Tackling downsizing again

Almost five years ago now, we supposedly downsized from a two-story-plus-basement abode to a one-story-no-basement.

At the time, we got rid of some furniture including a hide-a-bed sofa, some lamps, a large antique glass-windowed bookshelf, an antique wind-up Victrola (1910 era) and several chairs. We did have to buy a couple of small end-tables and a dining room buffet.

The buffet purchase was necessary because we had built-in cabinets in our old dining room – no buffet. So we didn’t downsize much on furniture. BUT, we filled a large (10’x6’x5′) dumpster to overflowing. We also got rid of a snowblower, an extension ladder, a step ladder, a lawn mower and other assorted items.

Unfortunately, we did not downsize any clothes, nor various mementos we had accumulated from years of our overseas travels (e.g. 25 slide projector trays of slides), as well as photo albums of those travels and photo albums of family. I just couldn’t part with my various collections (stamps, coins, old and new postcards, the better parts of a canning jar collection, books, etc.) There were also my wife’s remnants of various craft projects and collections (needle point, knitting, cross-stitch, tea cups, music boxes, spoons, etc.)


Last week when one of the daughters was home, I thought it was time to tackle at least a little downsizing by trying to eliminate a few things. I hauled out boxes to the den floor and some smaller boxes to a table. Several smaller boxes consisted of lots of sewing stuff — aforementioned craft items and lots of cloth items.

There were at least six sets of cloth napkins including a set of linen napkins embroidered with a fancy “R” – inherited from my grandmother and a corresponding set of linen napkins embroidered with a fancy “H” from my wife’s grandmother.

I believe I remember using both sets of linen napkins about 35 years ago, but am pretty sure they have been in storage ever since. The other cloth napkins were more pedestrian and some of those we may have used until about 20 years ago. I have not yet found the silver napkin rings we had received for a wedding gift, but they are around somewhere as well as some other sets of napkin rings – those haven’t been used in 20 years either.

Uncountable were the many doilies that at one time appeared beneath table lamps, flower pots, on arms of stuffed chairs and on head rests of chairs, etc. Some doilies were lace, some hand knit, some crocheted, some embroidered. There were also wicker, knitted and metal trivets or hot mats for the serving table. There was a set of six lace placemats.

How about 10 or more table cloths made for card tables? Again some knit, some embroidered. Virtually all but the lace items would have to be washed, STARTCHED and IRONED.

Add in a goodly number of table runners and assorted center piece place mats Does anyone still use any of those kind of items that have to be STARTCHED and IRONED? We did not bring out the dining room, table-size table cloths that are currently carefully hung from hangars in a couple different closets. My wife’s mother always took a lace table cloth for the table when going picnicking – a very practical thing to do because the wind tends not to blow the lace tablecloth off the table – think about it! A good idea in windy southwestern Minnesota.


I left it to our daughter to clean out most of the sewing stuff. She did a thorough job but there was a reward. She found a small reddish stone about the size of, but irregular and thicker than a nickel. On the nickel had been painted in tiny print with white ink or paint: #1 bug. Of course there is a story to go with it.

My wife had been a Campfire Girls leader and took the girls to day camp at Camden park in the spring of the year. That meant playing and traipsing through the grasses invariably accumulating many ticks on socks, clothes and skin. Many young girls were a bit squeamish about picking the ticks off, so a game was developed to see who would be able to collect the most ticks. So about 50 years ago, our daughter had won the #1 bug award.

Most of what we had gone through in our sorting will find new homes or be trashed or recycled, but the #1 bug painted-stone is now in the state of Washington with our daughter – ah, keepsakes!


Thinking about being squeamish, I had that feeling recently when reading about plastics in our environment. Possibly you have seen TV news stories or read about the discarded plastic that has shown up in massive amounts in the ocean and being eaten by fish and other aquatic animals.

This week in the magazine The Week, the editor-in-chief, William Falk, wrote about microplastics, citing a study that showed microplastics had shown up in the urine of 93% of people over 6. An Australian study had found an average of 2000 microplastic particles a week ingested via food, breathing air, and drinking water. Falk says that is roughly what would be in a plastic credit card.

That’s not even just an “Oh, Fiddlesticks!” That is squeamishly frightening!

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!