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Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Packrattiness January 25, 2011

Filed under: Do-It-Yourself,Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 8:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

What is optimal packrattiness?

How much should we keep ‘just in case,’ like farmers and ranchers do, old rolls of barbed wire and bits of cloth and car parts and bread twisty-ties that might indeed come in handy some day? And how much is just junk, unnecessarily sucking up our life-energy with the need to dust and organize and find again in the piles? Then if we can manage to get it out of our immediate space, what to do with it – get rid of it altogether (thus virtually ensuring the need for it the very next day) or store it interminably? I’m haunted by the words of simplification guru Brooks Palmer, who calls storage rentals “clutter alimony.”

Well, I want to report that I feel inordinately pleased with my level of packrattiness this week. And it’s led to a tip that might come in handy for you too.

I’ve been cleaning house. My downfall is books. I took out 10 full boxes from my 470-sq-ft cottage; can you believe it?! I look at the shelves and the weird thing is, they are still full. So where had those 10 boxes full been???

Some things are hard to let go of. For example, the hat that I wore while traveling in Bali and then hand-carried on the planes and buses and shuttles and by foot all the way home. It’s very cool – triangular in shape, cleverly made of several layers of perfectly cut palm thatch, edged with spiral wire, and lavishly painted with Balinese deities.  And I’ve had it for ten years, rarely wearing it because let’s face it, how often does one work in rice paddies in northern California? But it is too beat up to donate, and how can one throw such a thing away?

Well, I was about to. This week.  In fact, I even got it into the outside garbage can.

Then inspiration struck. I hauled it back out again: I knew what to use it for.

My intention was for the hat to protect the birdseed from getting wet and soggy when it rains, as the existing feeder’s roof is woefully inadequate for that task. The Balinese topper also seems to have the nice unintended side effect of preventing easy squirrel access.

It was hard to let the hat go. I found it far more satisfying to find a new use for it, even one that involved taking a knife to it and further, virtually ensures its gradual decay. But that’s better than unceremoniously dumping it into the trash. It seemed insulting to throw it out. Now it will have a noble death in the service of its intended purpose, albeit for birds instead of people. I doubt the fronds will care which species it serves.

So this is my new packrattitude:  either (1) give the stuff you’re not using to someone who will, or (2) keep it till you can think of some weird new use for it, then let it go to that.

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8 Responses to “Packrattiness”

  1. Genny Says:

    I am blessed, or cursed, with plenty of storage in my garage. The garage is very spacious … but could flood this year, or next decade, or who knows when? Packrat beware … store all you like, but at peril of losing it all!

    There are some things that are identifiably junk and others that you know, just know, you will find a use for. It is so well-made that if you can’t find a use for it, better to donate it to the thrift store than to chuck it. I’ve hung on to a few of those things for quite a while … but others are headed for the thrift store, the cat toy that neither of the cats wants to play with, the stockings I used to wear in the city decades ago. I know the stockings would make lovely stuffing for toy stuffed animals, but am I seriously going to make any, anytime soon? Let someone else have a crack at it.

    What I’ll keep is everything for these hooked rugs I haven’t worked on in years. Do I seriously think I’ll finish them? Yeah, I’m a hooker.

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Genny: Yes! You speak the truth. I lost a lot of stored possessions a few years back, again mostly books, when my small shed’s roof caved in from too much snow.

      My most recently culled books got donated to the thrift shop – Hospice Thrift in Sebastopol, to be specific, so if you are looking… 🙂

      It’s really satisfying to get those old projects out in front of you where you get excited about them again. Your interminable hooked rugs sound most worthy. One thing I excavated is a pink mini-accordion. I’ve got it by the bed now, where I can pull it out and squawk at random moments.

      • Tina Fields Says:

        Some of you might not consider the rebirth of the mini-accordion a good thing… but hey, I have no shared walls. And sound is cheaper than ratcatchers. I will consider hiring out for this purpose upon request, until I learn to play it.

  2. Kevin G. Says:

    Nice hat indeed!

  3. Tim Says:

    Ah Bali….

    I have a storage locker just a mile from your house. I intend to empty it next month and once again engage in massive divestment. Anyone around Sebastopol seeking stuff is now on notice.

    On that other issue, we will talk later . . .

  4. Tina Fields Says:

    Just got this article about re-use of unwanted stuff, but this time by a consortium of corporations! Very kewl.

    PSFK » H&M Turns Unsold Collaboration Pieces Into New Line
    http://www.psfk.com/2011/01/hm-turns-unsold-collaboration-pieces-into-new-line.html

  5. Orlandi Says:

    Well, I wouldn’t determine if that is going to work for myself, nevertheless undoubtedly worked well for you! Exceptional post!

  6. tgail67@yahoo.com Says:

    I LOVE your hat over the feeder. See, if it is unusual, it has a purpose and you found one in many for a beautiful shaped Chinese hat.


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