Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Canada geese over the May Arboretum, Reno on Thanksgiving morning.

Friday, November 04, 2011

House Matters

I love my home. It is small - a whole 1210 square feet according to the official records (and some of that taken up by hallway and heater closet), but exactly what I need. The more I customize it, the more it becomes an extension of me. Although it is not as small as the homes showcased by the Small House Society, it is only a few steps from anywhere to anywhere. Over the few years I have owned it, I have carefully considered the optimum use and utility of every nook and cranny. Over time I have concluded that I don't need a guest room (the trailer can serve that duty) but I do need a library. I don't need a front hall coat closet, but I do need a pantry. I don't need a bathtub, but I do need a waterproof place to keep a very large litter box. And I don't need a dedicated dining room space, but I do need a large table for messy art projects. A friend once suggested I get rid of all the bookcases in the living room so I could put in a second couch and have more folks over at a time. She meant well, but didn't understand that I would rather be surrounded by books 100% of the time than be visited by a crowd 5% of the time. I love my friends, but a few at a time is sufficient crowding. I can pull in a few kitchen chairs on the rare occasion that I need to seat more than the 5 the living room currently accommodates.

My goal to get rid of at least something everyday of 2011 is still in force. I don't think I have missed a single day, and hope to keep it up until the end of the year. For those who don't know about this project (or don't remember my nattering on about it before) every day from January 1st on, I have gotten rid of something that has been cluttering up my house. In many cases it has been a lot more than one something. The rules are simple:
1. It must be a long-term clutter thing - not just normal taking-out-the-trash stuff.
2. I can give it away or trash it, but I can't just replace something.
3. Although I can't get to Salvation Army every day, once it goes into the "give away" bin (or trash) it does not come out.
4. No building up - once it is identified to go, it counts only towards that day. Even if I get rid of a mountain of things on Monday, I start again on Tuesday.
5. I do not count days when I am traveling.

I honestly did not think I would still be doing this in November, but now it has become a bit of an obsession. It took months before I saw much difference in my home's environment, but it is really evident now. The house is by no means austere, but the items I love are far more evident when not surrounded by all that other stuff. As the year went on and I had to become more choosey, I came to a better understanding about what I value vs. what is just mass-produced, and what I use vs. what just gathers dust. And the off-loading of items has really affected what new items I purchase. When considering a purchase I find myself thinking, "Is this something I will still care about a month down the road?" and "Is this item really worth devoting that many square inches of my small house to?" and my favorite question, "Is there a non-mass-produced way I could accomplish the same thing?" More often than not these questions cause me to reconsider the purchase.

So the more I get rid of, the better my small house becomes a reflection of the things I love and the things I do.