Tuesday, August 23, 2005


What is clutter anyway? I think it's different for different people. Some need a zen-like clear space and some can function in a disgusting pigsty. I think I'm in the middle somewhere. All the discussions I've been reading lately on clearing clutter just don't resonate with me. (Yeah, I know I've recently tidied up my dye stuff and am in the middle of painting and flooring the kitchen, but I never really threw anything out!) I feel anxious when things are too empty and stark. But I can't stand total chaos either, particularly if it's dusty or dirty. I do love my things. I actually have dreams about what I would take with me if I had to leave home suddenly. I couldn't carry it all. Couldn't even fit it in our VW van. Yes, I will confess I have that much stuff that I really care about! But it's not junk. Well, most of it isn't.

You have to understand that a lot of things in my house are just not replaceable: antique (or just plain old) furniture, handwoven curtains and rugs, handmade stained glass, and a hand-built hide-a-bed couch, just to mention a few. There's two thousand out-of-print craft books and 20-year-old magazines, notebooks of collected information from workshops and other sources, the information on my computer (yes, backed up), and a craft supply/equipment collection that no house insurance would remotely cover. Then there's the things that most people care about: the family photos and keepsakes. Don't ask me what is most important to me. It's almost (note I said almost) equivalent to picking which of my children I love best. Just don't ask me to choose. I couldn't do it.

Of course, I could survive without all that stuff. But I wouldn't be at all happy about it. One person I read about lost all her artwork and supplies when her car was broken into. She found it both devastating and freeing at the same time. Bought all new supplies and was back creating almost immediately with her work heading in a new direction. I don't ever want to find out what I would do in the same situation. So my house better not burn down or we'd better not have "the big one" earthquake in my lifetime.

On the other hand, I do like a certain amount of free space to work in. I periodically clear off the archaeological layers off my desk and work table. Sort out the papers that are piling up to be filed. And tidy up a cupboard, a bookcase, an attic space every so often. You never know what you'll find that you forgot about. Something that will spark a new project or one that just needs to be finished. I like the idea that I heard of recently of "maturing trays". You put all the items you think would go into a project and leave them there for awhile. Check the trays often and add or remove items until the ideas gel and you get a chance to complete the project. You could place one or two of these trays (could be a box or basket, just something where you can see everything in it at a glance) around your workspace so you can see them every day. This accelerates the maturing process if they're right underfoot. Just glancing around my study, I see 3 baskets with knitting, 4 more bags with knitting and spinning, 1 table with my rug hooking, and 3 trays with bead projects so I guess I'm already following this advice. Some of them aren't maturing very fast though. Glaciers move faster.

Well, I should get down to the disaster...er, kitchen and start painting the inside of the cupboards. I've got the paint now: Melted Butter for the insides and the ceilings, Arizona (somewhat darker than the Butter) for the outsides and walls, Hawaiian Cinder (dark brownish-red) for the doors. Sounds like a vacation, doesn't it? At least it'll be sunny in here during the long dark rainy winter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a sudden need to clean up clutter can also be identified as 'fibre project avoidance' manuveure!

A good sign that there is a dog on the loom.....

:) Susan

PS it's hard to see the good side of a reno from where you are right now, but trust me, you'll be SOOOOO happy when it's done. It's followed by another twinge and a bright flash of "okay, now lets tackle the bathroom' followed by a quick smack up the side of the head with a wet noodle.
"are you nuts???? "

So now January is my 'paint a room month' and is well advertised in advance to allow hubby time to get used to the idea.