A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Junk Drawers: Another Treasure Trove of Memories

Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium en.wikipedia.org/wiki...
Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundaneum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       What normal house doesn't have at least one junk drawer?   You are undoubtedly familiar with what I'm talking about--that catchall place for the quick deposit of those things that linger between the trashcan and the destination of organized usefulness.  It's the convenient drawer where you can just toss things temporarily until you can figure out what to do with them later.

        When I was growing up, the main junk drawer in our house was in the kitchen.  Opening that drawer was sometimes like opening one of those joke nut cans that have the spring-loaded snakes that jump out. The drawer was often stuffed with an array of things my mother would shove in there to hide them away until she was ready to reorganize the drawer in order to start anew.  That organization job seemed to be a chore that was always put on delay until necessity deemed it to be done.

       This is where the ingenuity of being a kid came into play along with my mother's sly trick of making delegated housework pay off for me while giving me something to keep me occupied.   When I was old enough to start caring about such things, I became aware that the kitchen junk drawer held things of value like loose change.  That money was a bonanza for a kid like me who was getting a twenty-five cent a week allowance.  Periodically when that drawer got so stuffed that there it was difficult to open or close, I would make a deal with my mother.   I'd clean and organize the drawer if I could keep all the change.   This deal always worked for me unless my sister happened to beat me to it.  She rarely did.

        Organizing the junk drawer was actually a multiplicitous activity of which the main part was separating the trading stamps and putting them in their appropriate books.  Anyone who lived prior to the 1970's undoubtedly remembers the ubiquitous trading stamps that businesses gave away when customers made purchases from them.  There were the S & H Green, Top Value, Blue Chip, and other trading stamps.  It was a sort of early version of the loyalty programs that many businesses have today or the points given by credit cards.   The customer could accumulate the stamps into books and then redeem the filled books for merchandise offered at the trading stamp outlet stores.

      The stamps were like money and well worth keeping. It meant a lot of work licking and sticking these things in the books.  That became my job since I was more than willing to do it.   And since I was playing such a vital role in the savings stamp enterprise, my mother always let me peruse the catalogs to help decide what products to acquire when redeeming the stamps.   Good kid that I was I usually suggested items that would be useful for the household, but a few times my mother encouraged me to pick out something for myself.   I never had an argument with that.

     The stamps were the major items that created the explosive overflow of the drawers. Once those were dealt with the rest of the drawer was a matter of putting things in their place.  Unneeded receipts, coupons, and other papers would be thrown in the trash.  I was very careful about what I threw away, and I became quite discerning about what was not needed.  Once all the paper items were discarded, neatly stacked, or given to my mother for her to put in a more suitable place, the volume of substance in the drawer had been greatly reduced.

     The drawer also contained an assortment of odds and ends such as small tools (screwdrivers and pliers), hardware (nails, tacks, screws, and such), the occasional small toy, and almost always there were a few birthday candles.  All of these things would either be put in more appropriate places or merely placed more neatly in the drawer.  What was left?  The loose change of course!  I would gather up my found bounty and count my take for the day.  Usually it was over a dollar.   Not bad for a kid back in the 60's.

      I was able to do this job once every couple of months or so.  The money supplemented my other income rather nicely and I felt a sense of satisfaction in helping my mother to make our house a little neater.  There were other junk drawers that I would sometimes tackle even though those rarely contained loose change.  Organizing was something I enjoyed doing so I didn't mind the job.  And I would sometimes find very interesting things that would preoccupy my mind for a few minutes at least.

      Then there were the other personal junk drawers each family member had in their bedrooms.  My parents had theirs in nightstands beside their bed.  Those were supposed to be off limits to me and my sister, but now and then curiosity would lure us to sneak a peek.  My sister had her own drawer in her dresser.   And I had my junk drawer--or should I say treasure drawer--in my dresser.

       These days my wife and I have our own junk drawers throughout the house.   Accumulating small things has become easier in our times.  Those plastic storage drawers and bins are in many places in our home.  The options for storage available to consumers in our age make it easier to create a semblance--or should I say illusion--of order and organization.  But they are still junk drawers.   Now we just have more of them and I guess that usually means more junk or whatever you want to call it.

        Do you have catchall temporary storage drawers in your home?   Where do you normally stash stuff when you're in too big of a hurry to officially organize it?   Did your family collect and cash in trading stamps?  Who was the official junk drawer organizer in your parents' house when you were growing up?  


Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 21, 2013

There's No Stuff Like Home Stuff

English: Austell, GA, September 30, 2009 -- Ho...
Austell, GA, September 30, 2009 -- Household possessions and debris are placed at the curb of this flood affected home following the September severe storms and flooding. George Armstrong/FEMA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.
~~George Carlin

       My posts over the past month have taken a look at material possessions and those collections we amass over the years. George Carlin humorously calls these things "stuff" and I think this how most of us often think of the possessions we accumulate. It's a bunch of things to which we have attached some sort of significance. Sometimes we remember why we kept things and at other times we may look at something only to think to ourselves, "Why did I keep this?".

       A house is a cozy place that provides us shelter for our families and a place to keep our possessions until we figure out exactly what we are going to do with them. And more often than not those things stay where we tucked them away until they get shuffled around to another part of our house. Or perhaps to another house that we move to. Downsizing can be a lot of work that can tax us mentally and emotionally.

      However, that being said, the stuff in our houses can provide as much comfort as meatloaf and mashed potatoes or whatever food it is that makes you feel safe and warm inside. The words "mine" and "ours" give us a sense of identity and security. Even homeless people are often seen pushing carts of stuff or toting burdens of material goods on their backs. They too want the security of ownership, but they lack a house in which to put their property. Those of us with houses can have more stuff. The bigger the house the more potential stuff we can own.

     The beauty of habitating in some sort of dwelling is that we can find many places to put our aggregations of life. Or is that the ugly side that shows a certain sense of greed and love of materialism. Whatever the case may be, at least we have options of putting our things into rooms, closets, cubby spaces, or stuff-holding components disguised as furniture. These things may be neatly placed with organized intent, tossed in randomly, or a combination of the two storage styles.

     The place we call home is the place where our stuff is. To lose one's home through fire or natural disaster must be devastating for most people to whom this happens. On the other hand maybe it's a feeling of release--liberation from the possessions that hold us hostage, keep us prisoner. I don't want to ever know the feeling of having my material life wrested from me. I want to keep the stuff that helps make my house my home.  Or at least keep it until I decide what I'm going to do with all of it.

     Do you ever feel like a captive of the things you own? Does ownership of material goods help you to feel better about yourself and provide you a sense of comfort? Do you tend to have more things if you have more places to put them? Have you ever experienced a tragic loss of possessions? What happened and how did you feel in the aftermath?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Now Where Did I Put That?

That's all your house is:  a place to keep your stuff.   If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house.  You could just walk around all the time.
~~George Carlin
Julius Brooks, miner, in his four room house f...
Julius Brooks, miner, in his four room house for which he pays $10 monthly, no closets or storage space is provided.... - NARA - 540740 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Have you ever found yourself looking for something that you're sure you once had, but just can't remember where it is when you want to find it?   When you have too much stuff, you end up filling closets, garages, drawers, cupboards, attics, and every other available nook and cranny.  How often do we actually organize stuff?

         Oh sure, there are some neat freaks out there who have things carefully categorized into specific places.  Going to a house like that is like visiting a library or a museum or something.  Or at least it seems neat and organized.    A place for everything and everything in its place.  But I'm not talking about you neatniks out there.  I'm referring to the folks like me in our houses surrounded by piles of stuff.

         Don't get me wrong here.  I haven't reached the bizarro amassing of material goods like you might see in an episode of one of those television shows about serious hoarders.  I can still move easily around my house without threat of being crushed by some toppling pile of who knows what.  Things are still in check with me in that respect.  Still I have more than I need and more than I ever look at or hold in my hands on a regular basis.  Some of my possessions haven't seen light in years.  They remain stored away in the places I put them way back in some time when I thought those things were worth saving.

        If my stuff is stored in my house that's not too bad.  When my stuff starts getting stored at other people's houses then that's when I need to start figuring out a plan of future action.  I suppose if I don't have something under my own roof then I apparently haven't put too much value on it.   Certain things that are mine are still stored at my mother's house--they've been there for 30 or 40 years or more.  I feel a certain sense of security in those things being there.  My mother hasn't complained about this, but still I know that someday I need to retrieve these things or accept the fact that I've given them up.

       Aside from other things that I've loaned to people and never gotten back (and that's another story in which the assumed outcome is that I'll never see these things again), the only place I can think of where a few of my ex-possessions might be are at my ex-inlaws house.   Those too are things I can write off as relinquished out of my control.   There are times when we must accept that some things we once owned are things we will no longer see.

        My biggest mistake in trying to hang on to things was renting a storage facility because I had nowhere else to put those things.  What a waste of money that was.  When my second wife and I decided to go on the road full time, we decided to put our furniture and everything else we couldn't tote on the road with us into storage.  Keep in mind we didn't have furniture or household items that were especially worth keeping, but we kept them nonetheless.   We paid ninety dollars a month to do this.  After two years we no longer cared about this stuff and went back during one of our breaks to get the stuff we wanted and then we got rid of the rest.

       Two thousand dollars was spent for a lesson in stuff.  If you've got the stuff and have no place to keep it then maybe you've got too much.  If you have stuff stored in different places around the country you probably have too much stuff.  And if you start having a hard time finding things you do have or remembering whether or not you actually still have those things, this may be a good indicator that you have too much stuff.

       I like having things, but it's scary if the things start to own me.  If it costs me more than something is worth to keep it, then it's rarely worth keeping.  Most things are easily replaceable if you really need them again later.  Less clutter means being able to find things more easily and being able to move more easily if that time ever comes.

         And if it comes to a point where you are trying to figure out if that thing you are looking for is in your house, a rented storage facility, or, God forbid, someone elses house, then you should reassess whose stuff is really whose.

        Have you ever wasted money to rent a storage locker to keep something that you eventually got rid of?  Do you have any possessions stored at someone elses house?  How do you keep your material possessions in check so they are easy to locate when you need them?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Letting Go of Stuff

Gramophone / Phonograph / Record Player - Engi...
Gramophone / Phonograph / Record Player - Engines in Enginuity, Coalbrookdale (Photo credit: ell brown)
      We've been talking about the material accumulations of our past.  In the last post the topic was magazines.  I've had to get rid of so many magazines over the years and have many more that now I must decide upon.  Most of us just don't have the room to keep everything we've ever owned, nor do we need to keep much of the stuff of our past.

           Let's face it.  Most stuff is just that--stuff.   Our amassed stowages are often of little real value.  Our perceived treasure is another man's trash.  Deciding what to keep and what goes out the door can sometimes be a dilemma, but sometimes those difficult decisions have to be made.  What things are the things you should keep?

           Some of the things to keep are obvious.  Things of true monetary value, irreplaceable heirlooms that will be treasured by future generations, or items of potential historical importance are probably worth hanging onto.  But what about the sentimental keepsakes?   Or the things that we can attach to specific eras of our lives?

          The many thousands of books, cassettes, videos, vinyl records, CD's, and DVD's that I own are something that I've started taking into strong consideration in recent years.  If I were to move they would be just something else I'd have to pack and carry with me.  If my wife and I ever downsize our living space, keeping these items would most likely be out of the question.  Would I miss them?  I probably would at times, but these are the sorts of losses that I can live with.  After all I can't take my stuff with me when I leave this world.  And will anybody want these relics of outdated technology when I've departed?

           I can remember when I got rid of all of my models and model kits when I was in college.  This was the passion of my early teen years and represented so many hours of pleasure.  Years later I sometimes regret having gotten rid of those things.  For one thing there could be some monetary value in them.   Maybe.  The fact is though that I couldn't hang onto those boxes of things and my parents wanted the boxes moved out of their house.  I can understand that.  Too much of anything requires downsizing.

         Then there was my American Flyer electric train set that I sold for $100 back in 1977.  That was an extensive set that my parents had added to every Christmas starting in 1956.  When I sold it I needed the money more than I needed the train set and the boxes were taking up space in a storage area at my parents house.  The train set wasn't being used anymore so what was the point of keeping it.  Now I've seen some of the individual train cars online selling for more than the price I sold the whole set for.  I might be making a fortune selling the set off now, but that would have meant keeping all of it for many years.  If I had only known, but sometimes we just don't think of those things.

      What do I get rid of next?  My stamp collection?  A lot of good memories there, but my research tells me that you don't get much out of stamp collections.  My collection is taking up the equivalent of about five medium size storage boxes in my closet.  I haven't looked at any of that collection in years.  Most of it I probably haven't seen in decades.  I'll have to think about that one.

        Are you a collector?   What things do you like to save?   Do you plan on leaving anything to anyone after you die?    What have you gotten rid of that you wish you had kept? 

Enhanced by Zemanta