Monday, 29 April 2013

Mountain Moving

I spent the last two days sorting out all the accumulated garden chaos left to fend for itself through the winter.

One of the wormeries had a blocked outlet – which means no surviving worms and silage not compost.  The silage had to be rehoused to rot down, and the wormery scrubbed thoroughtly, and the outlet ingeniously unblocked with a twig.

The two big plastic boxes (originally Uttlesford Council recycling boxes that my beautiful mama’s zealous removal firm relocated to Sussex with her by mistake) had been housing compost now wanted to sprinkle over grass seed to stop it drying out, then they needed scrubbing down to await future designation.  The flower-pot stack that grows all by itself needed sorting.

The main wormery was ready to have the trays shuffled, the bottom one now being ready for emptying and scrubbing down.  

We relocated a water butt and brought up the (homemade from gash timber) bench from down by the shed up to the play area we decided to make by the house.  A new grand-baby will be with us in two months, and the idea is that Buzzfloyd will have a cool, shady room looking down the garden where she can sit with her feet up and where Sardine can be put to sleep, while the Wretched Wretch can be kept occupied with a sandpit (on order as of yesterday) in the newly constructed play area outside. 

The play area is to be created in the little yard just behind the house, next to the log store.  I’d dug over the earth there ready to make a veggie bed, but it occurred to me it is just the right place, exactly adjacent to the house there, sheltered from view and from the worst of the wind, for a play space.  Also, when my beautiful mama gets too old to live alone, the room that opens on to that bit of garden will be her roost – and something tells me she’d prefer a view of grass and flowers than of water butts and stacked flower pots and Uttlesford Council recycling boxes and whatnot.

So a lot of digging, raking, seeding, sweeping, tidying, chucking and ferrying to and fro went on.

The compost that had the evil vine weevils in had to be hoofed out and the pots scrubbed and filled with new compost, freshly made from last year’s kitchen scraps now rich and fertile in the Ageing Compost bin.  I’ve no money for plants just now, but I dug up a big clump of pot marjoram flourishing in the latterly ex-herb garden, now ex-veggie garden, soon to be play area, and that looks very nice in the pot.

When the grass comes through and it’s all looking pretty, I’ll take a photo to show you.

But while I was ferrying and sorting and chucking, it did concentrate my mind on householding – the ebb and flow of accumulation.

Then this morning over breakfast Hebe and I watched a few minutes of Fake Britain on the telly (before it got too depressing and we turned it off).  It’s about consumers who are ripped off by fakes.  This morning had stories about fake watches, fake Viagra and fake puppies.

The watches and the puppies were real (I don’t know what was in the ‘Viagra’ pills!!), but they weren’t what the purchasers had been led to believe.  They thought they had fabulous designer watches, for which they were prepared to part with (hold onto your hat!) £4,000 – that’s U.S. $6,200, whereas in fact they had normal watches that just looked like the special ones, in copy boxes and with cleverly faked certificates.  I must say, if the watches worked, the problem with what they had escaped me, but never mind that.  Meanwhile the puppies were not super-duper pedigree puppies, just regular puppies smuggled in from Lithuania.

And it occurred to me that preoccupation with image (why else would you want a £4,000 watch?) made one very vulnerable to being duped.

And we saw the policemen tipping box after box of these fake commodities out to be trashed.

And the whole thing made me thing about stuff – stuff we acquire, stuff we have to clean and organise and get rid of, lock our houses to keep it safe – buy bigger houses even, just to store it all. 

Hebe and I talked about that for a while, and she remarked on how consuming of time and energy it is to dispose of unwanted stuff responsibly.

For example – say you have a good quality winter coat you no longer want.  You decide to sell it on eBay.  You have to get it all cleaned up and spiffy, then photograph it from multiple angles in a good light against a white background, photo-shop the pics so they represent its exact appearance, upload them, measure it, write a good description including all the measurements, then list it.  Then wait a week for the auction, meanwhile answering all the questions of people who haven’t bothered to read what you wrote about it.  Then it sells for a pittance, but you still have to create a nice receipt, pack it up, take it to the post office (where the mailing cost is more than you thought and uses up most of what you sold it for), then wait some more to track it and check it arrives okay.  Then remember to keep some money aside to pay the listing fee.  Criminy!  All to get rid of one coat!!

And I thought – stuff, it’s like a great big mountain you have to climb, and it’s as hard coming down as it is going up.  Like this:

“Problems arise when things accumulate” (Toinette Lippe). 


They do.


Rebecca said...

Sounds like a lot of hustle and bustle there! I'd REALLY like to see a picture of your yard/garden/play area, etc.

And yes, I subscribe to the notions that "preoccupation with image makes one...vulnerable to being duped" and that "problems arise when things accumulate".

Hebe is right about the time and effort required to declutter responsibly. Sometimes I'm SO tempted to just put it in a heap and set a match to it, but something stops me.....

Pilgrim said...

CONGRATULATIONS on the new grandchild!

Ember said...

Hi Rebecca - yes, I know that 'set a match to it' feeling!

I remember when our children were little, we went away to a Christian conference, where accommodation was in compact chalets. Apart from the 3 bedrooms and a bathroom, there was a room with two sofas, a telly, a dining table with chairs, and a small kitchen area with a fridge and cooker. There were very few kitchen cupboards, so just a basic set of implements, cooking pots and crockery. And I remember thinking, 'But here we have everything we need. Why have we got all that stuff at home? Why don't we live like this? Nowadays, I more or less do.

Hi Pilgrim - thank you! :0)

Hawthorne said...

Hi Ember *waves* Yes, I'm with Hebe on this, as one new to Ebay selling. I'm quite happy to sort what I want to keep and not keep, but then the 'not keep' pile has to be sorted into recycling, giving away, selling, and taking to the dump. Then each of THOSE categories requires effort too. I am totally opposed to the 'just chuck it all in the bin/skip' attitude, but I can understand why they think that way. If only someone else would all the responsible sorting out once I've made the decisions! ;-)

Ember said...

I think it's quite good for us too, in that it surely makes us think harder about letting things accumulate again. x

Paula said...

Here in Worthington, Ohio, we just celebrated "Precycle Day." Once a year, we put out things we want to keep out of the landfill and make available to other people. It has been a Godsend. The only thing that didn't get taken was a collection of my daughter's pharmacy school smocks. People put out all sorts of things, including things you wouldn't think anyone would want. I don't know how much stuff stays out of the landfill this way, but it feels great to help others and yourself as well. We also have trashpickers come regularly into our neighborhood on trash day. The world will always need gleaners.

Ember said...

Hi Paula - I think this designated day for putting stuff out is an excellent idea. I read about it in the Tightwad Gazette - we don't have anything like that here. Sometimes if people have a bulky item (I have done this with a bed and also a table) they put it prominently displayed and easily accessible on the front of their property with a sign saying something like FREE TO TAKE AWAY, and of course we have Freecycle and Freegle - but there is no Craig's list in England, and no special day like you describe.

Anna said...

I love the mountain graphic. In my current situation, it feels more like Sisyphus!

Ember said...



Anonymous said...

I've kept ontop of decluttering for the last couple of years in my house but not in my workroom. Lots of really kind people gave me 'stuff' because I 'could use it' and I've ended up with a room that I couldn't go into because there was so much 'stuff' in it. I was praying with a friend at our weekly get together for lunch, bible study and prayer and God said declutter the workroom. Sooo...for the past 3 weeks I have pulled everything out and have already sent things off to the charity shop. I have 2 huge black bin bags to go with odments of fabric in for ragging and I have loads more stuff to go on Wednesday.

It's wonderful how much lighter I feel. The charity shop gets to turn my stress into funds to help them and my creativity is coming back. That's a win/win in my book :-D

Ember said...

Well done! That must have involved some hard decisions, because indeed you never know when materials will come in useful for craft projects, and when money is tight it feels scary to chuck stuff out. xx

Anonymous said...

It was hard to start however I've found it was easy to do. Well, easy in terms of deciding what to get rid of but it's a HUGE job! lol There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I have a 2 metre long table full of stuff to sort through but the bulk of it is done. Most things have gone to the charity shop. The house needs a major clean (anyone want to help?! lol)I have to move the boxes in my bedroom back to the workroom when I have hoovered and dusted. I'm taking down the curtains and unpicking the sari fabric I sewed onto them and going back to the original cream.

Then there is work to do :-D

Ember said...

Hoorah! Send me pictures when it's all done! x