February 4, 2006

The studio.

Over the next month, preparing to put my house on the market, I've got to put my house in order. After a lot of work this week, the main tasks involve the lower floor, the attic, and the closets. The lower floor, which I'm going to deal with first, consists of a basement, a garage, the studio, and "outer space" (AKA "outer face"). Outer space is just a kid-named part of the house. Do you get the allusion? "Outer face" is the baby-talk way of saying it, and I kept saying it that way long after the kids learned how to say "space." The basement section of the lower floor is truly daunting. It has two sections: the band practice area and the 20-years-of-storage area. The garage is full of bikes, yard care devices, and unusable furniture.

Today, however, I'm devoting to the studio, a place I've used over the years for painting and miscellaneous storage. I've started to throw things into large black leaf-and-garden bags. It's hard not to get distracted by things -- old notes and letters, photographs. After an hour, I've built up some focus and nerve. Do you throw out 50-year-old ceramic figurines? They are cheap and in bad taste: angels and little animals -- all stamped "Japan" on the bottom -- that were given to me when I was a child. Someone determined that I should have an angel collection. I don't think it was me. But I did tend the collection and appreciate additions to it. Do you throw out pencils, pastels, craypas, chalk, charcoal, erasers? There are thousands of them! And what about all these board games? The answer, I think, is: you must throw them all out and quickly or you will never get done in a month.

34 comments:

reader_iam said...

Amen to your final sentence, though I'd append the words "or ever" myself.

bearbee said...

I am a fanatical recycler.... hate throwing out anything without first attempting to give it away. Any chance these items can donated to senior citizen centers - board games, art supplies?

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe, but I haven't got time research these things. I'm giving away what I can, but all these little things, used things -- I've got to deal with quickly.

angieoh! said...

Ann - maybe the law school could use the board games? We always use to play scrabble in the atrium as a stress reliever for those long days... just a thought! Good luck on your cleaning, sounds like a big project.

Ronald Reagan said...
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esk said...

You could donate them to your local thrift shop.

http://www.consignmentthriftshopsearch.com/wisconsin.html

EddieP said...

Board games, books to Senior Centers or Homeless Shelters. Contact local Churches. Pencils, erasers, charcoal, etc. daycare. Maybe there is a Church that would take it all and distribute it. Get a couple of friends to research it for you.

Ann Althouse said...

Esk: Thrift shops don't accept all sorts of things. They have a lot of rules. Goodwill gave me a brochure to study to figure out what they will take. With little things, I don't have time to do the research. If I have a little figurine that someone might pay 50¢, it's just not worth the transaction. You can end up wasting their time and costing them money if it's something of minimal value. And I'm on a really tight time line, genuinely nervous about finishing, even if I spend hours a day on the project.

W said...
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EddieP said...

Madison Senior Center

http://www.madison.com/communities/msc/contact.php

Ann Althouse said...

Eddie: From what I've read, these places do not want miscellaneous used items. I'll donate things to Goodwill that they will take, and I will find some way to give some artist some larger more valuable items, but as for all the little things, I've got to take a triage attitude.

W said...
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PWS said...

You must throw away all that junk you mentioned. Think of it this way: if it's been sitting in your basement for the last 5, 10 or however many years, if you've never thought about it, much less actually looked for it or handled it, it could have been in a landfill all that time and you wouldn't have known the difference. You won't miss it.

Jake said...

Ruthless. Be ruthless in throwing away stuff. Don't be anchored by your old possessions.

Mark said...

Hey those Japanese pieces might be worth some decent money. I would check eBay to see what they're going for. I have a friend that's all into that post-War Japanese stuff...there's a whole group of collectors interested in that.

reader_iam said...

Have you noticed the parallel between your virtual life on your blog and the one you leading at home right now?

In both places, it seems you are working overtime to clear the clutter and toss out the junk.

There's no way I could resist pointing out this parallel.

SippicanCottage said...

All the comments in the thread about giving even the most modest items to charity remind how compassionate and kind the vast majority of my fellow americans, and all human beings generally are.

Lars said...

Good luck with your physically and emotionally exhausting task. Depending on the cost, time and stress, it might be worth hiring someone like Disaster Masters:

http://www.disposophobia.com/

Gaius Arbo said...

As was already pointed out above - be ruthless. I still have boxes in my garage from two moves back - I literally have no idea what is in them!

The last box I did manage to unpack had absolute junk in it that I could not believe got packed in the first place.

PatCA said...

Hey, so you're going to move? Congrats!

As for tossing, I always keep one representative thing from a collection (or mess, however you define it). I still have the hat we all wore in college to signify that we were part of our group...that kind of stuff.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for the moral support!

Ann said...
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Dave said...

I'm about to move and it's a pleasure to toss stuff out.

Joan said...

Chiming in quite late to say: be ruthless! Purge away! Oh, it's such a liberating experience!

Best of luck with this big transition time, Ann. Upheaval is very stressful, even if it's a good kind of upheaval. Don't overdo it -- there are professionals you can call in to help if you need them.

XWL said...

If those Japanese tchotchkes are post-war they aren't of much value, but if they are older than you suspect, they actually could be surprisingly desirable to certain collectors.

(didn't notice Mark's comment while composing, what he said, but as far as I know it's the pre-war items that are truly valuable, in the internet age every item has an eager buyer willing to pay slightly too much money for the 'right' item.)

But once you start thinking down those paths then nothing becomes tossable and your life begins to revolve around eBay.

Forget I said anything.

Rather, enjoy the cleansing!

(don't you love 'technicians' who try and make even hydrocolonotherapy a cheery event)

Ann Althouse said...

I don't have time to fool with eBay. Maybe next month, after I get the house in showable condition, I'll have isolated a set of things worth auctioning.

The hardest thing to dispose of is a big old piano. I have no idea what it is worth. At one level, just getting it removed is a big deal. But it's antique enough that it might really be worth something. I simply don't know.

I also have a very substantial artist's easel that I paid maybe $700 for about 7 years ago. I'm puzzled about what to do with it.

Elizabeth said...

Ann, by coincidence, we too are boxing and moving stuff so that workmen can come in and fix all the hurricane-damaged plaster and then repaint the inside of our house. We're using the chance to purge, one lesson of Katrina being that we've learned not to be so attached to things.

My thought is keep what thrills you and do what you will with what's left, no matter what it is. It's just stuff. And consider contractor bags instead of lawn and leaf bags. They are extra tough.

Earth Girl said...

This reminds me of Nina a few months ago.

Frank Borger said...

Some years ago we sold a brick two-flat in Chicago.

My Great-Grandparents bought it and lived downstairs.

My Grandparents and my dad lived upstairs.

My Dad, Mom and I lived downstairs.

When I moved out after getting married and later my Mother died, we faced 70 years of accumulation, including things like a broken faucet clearly tagged and labeled "This is no good"

You got it easy.

Pete said...

Oh, so you ARE moving? Funny, I thought your previous posts were all about just considering moving. And that meeting with the realtor was just to get a feel for things, wasn't it? No credit for those of us who predicted this from the first?

As always, best of luck to you, Ann, in this and all of your decisions. But, really, you likely won't miss what you throw out, especially those items that have been in storage for years. I'd have your children come in and take what they wanted and then toss the rest. And the charitablegroups won't miss what they don't get from you, either.

I guess I just re-stated the advice about being ruthless.

peter hoh said...

"This might be worth something." That phrase is one of the great anchors around my neck. I'm trying to learn that if it isn't worth something to me now, then it costs me now.

Selling the few jewels that lie among the accumulation is not going to equal the cost of carefully sifting through the accumulation.

And if you toss a few things that really were of value, you're still helping the collectors. Most collectibles are only valuable because enough people have thrown away identical objects.

Joan said...

If the piano's works are in good order, you should be able to donate it or sell it to someone who can arrange to have it moved out. In every piano-aquiring transaction I have participated in (three so far), the purchaser/receiver is the one who has to pay for the moving. If the piano isn't playable and would take considerable work to get it playable, consider paying a student cheap money to chop it up and disposing of its remains. (If you're going that route, the Physics Dept. may want to use it for a spectacular "drop" experiment -- you know, what happens to a piano when it's pushed off the roof of a 10-story building, that sort of thing.)

Re: the artists easel, clearly something you should sell or if you don't care about the money, donate to the art dept. Post a notice in the art dept and some poor art student is sure to come and take it off your hands.

MadisonMan said...

Ann, congratulations on moving.

If you have things that might be collectible and sellable on ebay, give them to a neighbor kid, tell them to sell them, and ask for 10% or 20% or something. It's out of your hair then and your neighborhood kid learns how to do something potentially useful and interesting.

I guess maybe you should clear it with the parents of the kid first, but if not, you're moving :)

Tom said...

Maybe, but I haven't got time research these things. I'm giving away what I can, but all these little things, used things -- I've got to deal with quickly.
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