Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just When I Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse . . . (#3 of 11)

Today the new kitchen countertops will be installed. Bad timing, because I’m deep into my decluttering project, but it’s the only time the installer could come. Everything currently occupying the counters needs to be removed. 
My husband produces a giant plastic tub which we load with small appliances – toaster oven, traditional toaster, food processor, hand mixer, blender (I’m noticing the duplication of functions for the first time), knife rack, coffee grinder, bag sealer. The tub is full. We drag it into the small second bedroom/office/library/den/music room.

The counters are still far from empty. We start carrying things by hand into the multi-purpose room – electric samovar; utensil caddies; oversized bottles and canisters of cooking ingredients that are too large to fit in the cabinets; giant jars of pasta, legumes, and grains (we do eat healthy!); the drain rack; the vegetable juicer. By now the furniture in the second bedroom is overflowing with stuff piled on top. We set up a card table to hold the overflow.

I had no idea how much stuff that we hardly ever use has overtaken the kitchen counters. I am even more amazed by how ample the counters appear as we strip them naked. This must be what the kitchen looked like on the day I moved in, before I had unpacked anything. Funny, I don’t remember it ever looking this, so . . .. exposed. It feels bizarre. But in a good way.

The new counter tops arrive at eight a.m. 

There’s been a mistake.  We ordered light colored granite, this is black marble. If we accept it, we’ll have to redo the floor to blend with it, and the tiny kitchen will become a dark cave. 

Black marble goes back out the door, and my husband and I exchange looks of resignation. We need to bring everything we moved back into the kitchen.

But wait! This is the perfect time to declutter the kitchen! If I cull now, the mess that has assembled over time won’t take over the new light granite counters that will be coming in a couple of weeks.

We lift each item and consider our options: 

!. return it to the counter.
2. store in the cupboards,
3. relegate to the garage (still in turmoil from the declutteriing                begun last week), 
4. sell, 
5. offer to the kids or a neighbor, 
6. donate to a charity, or 
7. discard?

But before I can begin – I must declutter the kitchen cupboards, to make room for the things that will be relocating there. I remove the contents of the cupboards and pile them onto the counters, to be sorted. 

All this is to explain why, with the garage totally uninhabitable by cars due to the decluttering that began a few days ago, the kitchen is in shambles, and there is no space to walk through the office/guest room/music room/den.

I am decluttering!

(To be continued next week.)  


  1. Does it feel good to get some of the clutter out? The church is having a yard sale on Sept. 22 (fundraising for another NOLA trip). We would be happy to take some of your unwanted clutter!

  2. It's starting to feel very NECESSARY, Donna, and I'm glad we're doing it. Whatever we have to pass on we will be happy to give to the church! I hope someone will contact me in a couple of weeks and I'll let you know whether we've cut through the clutter enough to have things available for the taking. I hope so . . . .

  3. My simple idea about clutter or decluttering, is two fold, I think if you grew up with a mother who HAD A LOT OF STUFF, esp in the frig and all over the counters, you seem to become the opposite, I have not one single appliace on my counter (now that I am counterphobic) and keep my frig looking like I am feeding no one. I think You have to just not be able to tolerate clutter to be able to declutter and maintain it - however, I can stanf clutter in places that are not seen by me, or seen by me rarely, such as my garage. I know somone who complains about the clutter in her garage morning, nooon and night to anyone who will listen and all she can say is there is no oother place to put it....what do you do when there is no other place to put it and what's more, clutter can always depend on how sentimental you are.

  4. I can't argue, Anonymous, my mother kept everything spic and span, totally organized, and while it was a nice way to work, in that I always knew where to find everything (I could cook with my eyes closed in her kitchen, always knowing exactly where the salt was, and the lid to the frying pan, etc.), it was also very repressive. I was not allowed to put a book down anywhere but on its shelf in the bookcase in my bedroom. So I have probably rebelled in my life by giving myself permission to leave things lying around. And I am deeply, deeply sentimental . . . I remember who gave me which gifts, and to throw away their gift feels too much like throwing them away, so I have a hard time parting with things. And from people. But we're cleaning out the garage, today, and although it's difficult, I'm enjoying the space that's opening up.

  5. Most of all, in this poignant post I respond to the chaos and "life clutter" of the contractor's mistake! That mistake seems like a metaphor for the decluttering project. If your project were part of a novel, the mistake would be a perfect obstacle point. I look forward to reading the next steps of this real life drama.

  6. I don't mean to be anonymous, My name is Carole, buit I can't seem to figure out how to post any other way - In the "Olden Days" if you were fat you were admired because you had food which meant money. In these currrent times, if you have things, you are a hoarder or some other disorder or you are a lazy slob. (not my opinion) However, if you go into a rich persons house, there is absolutly NO CLUTTER, it's very non kosher, (no anti-semitism meant) "poor" people seem to have so much "stuff" What is all this about?

  7. Hmmm . . . well, Carole, rich people have servants whose job it is to keep things clean and tidy. Also, their houses are large and have lots of storage space. I also think that a house filled with objects d'art still indicate affluence. Austerity is seldom linked with wealth.

    On the other hand, people who walk into our living room, which is crowded with musical instruments (among other things) and my study crammed with books (among other things) seem enchanted by the evidence of the activities that take place in our home. I love walking into someone else's cluttered house, because I feel validated for my lifestyle (i.e.,busy, full, rich in interests and activities). Other people's neat houses make me feel embarrassed and think that I can never invite them to my house, because they would immediately know that I don't have enough storage space, nor servants.

    Poor people lack storage space and household help. So do I. (I'm on the poor side, I guess.) Hoarders collect other people's junk, not objects d'art, musical instruments, books, etc.) and the junk takes up all the living space. Big difference! IMHO

    I'm a hybrid . . . rich in stuff and interesting activities, short on storage space (and household help). Too much going on for the limited space I have. How to get around this?????? Stay tuned, I'm moving in the direction of solving this dilemma . . . .

  8. It is not a dilemma !!! aT least to me it is not - it is pure realistic and normal. Minimalism is not normal, it is a made up studied mode. And when you mention servents keeping things "neat and tidy" that has nothing to do with clutter - it merely has to do with cleanliness which is next to capitalism. I swear it is all so societal and psycholigical - nature vs nurture - however, as truth would have it, I grew up in an affluent family, our houese was neat and clean and we had a "cleaning lady" I have no idea what it is like to grow up "without" which makes me think, if you are "poor" and you can "accumulate" it might "feel" like you have stuff and you might feel "rich" I just exhausted myself and ma hoping you can catch the nuaniances so I can rest now and stop trying to clutter your blog. Thank you for the outlet and intellectual as well as emotional stimulation.

  9. I think what you're pointing out is that it's an individual thing, and very complicated. I find minimalism serene . . . as long as I have everything I need, and nothing more , , , which is a difficult balance to achieve and to maintain. But it's like going backpacking and having everything you need in your pack to meet all situations, and still keep it under 20 pounds. Or to set out in your car for a long journey with everything you need packed in the car. Or, better yet, to fly to a foreign country for a month's vacation with only a carry-on suitcase, which I've done, successfully. For me, it's a great feeling! I'd like to live something like that . . . especially as I am now shoveling through all the accumulated stuff in the garage, stuff we've lived without for years, and so obviously didn't need. It's a personal thing, Carole . . . different strokes, etc. I believe I will be happier with less "stuff." Time will tell . . . . . .

  10. Exactly, Less is More

  11. "Less is More." That is my thought, too, and I will have more to say about it. Thanks, Carole (is that you, Carole? Or do we have an actual Anonymous joining the group . . .), for being in this discussion!

    1. yes it is Carole, I don't know how to post any other way