A Keeper of Things

The above Clutter cartoon found via Bing! Images
Many, many years ago (when I was a silly teenager) I often teased my Dad about his massive collection of STUFF. In hindsight – who did I think I was - making fun of anyone? To put my teenage years in perspective…think George Michael posters, peg-rolled frosted jeans, enormous bangs & braces on my teeth. But I digress. I teased him because he saved everything - and I do mean everything! If you walked into his barn or his little workshop, you would be greeted with towering stacks of boxes and crates and chunks of wood. His tool bench always seemed orderly, but it was surrounded by a steadily evolving halo of chaos. For some reason this irked me.

“Why do you save all this junk” teenage Me would ask.
“It’s not junk, Young Lady.” He would patiently reply. “I have plans for all of it.”
“But how will you ever find anything when you need it?” I would whine.
His patient, but firm reply would be, “I know where everything is. I have plans for ALL of it.”

Fast-forward twenty years, and that conversation could just as easily be reversed if my Dad took a peek into my craft room. You see, I too have become one of those folks who keeps everything (especially of the craft and sewing supply variety).
He might, for example, hold up a box of mis-matched bits of colorful cloth and ask, “Why don’t you throw this junky old fabric away?”
“That fabric is vintage feed sack material. It’s not junk, and I will use it in a quilt.”
“What about these canvases, or these bags of felt, or this jar of buttons, or this dresser full of fabric?” He might go on and on, and I’d probably be defensive by this point.
“I have plans for ALL of it!” I’d cry.

And I do. I have more projects in my head (and corresponding supplies in my craft room) than I will probably ever have time for. And yet…I keep looking for more.

This past weekend we went to a big flea market. I have been on the lookout for green corduroy (I want to make a stuffed dinosaur for Little Guy for Christmas), and found a good quality twin size bedspread in green corduroy (circa 1970s) for just $1.00! Woo Hoo! And imagine my excitement when I found an orange one right next to it, also for $1.00. Yowza! Did I plan to buy orange corduroy? No. Do I have a plan for this new orange fabric? Well, I didn’t until I saw it hanging there on that lonely hanger. My mind began to race, and now I have several ideas for what I’ll use it for…someday. So, into the stacks it goes.

My keeping things is really the product of another trait that I also share with my Dad: We like to save money. Call us cheap or frugal – we are always interested in finding a bargain. It’s this need to pinch pennies, that sends us scurrying to garage sales and flea markets before ever looking for things we “need” in retail stores. It’s the feeling that we can’t pass up a great deal, even if we have piles of other great deals at home, just waiting to be addressed.

Regarding that halo of chaos that I once poked fun at my Dad for: I have tried to keep my own disaster area (craft room) in check. I get it now. I understand that there can be order in disorder (well, to some extent anyway – Hoarders scares me).  But I also know that a little chaos is okay.  You just have to know your limit.  (I know mine, by the way.  I just haven't reached it yet!!)

Now, when I poke my head into my Dad’s cluttered workshop the conversation will go something like this:

“Oooh, what’s this one for?” I ask as I pick up a strangely shaped item.
“It’s going to be a birdhouse, I think.”
“What about this old medicine chest?” I ask, pointing.
“I’m going to restore it.” He answers.
“Nice! How about these tiles?” I stroke the dust off the stack and he eyes me suspiciously. “You don’t really plan to use these for anything do you?” I ask, sending him the little girl puppy-dog eyes, “Because I think I could…”
“Don’t even think about it, Young Lady! I have plans for everything you see! Don’t you have some stuff of your own to go through?”

And I’ll laugh and nod… because I certainly do.


  1. Ah George Michael - I still think I could turn him back!! I think we sadly all turn into our parents. xxx

  2. You can't beat having loads of 'stuff'! My friends and family tease me about my collection but I am the first one they ask when they are looking for anything unusual! How can you live without 'Stuff'?



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