Monday, August 30, 2010

Scraping the House

Photo courtesy Flickr

I learned this phrase from one of the first housekeeping men I knew, an old friend rediscovered after he had married and fathered two toddlers. I called one morning, and that’s what Lane said he was doing.

It’s hard to better the concept, and I spent the past week-end doing just that in anticipation of a family visit. I keep the place near fighting trim most of the time, and since this is currently a toddler-free zone, there’s actually little scraping to be done. Inventory can always stand a baleful inspection, though.

Oprah Winfrey recently rebroadcast an epic assault on a hoarder’s accumulation (see August 12), and the show brought home a basic point: manage inventory so that furnishings can present themselves at their best. I’ve been itching to downsize in place, and even a couple of fine old favorites had made their way onto my hit list. Two days’ subtracting obsolete electronics, redundant tools and supplies, frozen projects, and unused gear freed the interior so that the good things can shine.

Early in my independent life, I mumbled about inventory to a musician, showing him linens that had been spun and woven by her aunts for my great-grandmother’s trousseau. I said something about their having been too good to use all these years, and Fred countered that they were too good to hide. Indeed, they are too good to hide. They are also far too good to misuse and illustrate the difference between valuable and precious.

A wise high school teacher toured my first house, a seven hundred square foot cottage, and advised me to leave room for people. Ever since, I have found repeatedly that when things overwhelm active space, morale and health go to hell.

Futurist Buckminster Fuller published a book entitled I Seem to be a Verb. Fuller’s point of view is one of the pillars of Now, and I find that making sure I have more verbs in my life than nouns is the key to happiness and productivity.

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