Sloughing my skin

It’s not a new beauty treatment, or any kind of ‘ought to’ activity for January. It’s that thing a snake does, when it sheds its skin, and leaves the old one behind.

Call it age increments. Call it January. Call it taking a stance against clutter. Call it spring cleaning, even.

Whichever of these it is – or isn’t – the archiving is continuing apace. New steps: tackling the collection of oddments in the tool cupboard that are often held onto ‘in case they turn out useful’.

With my parents happily using their woodburning stove, I now have a place for offcuts of wood. (I might even relegate the important stick collection in that direction too. Shh.)

We finally culled the poster collection – which has partly meant looking out pictures that we do like, and that haven’t actually made it onto the walls. They have been bumped up a notch, and others that we no longer love so well have been quietly recycled.

Time can be an asset here. I went back through some TEFL notes I had been keeping. I could tell that I didn’t need advice on how to use the-then all new, all singing and dancing interactive whiteboards. The information had already moved on a great deal.

We have created an archive cupboard – one that is normally hidden a bit by other furniture. It’s the new home of the much-thinned-down study notes collection. And the CDs, because we normally listen to an iPod. And so on. We’re not parting with them entirely, but we also don’t need to get to them that much.

We have started using terms like ‘let’s keep this for a [limited period of time], and if we haven’t used it, then out it goes’. For people who are good at keeping things, particularly if there’s any chance they might be useful, this is Progress.

I am even trying some things like electronically scanning receipts, so I don’t have to keep a pile of paper that may not get referred to anyway. If it’s important, it gets scanned. If not – you guessed it.

It’s not just an attempt at reducing clutter. The more folders and files I can get rid of, the more space I have for books, you see? Perfect.

Book space is more of an issue, since Junior Reader has now commandeered two large bookcases, and we got rid of one other one. (After 30 years of noble service, and increasing lean, it too went to the woodburner.)

Despite getting some new shelves tucked into the attic, we still have less shelf space than before. This thought exercises me from time to time.

So I part with what I can, and decide what needs to stay. (Need is a relative term, for book lovers, but perhaps it’s more related to those books we care about most.)

My inner environmentalist is generally happy, because, so far, we are finding useful homes for things.

A piece of flat pack furniture, now too big for the attic, that has been taken back to its constituent parts, and used as duck boards inside cupboards. (Easier to move heavy items around on them than on carpet.)

Clothes to give away; lots more scrap paper to draw on. Cardboard to recycle. And so on.

Thinking about a title for this post, I found an image of a snakeskin that had been shed. It is very fine, almost like a scarf. Something like I imagine a gold-threaded medieval belt to be.

They are beautiful in their own right, I can see that. Some people collect them, I understand.

For all that, I’ve decided not to do so. Too much effort going in to parting with old collecting habits, let alone acquiring new ones.