About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

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Comments On Article: Clean The Clutter

1,659 posts (admin)
Thu Mar 21, 24 3:14 PM CST

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53 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 3:53 PM CST

That view from the porch is gorgeous!  To think it's been hidden for so long.  

I agree 100% about clutter.  Going behind someone in a very cluttered house is a huge chore, and can be quite stressful.  It also can be heartbreaking at times.  

I recently reorganized a few of my kitchen cabinets.  I can't believe the stuff  I never use that I got out of those few cabinets but had been holding onto "in case."  I'll keep going through the rest.  This is after I'd gone through them all five years ago and thought I had them cleaned out.  People give me things, I buy something I'm sure I'll use then don't... it fills up all over again. 

You and Charles have a huge task in front of you, but I feel confident you will get it done.  I'm enjoying your writings on the situation, too, because I think all of us are at least a little guilty of "clutter-blindness" to some extent.  Thanks for the reminder to keep it clean and clear.

3 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 4:06 PM CST

This was a wonderful post, and so timely for me. My husband and I have been taking care of my mother-in-law ever since my father-in-law passed away five years ago. Her physical health and cognitive abilities have been declining and her house is a mess. But she will not let us clean it, or hire anyone to come into clean it. It is hard for me to go over to her house because it is really dirty, but she doesn't "see" it. My husband dreads the thought of cleaning out her house when she passes away. This always makes me stop and think about how I want to leave my house for my children to deal with when I am gone. It definitely makes me want to get rid of a lot of stuff and make sure everything is clean! 

The view from Madge's porch is really beautiful and peaceful. I am sure you are tempted to move there. But I want to tell you how much I love your home and yard. You and Charles have made a lovely haven for yourselves there. Thank you for this post and the photos. God bless you. :-)

Edited Thu Mar 21, 24 4:07 PM by Jennifer W
27 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 4:08 PM CST

Oh my goodness, what a lovely view.   I really admire your tireless work to go through all of her things, and do a proper job sorting through them.  And I agree with your comment that often we can keep too much,  when my husband passed away at the end of 2022, I sold our house, and did an estate sale where I removed what I wanted, and they sold/tossed the rest.   After four days I came back to an empty house and a check arrived in the mail.   I estimate I got rid of 75% of what we had accumulated over the past 41 years.   

 But Madge’s house is so rural, it might be hard to have an estate sale with lots of visitors (I live in large city).   And lastly, her place might be a great getaway place for you two for the next few years, and when medical issues get too demanding, you can sell it.   I understand there is a risk being up there at our age ;).  Thank you for the thoughtful post and the wonderful patio photograph.  

42 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 4:30 PM CST

I love this post.  Sadly, my dad and his wife were like this, although towards the end they were ill. Going there gave me hives, I kid you not.  And you couldn't so much as clean the sink.  I am not like this and neither was my mother.  I declutter all the time and I still find something stupid I just overlooked because it's been there for so long, not even thinking I have no use for it!    Sounds like Madge's place would be lovely though.  I believe that environment is much healthier, but not if it's at the expense of medical care.  We also live far out and it is a drive for care.  But, so be it.

12 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 5:08 PM CST

Mom was always so neat and tidy. Unfortunately, I (her only child) tend to let things “slide.”  When my husband and I were going through her things, we found so many unexpected things—9 round cake pans (although she rarely cooked, especially after Daddy died), several containers of pepper and other spices, several brand new tea towels (stashed away until others “wore out”), and many other duplicates.  There were unopened bars of nice soaps I’d given her, unworn jewelry, brand new underwear and nightgowns (again, all saved for “special”).  Since I was smaller, I couldn’t wear any of her shoes, pants, or most skirts. Today, I’m wearing one of several sweatshirts she left as I often do with several of the blouses and sweaters we could share.  She had collected over 200 sets of salt and pepper shakers.  After removing the ones special to me. I urged everyone who stopped by to take a set they liked.  I tried several times to get relatives to come look over anything they might want, but no one ever did.  I lost track of the number of trips we made to Goodwill.  A good friend followed us down from St. Louis to take her washer and dryer, kitchen table, and other things.  Fortunately, a cousin knew someone looking for a house in that neighborhood, so it sold very quickly.  Although I wanted the older (solid maple) furniture, this buyer wanted the Queen-sized bedroom set and a smaller bedroom set.  I sometimes think of things we couldn’t keep, but I know we kept what was most useful.  All in all, I miss her more than anything we couldn’t keep

Edited Mon Mar 25, 24 8:51 PM by Kathy D
13 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 6:51 PM CST

What a wonderful reminder Grandma Donna. We recently had our carpets cleaned and had to move everything out of the carpeted rooms into the tiled front room. I only moved back what was functional and necessary, and a few things that were beautiful such as paintings. All the clutter is now in that one room and easy to identify as such.

Your description of Madge’s home reminds me of when we cleaned out my Grandfather’s place after he died many years ago. My grandparents came to Australia from England in their early twenties after they married. My Grandmother brought her trousseau and all her wedding gifts with them. There were packing crates full of unused eggshell china shipped all the way from England over 60 years before! A dozen porcelain dinner sets, even breakfast sets; linen table sets; lead cut glass and coloured blown glass sets, bowls galore; tea towels by the dozen, and much, much more. All of it high quality, still in perfect condition, still packed in the shipping crates and never used. It was mind blowing - now you could set up an entire ebay or amazon store to sell it all. We all tried to see what we wanted for ourselves but there was so much it was almost impossible to choose. I took just one Chinese style vase I liked and remembered seeing in their house on the china cabinet. I couldn’t bring myself to take something that had been locked away for 60 years and never once used. The remainder were sold and donated. We scrubbed the house clean and it was sold. 

I was pleased to see on a real estate website in recent years that the house is still basically the same but renovated inside and being well taken care of.

8 posts
Thu Mar 21, 24 7:22 PM CST

“And the dogs hang out like people”.  Yes they do ????.   

What an undertaking.  My husband and I did this at my mom’s 3-bedroom apartment before she was moved over to the nursing unit. She has since passed away.  But how grateful we are that we were able to do it before she died.  I greatly enjoyed the stories that I got to hear about many of her things that I never would have known.   And after the funeral, oh goodness I would not have had the strength to do it.  My temptation to burn it all down…. We won’t discuss.  But there would have been such despair.  

My husband and I traveled to her place 4 times and stayed for 5 days and worked like mules.  My mild sciatica burst into a hot mess and I might have to have surgery.  We realized that we can’t work for 8 hours a day lifting and boxing and going to Goodwill.  I must have made 25 trips a day with the grocery cart down the long hallway to put things down the chute.  It was an exhaustion at age 68 that I do not care to have again. Plus, grief and physical exhaustion are just too much. 

Junk King came and took many many boxes of junk and gorgeous furniture that we did not need.  My brother and I had arranged for moving vans to bring partial loads to our homes in different states.  But the worst was her obsessive crafting hobby.  Every inch of the 6 closets were filled, under the beds, in the drawers.  I was appalled.  Her apartment, to the uninitiated eye, was light, bright, and beautiful.   But taking it apart to purge  was like a restaurant salad that you ate on for 2 hours and it looked like you had barely nibbled

It’s hard to not feel a bit of resentment that she didn’t try years ago to clean things out years ago… given that I now know a neurosurgeon.  Beautiful dresses that she had worn to a fancy parties with my dad 25 years ago were still there.  But it was what it was.   She kept on buying craft things.  And the pandemic made that worse. 

But we came home and I INSISTED to my sweet husband that we needed to purge everything!!!  It wasn’t horrible, but as you said, it creeps up on you. Things we had saved for the grandchildren they already owned. Just stuff from heaven only knows where. But the peace when we were mostly felt was amazing.  Our first step was to do the “junk drawer” in the kitchen   It made me so happy  and energized once we got on a roll  I know this will be a process forever and I’m grateful to do it   We won’t have to burden our kids with dirty and confusing junk and piles that make no sense   We do own quite a bit of stuff and that will likely change if one day we sell the house and get a condo or apartment  

My husbands folks have been so thoughtful   Five years ago my MIL had a spot in the garage where things were placed  All family and visitors were escorted out there to pick out some treasures  haha  I really had to restrain my dh as they had spent some living in Africa and he wanted lots treasures !! Haha   But bit by bit his mom looked ahead and started doing a bit at a time   Her wisdom gave us a helpful plan 

Thanks for writing Donna   This was a very good post  Thank you to Charles for giving you the nudge to hit post  

36 posts
Fri Mar 22, 24 1:28 PM CST

Too bad you can't live in two places at once!  The view from Madge's porch looks beautiful, very peaceful and calming, but I also always  love the pictures of your yard in town - like a whimsical little sanctuary from the outside world.  

274 posts (admin)
Fri Mar 22, 24 1:44 PM CST

Grandma Donna wrote, Hi Tea, I wish for the same, it is a decision that will have to come at one point.  Once we get it all cleaned up and checked over and inspected for condition I guess that will help us.  If we do move up there I will absolutely be transplanting many of our flowers and herbs and would take the grow tanks and most likely leave a pretty bland yard behind. lol.  I think the blueberry bushes would have to come too. :) But that would be awhile.  Right now we will enjoy both places. 

1 posts
Fri Mar 22, 24 8:20 PM CST

This is my first time commenting. I appreciate your posts. They are inspiring in a way that doesn't overwhelm me. Your charitable attitude toward Madge helps.

Like you, I enjoy cooking and cleaning. Like Madge, I also enjoy socializing and going to activities. And, I have two young children and a third on the way. I have a lot of options I like that compete for my limited time and energy!

I do struggle with clutter. I am not a hoarder and have no hesitation throwing things away. Other than a lack of time and energy, my main two reasons for clutter are that I find clutter easy to overlook so it naturally gets deprioritized, and also that I've moved twice in the past two years and haven't figured out logical places for many of our belongings yet.

My mother is a tidy person and sometimes tries to help. She picks up two or three items at once and says "where do these go?" I freeze because I'm trying to decide whether to trash each of them, whether they even belong together, where I kept them in our last two houses, where I should assign them to go now, whether we even own the furniture or containers I'd ideally keep them in, and where I should put them in the meantime if we don't.

It's a very stressful method for me. But I have to admit I don't get around to doing it by myself. Hopefully by visualizing your going through Madge's and your own belongings in a calm and steady way, I can evade some of the panicky associations I have with this process.

Edited Fri Mar 22, 24 8:43 PM by Julia K
274 posts (admin)
Fri Mar 22, 24 8:59 PM CST

GRANDMA DONNA WROTE, Hi Julia K, I am happy that you have commented, I am glad and I am sure the others are glad to have you here in the forum commenting. :)  Clutter is very stressful, more so in this current modern era than it was in the past.  A long time ago when we would visit one another we would just move something out of a chair and sit down.  Now everything is suppose to be phone picture ready but the truth is most things are most likely pushed out of the way and set up for the perfect picture.  It is very stressful to find the right place for things to go and that takes time once we do get it in a good place it gets easier.  Just take your time and be real, so glad you are here in the forum :) 

3 posts
Fri Mar 22, 24 10:30 PM CST

I've been thinking of this post all day. Thank you for writing it.

My husband and I have divergent views on what is junk & clutter. When we purchased our second & larger house I realized he was not ever going to "see" any of it as a problem. He does have hoarder tendencies but thankfully I've been able to keep that under control. 

I retrieve the mail and only give him vital pieces. The rest I trash. Before I did this I gave him everything with his name on it and he kept it all. It would be months before he'd even think to look at his mountain of mail. Even now he has a "hill" of important mail that is sliding across the room. Eventually I will put it all in (yet another) box next to his tv chair.

He prides himself on his "piles" as some sort of indication he's neat & organized.  But this too I eventually put into a plastic bin. I let the bin stay in the same room hoping he will decide to sort it out but as this never happens the bin then goes to the basement.  Before I came upon this solution we had piles of old cords, tools, boxes & manuals for stuff that we no longer owned all over the floor.

When I bin his things I do throw out the obvious trash.

I strive to keep common, open areas neat & clean and clutter free. Like the dining room & kitchen, my parts of the bedroom. Basically the areas I can control I try to keep visually calm and easy to navigate.

I don't touch his areas of clutter like most of the basement, his bookshelves or his dresser or closet.  I only bin up things that spill out onto the floor. 

The last time (last summer) I put a bunch of stuff that was all over the floor in a box next to his chair he nearly had a panic attack as he was convinced I'd thrown out precious things. I assured him it was all in the box which after several frantic minutes he was able to verify.

I love my husband but if I didn't do this our living space would be unlivable. I only share this in case it could help others in a similar situation.  Fighting about it doesn't help. So I control what I can and let go of the rest.

45 posts
Sat Mar 23, 24 9:53 PM CST

I too am grateful that you posted this. It is such a good reminder even if our house isn’t dirty/cluttered. I feel like ours is a little cluttered at the moment, but I realize that we have been indoors all winter and have little “projects” to finish up before the nice weather pulls us outside. 
Oh the teaspoons- that is a mystery.  They will probably turn up in some odd place once the replacements arrive ????.  The view is beautiful from that porch. Amazing that it wouldn’t be a place of priority. 
Blessings to you both Donna. 

Also, Margaret. That would sure be difficult. My hubby has “stacks” but would be glad if someone picked up after him.  When it gets bad, I ask him if he can take care of it, or sometimes just suggest can X go (in the trash or wherever it belongs).  Hugs dear. 

17 posts
Mon Apr 01, 24 11:23 AM CST

My husband has a tendency to "collect" things, but thankfully I have trained him not to bring home items for me, as a general rule. There are a few exceptions like garden pots or useful tools.

Living in a tiny home as a family of 6 has certainly made me very careful about what I allow into my home. It is small enough without adding clutter to it. I feel keeping the clutter out and only buying what we need is one of my strengths, I am lucky like that, though it is a skill I had to learn as I love vintage items and op-shopping. I always keep a bag on the go for quality items to donate as the children grow or for when we are given hand-me-downs surplus to our needs.  When I come across these things, I simply pop them straight in the bag and when it's full my husband takes it to the charity shop for donation. I still need to deeply declutter spaces periodically, but this habit keeps me on top of the bulk of it.  

My grandmother had stuff packed to the roof, much of it was beautiful, good-quality items she bought. But so much of it was never used. But the main areas of her home were always lovely, clean and tidy. I remember my parents had to clean it out and the stress it brought them. But now they live in a huge house and though it looks very clean and tidy, every cupboard in every room is packed full of stuff, including the huge built-in linen/storage cupboards running down the hall and their big farm shed. I dread when the time comes for them to downsize.  

I'm glad you got to stay in your tiny house again, it must feel so lovely to get away. I like Little House On The Mountain too, they seem like a really sweet couple. xx

12 posts
Thu Apr 04, 24 6:27 AM CST

I think I sort, clear and clean all the time. I am a systematic, but I think it "sands" by time, super annoying.

My husband loves to shop and collect and has a lot of things too, but I have taught him to ask himself too questions before buying:

"Do you REALLY need it?" - most often the answer is NO!

"And if so, where will you place it?" - if he cannot place it, the answer is also NO!

It has helped both of us a lot. I've come to the point in my life realizing that I hardly need anything, and in fact it feels good.

I keep track of my spending and clothing going in and out via a notebook, and the goal every year is to spend less, which I do, and also that more has to come out than in - which I also do. I am quite proud of myself, because I am not a minimalist and will never be.

I LOVE your posts, Donna. ?

1 posts
Mon Apr 22, 24 4:08 AM CST
Helper G wrote:

If you would like to share your comments for article Clean the Clutter, this is where to do it! 

Click the Reply To This Topic button below to post yours.

yes you are right

19 posts
Wed Apr 24, 24 3:16 PM CST

Hi Donna! 

I know how daunting it is trying to sort through other people's clutter....it's hard enough to sort through our own! With remodeling taking place at our house now,  we have construction supplies everywhere so normal everyday clutter seems even more clutter like.  I have decided to take a small grocery bag and fill it with trash at least once a day.  Yesterday I went through a spice cabinet.... how many containers of cumin must one family have?? Today I might go through the fridge. When things feel overwhelming I usually start this bag trick.  For outside work,I take a feed bag to fill.  That helped when we first moved here and the outside was so trashed from the previous renters. It's amazing how much can get done if we work even one bag at a time.  Before we know it, there is nothing left to throw out. Then we move on to organizing one small space at a time. Or donating one small bag at a time of good but not needed stuff.  Just a little at a time.  With a new baby in the house, a little at a time is how I get just about anything done anymore!

I absolutely love the view at Madges house! That would probably be my favorite room in the house! Imagine a cup of tea and your study material set out to be devoured.... seems like a very inspirational room. Please make sure you and Charles aren't over working yourselves!

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