Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Too much stuff

Hello all. Did you think I had disappeared forever? Did you think i was on an exciting adventure in Botswana? Well, actually i was buried under piles and piles and piles of stuff. After having to clean out my parent's house 2 years ago and having to get rid of about 40% of my belongings to move into the apartment, i was pretty much cured of my need to gather and collect stuff. If i hadn't been, the events of the last week would certainly have done the job. Many of you know that my friend Douglas' mother died at the end of March. He came up from Florida to clean out her house last week since I was on vacation and could help. The house is in Ellicott City (about 15 minutes or so from my apartment) and is huge : 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, sun room, finished basement and 2 car garage. It must have been lovely once, but was in a sad state of disrepair, decorated in styles that you know were very chic once, but now make your retinas scream yes, that is wallpaper on the ceiling and is filled with furniture that you know cost a lot of money, but makes one despair for humanity the Settee of the Damned - there was actually a pair of them, really The executor of the estate had been working on cleaning and clearing the house for 2 months. I though Douglas and I had to finish clearing the house, in four days. Thank God, we didn't. Working every single moment without eating or sleeping, we wouldn't have gotten done. I was prepared for there to be a lot of stuff but nothing prepared me for this There were boxes and bags everywhere. It was obvious that some rooms had been worked on, but in other rooms there was crap strewn everywhere. Walking through the house Wednesday morning i was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff. Just when i thought i had a handle on what needed to be done we found an entire cache of crap in the furnace room There were piles of paintings stacked randomly in nearly every room and everything had to be opened and checked because trunks were as likely to be filled with who knows what as they were to be filled with Victorian quilts In the living room there were boxes full of wrapped china, glassware and what-nots It might not seem too intimidating from the picture, but you have to realize that these boxes were 3 and half feet tall i couldn't even reach into the bottom without crawling inside or tipping the box over. Our job was -in four days- to pack Douglas' room and go through as much stuff as possible to pick out what he wanted to keep, what should be given to charity and what we were going to try to sell. Progress looked like stacked boxes for charity and consignment items piled on the dining room table I was unwrapping things in newspapers from the 70s [i did find useful information, like according to the April 18, 1975 Catholic Review, a prominent girl's summer camp in the Poconos would be opening registration for their 58th season]. There were whole sets of china that hadn't been looked at, much less used in 30 years. Why? Why could anyone possibly need this much stuff? I threw away antique lace and vintage linens that were destroyed by time. In the bottom of one box i found a mouse corpse - half fur, half skeleton; he had literally been crushed under all of the crap. We managed to get a lot done, including making 4 trips to the dump. And some good will come out of this since so much will go to charity. But it really made me want to go through my own stuff and see if there is anything else i can get rid off!


Kaaren said...

You sure there's nothing of crazy value in all that stuff? What's that PBS show - Antique Road Show-like stuff?

Niki said...

Yep. I'm sure. I held out about 100 items that I am going to take to the antique store i work at to be appraised and consigned. If there is anything of value it will be in that pile. However, when you are confronted by the sheer VOLUME of stuff you gotta cut and run!