Monday, June 28, 2010

How to Clutter Up Your Home

It all starts when you’re old enough to have a driver’s license. But it really kicks into high gear when you get your own set of wheels; then you can go just about anywhere. Who’s going to stop you? And all those garage sales and flea markets.

Still in my teens, all manners of “useful stuff” came home with me from various places: An inflatable smiley-faced pillow, a tin kiddie music box with a alien popping out of it, a Herman Hermits 45 with a picture sleeve, and a really old Minnie Mouse wooden doll with a very tattered dress are just a few of the treasures.

A collector is born.

And oh, how serious that accumulation of wondrous finds became! On Friday I’d be noting all the addresses for garage sales in the classifieds. Early Saturday mornings would be spent with the Hagstrom’s maps for my local area, planning the most efficient route that would use up the least amount of gas and time. Then, off I’d go, picking up yet more records from the 1960’s that nobody wanted (Beatles, anyone?), a Dad’s Root Beer sign, World’s Fair 1964 memorabilia, and pink dishes with cat tails on them.

Sundays were usually spent at a flea market held on the grounds of a drive-in movie theater. Made friends with several of the vendors along the way. Guess I became a “regular”. Now, that tells you something about the “bug” planted in me.

Eventually, I fell into a pattern while slowly gravitating towards sizably larger finds. At the time, I had a whole house to myself, so why not fill it up? Kaagen styled end tables with glass tops AND matching coffee table, atomic fifties bar stools, and night stands that only needed a little love, a light sanding, and some lemon oil. Fantastic!

Fast forward a few years. An Aunt of mine who was living alone became very ill. My family moved her to a nursing home. A lot of her “stuff” came to me, including an extensive collection of Depression glass and deco-styled dinnerware. Of course, I needed to work hard to expand those collections. Is there a collecting gene? It’s possible that my Aunt and I share that same gene.

That same year, two extensive record collections merged together. Albums and 45s take up lots of space. One can even buy special cardboard boxes for storing. Takes a long time to sort it all out too…you DO want to be able to play that Left Banke album when you’re hankering for a listen, right?

Oh and some more advice for accumulating clutter properly? Keep buying houses. It’s okay to sell off a house or 2 once in a while, but keep adding more space to keep “stuff”. Make sure the homes have LOTS of closets, nooks and crannies. A “secret” room is a BIG pls. And, garages aren’t just for cars you know. And the more garages, the better!

Now, if the clutter is starting to get out of control, instead of climbing over mounds of it and risking injury, there’s a few ways to tone it all down. #1 Rent space at an antiques mall. You WILL have to do your homework and really get to know the items you’re selling to ensure success. Two key words to remember: Traffic, and pricing.

#2 Have garage sales. Lots of them. As many that are allowable by your town. #3 Sell off some items on eBay. You will have to be VERY careful when shipping some items, such as Depression glass. #4 Use Craigslist to unload stuff. It’s free. You may get as many as five people vying over the same item. And the people come to you and haul the treasures away. Easy as pie.

Ah, what to do with all the proceeds from #1 - #4? Buy more stuff of course! And lastly, enjoy. After all, you bought all the stuff in the first place. Some of it must mean something to you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting hit by a car hurts.

Luckily, this didn’t happen. I was on a long, leisurely walk the other day…aaah. While strolling past a driveway in a sleepy cul-de-sac, I noticed a parked car. Then, suddenly, the vehicle suddenly lurched backward, in silence. I later noticed that the noiseless car was a Honda Accord, likely a hybrid one. With an Olympic leap, aided by my new springy sneakers, I successfully avoided a nasty contact with sheet metal.

Believe it or not, this recent incident is the second time in the last month or so where I was almost hit by a car while on foot.

But it’s what happened next that’s interesting. I continued walking, prepared to give this motorist an evil left blue eye. When she caught up to me, the passenger window was down and she yelled out – “I’m so sorry.” Instead of what I had planned for her, I shouted back over the Dirty Vegas tune blasting on my iPod – “No problem; it’s okay,” and I smiled. It was relief; a release of sorts.

And we both went on our merry ways; I forked to the right, she made a left. As I continued walking my brain started churning, overtaking the power of the music in my ears. It occurred to me that I had been too hasty with my initial reaction to this event. Lashing out is not a solution; it only fuels unnecessary fire. Thankfully, my response never took place. After all, it wasn’t as if she were deliberately trying to run me down; heck, we don’t even know each other!

But I thought about other times, in the past, where people automatically reacted to me in a vengeful way, or I them. And yes, this is perhaps stretching this particular situation, but it led me to thinking about how quick we are to process information and sum it up without taking the time to consider all the different alternatives. My little mishap is a reminder that we really have to slow down sometimes and understand a situation before we take any action about it. I’ll declare this little adventure a thought-provoker and nothing more. Good thing.