a few notes on clutter

adelaidecapybaras

We recently stayed in Adelaide for a week, in an apartment near the zoo. It was an excellent holiday. My son and I walked to the zoo each morning. We soon developed the habit of walking past the pandas and making our way to the children’s section, where he fed the quokkas, and then we would make our way back to the food area so that he could have his early lunch. After that we would look at a few different animals, with each of us choosing a favourite or two to visit. It is a wonderfully compact zoo, and it is impossible to walk along any part of it without being near some animals in an enclosure (this makes it very different to Melbourne Zoo, our regular much-loved zoo), so I made sure we saw many of those other animals too. Mid-afternoon we would have something else to eat, and then we would make our way back to the apartment. 

Usually holiday apartments have me thinking I need to make a better effort to remove clutter from our home. But not this time. We must have made good progress last year, and have sufficient space to breathe. This time I missed several of the luxuries of home. I missed the hot water system that allows me to set the temperature of the water that comes out of the taps. It saves a lot of time in the shower, and eliminates the risk of burns. I always miss the clothes dryer, with its dryness sensor (no need to guess drying time).  I also missed some of our kitchen utensils. Usually it is enough that I take a decent knife and chopping board with me. I realised just how much I love the mugs I regularly use, and the range of china we own. 

fivecats

However, since we returned I have let the craft projects multiply, breaking one of my self-imposed rules of having no more than one of any sort of project in progress. (I still laugh when I remember my brother pointing out to my mother that if she completed her quilting projects instead of leaving them at the final stage, when the binding needs to be stitched on, she would have at least eight quilts on her bed, instead of ten unfinished projects.) At least the knitting is back to a single project. I knitted a couple of hats in parallel, but they are such short projects that they are exempt – my ears were chilly then, and I did not want to wait until I had finished a large project before making myself a hat. The small crochet project, another cat (as though five are not enough to be lugging to the zoo each weekend), is excusable, as it is a secret project and there is limited time for working on it. The clutter element is in the stash of wool for making the next crochet blanket, although one is still in progress, and in the spinning. I have two spinning wheels, and both are now in use. On one I am spinning carded alpaca, so a clean fibre that requires no work before the spinning. On the other I am spinning raw fleece, so I need to do a little work to prepare it for spinning, and it makes my hands very dirty. It was the first of the spinning projects, and I only began spinning the alpaca because it rained for a week and I did not have the opportunity to card more fibre, an activity that I keep outdoors because it is so dirty.

spinning

Oh, maybe it is not as bad as I thought it was.

And I have recently read a fun clutter book, Marie Kondo’s “the life-changing magic of tidying up”. It has been extremely popular since appearing in English, and after a lot of dithering, I obtained a copy and loved it. It is one of those books where just reading the reviews on Amazon, particularly the negative ones, can be a lot of fun. (Many years ago, when I was having a bad day at work, I read some reviews of a favourite Anne Tyler novel, perhaps The Accidental Tourist, and just seeing that people could hold such negative views regarding a book and characters I loved, I felt much better, consoled that someone who seemed so lovely to me could also be a victim of such criticism.) Since reading the book, I realise that some of the reviewers had not read the book properly, and once again I realise easy it is for people to misinterpret what they read. Among the reviews I had read there were people who thought Marie Kondo was saying they should restrict their book collection to 30 books (she doesn’t, and acknowledges that for some people multiple bookcases are not clutter, and the books are used and loved), others think that she endorses tossing other people’s possessions (she doesn’t, she says this is a mistake she made as a child). Some think she has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and others think that Japanese homes must be much smaller than American homes. I thought my Australian house sounded far smaller than the spaces she was describing. I find any time anyone describes a closet, it sounds a room-sized space to me. It is a good book. I think it balances the ‘clutterbusting’ books by Brookes Palmer very well. He describes the heavy feeling of inertia that can be induced by clutter. Marie Kondo describes the lightness and joy induced by the objects we love. It was a pleasant change to read a book that gave permission to own more than some generic minimum of stuff. (Or maybe that is my wilful misinterpretation!)

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