Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I guess people can be divided into two categories: neat freaks and clutterers. At least that's the way it seems to me. I don't think either are good or bad, right or wrong. They just are who they are. I like my clutter.

My mother was a neat freak. Her house looked like a series of magazine pictures at all times. We never casually dropped a jacket on a chair or - God forbid! - anything on the floor. Nothing ever hit the floor. Mom snatched it up on its way down and whisked it away to the closet or drawer. I used to say I was a terrible housekeeper because my mother never taught me how to do anything. She was always compelled to do it herself - the right way. Drove me crazy. I guess my clutter was a sign of rebellion that I never outgrew.

I had a neighbor once who would come in for a cup of coffee occasionally and I would catch her eying my kitchen with a look of distaste. It was clean you understand - just not very neat.

In my last job, I had a boss who was a neat freak. His desk always looked as if he never did a lick of work there. (Well, in all honesty, he didn't, except on rare occasions.) My desk and bulletin board drove him a little crazy. Like most clutterers, I could find anything I wanted on desk or board in an instant. Knew right where everything was. But I often caught him surreptitiously moving something on my desk just slightly to make it more to his liking. He reminded me of my mother.

Well, they say that geniuses and artistic people often live amid clutter. Maybe I'm an artistic genius?? - or not

I do seem to collect things. Little things. Seashells, small rocks. (Have you ever read the children's book, Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor? A lovely book. And I do have my own rock. I found it on the beach at Moss Landing. It's a perfect little rock.) Many little things that remind me of wonderful places I've been. Little things do collect dust.

Speaking of dust, I really must dust my shadow box again. It isn't really a proper shadow box - It's an old printer's tray. It's full of a clutter of little things, all of which have some special meaning to me. They include a few actual printer's blocks. One is a map of Long Island, where I spent all my married life. There's a little rabbit sitting on top of that one. When the kids were small, we always counted the rabbits we saw feeding along the Garden State Parkway, as we drove home to Long Island from Grammy's house in south Jersey. The blocks came from The Star and Wave newspaper in Cape May. They were going to be thrown out when they converted to more modern methods of printing. The tray itself is the last thing my husband bought for me before his death. It cost $5 at a yard sale.

I seem to be rambling again. I guess my mind is as cluttered as my house.


storyteller said...

I so relate to what you've shared her and confess ... clutter surrounds me as I type this, but I'm comfortable in my space and suspect it's the books, journals, paper & collectibles that keep me 'centered' ... that said, I've pretty much given up on dusting. Living so close to the ocean and with fur-kids, the task seems hopeless even though I sweep and vacuum daily to keep from being overwhelmed by furballs and dust bunnies ;-)
Hugs and blessings,

Anonymous said...

My mom was one of those who found space on any flat surface and stuck things there. She wasn't a pack rat but she wasn't very tidy either.

Casdok said...

I love your shadow box. And i too love my clutter!
Happy new year!

Dianne said...

I love collections of things that have memories and love attached to them

Daryl said...

Oh I have long wanted just such a box .. for exactly the reason you use it .. I had this old wood Coca Cola box with 12 sections that held Coke bottles back when they made 'em out of glass, I used that as a shadow box for a while but I want one like yours!

Kay said...

Oh my, we've got the same printers box and your husband got a great deal on that. We had our box covered with a hard acrylic sheet to keep it dust free when we moved to Hawaii. It was always a pain to remove dust from the box when we were in Illinois... um... OK. So I didn't clean it much but on the rare occasions that I did, it was a pain.

My mom is a neat freak. My husband likes things clean but he's a pack rat and knows where everything is. I'm in between the two.

kenju said...

I like your mind clutter, Bobbie. It makes for good posts!

I am a pack rat, but everything here is neat. I don't go so far as to bad anything from the floor, however.

dianasfaria.com said...

I love your printers box Bobbie. I have one too, only it's empty sitting in the basement. you just gave me a great idea of what to do with it.
I enlarged it to get a view of your LI map. Is that the picture of the shoreline with a light house in it?

bobbie said...

Lily: I sent you a close up of the LI map/printer's block by email. - the lighthouse was CM - just part of a postcard picture.

Anonymous said...

I have a problem: I'm a neat freak (with the emphasis on freak, some would say) but I share my home with three (four if you count our lovely dog) females who think neatness is a sign of mental disturbance. I've battled with them for years but have had to concede defeat. I just pick up after them wherever I can and try to keep my trap shut. Oh the pain!

bobbie said...

Bear: That must be really hard for you. Probably gives one or more of them guilt feelings too. Don't know how you manage that one.

Linda Murphy said...

It was an interesting insight to read that your mom did all of the housekeeping and didn't teach you how to do it. I think I need to remember that for my own children and something that I definitely took away from your entry as a positive lesson for me to learn.

My father is very compulsive about a clean house-to the neurotic point. My grandmother was a hoarder and lived in a very cluttered, dirty house and my mom, while not a hoarder like her, doesn't clean much at all. So, I think I landed closer to my father's habits, but not quite so full tilt. My husband likes his piles of stuff but we have built a pretty good compromise and I have relaxed a lot since being around him and around my kids. But cleaning does lend a sense of control in my life, especially if things are busy and chaotic. But I have a few crazy, ever-growing piles of my own-including books to be read, sewing fabric to be sewn, etc.

Well, I am writing a book instead of a comment now....but I really enjoyed reading this. AND I love your shadow box. My husband is from LI, Selden/Port Jeff area. And he can find everything on his cluttery desk too!

Rambling Woods said...

I think that people who are totally neat have as many problems as those who are totally cluttered. Not that I don't have issues, but I fall in the middle..I like clean, but lived in.....Another very thoughtful post... Michelle