Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hoarding, up close and personal

First, let's get this out of the way: yesterday was a strength-training day and I did, indeed, lift some weights. Four-pound and eight-pound dumbbells for presses, rows and curls, and mumble-mumble pound bodyweight for tricep dips, lunges and squats. Yay, me!

Now on to the hoarding.

My husband has spent nearly every day for the past two weeks helping a family member declutter several rooms of the big old house in which she has lived for the past 70 years. I've not been involved, thank you God, because

  1. she's not my family member, and 
  2. I'd rather recycle than toss (meaning not much of it would get thrown away).

My husband has no qualms about throwing things away. Most of the time.

However this project has, to a degree, turned into one of moving the clutter from her generation to his, with the idea that the next generation might gain some value or benefit from it.

Please don't plan to visit me soon, as my guest room is now a museum of collectibles. There's a tattered silk Chinese scroll from World War II, a kitchen-trash-bag-liner full of spools of fabric ribbon, medical doo-dads from three generations of doctors, ephemera from the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle – stuff we can't let go of and, at the same time, we really don't want.

Well, except for the ribbon, but where in the hell am I going to put it?

The guest room is the repository of my husband's family memories, for the moment, and while I certainly agree with the idea of taking pictures of all that crap because, really, space is limited, neither one of us can just bag it up and kick it to the curb.

(However, I had no trouble bagging up 40-year-old stuffed Santa and Mrs. Claus decorations, each as tall as an eight-year-old. And while it bothered me to toss 50 plastic coat hangers into the landfill, I currently have more plastic coat hangers than I'll ever need, and so does the thrift store. I asked. Sometimes environmental awareness can be a curse.)
The ink looks black but it's really
blue. Can you figure out where it
came from? A museum? An event?
It's a mystery ...

One thing he brought home that is intriguing and that I genuinely like is a fabric tote bag, probably from a museum in New York. (Not that I need another tote bag. Sigh.) It's khaki-colored and printed (in Avant Garde, so I'm thinking '70s or '80s origin) in royal blue ink with the names of artists – Mondrian, Klee, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Matisse, Arp, Degas, Gauguin and more. The names span eras and genres. There also is a logo/symbol/hieroglyphic, probably representing the organization, but the name of the organization is not part of the logo, nor is it printed on the bag amongst the artists' names.

A fabric tag sewn into a seam sports the name and address of the Los Angeles manufacturer and "Made in U.S.A." It's probably a collectible simply because it wasn't made in China.

The downside to this project is that there. will. be. more. More clutter, more junk, more too-good-to-toss. More memories. It's not bad enough to call in Niecy Nash (that's how long it's been since I've watched Clean House, is that show even on any more?), but it's definitely beginning to bother me.

Already clutter-creep is invading my living area. The contents of my husband's father's doctor bag are spread out on a side table in my dining area. (Thirty-year old Band-Aids in a metal tin, anyone? And when's the last time you needed smelling salts?) The tote is slung artfully over a side chair in the living room.

I am going there today, but not to sort through the past. The basement is flooded. I'm pretty good with a wet-dry vac and I have a pair of muck boots, so I'll be stuck in the lower level dealing with the current crisis, while everyone else sifts through the past. More power to them … I just don't want it coming to live in my house.


denise said...

Good luck with the cleanout. I become paralyzed when I'm trying to get rid of things - especially if I can't find someone else to use them and actually have to throw them away.

I sent the picture and description of your bad to a friend who's very museum knowledgable. Hopefully she can shed some light for you. I'll let you know what I hear back.

Kitten With a Whiplash said...

When I look at the logo on the bag, I see a bow tie and diamond, meaning get all dressed up and put on your jewels. Also a Martini glass and a dinner plate, meaning when you're all dressed up, come over for drinks and dinner.

I think I can relate just about anything to food somehow.

After living in about a dozen homes and apartments while growing up, I moved into this place when I struck out on my own, and I've been here over mumble-mumble years. I know from clutter and hoarding.

jen said...

I was wondering if the design was the museum name. It looks like MOMO. Maybe it's supposed to be MOMA (Museum of Modern Art?)