2015: The Year of Decluttering

So, when I ventured to tell Elrond Hubby that I wanted to make 2015 THE YEAR OF DECLUTTERING, he said, “What?”

I repeated my goal.

“I heard you,” he said, “I just couldn’t believe my ears!”

Yes, I have a clutter problem.  Or rather, WE have a clutter problem.  Elrond Hubby moved to where I live last spring.  For the previous 5 years, he was in the city where we used to live together, still going to school, while I had moved to this new place working at my current job.  In 5 years, we accumulated a lot of individual household stuff that we wouldn’t have needed if we’d lived together, like pots and pans, furniture, and just all the little stuff that makes a home a home.  So, there’s all that.  And our apt. here is smaller than the one where he was living, so we are feeling the squeeze of too much stuff!

The clutter issue was compounded in 2013 when my dad passed away just a couple of months after my brother passed away, and I got all my dad’s stuff (no sibling to split stuff with, you see).  My dad had A LOT of stuff.  He had a clutter problem, too.  Then, you know, it’s hard to get rid of stuff right after someone passes away.

In the country where Elrond Hubby grew up, friends and family members come into a loved one’s house after his or her spouse has passed away and do some of that first round of cleaning for them.  When his dad passed away, his mom’s sisters came in and took all his dad’s clothing out of the house.  Hearing that made me gasp, but I can kind of understand that doing so can help a person stop dwelling on the death of a loved one and maybe remember them in a different way.  We have been dealing with my dad’s stuff little by little, but some of the more mundane things are triggering less emotion in me now, so I’m ready to let them go.

SO, 2015 has become the YEAR OF DECLUTTERING.  I already started a bit in December when I bought a scanner that scans front and backs of pages and holds 25 pages at a time.  I’ve already scanned about 86 different documents.  We shred most things, but our shredder is about broken, so I need to get a new one!

We also have about 700 DVDs from my dad’s place, a room full of books that is bursting at the seams (grad school, plus I worked in a bookstore for several years), folders with class notes, that endless supply of piles of paper that seem important to keep at the time, and a bunch of clothes that we need to sell, consign, or just donate.  Oh, and yarn.  I go through periods of buying a lot of yarn and other craft/knitting/crocheting stuff.  So now I’m making an afghan.  Pics will be posted when I’m done!

I think clutter helps me stay invisible.  I hide behind stuff instead of dealing with it, accumulate stuff because it makes me feel good.  This year, I’m trying to stop that!

The FlyLady has a great site for helping people take control of their homes.  I would like to follow her daily plans for ridding oneself of CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), but mostly I don’t.

So, I plan to post weekly how I’m doing and see if anyone wants any of our stuff.  We will probably dispense with stuff locally, but if we can’t, or feel it’s more valuable to an audience online, then we might try to sell it on eBay or use PayPal for an exchange or something like that.

Movies gone through this week:  about 150.  94 will go.  56 will stay.  There are some gems in the ones we will keep, such as George Lucas’ THX 1138, and the extended DVD set of Once Upon a Time in the West, and the 70s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

I found this app to help manage the list:  Libib.  I don’t know all its features yet, but it seems useful so far.

Here’s our site on Libib, if you want to see the movies we are getting rid of.  If you feel strongly about wanting any of them (most are pretty generic), please let me know!

Here’s a summary of January so far:

# Docs scanned:  86

# Movies divided into “keep” and “go”:  150

# Trash bags of paper recycled:  0 (working on filling up one bag)

# Skeins of yarn used:  2

Other stuff given away or recycled:  1 box magazines!

No progress on the things below, but I’m working on them!

# Books read & passed on:  0

# Knitting/crocheting projects completed: 0

# Clothes consigned: 0

# Clothes donated: 0

Don’t be invisible!  Big hugs to all!

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The Real Story: Elrond Hubby and Cat Hair

My husband is obsessed with hair.  Cat hair.  Dog hair.  Even my hair, when it’s long, which it is these days. Not in an “ooh, I love long hair” obsessed way, but an “I vacuumed and had to clean out the beater bar, and all I found was long hair! Your hair!!”

Speaking of vacuums, we have been through about 5 in 15 years. The only ones that last are the expensive wind-tunnel ones advertised by the British guy who invented them. We are on our second one of those. I’m pretty sure I broke the first one, though Elrond Hubby swears I didn’t (he’s really sweet). We go through vacuums primarily because we have long-haired cats.

I didn’t realize that Elrond is OBSESSED with hair until fairly recently. It was one of those things that he was going on and on about for years, and I just rolled my eyes at, because honestly, cat hair doesn’t bother me. It cleans up fairly easily, and it’s just a sometimes annoying by-product of having these small, wonderful beings in the house that bring me immense joy.

First, I thought he was just obsessed with cleanliness, which he is, and thank goodness one of us is. But the hair thing has become the symbol of all cleanliness in our existence. He has bought MANY kinds of tools:  rubber scrapers, brushes, all “lint masters” to deal with the hair; each time he vacuums or cleans off the cats’ end of the couch or the bed or that spot on the floor where one of them always lies, he shows me how much hair he got from that ONE SPOT.

“Do you see this?” he says.  “Look at how much hair I got from this ONE SPOT!”

“Wow!” I say, but then go back to what I’m doing.

“No, seriously.  How can a cat produce this much hair?”

“Um, he’s covered in it?”

“We have to do something about this.”

“OK,” I say, then shrug my shoulders, which kind of fuels the fire. I know he will scheme to find a way to reduce the cat hair in that ONE SPOT, the same way that I try to find ways to play with the cats so that they shed more hair (that’s not really what I do, but I think he sees it that way).

Recently, he started putting a towel on the place on the bed where the biggest, hairiest cat usually sleeps, because he will find the spot nearly black with hair after only a week or two. The idea behind the towel is that he can pick it up and brush it off, or  wash it, leaving the bed clean. However, he now also avoids washing towels and sheets together, because the towels shed cat hair onto the sheets, and the hair congregates into little balls on the sheets. He is sure there is a magic ball to put in the washer that draws the hair in off the clothes. I have never seen such a device myself, so I remind him that the hair mostly gets caught in the dryer lint collector thingy. That isn’t enough! There has got to be a better way!

I think it began to dawn on me that hair is the real “problem” when I started talking about getting a dog. This kind of dog:

Copyright to HeartSpoon, found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyrenees#mediaviewer/File:Great_Pyrenees_Mountain_Dog.jpg
Copyright to HeartSpoon, found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyrenees#mediaviewer/File:Great_Pyrenees_Mountain_Dog.jpg

It’s a Great Pyrenees Mountain Dog!!!  Beautiful, right?  These are big, teddy bear dogs, bred to protect flocks and livestock, as opposed to shepherding dogs that herd the flocks. I have met several Great Pyrenees, and they were all wonderful creatures. I’ve loved the idea of getting one for a long time, but only started thinking seriously about it when one of our cats died in 2010. Not long after, in my grief, I was searching the internet for other animals with the same name, and came upon a Pyrenees on the national rescue site with the same name AND SAME characteristics of our cat.  (Our cat was like a dog in many ways:  loved everybody, stayed with us wherever we were, played fetch, and so on.)  Anyway, at that point, I started researching Pyrenees more and now I think they would be the perfect dog for us (me).

Except for the hair.

Take another look at the picture. Pyrenees have thick fur, with downy undercoats to keep them warm in mountain climates. Plus, they are white. Anyone who has lived with a white cat knows what I’m talking about.  I had a white calico cat from 1991-1995 and I found her hair on things for nearly ten years after she was gone.  Not that I really cared about having the hair on things, since as I said, you can clean it off.  It was just an interesting phenomenon from my point of view. And she was a sweet cat, so it reminded me of her.

Back to the Pyrenees.  Ever since I fell in love with this kind of dog, Elrond Hubby has found ways of justifying NOT getting a dog, especially this dog. We live in an apartment, yes, I get that. We live in a hot climate, yes, yes. Both of these are real concerns.  I will not get a dog until we have a house, so he’s safe on that front for a while; and the heat just means taking good care of the dog, which of course I would do. But the hair is another issue entirely.

“Look at the hair!” he says. “It would be EVERYWHERE!”

“I **know**!” I reply.  “Wouldn’t it be great?”

He shakes his head.  Schemes privately.

I know he’s been scheming privately when we see commercials with other dogs, short-haired dogs, smaller dogs.  A couple of times, he remarked on the adorable beagle in this commercial.

“Look at that cute dog! What kind of dog is that?”

“A beagle, I think. He’s really cute. Do you know they bark a lot?”

“But they have short hair!”

I roll my eyes, shake my head.

Elrond Hubby does not give up easily. He learned from the beagle experience not to bring up the hair thing. Like when this ad came out.

“Look at that dog!” he says. “Wouldn’t you love to have a dog like that? He’s sooo cute!  And we could train it to find the remote control. Or he could look for our keys when we lose them.” Then, he pretends to ask the dog to find the remote, and mimes the dog pointing at the lost remote.

That’s pretty funny, so we spend some time pretending to have a pointer dog find odd things for us and laughing about it.  Also, I know it’s nearly every guy’s dream to have a remote control always within reach. So I entertain the idea of those kinds of dogs for a few minutes, then I say, “It’s because it has short hair, isn’t it.”  Not a question.  Matter of factly.  He knows I’m right.  Dammit.

Finally, after years and years of these conversations, it finally dawned on me. The next time cat hair became a subject of conversation, I started laughing uncontrollably.

“What? What is it? What’s so funny?”

“I think you’re obsessed with hair!!!”

Now we just laugh about it.  He doesn’t give up.  And I don’t stop laughing.  And that’s marriage.