Friday, August 28, 2009

Decluttering

I've been working on the decluttering for a few months now. I pick an item up and say, "Do I need this?" I have read "need" being determined by the fire test: If your house was on fire, and you had 5 minutes to save what you could, those are the things most valuable to you. The rest is crap and you can get rid of it. For me, though, after getting the dogs and cat out, I'd grab the stuff that's the most tedious to replace. My purse containing driver's license, insurance cards, glasses, cell phone, etc... and the folder holding my birth certificate, Social Security card, and title to my car.  I've been stashing digital stuff on the internet (Google Docs, Picasa Web, and an online file storage service), but I'd probably still take my netbook. Next up would be my prescriptions, and a change of clothes. Tax documents if there's still time remaining.

I tend to keep stuff "just in case" I'll need it some day. Mostly, that some day never comes. I've recently thrown out a whole bunch of old computer component boxes, clothes I never wear, old papers and bills, magazines and catalogs, and plain old "junk." I've also sold a whole bunch of stuff via craigslist, and have a few things that will eventually go on e-bay. Old dog and cat collars and things get donated to rescue groups.

The other half of decluttering is organizing the stuff I'm keeping. I replaced my glass desk with a wooden one with five drawers. I bought a nightstand with three drawers. I got all my spare computer cables into a big plastic bin with a lid. All the manuals for the heat pump, appliances, and other house stuff are in the same cabinet instead of all over the house. The linen closet is even neatly organized now.

I know that sounds like a lot,but I have a long way to go in simplifying. I still have too many clothes, and a few pairs too many shoes. I don't really need 6 cat-5 cables or 4 co-ax cables or 3 s-video cables... I don't need 8 ice cube trays (they came with the house), or 4 phone books, or hundreds of DVD's.  When I finish scanning in all my old photos, I can get rid of the printer/scanner. And the printer stand. The list goes on.

I try to tackle just one room or closet or drawer every week. I'm ignoring the garage for now, but its day will come. Every armload of stuff I get rid of gives me a greater sense of freedom.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How much space do I need?

Some of my readers may be familiar with the story of Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond. It was 10'x15' and contained a bed, desk, table, 3 chairs, and a lamp. In my case, noting where I spend my time during the day, I require a bed, desk, chair, and a dresser and nightstand. A small closet will do, and a small rv or boat style kitchen and bath. Toward this end, I've moved into the smallest bedroom in my home, about 10'x10', to experiment and get a feel for the space. After more than two weeks, I'm finding the space sufficient for me and the dogs. Of course, there is no kitchen or bath in the room, but I have determined that this space is adequate for living area.

I do not entertain. I rarely have guests. My home is my sanctuary.  I like it uncluttered and clean. The clean part is difficult with the dogs... I think I could live well and cheaply in a 10'x18' or so cabin.

Today I found a steal of a deal on a 12'x30' cabin. Unfortunately, it has to be moved and I have no land on which to put it. It is much larger than I want or require, but the price can't be beat! I'll keep looking for land to buy, lease, or borrow and try to figure out something for funding. I'm not ready to sell my house yet, and that is where all my money is at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Beginning

Welcome to my new blog, and thanks for stopping by! I suppose I should give you a little background to explain why this blog is here...

See, I used to live a pretty simple life. For nearly two years, I lived in a 17' Casita travel trailer. It was quite an adjustment for me to scale down my belongings from a good sized one bedroom apartment and to figure out just what I truly needed to keep. Clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, computer, important files and papers, bedding. Within six months of moving into that tiny space, I discovered that a lot of the stuff I brought with me had not been seen or used; out it went. The Casita was my little nest, shared with my cat. Most of the time, it was parked in an RV park, but I also took it with me to Michigan and to the Texas Gulf Coast to visit family. My electric bill in the RV park averaged about $20 per month. I went through about 4 gallons of propane per month for cooking and hot water. I saved enough money to pay off the Casita within a year.

Then I blew my blissful simple life by "moving up" to a park model RV, then a condo. I accumulated more "stuff." I had more and bigger bills. And now, finally, here I am in a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house with a mortgage and big utility bills wishing I had never left the Casita!

In the meantime, I also adopted four rescue dogs; not all at once! As much as I long for the Casita again, there is no way the dogs and the cat would all fit in one.  So now I'm trying to figure out just how small a space we can all live comfortably in. I'll get started on that in my next installment.