Sunday, April 16, 2017

Burying Your Books

By Sandy Wright

In addition to the thorough spring-cleaning of our home of 20 years, I'm also attempting to pare down and de-clutter. It's a daunting task, so I'm concentrating on only three clutter categories:

1.     Books
     This is the hardest category for me because I absolutely love books. But I don't like to re-read them, with a few notable exceptions, like the Harry Potter series. So why keep them all?
     To give up my cherished friends, I had to shift my mindset from eliminating to sharing. In that new mindset, I was able to take four boxes of books to the used bookstores in town. The move also prompted me to fill out paperwork and apply to have my own book, Song of the Ancients, accepted at Changing Hands.

Now, this chore has become fun! I selected a few old books to re-purpose. I plan to "plant" them in my poison garden at our cabin, when I plant it this summer. 

This book, an old Atlas of the Worlds, I acquired from La Posada hotel in their "leave a book, take a book" shelves. I left a copy of my own novel in exchange, plus a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

I stole the books in the poison garden idea from Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants. In her NY Times interview, she talked about her own poison garden. The books there are half-buried, or nailed to shelves so their pages turn in the breeze. Autopsy for an Empire, with its dried-blood-colored jacket, is planted beside the hellebore, which the Greeks used to poison the water of their enemies.

"I wanted the sense that the book I'm writing is coming out of the ground," she explained. I loved that image.
Back in the upstairs library, I've grouped my "To Read" books together—they take up an entire bookcase! I've myself I can only buy bring in a new book if I read and release one from my shelf.

1.     Papers.  We've filled the shredder a dozen times with old tax files, receipts, out-of-date instruction pamphlets, appliance warranties, greeting cards.  I also sorted through our photographs and eliminated the duplicates, unflattering or boring shots. There were so many! Paul plans to scan many more, but I won't hold my breath.

2.     Clothes. Another really tough chore. But now it's done. The boxes and bags are neatly stacked and labeled by donation site in the garage. One whole closet of my good work suits for a charity that specializes in outfitting women for job interviews. A stack of boxes for The Clothes House, which gives clothes to the homeless, and also launders their clothes for free, so they won't just be tossed when soiled. Another charity that has a free store for families who live in my part of Chandler.

Once those boxes and bags are gone—it'll take me about another week to make the deliveries—we will have 1 ½ bays of our garage open. Wow! We'll have room to park a car! Oh, and to store the half-dozen additional boxes of more expensive things, like crystal and collectibles we've inherited from both sets of parents, but that our sons have said they don't want.

So, the cleaning and decluttering saga is progressing, but not finished.


Maureen said...

I never heard of a poison garden. I'd love to see some pics once you have your books there- what a neat idea. I love de-cluttering- but it, and cleaning, is a never ending task. Good luck with that :)

Diane Burton said...

Never heard of a poison garden, either. Ditto what Maureen said. Four years ago, we had to declutter because we were moving. Books went to our local library for their used book sale. I'm sure those books will find a good home. I eliminated all but the most precious books, like ones my grandmother gave me when I was a girl, books for the grandchildren, ones on writing, and large picture books (coffee table type). I do reread books, but I can find them as ebooks if I really want to reread them. Good luck with the decluttering. What a chore.

CJ Burright said...

I love the feeling of accomplishment after decluttering! I'm working on organization this year, and I actually don't mind going into my closet now. :) My books are a completely different story!

Nancy Gideon said...

Good for you! The only time I really purge is when I move, about every 10 years or so. But then its almost everything goes. Amazing how detached you become when you have to carry them up or down three flights of stairs!

Victoria Craven said...

My husband and I did this last year and plan on doing it again this year. Same as you the books were the hardest to get rid of especially my husband, he is a veracious reader, but we ended up giving lots of books to charity. After we were done we felt a great burden lifted off our shoulders. Uncluttered, helped free up my mind. Instead of thinking about the job I had to do, I could focus on other things.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

I wish I had as much spring cleaning done as you, Sandy! Good job!