All this talk of home organization and you'd think I was pretty amazing with the boxes and bins but you know I have those things I just can't bear to throw away. Normally if I don't use something within six months it's history but there are a few dark corners of the house where things are stashed--JUST in case. You never know . . . because if the world ends tomorrow and there's famine throughout the land I'm gonna need those Taco Bell sauce packets.
1. Old sheets and towels. We got a set of each for our wedding and I believe if you were to search my linen closet you'd still find them there, nicely folded and waiting for the call to serve. I've replaced the sets several times in the last 15 years but I can't get rid of the old sets--once in a while I'll rip one up for cleaning rags or something but most of the time I just think: "If the kids' get sick in the middle of the night then those extra sheets and old towels are going to come in handy." I haven't had a kid get sick like that in years--years--but I'm still holding on.
2. Dried and silk flowers. Over the years I've used silk flowers for different arrangements but even when I toss the arrangement I find myself picking the flowers out and saving them for another day. Because I'm going to need two dozen faded orange gerbera daisies someday. It'll happen.
3. Scraps of yarn. When I finish a knitting project there's always leftover yarn but I can't throw it away--that's just blasphemy. It's perfectly good yarn and even though each tiny ball remnant is a different color, weight and material I just know I'm going to come across the perfect project to use all those scraps in someday, I can FEEL it.
4. Seashells. Whenever we go on vacation I pick up seashells which was fine for the first dozen trips but we're starting to get an abundance of shells stashed in various corners of the house. It's unfortunate that each is so unique and beautiful because they're starting to pile up and I can't bear to get rid of even one of them--maybe I should get creative and turn them into a funky bathroom decor by cementing them into tile grout along the walls? I've even got them out in the garden among the plants.
5. Plastic flower pots. Speaking of plants, when I buy my seedlings in the spring they come in these nice little plastic pots and I save them in a large stack organized from smallest to biggest and every time I add more to the stack I think, "I'll going to use those when I start my own seeds" then I try not to think too much about establishing a firm date for that goal. So far it's not happening but if it ever does you know I'm prepared. I could open up my own nursery by now--if I don't use the stack soon it's going to fall over and really hurt someone.
6. McCann's Irish oatmeal cans. I'm a happy oatmeal lover but I don't just love any old oatmeal (Instant? Yuck!) I'm rather specific--I like McCann's Irish steel cut oats which are oats that have been coarsely chopped rather than heated and rolled like the Quaker variety. They're much tastier because you get a nutty chewiness rather than the soggy mush that oatmeal is famous for and as an added bonus for your purchase the oats come in an attractive tin can shaped like a paint can but with the lovely vintage-style lettering. For years I've thought I ought to come up with something fun to do with them but so far no luck. I guess my creative side really isn't into oatmeal as much as my practical side is.
6. Textbooks. If I pay $70 for a book on Edmund Spenser it eats at me over the years and I have a hard time throwing it out. You pay so much for textbooks and your life is tied up in them for a whole semester that to just abandon them seems inhumane. I have quite a few of my them too because I swear my professors had a plot going to make me buy as many textbooks as possible then to change the curriculum so that I couldn't sell any of them back at the end of the semester. It was a conspiracy I tell you. So I hold onto them and plan on brushing up on my post-modern literary criticism sometime in the near future. Because everyone needs a little more Derida in their lives--maybe I can pick up chapters in between episodes of the Simpsons . . .
7. Pens. Not much to say here except that I can't ever throw one out. You can always use more pens, you can never have enough. Especially the way they disappear around here.
8. Eyeshadow. I like Clinique cosmetics but I have the habit of using my lipstick so long I've got to stick a Q-tip down the shaft to scrape out the last remnants of color. Why? Because if I can wait until spring and fall Clinique will have their free gift--woohoo! Free! So I make it last until I can go and stock up and get a bunch of make-up that I wouldn't be caught dead wearing. You know, blushes with names like "Mocha Pink Flamingo" and eyeliners called "Cinnamon Chocolate Latte Licker" but it doesn't matter because it's free. If you open my make-up drawer you'll find all sorts of stuff that I've saved since 1988--but you know I was right about that blue eyeshadow thing coming back so I hold onto everything.
9. Grandpa's hat. A year ago I wrote about how I won a pair of leather gloves at the family Christmas party. They weren't just any gloves they were a pair of gloves made by the Ojibwa Indians for my grandfather while he lived on the reservation. I had them framed and they're really lovely but because I was so happy to get them Grandma thought I should get the hat to match.
So I became owner of a suede cowboy hat that was given to my grandfather at the same time as the leather gloves. Great--only problem is what to do with the darn thing. It's not easy to display like the gloves and it's not really my thing as a fashion accessory so it just sits in my closet--too sentimentally valuable to throw out but too useless to do any good. What to do? Jello mold?
10. Single socks. Every time I do a load of wash I lose socks--call it collateral damage or whatever but it's just a given. When I find a divorced sock I throw it in a special place in the cupboard hoping against hope that some day it will once again find its true love. But don't count on it. So my cupboard has become a virtual singles bar where all the single socks go to hang out and I can't dump any of them for fear of finding their mate the next day. Maybe I should just stop doing laundry. It would almost be easier to buy new socks every week anyway than try to match up socks after a load of wash.
11. Candle stubs. I've never thought of myself as a candle lover but apparently I'm living in denial because I've never been able to throw out a half-used candle in my life. I looked down in the crawl space the other day on a hunt for something unrelated when I came across a shopping bag full of half-used pillar candles that I'd forgotten about--but why throw them out now? They'll come in handy if we ever have an electrical outage. At least an outage in the winter--I don't know that we'd even notice having an outage in the summer.
12. Pillows. I redecorate things occasionally and pillows are an easy way to change color in a room but I've never been able to satisfactorily eliminate the old ones. They're bulky and throwing them in the trash isn't really the eco-friendly thing to do, the Salvation Army certainly wouldn't want the stained pillows I've got to offer so I end up throwing them into the kids' playhouse in the back yard. I think there's thirty or forty of them out there perhaps. Pillows, not kids. At least on a good day.
13. Tote bags. Seems like everyone hands out tote bags, especially when you have babies. They give you tote bags at the hospital, tote bags at the doctor's office, tote bags when you take a tour of the hospital, tote bags from formula companies, tote bags from children's book publishers--you're pretty much swimming in tote bags by the time you take the child home from the hospital but can I get rid of them? Not so easy. I keep thinking I'll find a use for them but then I find myself pregnant again and they just give me more tote bags. Maybe it's time to get rid of all those tote bags. Or stop having children. Or both?
Have you checked out this month's Write-Away Contest? The topic is "Going Home" and the deadline is next week.