suzie's patchouli


California, USA
April 24
Aging hippie biker chick, neurotic Earth mother, good at rocking babies to sleep, baking bread, and procrastinating. Live in the sticks with kindly patient husband, many cats, and a needy dog. Have four excellent daughters (two birth, two step) and five bright and incredibly photogenic grandchildren. Writing makes me happy and crazy and sane all at the same time.


MARCH 15, 2012 9:17PM

Still Spring Cleaning from LAST year

Rate: 15 Flag

So I was cleaning stuff up today & thought, Hey, didn't I write a post last March about cleaning up my garage & my office & the closets?  And didn't this post have pictures & everything?

Sure enough, I check back & there it is, "before" photos of all the clutter & the piles of paper & photos & magazines & books & clothes & old VCR tapes & dishes & ancient games from the 80's.  It turns out that I also did a Spring Cleaning post in June of the year before last.

And I would love to post some "after" pictures of my amazing progress, except it would be kind of like if I was doing Weight Watchers & posted a Before photo where I weighed like 150 & then posted an After where I weigh 200.

In other words...not much progress.

I DID manage to centralize the junk.  Meaning I moved all of my daughters' old stuff (yearbooks/dried flowers/candleholders) into one particular closet, & all the clothes I don't wear plus a laundry basket of stuffed animals & a shelf of Children's books into another closet.  Plus I gave away like six bags of clothes, which is weird because I basically wear the same pair of men's Levis & a t-shirt every single freaking day.

And I have tossed several oversized garbage bags of junk from the garage, but you still can't get a car in there because as fast as I toss one box, I pull another one down from the shelves.  Yesterday while Griffen (my-five-year-old grandson) & I were looking for She-Ra dolls, we found a box of Barbies.  Lots of Barbies. Diva Barbie & Rocker Barbie & Benetton Barbie, along with Ken who was sticky & naked.  (Geo wanted to know what exactly Ken was doing in there.)


(Benetton Barbie waits for her ride to the Cindy Lauper concert...)

Griffen was a little too fascinated with the naked Barbies so I put them away & we came back into the house with a She-Ra bed & a Mickey Mouse puzzle I found in a Ziploc bag.

The dishes that once covered my husband's worktable are finally out of the garage, but now they're stacked in the back of my kitchen cupboard -- you know -- just in case I need them for Thanksgiving.

I read this article where you're supposed to write down the five things you want to accomplish before you die, & you're NOT allowed to include:  Cleaning all the shit out of the house.  Apparently you write down these goals, & then you get rid of everything that doesn't lead to reaching these goals, or that maybe blocks you from your goals.

This makes perfect sense to me.  And logically, I know I should toss my children's 30-year-old stained & threadbare baby clothes.  It's not like they're ever going to wear them again, & nobody else would want them, they are so far beyond well-worn.  Certainly I have many photos of Alison in her cute tie-dyed- t-shirt, or Sarah wearing the green velvet Christmas outfit her Grandma sent from Ohio.


(Mom...I'm 30 years old now.  You can toss the freakin' hat...)

On the other hand, it's not like we don't have lots of space out in the big-ass garage.  The guy that used to live here cut down practically a forest of oak & manzanita to make space for this open garage he had built so that he could work on his classic cars.

All of my boxes have been sitting on shelves since we moved here eleven years ago, & it's not like they require feeding.  God knows, they've probably sheltered adorable families of tiny mice.  Yesterday, when I pulled out the Barbie box, a wasp's nest fell from the bottom & two disoriented wasps crawled from the crumbles & dragged sadly around on the floor, making me feel guilty because I'd disturbed their home where they were surely waiting out the winter.  One got caught in a spider's web, so I freed it, but then it probably just died anyway, along with the poor hungry spider who probably starved to death.

As you can see, cleaning out the garage is a job fraught with anxiety & moral dilemmas.

And then there's the whole question of old love letters & journals that I probably should toss, but can't quite give up, except if I died I wouldn't want my kids to read them, except there's lots of great stuff in them about my kids, so then I think, Why didn't I just keep nice wholesome journals with cute daily stuff about the kids, instead of melodramatic angst-ridden self-pitying whine-fests sprinkled with explicit sex & random adorable baby antics.    Really, what was I thinking?  Why did I have to stream-of-consciousness it all together?

And then there are the piles of magazines kept in case, you know, I want to make collages.  Except  I did not make one collage all year.  The boys DID help me cut out letters from magazines & we made a little framed Keep Calm & Carry On picture for the kitchen. sort-of collage.  But it's not like I would ever run out of magazines, I get like ten fresh ones every month. 

The one thing that really really makes me want to tackle the mess is the memory of tackling my Mom's mess that I am still cleaing up to this day, two years after her death.  I don't want to leave a big mess for my daughters to deal with, because it's hard enough dealing with death & grief without having to rent a huge dumpster, where you end up Frisbee-ing not-so-good China plates over the rim while wearing a mask to prevent mold spores from entering your lungs as you try to separate the stuff that has sentimental value from the crap that just got packed in a box during a move because you left in a hurry, & Eeeeek!  What's that furry dead thing in the bottom of the box!

And poor Geo hates clutter & believes it keeps you from being calm & at peace.  He does sigh an awfully lot & if I cleared out the boxes he might have a few happy last years of gazing all Buddhist monk-like at the nothingness, smiling mellow-ly & looking all beatific, rays of sunlight emanating from his head.


(which I imagine will be  remarkably similar to look worn when offered an icy cold draft beer...) 

 When we first moved into the house we had no furniture & slept on a mattress on the floor & the room was empty & it was amazingly calming.  I could focus on the birds singing outside in the trees & the colors in the carpet & my own breathing.

But then the room started filling-up with stuff, & furniture arrived & the room stopped being a peaceful place to sit watching the squirrels & became more like a giant disorganized closet.  

So...THIS March I am going to finally get this done.  I am going to change my lifestyle habits & focus on what I want to do with the rest of my life (finish writing current novel, more Harleys rides, more hikes, more time with people I love, more creative projects tackled).  Maybe next March I won't have to post my own pep talk (which clearly did not work last year or the year before -- I am thinking  Surely The Third Time Is The Charm). 

Maybe next year Spring will arrive with no clutter rant, just flowers & blossoms & cat photos.


(practicing for March 2013...)

Seriously.  I'm really going to do it this time. And lose that eight pounds that I vowed to lose last year, too, although now I'm just aiming for five pounds.  I clearly set my sights way too high with that whole eight pounds thing...

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Yay, progress! I totally believe you need the proper mindset to tackle any task. You're on the way.

Did you know that only the female overwinters for wasps/ yellow jackets/ etc., so you saved a whole wasps nest today. Yuck. They swarm me so I don't like them.

And your cat has an apostrophe on its nose. That is too cute.
The best way to get rid of your stuff is to move. After my first wife left for Denver and before my second wife and I got together, all I owned was a bed, a lamp, some books, LP's cassette tapes, silverware, dishes, pots and pans, a BBQ grill, a wire spool table and two director's chairs ohh and a flyswatter. I enjoyed sitting out on the deck swatting flies or mosquitoes with a cold brew.
When my second wife and I split up I threw out a full size dumpster full of stuff, packed my stuff into a six by twelve foot storage unit and left for China with my back pack and a carry on bag.
Moving up to the mountain after twenty years in the same 1100 square foot loft space, all of my stuff fit into a rented Ford F150 pick up truck an my 1991 Nissan Pathfinder.
My goal in life is to reduce everything I own to one cubic yard for one last move to a boat and sail down the Pacific coast of Mexico to a beach somewhere in Nicaragua. Cold beer, good cigars and a hammock in the shade.
Griffen and his booby love always makes me laugh I can just see him in my mind with Miss Barbie :)
I still promise to help you go through at least mom's mess one of these spring days we just need to plan it!
As for me I think Spring cleaning is way over rated....but then you have seen my house :)
I am constantly de-cluttering. The only things I can't toss are the zillion works of art my kid made through the years. Oh, and the outfit I brought her home from the hospital in. Oh and... never mind. Great post, I understand completely. ~r
Ah, if only I had the "Big Assed Garage" to pile my crap in. That would eliminate four of those five things.
Some people make resolutions on Jan. 1, others, apparently in March. I look at the pile of tattered National Lampoons on my workbench -- which have been there for eight months -- and realise I missed, yet again, the blue box collection. Well, there's always April....
Didn't this used to be called spring cleaning:)?
phyllis -- I never noticed that Howard's white spot was an apostrophe! (Howard was last year's "September" on the Cat Lover's Against The Bomb calendar.)

jmac -- When my first husband & I split up, I ALSO packed everything I had in a 1976 Ford F150 pick-up. Still have the pick-up, too! I definitely like your "goal."

ll2 -- I can only imagine us going thru that stuff together. NOTHING would get thrown out OR done! (But we'd have a lot of fun!)

Joan -- I know what you mean about the artwork, I still have every ceramic bear, sawdust mountain lion, & plaster rabbit ever created by my clearly-genius daughters. And even if I manage to toss some of those old baby clothes, I can never toss the jammies they wore when I brought them home from the hospital. I keep them still in my drawer & pull them out every so often & sigh with memories.

bobbot -- It IS handy having that garage, but what I'd really like is a big walk-in attic like in old houses. For some reason it seems okay to keep stuff if you have an old attic.

Boanerges1 -- I make resolutions on January 1st, I just don't start working on them until March. And I haven't seen a National Lampoon for YEARS! I used to love that magazine!

John -- I think they still call it that in some places, & it used to be a very big deal! You'd take down the storm windows (whatever those are) & scrub the walls & polish the silver & wipe down the cupboards...Not that I ever did ANY of that, but I've heard stories...

Seer -- I ONLY clean in the Spring, & just barely then...(& I much prefer WRITING about cleaning than, say, actually cleaning...)
Oh my god, I loved this.
All of it.
: )
I have a rare affliction: I'm allergic to clutter. Problem is, I'm only allergic to clutter I can see all the time. Therefore, there are closets and drawers that a screaming to be cleaned as I sit here twittering away another day on OS. Sigh.

You are hilarious, Suzie!

My sons' houses are like temples to the empty space, after growing up with me...
but how can one throw out those adorable tiny tie dyes?
This 'one' cannot.
Your tale of the wasp nest reminds me of the time we came upon a nest of dead baby shrews after unrolling an old Chinese rug during one of OUR annual attempts to get the clutter under control (basement in our case -- we don't have a garage, otherwise it would be full, too). I don't know what was worse -- the yuck factor, the ruined rug, or the thought of the poor little creatures waiting to be fed by a mama who never returned. I'm guessing she got lost somewhere in the depths, crushed by an avalanche of 20-year-old utility bills. My husband is the paper saver. (Love your kitchen sign idea, btw, but I don't suppose there's much creative collage potential in back issues of California Lawyer...) My specialty, on the other hand, is buying stuff from the thrift store, stashing it in the basement while I figure out what to do with it, then hauling it BACK to the thrift store several years later.

That Barbie with the leg warmers looks like a collectable! Probably worth something! Have you considered eBay or a garage sale?

Though Jmac is right, of course. The only real way out is moving.
Tell me about it...
"One got caught in a spider's web, so I freed it, but then it probably just died anyway, along with the poor hungry spider who probably starved to death."

Boohoohoo!! Poor wasps!! Poor spiders!! WAAA!! :D

And my garage is a two car garage, only one car fits!! WAAAA!! ~:D
Oh, I had a good laugh all the way through. I think the golden sunshine was coming out his ass ...
You are a trooper! Cleaning up clutter and clearing out years of crap is such a chore. I was saved the task when we got hit by Hurricane Irene last year and our basement was flooded: had no choice but to discard all the damaged stuff, 2 Got Junk truckloads full. Pretty kitty!