wings and things

Best laid plans

on March 17, 2015

It has been another extraordinary couple of days with Dina, my decluttering/organising friend.

Yesterday morning we tackled the wash house. For those who don’t know, in Australia, people used to have separate-from-the-house facilities for washing clothes, and out-houses for toilet matters. To my knowledge there was never an actual out-house here but the wash house is and I have never had a problem with going out the back door and into the wash house to do the washing. What I have had a problem with, though, is that this wash house’s washing machine has had to share its space with cupboards FULL of junk miscellaneous tools, ancient bottles of cleaning fluids, pesticides, methylated spirits, even old photos and jewellery, old boxes of shoe polish and brushes, funny little tins full of buttons, a multitude of rusty nails, screws, AND the enormous mess made by animal life attracted to the water I guess – lizards, goannas, rats possums, wild cats who tend to have their babies on the roof of the wash house, visiting snakes (possibly), and several years of dead leaves blown in daily because of course there is no door. After all, it’s a wash house! I am beginning to wonder if I am the only person in the world to still think this is a normal arrangement!

Anyway, in less than two hours, Dina and I cleared the cupboards, brushed all the cobwebs out, swept the leaves out and categorised things. Tools went into one box, rubbish into another, stuff for the Ming to decide about into another and we were done!

In retrospect, I am a bit embarrassed that while Dina did most of the dirty work of de-cobwebbing and brushing the walls, I mulled over objects like old hammers and wrestled with what was rubbish and what might NOT be rubbish. But in the end we sorted the stuff and put back the useful stuff and I was able to decide between rubbish and garage sale categories very quickly.

Dina has been sending me summaries, with before-and-after photos, every week, and I have become rather addicted to reading these because of how wonderful the ‘after’ photos are! To have made so much progress so quickly in decluttering and organising this house has been a mixture of exhilarating and exhausting but not once have I shed a tear of nostalgia; instead, I am rejoicing because finally, after three years of sorrow, this house is becoming the comfortable, orderly home it always was. AND for the first time for so long, I know where everything is!

This morning (and that’s where the best-laid-plans theme comes in), Dina and I met at the nursing home at 10am with the intention of sorting all of the hundreds of photos out. A couple of situations came up that prevented us from doing this in the planned time frame but we still managed to sort photos into labelled envelopes (‘family history’; photos Ants might be interested in – old cars, dogs, cows; my own family photos of childhood; and the Ming.) The latter subject – an over-photographed little prince from 1994 to high school – have been kept in photo albums in one of Anthony’s top cupboards to scan and turn into photo books at a later date. I took these photo albums into the nursing home a few weeks ago with that purpose in mind but also to remind Ants and it has been great looking through them from time to time.

It is several weeks now since I first discovered Dina’s service and it is probably the best decision I have made for the past three difficult years to solicit her advice and help. She does this magic trick of holding various things in her hands and asking me, “What do you want to do with these things?” And she always has boxes ready for the various categories – absolutely brilliant!

Thanks again, Dina. The space you have helped me to create in this house and in my mind has helped me (and Ming too I think) to begin to live in the future and not in the past.

55 responses to “Best laid plans

  1. Lee says:

    So nice that things are coming together for you.

  2. Decluttering is deeply cathartic, I find. It’s one of the reasons I love moving house.

  3. Good on you and the progress you have made.
    I am surprised at you only having ‘hundreds of photos’ though.
    I am about to tackle mine and there are ‘hundreds of albums’!
    (Plus boxes and boxes). So it numbers into the thousands for sure.

  4. susanpoozan says:

    You must be so pleased with all the work you have done with the wonderful Dina to help. I do so admire you for having the courage to take the job on.

  5. Terry says:

    I swear you are the luckiest woman to have found Dina

  6. Dina sounds like a bonified God-send Julie! ❤
    Diana xo

  7. I love how you find such value in the de-cluttering and in the celebrating of your space.

  8. That’s a really good place to be… The past holds a lot of beautiful memories, but living for the future is now the place to be… Diane

  9. janeslog says:

    I know what a wash house is. Both my grandparents lived in houses with wash houses outside near the house. It was only for laundry as they had bathrooms in their houses.

    They were solid stone-built structures which many people adapted for use as a store room for garden tools and lawn mowers.

    I remember in one of the wash houses was an Acme wringer which sat in a corner but had never been used for years. The Acme wringer company was based in David Street in Glasgow’s Gallowgate but the wringers were sold in many countries including Australia and New Zealand.

    Owner Peter Burt was born in Glasgow in 1856, the son of an engineer. In 1881 he established his own business, The Acme Machine Company. Two special branches of the business developed – one for the manufacture of domestic laundry equipment and the other for the manufacture of internal combustion engines.

    Peter Burt was very much the Victorian inventor, inventing and manufacturing such things as washing machines, mangles, perambulators, stoves, mincing machines and even ice cream freezers, though it was the Acme clothes wringer that earned the company a deserved reputation. It was called “the wringer of the age”.

    Here is some info about the Acme wringer. If you have one, don’t throw it out as it is worth money.

    1881 The Acme Machine Co, 30 Bain Square, Glasgow GPOD Advertisment

  10. It must feel marvelous! I need to find a Dina!

  11. Sounds like your wash house was like my mother’s once was

  12. Dina is an excellent gift, I wish that I had had her when my mother-in-law was around if only to prod her into sifting through her hoarderish home, instead I inherited it and I did it on my own, it was exhausting as you well know lol.

  13. Judy says:

    I wish Dina lived in Los Angeles! She would have made a huge difference if I could have had her in my life. But so glad she’s helping you, Julie.

    • jmgoyder says:

      There are probably services like Dina’s over there?

      • Judy says:

        There are. But Dina sounds like a wonderful person. I’m thinking of how my father was a terrible hoarder and how hard it was to clear out my parents’ house after he died. 😦
        My son helped me and it took 10 dumpsters. I didn’t sort things too well – it was daunting and I probably tossed relevant things. But it would have taken years to sort out probably! I did have to downsize after my divorce, but managed that, too! It’s great when we can improve our life, for sure.

      • jmgoyder says:

        Having taken at least five truckloads of rubbish to the dump now I keep thinking what if I threw away gold or something REALLY valuable. Oh well!

      • Judy says:

        It must be human nature to wonder and that is the reason we resist. But wistful is better than “resistful!” (An attempt by a songwriter to rhyme).

  14. tootlepedal says:

    I hope that you get the photos sorted before too long.

  15. I wish I could show my dad this post why because many years ago Aunty Joyce’s laundry was down the back yard and she always referred to it as the wash house but when I mentioned this to dad he would go off and say what is a wash house no idea what you are talking about and the washing machine has always been in the bath room. it wasn’t she didn’t move it into the bath room till she got on in years and it was easier for her

  16. arlene says:

    Decluttering, not one of my favorites but is a welcome thing to do. Sometimes, we find long-forgotten treasures.

  17. bulldog says:

    I could do with someone like that for my garage… can hardly get the car in any more

  18. I find reading about YOUR process of decluttering and clearing very cathartic for ME. 🙂

  19. i am so happy to hear this is working the way it should for you. to have this done now will make the time ahead so much easier. i am sure “the ming” will agree it is of great benefit for you all.

    what you are doing is quite brave my friend and i admire you for forging ahead!


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