I don’t know about you, but when my life is stressed, I begin to see piles of useless stuff everywhere—old clothes toppling off closet shelves, dishes we haven’t used in years, extra chairs needing to be refinished, flotsam washed up into the corners of the cellar—it amazes me how much junk one small house can collect over a few years. Usually, I can ignore it, but this month, it pushed me over the edge. I was hurrying down stairs in the dark, onions about to shift from caramelizing to burning on the stove, to put away a glass canning jar. I swung my arm to the left, wacked into one of the black Bicentennial Eagle Has Landed chairs, and it smashed all over the floor. Glass everywhere—under all of the junk. That was it. Purge Time.
Purging isn’t simple in a household that prides itself on three trash pick-ups a year. You can’t just pitch it out (although I have thrown some totally rotten food in the dumpster across the street). It needs to be sorted. The jar full of nails that we pulled from the garage during its transformation, the runner for the garage door, and other scraps of metal all need to go the metal recycling in Albany. We The scraps of pressure treated wood and old shapes of plywood are trucked to the PRC by the dump. Clothes and dishes to Goodwill, books to the Library Frenzy, the second drill to the CHS woodshop. Plastic garden pots can be turned into binder twine, but only if I drop them off at the South Corvallis recycling Center. This is all obvious….but then there is Mark’s old backpack, the one that fights him every day when we are backpacking—that needs to be walked down to Community Outreach, along with the air mattress that I never use. The earrings that I no longer wear—those go to the co-op, where the head cashier has a collection and only needs 30,000 more pairs to be in the Guinness Book of World Records (if every woman in town cleared out her spare earrings, she’d be there in a week!). Left over yarn from long ago sweaters I knit into winter hats for the Corvallis Food Bank.
It took several weeks to clear out all of the stuff froim the corners. Mark and I went to Albany one Friday afternoon, ate lunch at Burgerville, and dropped off the metal. I walked his backpack down one morning, metal frame banging against my back the whole way. Community Outreach was glad to see it. The sliding pile of books by the front door is gone. The basement has been swept. The storm windows went up, clearing out that space, which was quickly filled by the picnic table. For about a week and a half I felt like we had accomplished the task…and then, when I was rooting for a hat in the bin, something toppled off the closet shelf and hit me in the head. I guess we’re not done yet….