'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Big Tidy-Up Continues

For some years now, I have been throwing stuff out.  I have too many clothes, too much stuff of a generalised, not-essential-but may-be-useful-one-day kind of nature.  Too much furniture.  And too many books and CDs and movies.

In the past, things that have left the house have after a while, been insidiously replaced by other stuff of the same nature.  It is of course, all my own doing, like cheating on a diet, or other examples of self-indulgence, self-trickery and lack of discipline.

I dream of clean, sparse, Japanese-style homes, where the bed slides into the wall and the polished furniture is never dusty and the floors are always clean.

Then I look at pictures in waiting-room magazines of cosy, inviting, softly-furnished and warmly-lit English homes, and I think, 'actually, that's what I really like'.

And I get all confused and add another armchair to the already-overcrowded lounge.

But recently, it appears I'm winning.  I bought a big glass jar (of the type that contains floating pickled zoological specimens), and loaded it up with my emu eggs and shell collection.  Now, that's a whole lot of things that I can still enjoy seeing out but that doesn't need dusting.

I've bought a 100 year old Chinese picnic basket and it now contains nick-nacks and candles, ceramic frogs, flint from a burial site in France and stones from Irish beaches - things I can't throw away.  And it also doubles as a little side-table.  So that's all good too.

The kids bought me a Kindle for Christmas, and I've now given away about 40 books that I intend to eventually have on it.

We have about half the DVD's on a hard drive now, and all the CD's can go on another too.

I've been knitting madly in the evenings this last winter because I have so much wool to use up.  I may take a deep breath and offer some to two friends who knit blankets for charity.

All my clothes are now in one wardrobe arranged by colour, and I'm thinking of rearranging the books in colour order on the shelves, as I've done before.

I do so love getting organised and tidy!  It's like a good dose of senna pod tea.


  1. I so want to do this too - but Scott is a hoarder and seems personally affronted at the concept of decluttering! I do my best - we maintain an interesting, um, eclectic house, but the garage reduces me to despair- if the whole bloody lot burned down he couldn't even tell what was in it but i can hardly walk into it to get to the freezer.
    I found it was easier to deal with when I let go of thinking of actually fitting a car in there!

    I still harbour my annual dream of tackling it all over the Xmas holidays! I usually make a dent - then a kid leaves home and fills it up again.

  2. Ha ha ha... poor you. At least I try...

    Re. kids leaving home, at least eventually you should be able to get rid of their stuff, and, with any luck, give some junk away to them too. Like a steak-knives deal: for every five things of theirs, they have to take one of yours?

  3. I too have de-cluttered over the last few years - well, sort of. I did once get rid of a load of books but I soon replaced them with more. As for CD's I do have them all on hard drives (so I can play them when I'm in NZ) but it's not the same and the floor to ceiling cabinet holding them is still there too. I'm pretty ruthless about other things though - well, sort of!

  4. I recognize the efforts - and failures. It's a never-ending job... This weekend I got a most welcome chance to give away some spare clothes and towels and shoes for a charity purpose, just had to put them in a sack at the entrance which was then collected today. On the other hand, this afternoon I went to pick up a parcel with some more DVDs I'd ordered...

  5. Katherine - I hope you will allow me this alternative view.
    I believe that too much tidiness is unnatural. One's domestic arrangements may be closely connected with the inner self. We need some jumble, some unnecessary mess because that is a more faithful reflection of what it means to be human. I have always been very suspicious of people whose homes or workplaces are obsessively tidy. I think to myself - what are you hiding?

  6. I think you've caught some sort of "clean up" bug. Sounds a bit like Tony - when he cleans out his bit of wardrobe , he just moves a whole lot of his clothes to another wardrobe or packs them into a suitcase! Like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic !!

  7. GB... I suggest your traveling has helped you have a pared-down existence which prioritises people over things.

    Dawn - as long as there's a net decrease?

    YP - I do appreciate your comment. And you are right. Our homes reflect ourselves. I just wish mine didn't say 'extremely human, but only recently out of a cave'!

    Helsie - It's all in the illusion of effectiveness. Ha

  8. PS YP... When my place looks tidy, I know just what I'm hiding: A whole lot of junk in the cupboards! Don't open the doors unless you want to be buried.

    (All very deep).

  9. Do you really think that you will win Katherine? Can a leopard change it's spots? :-) - Dave

  10. I am taking it one day at a time Dave.

  11. The best thing about tidying up is observing how long it all takes to get back to its natural state of "mess and chaos" :)
    Many people over here, or up here depending how you look at the world, have houses like the ones you describe, spotless and ordered , but I'm more a fan of the English style, half bottle of milk and last week's newspapers on the kitchen table type house :) Meant to blog on this for ages now, but can't find my computer ......

  12. I have meant to put all my shells and fossils in jars, though, as you say it'd make for more enjoyment actually being able to see them - one day .... :)

  13. Brian -- ha haha! 'Can't find my computer'!
    But you are correct about 'natural chaos'. I have plenty of that, but just too many things in drawers and cupboards that end up occupying my mind and wasting my precious mind-space that these days I want to devote to painting...

    And when I can't find a reference book for a particular project, it wastes time too!

    But definitely not going for the 'perfect house in the magazine' look.