You know those reality shows about hoarders?  I tell you, when they come on television, my first husband grabs the remote and clicks away with the plaintive cry, "I can't stand to see this.  It makes me really anxious."

I always thought his anxiety came from sympathy for those with this affliction.

Maybe not.  Maybe it was just hitting too close to home.

Kid One has been bugging us to 'lighten the load' frequently, at home and at cottage.  Please note that a couple of months ago I wrote an entire column about the fact that it's taken 17 years to get all his 'stuff' to him and his sister, freeing up important square footage for us!

Anyway, he's been very keen so at the height of the heat on Sunday we tackled what we call 'the tin room' at the cottage.  It is lined totally with tin, to mouseproof it so mattresses, pillows etc can be stored there over the winter... mouseproof, you might say.  Except it isn't.  The wee things just ate a corner off the door to the tin room, slipped in, found the warfarin and stayed for the winter.

The tin room is about 14 feet long by four feet wide and eight feet tall (a lot of tin), lined with shelves and hooks and just crying for 'stuff' to be dumped there.

And so last weekend we tackled it.  We moved everything into the living area.  We found old area rugs, cushions from sofas that are long gone, electrical wire that we'll never use, pieces of copper pipe that we'll also never use since we've entered the pvc age.  This stuff has clearly found a place in the tin room and propogated!  There's a huge bin for plumbing parts, another for power tools, another for electrical, another for boat supplies.  There's an enormous box of toilet paper (single ply, essential for septic systems and the mice did not nest in this box!!!).  There were picnic chairs and coolers and picnic baskets.  There's a dresser with hand tools, drop cloths, string and rope, and a whole drawer with warranties for things that haven't been there for years.

There was an entire basket of telephones!  Out came four stools, a chunk of new indoor/outdoor carpet, an antique bucket, some mirrors, a bit of plexiglass, a sail that doesn't have a boat.  Life jackets, really old bamboo blinds, wicket blinds, rolls of screening, a vacuum cleaner, card table, a huge slab of pegboard with a frame around it, paint cans, jars of screws, nails, hooks, handles.  There were three mitre boxes, and a rachet set.  I didn't count them but I'd say four or five tarps.  [I have to say at this point if you're drooling, you've got the same problem we have]

As the living room filled up, I felt guilty that we'd accumulated all this stuff.  Why?  Does it just grow?  Kid One says it just settles in and takes over without careful, frequent culling.  Of course, when I use a hole saw to create paddle racks, I keep the circles and the six quart baskets because I can make dolly carts for little kids.  Of course the baskets have to be painted and lined and tow strings need to be sewn.  And then blankets and pillows made and dollies fashioned.  But it all begins with the raw materials... know what I mean?

I think it's safe to say that much of the tin room was 'intention.'

Anyway, we absolutely loaded the boat on Sunday afternoon, lugging much of this stuff to electronic waste boxes, recycling, garbage, and the home boulevard.  Yup, our boulevard looked like a garage sale on Sunday night and by Monday morning, these 'treasures' had been picked up by other people.

We vacuumed up mouse poop, reapplied the warfarin, cleaned all the shelves, pitched and prodded and placed just the things we know we'll need.  Except at the back of one shelf are six quart baskets and wooden circles for wheels... I'll get to that, I just know it!

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