee mugs, cold cups, travel cups and water bottles were favorites, so I have an entire kitchen cupboard filled with those. They were the first to go. I then moved on to the top kitchen shelves, which are the graveyards for every unloved, unused, unwanted kitchen gadget or tchotchke I’ve accrued over the past four or five years. Spice bottles with decorative tops, assorted storage containers, two redundant cheese graters, a spice mill that never worked as the infomercial promised, bud vases, popsicle-making sets, salsa bowls, a magnetic poetry kit, a set of stone coasters that scratch wood tables, and so much more all got tossed.
After sorting through all the cabinets, shelves and closets around the house, I managed to cull out five big bags of stuff to take to the local thrift store, and they’re out in the car now waiting to go. It’s too much stuff (and a lot of it is too good) to throw away, but it’s not quite enough to bother with a garage sale. Besides, I like donating useful things. Just because I used something once (or never) and then put it on a high shelf to stay doesn’t mean that somebody else wouldn’t be happy to have it, like that travel mug that plugs into the cigarette lighter to keep your drink warm for hours. Such a neat thing, but not one I’ll ever use. Ditto the tennis ball chucker I got for my big dog because my little dogs don’t play fetch, the eight sets of teacups and saucers that came with my boxed set of dishes, the super-deluxe ceramic-blade vegetable peeler that doesn’t do the job anywhere near as well as the ultra-cheap little steel one I use regularly, and the recycled glass soap dish that has never held a bar of soap because I actually prefer to use liquid soap.
Every time I can clear out the clutter, I feel a little bit lighter, a little bit freer, and a little bit closer to William Morris’ ideal: