Clutter

Literary Antholoy of Short Stories and Poetry

I feel much healthier since I got rid of the bike. It's not just the physical part — the walking, that is making me feel better — it's the mental aspect also. I remember having the same feeling when I sold the car and started using the bike.

I am also shopping less. Much less. Mondays and Fridays and only buying what I can carry in one bag. I can cut that down to one day a week if I shop a little more carefully. It's coming. I feel it.

I remember when I was KING OF THE CONDIMENTS. I would have one grocery bag for spices, mustards, sauces and the like. I never met a condiment I didn't like except chutney. I can't believe anyone likes that stuff. In the supermarket I once put a red X on a chutney bottle and checked for it a month later and it was still there. Probably even now it sits waiting, sentinel like, for the unsuspecting first time chutneyite prowling the aisles, recipe in hand.
That's all behind me now. No more spices to mess up the counters and crowd the cabinets. Just pepper and that has to go soon. It really is so messy. No matter how careful one is, and believe me, I am careful. Pepper is messy. I can do without it. I will miss it — no doubt — but color it gone--and soon. I would only use it from a pepper mill but it grinds its way onto the counter and I have to wipe it off and then clean the pepper mill. It is the last of my spice vices. Right now this mess aggravation is evenly balanced with the taste benefits, but I can feel the tipping of the scale. I know me. Once I start thinking of something as a clutter nuisance (CN), it is good as gone.

I have just gotten used to the idea of no Worcestershire sauce. Before that there was A-1, bar-b-q, catsup, mayo, soy, salsa, honey, and mustard to purge. None were easy for an addictive type personality such as me. I remember the night of the sweats from oregano withdrawal when it finally became a CN. I now feel much better having made that delete decision.

Simplifying and uncluttering a life is tough but it has to be done. That's all there is to it. A matter of discipline as my grandpop would say. "Be disciplined or be a bum." The choice hasn't always been easy. Take the television for instance. I was constantly having to get up to change channels. I did get cable but it made things worse. There was this damned cord from the TV to the control box that was constantly snaked on the floor and always in the way. I still had to get up to adjust the volume or turn the TV on and off!

If it wasn't one thing it was another. The cable company sent mail every month — the bill and the program guide. Then every month I had to get a stamp, a check and go to the post office to mail the damned thing. Too much bother for too little benefit. The TV went. Sure. The kids whined at first, but they knew it was for their own good also.

And then there was the car. It was always dirty and messy. I was smoking at the time and the ashtray was constantly filled, ashes everywhere and worse yet — the kids' stuff. Gum wrappers, soda bottles, sweaters, school papers, sand, toys. Stuff and more stuff! A closet on wheels. Good riddance. In March the car went.

The cigarettes went later on that month. Ashtrays, matches, Bics, crumpled packs, full packs, ashes! Feh! Gone!

April saw the end of the newspapers and none too soon. They multiplied like rabbits. Stacks of papers everywhere. They came in faster than I could throw them out. ENOUGH! Canceled. The radio went in June and good riddance. Who needs their head stuffed with all that junk you hear repeatedly on the news. It had nothing to do with me.

As long as I was doing it I decided to do it right. GOOD-BYE MAILBOX! I have my utility bills and my government check sent to my accountant who pays everything. Once a month he drops off a cash envelope. Simple, huh? Why ever did I take so long to do this? Life was finally getting uncluttered (UC). Simple is beautiful. When life is beautiful it is more bearable and when it is more bearable it is more meaningful.

I am now leading a much more meaningful life.

Almost.

The kids are doing their best to go along with the program. I never could keep the house real neat though. Too many dishes. Pots, pans, silverware, glasses. Oh those glasses. Those kids could dirty some glasses. Glasses were nothing compared to their dirty clothes. Dirty clothes? How about clean clothes? Everywhere clothes. It took a while, but I got the dish and clothes problem under control. Three plates, forks, glasses, spoons, and knives -- one set for each of us. The clothes — easy. Each of us has three of each item. Plenty. It made for a great August.

The animals became overpowering in September. Dog wants in, cat wants out. Feed the cat. Feed the dog. Bags of dog food -- bags of cat food. CANS OF FOOD. KittylitterheartwormshotswalkthedogputoutthecatTICSfleascollarsleashes. "Sorry kids, the dog ran away. I forgot to tie him. I'm sorry."

Late September — "I told you kids not to let the cat out. He got hit by a car."

October was a good month. The second phone went and with it that annoying cord that was always in the way. Unsightly. Also, I never realized how really versatile the toaster oven was until I sold the stove. That little baby handled all of our needs.

With only one bike left the kids learned to take turns and we got the toy situation straightened out.
"Dad. Where's my Yahtzee game?"

"If you would learn to put things away you will always know where they are."

"I left it on the kitchen table this morning Dad. By the way. Where is the kitchen table?"

He soon realized that there was no need for two tables. The dining room table was just fine with the three wooden chairs that remained. By the end of the month the operative word was PERFECT. The lawn was PERFECT — grass replaced with wood chips — the kids had two toys apiece. We each had a blanket, a sheet, a pencil. The bare essentials were more than enough and we all adjusted well. No one needs more than one of anything.

Everything was finally neat and orderly. There was nothing to misplace or clutter up our lives. Back to basics.

My life was finally perfect. Absolutely perfect. Wouldn't change a thing. Perfect. Just me and the kids.

Me--and the two kids.

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