Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Joys of De-Junking

I know I talked about seasons and spring a couple of weeks ago, but bear with me while I wax enthusiastic about another wonderful thing about spring in our town: Spring Clean Up Day. At least that's the community's name for it, but it's commonly referred to as Junk Day. And I love it!

One day a year residents have permission to haul our crap out to the curb and have it picked up for free. There are parameters, of course. No large appliances, computers, TVs, tires, or hazardous waste. But it really isn't about what's allowed or disallowed. I get giddy at the opportunity to de-junk the house. A family of seven accumulates an obscene amount of stuff. Raising five kids ensures that most of it is junk by the time they leave home :) Spring cleanup provides motivation to clear more of it out of the house.

My husband needs plenty of motivation :)

In many ways, we're polar opposites. I'm a thrower, he's a stuffer. Drawers, containers, entire rooms...no space is safe from him. I blame it on his farm background. I swear he'd be perfectly content to live in a nice machine shed, one corner outfitted with a recliner, TV, table and frig. Spare parts, sheet metal, scraps of lumber, random nuts and bolts are all stored handil
y nearby. What more could the guy want?

His wife, however--ahem--likes order. I'm partial to nice things. Things that don't make me cringe even to have them sitting on the curb, lest people realize we actually had them in our house.

Many years when this day rolls around my husband is in the field and I happily haul stuff out without consulting him. He has yet to miss anything that has 'disappeared' when he wasn't here. This year, however, he was present and it was a battle to get him to part with anything. Everything had a possible purpose: we could use this in the garage for storage! (the fact that we haven't for the last dozen years doesn't faze him). Or, 'I use that sheet of plywood to cut spare pieces of wood from.'

This year's pile included old carpet; the old screen door; a pile of rocks (don't ask me why he had rocks stored in a room in the basement--his reasoning escapes me); an old humidifier; two old mattresses; a TV that doesn't work; a metal filing cabinet; some broken toys; and several boxes of random junk that would have been tossed long ago had I realized he still had it around.

There are two stages to Clean Up Day: the day items actually get picked up by the trash men and the preceding days filled with 'junkers'. Prior to pick up day, people can (and do) drive around town and paw through other people's discards, taking anything they want. It's not unusual to have someone come to the door to ask questions about the junk: "Does that TV work?" or "Do you have any 8-tracks for that stereo?" (Sadly, we do. And they didn't make it to the curb this year either.)

It gets to be sort of a game to see what people will pick up. When they were little, my kids would stand in front of the front window peeking out, watching the junkers look for treasure. "They're taking the broken fan!" they'd yell with equal parts excitement and wonder. We're still thrilled to death that people can salvage things we can no longer use. The less that goes to the land fill, the better for all of us.

Does your town have a Clean Up Day? Do you have anyone in your household you have to battle with before discarding anything? If you could get away with tossing out one item from your house (and not get caught!) what would it be?


Betina said...

Kylie, I confess I'd love to get rid of my father's old tool chest (the rolling mechanic's kind) in my garage. It's starting to rust, takes up space, and isn't very useful. But it was my dad's and now that he's gone. . .

The same probably goes for half the stuff in the garage! I keep thinking I'll find a use for that flower pot or that wallpaper kid or that box of miscellaneous car accessories. (Do we really need a mini-fridge for the danged car?)

Hmmmm. . . wish we had a toss-out day!

Kathryn Magendie said...

GMR keeps every little scrap of paper - some days I want to go into this one drawer and dump all the contents in the trash without even looking at them - OH JOY! OH DELICIOUS ABANDON! - laughing -

There is a French Broad clean up they had recently . . . it's amazing the junk that comes out of that beautiful river.

KylieBrant said...

Re-reading my post, I feel compelled to point out that the pics I posted were NOT from the curb in front of my house, LOL! It's not quite that bad.

Betina, yes, that would be a struggle. I'm a thrower, but I'm also a sentimental slob. I still have the wooden tulips the twins painted for Mother's Day when they were in kdg. The clay pots the kids made in art. Even the Christmas creche that the older boys made out of popsicle sticks in Cub Scouts. I don't display them anymore but I can't bear to part with them either!

Kathryn, someone does a clean up of the Mississippi every year. He's even got a barge donated to haul the stuff away. It's sad to discover old cars and appliances discarded in the river. What are people thinking?

Cindy Gerard said...

Kylie - the man of my house is the hoarder, too. I just don't get it. I make several pilgrimages a year to Good Will with the 'stuff' that accumulates that I know we'll never use - like the size XXL shirts from Mike's Excavation that MIKE gave the DH (who's a medium) and that the DH will never wear but because MIKE gave them to him, he must keep them. What is up with that? And Mike's XXL shirts are only the tip of the iceberg.
We don't have an annual 'junk day' here but thanks to our recent remodel, we had to rent those huge trash containers - the ones that the garbage truck has to pick up with their big forks and major hydraulics and I took advantage of the dumpsters and tossed in everything I could find that hadn't been used around here for a while. What a happy, cleansing experience!!

KylieBrant said...

Cindy, LOL on the shirts. Bet if they landed in the dumpster he'd never notice because he doesn't use them anyway!

A friend of mine said she told her husband (who was protesting about her giving away his old jeans) that if he wanted to keep them he had to try them on. Anything he could button he could keep. I laughed and told her I was afraid my husband would tell me the same thing!

Leanne said...

We don't have a clean-up day. I would love to have one though. I need EVERY excuse I can find to get rid of junk. For me, the worst is paper. GREAT topic! And good for you getting rid of some of your junk! Doesn't it feel GREAT!:)

Michele Hauf said...

You make cleaning out the junk sound like such an adventure! And the thrill of watching scavengers go through your junk!

My hubby is the hoarder, and he's actually quit watching HOARDERS with me (maybe because I always give him the evil eye). We don't have a junker day, but I've been known to put out an old chair/dresser/table/whathaveyou on the curb in front of our house, and it always gets taken. Sometimes within half an hour. I suspect there is a house in our neighborhood completely furnished with our junk. :-)

It's a satisfying feeling, though, when someone else can get good use out of something you no longer value.

Judi said...

I wish our town had a Junk Day. Although, I would be the one I have to battle with to throw stuff. Like your hubby, "I might be able to use that some day." Unfortunately, when I've finally thrown something out, I find a use for it later. Which only reinforces my squirrelling behavior.

KylieBrant said...

Leanne, paper is another weakness for my dh! When I'm gone, not a piece of junk mail or newspaper gets discarded. And yes, I get a real thrill out of hauling stuff out of my house. My husband wanted to buy a cheap end table for the basement. My new mantra is, "I'm only hauling junk OUT of this house and I'm not bringing any more into it!"

Judi, I'm not going to lie...there have been times when I could have used something I threw out earlier. But more regularly by the time I get around to using it, it's out of date or doesn't have all the functions I want/need.

I recently got rid of my electric frying pan because the kids got me a new one. Nothing wrong with it...it was just over thirty years old and looked like it'd been through a war. But those sorts of things I take to Good Will.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Kylie! It's a good thing you clarified that those photos weren't from your house!! LOL I was looking at that pile and thinking, my GOD!

We do have a clean up day in our town, only it's not quite as colorful a happening as yours. (Sounds like fun!) We have to haul everything to the city collection area (not fun). But they'll take TVs and computer, et al, for a small charge.

DH and I both have a little bit of the hoarder in us, but we don't disagree much about what needs to go. I'm DYING to go thru my house room by room, but I just don't have the time. So I've been doing a drawer or shelf here or there. That seems to be working!

Christie Ridgway said...

We don't have a Junk Day. Love the idea! I think I've told before on Surfer Guy. One of our neighbor's owns a laundromat and he was throwing away those hot/cold water connection hoses--a huge bundle of them. Surfer Guy brought them home. Once he used one for something and was quite triumphant about it. I think we still have about 50 more in the garage. ::sigh::

KylieBrant said...

Michele, I wonder if my kids see the irony of junk day--once they got into college, moving day at the end of the year used to be the prime opportunity for new furnishings in their apartments! Ewwww. Maybe your neighbors have kids at college they're supplying, lol!

Helen, LOL, I belatedly started worrying that people would think that and wonder how in gawd we live like that, LOL! Although when the kids were home, it felt like that sometimes, once they and their friends finished trashing our belongings.

Christie, sympathy on the hose lengths. I found a couple coils of hose/cable or something and we couldn't put them on the curb because 'they're worth money.' Ummm...not to me....

catslady said...

Unfortunately, I'm the pack rat and my husband sneaks things of mine in the garbage (sigh).

KylieBrant said...

Catslady, just wondering--do you miss the things he sneaks out?

Carol L. said...

Hi Kylie,
lol lol I too thought it was your curb we were looking at. lol
I sure wish we had a Junk day here in my town.We do have a clean up week where you see everyone riding around looking at other people's garbage and hauling it away.
I used to keep so many things for sentimental reasons and having had 7 kids who are now grown I had a hard time dealing with the memories. But I got wise and gave all 6 (the youngest is still home)
of them all their mementos to store in their own houses. :) Now I'm clutter free.
Carol L.

catslady said...

Yes as far as knowing he's done it and some days I sneak them back in if I know ahead of time and I will admit once in a while it's okay - I think the fact that he does it without my permission is what gets to me the most. Many times if he says something first I will think about it and comply but not always lol.