Dead wood


I spent Labor Day cleaning.  Well, not exactly cleaning as much as tossing and shredding.  The vaccume has yet to hit the floor for the final sweep.  I’m still in the dust production stage of this endeavor.

I traveled nearly every week this summer for work.  I knew it was bad when I started dreaming of owning a luggage rack of my own.  Bed Bath and Beyond carries them.  I know this because that silly dream almost became my reality.  If I had bought a luggage rack, then I’d never put the suitcase away.

This week there is no travel planned.  I am relieved beyond measure to be spending every night in my own home.  That’s why I decided to slash and burn through the piles of stuff that have grown.  Simplify, clear clutter or as my mother used to say, “Get rid of all of the dead wood.”

The vase pictured above once belonged to my mother.  In my teens, we would go out on a Saturday thrifting.  Back then, it was something you did in secret as there was a level of shame associated with it.  Today, it is far more accepted to shop in thrift stores.  We had a routine.  She’d find something she liked and then begin negotiations.  It was at that point that I acted like a spoiled teenager.  She’d negotiate further and as the price lowered I became more obnoxious.  The deal would wrap up and we’d get to the car and laugh our heads off.  My mother and I didn’t always get along but we both enjoyed making the deal.

The vase we found in Valley Stream.  It was whole then and purchased for a song I imagine.  My mother broke it later on and glued it ever since putting dried flowers in it.  She just couldn’t toss it away.  Last year I went out to my father’s house and the vase was headed for the trash.  The glue holding it together had become undone.  I could still hear us laughing when I looked at it and decided to pack it up to take home to glue back together again.  My niece Julia looked at me and said, “It’s broken.  Why are you bothering?  I’d just throw it out.”

“I give you permission to toss it when I am gone.  I have memories tangled up in this vase”

She rolled her eyes and I went out and bought glue.

Monday I went to move the vase and it broke apart again.  I realized then that Julia was right, it really should be trashed.  The memories are in my head and maybe a photo of the vase will trigger them.  So, I took the picture above and then quickly let go of the pieces.  Speed was needed as I didn’t want a change of heart.  There is no room for sentimentality when culling through dead wood.

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14 Responses to Dead wood

  1. Gary Holmes says:

    Have you tried culling books yet? That’s hard too. Meg’s always after me to throw stuff away but I want to keep it all. And sure enough, I’m rereading my old copy of To the Lighthouse, which I last read in 1976.

    • maesprose says:

      Books I find especially hard. I’ve actually wrapped some of them up and hid them in the closet for another day. There are others that were gifts – I even have some that once belonged to Rich. I don’t think photographs will work in this case!

  2. Gary Holmes says:

    Right, the books evoke different times in your life. I’ve got some of Rich’s old books too and occasionally come across a receipt, plane ticket, hotel bill or other odds and ends he used as bookmarks. When we move, I’ll scale back, but for now I’m in an add-one/toss-one pattern because I’m not allowed to buy any more bookcases.

  3. K C Eames says:

    Memories do live in the head no doubt. It is hard to make the decision to let go of physical objects but as I grow older I feel so much better when I reduce the clutter in my physical space. That being said, there are things I will hang on to for “a while” yet…especially my books. (;-D

  4. tw says:

    I feel I should follow your lead Mae. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff and could really use the space. I try to have an annual sort out, give the good things to charity and ditch those that have surpassed their useful life. This year has run away with me though…. Maybe I’ll do it in the run up to Christmas when there weather’s bad and the urge to be indoors is greater than the urge to make use of sunshine and light nights.

  5. elroyjones says:

    I try not to keep things I don’t use and donate anything in good repair that is not hopelessly outdated. I’ve been hanging on to a sugar bowl and creamer that is not useful to me at all. I’ve never used it and it is not displayed but it was Gram’s and one of the last things she gave to me so I keep it. I don’t recall her using it either. If I could find someone with a use for it I would gladly give it away. When we move we will have more room. I hope I don’t fill in the empty spots with anything other than plants. We’ll see.

  6. LB says:

    “There is no room for sentimentality when culling through dead wood” – what a great post, Mae!
    Glad you have that photo to help trigger those memories.
    and I truly hope your travel schedule eases up this fall. wow …

  7. maesprose says:

    Glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, I’m hoping things quiet down by November.

  8. John says:

    It is funny the things we hang onto for sentimental reasons. I tell myself that there is nothing of my mother’s that I’d want to keep … she’s turning 91 in about 6 weeks, so taking stock isn’t a bad thing, is it? But, I suspect that when the time comes, I might hang on to more things than I imagine I will. At least for awhile. Eventually they’ll go. There are very, very few things I’ve held onto — not even photos. Maybe it has to do with my own mental illness — I struggle enough each day to move forward that I don’t like looking back.

    My mom is rather sentimental about knick-knacky stuff. She’s got all the little, cheap souvenirs that she and my father bought when they took a trip around Europe in the 1950s. My dad was stationed in Germany, and on one of his leaves, they took a tour. They didn’t have much money, so they things they bought aren’t the kinds of things that will have me showing up on “Antique Roadshow” and being stunned by their pricelessness. They are things like shot glasses, spoons, little plates that say “Paris”.

    Both my parents were in the military, so I’ll probably save those mementoes: caps, medals, commendations. I wish I had my dad’s uniform, but after he died in 1980, my mom pretty much threw everything out.

    The photo you took is enough … it takes up little room, doesn’t need constant dusting, and won’t break. And, an image is all it takes to bring forth the memories… the actual glass of the vase isn’t the trigger — its the visual, the image.

    P.S. You were probably smart not to buy the luggage rack. Putting the suitcase away, even if it is for a day, is probably more beneficial to your mental health; seeing it laying on the rack everyday would probably make traveling seem more wearisome.

  9. maesprose says:

    You’ll save a few things – just not everything! I hope she had a great birthday!

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