Friday, December 07, 2007



A few days ago I ordered a new stereo system (now they're called "Home Entertainment Centers") to replace my 22-year-old receiver. The new system will have an I-pod dock, so I'll probably end up getting one of those things too. Between my brother and myself we've got more than 500 old records that we want to transfer to mp3 [yay, I'll be able to hear my old Emerson, Lake, and Palmer albums again, and so many others that have sat in that pile for decades!] Of course that means I'll have to buy a USB-turntable too. So now, Y is talking about a new TV to go with it all...

Anyway, when I started trying to figure out how to fit the seven(!) new speakers into my living room, it became clear that I've got waaaaay too much junk laying around - mostly knick-knacks, some going back more than 35 years. I used to feel an attachment to these things, and I've displayed them on shelves, mantles, windowsills, on top of speakers, the TV, and on every other horizontal surface. A lot of these are geodes, chunks of petrified wood, fossilized shells and such that we'd collected in our explorations of Patagonia. Add to that are things like bottles of ash I'd collected from various volcanic eruptions, certain "geological" gifts from my kids (they know I like rocks), a piece of the Berlin Wall, a small meteorite, a fossilized shark tooth, etc. Then there's my collection of elephant carvings. More recently we'd accumulated a bunch of art-class and shop-class projects. And so on, and so on... Y calls all this stuff "my" dust collectors and we've had endless "discussions" about this since forever.

Meanwhile the stereo system was buried in CDs and CD cases, and the computer table held several dozen CD games that Z no longer played.

I've always been a "collector", who couldn't throw something away if I could imagine some future beneficial use for it (you should see my workshop!). But, seven speakers! Something had to give.

Yesterday, something did give, and I realized I had to put all (well, most) of this into storage. Finally! Y was ecstatic. We went to town and bought a bunch of sturdy clear plastic 15-quart storage containers with snap-on lids. (I got 16 - all they had in stock of that particular size and style, knowing it wouldn't be enough).

After two intense days, I've got stacks of containers, neatly labeled, and ready to go into storage. All those CD's are now logged into my database and filed away in the 400-disc changer (I'm storing their empty cases in a box). The old computer games are boxed and stored. All the geodes, petrified wood and fossils (with a few exceptions) are put away. Most of the knick-knacks and my other "pretties" are now gone. :(

I feel lighter, somehow. But the room sure seems empty. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the bowls where I keep my keys and wallet, which have also accumulated piles of small items. Then the "junk" drawer in Y's display cabinet [I used to question why she was allowed to display her heirloom crystal and china sets, but soon realized that I'd not win that argument. She did, after all, allow me to have the small drawer on top].

By mutual agreement, I have to wait till Christmas day to install the Home Theater System, and Y has to wait till Christmas to put up her new thread cabinet and open all those sacks of fine fabrics she bought today - on sale, of course. By then, I'll have room plans drawn out on AutoCAD, with vectors and angles and distances all worked out, and setting up the speakers will be a piece of cake [sure...]

I'm very impressed you could do so much decluttering in such a short time. My husband and I spent an hour clearing one small corner of one room yesterday, and I was thinking that that was an amazing accomplishment. Good work!
I found myself wondering how 16 x 15-quart boxes "go into storage." Do you have an extra igloo in the back yard?
Declutterization (sigh) such a dream I have. My husband has over 3000 CDs and we have those plastic boxes already filled with his stamp collection projects stacked up. Every spare flat surface has "stuff" on it, plus chairs, plus tops of speakers, etc.

Add knickknacks such as you mentioned -- fossilized this and that, rocks from this and that -- including a small chunk of granite from the demolished masoleum of a famous soviet leader from Bulgaria (My husband's version of the Berlin Wall), little figurines from China, Turkey, and other trips abroad.

An article in the Economist mentioned that collectors tended to be intelligent -- it should have also mentioned that they also enjoyed collecting dust!

Mind you, I'm as guilty as my husband for saving things -- even though I limit my souvenirs to things that fit in the palm of your hand like a trilobyte, shard of ostrich egg, tin soldier depicting a Turk and the rape of the good Christian woman, etc.

We did finally box up all the toy stuffed dinosaurs a few years ago.
OK, "storage" is actually just another unused room, which is rapidly filling up with boxes of books, LP records, Z's old toys, and general cast-offs and now 16 boxes of rocks and figurines, etc.

I'm pretty sure we won't be declutterizing that room anytime soon.
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