A Place For My Stuff

… So when you get right down to it, your house is nothing more than a place to keep your stuff … while you go out and get … more stuff. ‘Cause that’s what this country is all about. Tryin’ to get more stuff. Stuff you don’t want, stuff you don’t need, stuff that’s poorly made, stuff that’s overpriced. Even stuff you can’t afford! Gotta keep on gettin’ more stuff. Otherwise someone else might wind up with more stuf. Can’t let that happen. Got have the most stuff.

This George Carlin bit is something that’s been on my mind since we moved into a new house just over a month ago. It’s just over a thousand square feet with a totally unnecessary extra bedroom and tons of closet space. (I had hoped to find a smaller house, but most of the available houses around here are significantly larger. The average new house size is 2700 square feet, it’s crazy!) Anyhow, the really amazing thing is that all the closets are totally full! The extra bedroom, every closet, full of stuff. How did this happen?

I’ve been trying to avoid buying new, but there are second-hand finds, curbside finds, and hand-me-downs from family who have long been accumulating more stuff themselves. We now have extra blankets, sundae glasses, and way more caulk than we could need.

So now you’ve got a houseful of stuff. And, even though you might like your house, you gotta move. Gotta get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff!  And that means you gotta move all your stuff. Or maybe, put some of your stuff in storage. Storage! Imagine that. There’s a whole industry based on keepin’ an eye on other people’s stuff.

No way! If we move to a new house someday, it had better be smaller and easier to clean. And if you ever catch me putting stuff in a storage unit, don’t be afraid to give me a good shake. For some people it may be the right choice, but I’m one of the majority that just doesn’t need it.

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Someone else’s stuff. Photo: Scott Thomas Smith

BTW, if you’re interested in reading the full Carlin rant on stuff, check out his book Brain Droppings from your local library.

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Dandelion Destruction

I know, I know, dandelions have their purpose aerating and enriching poor soil, and the short ones are okay by me. But I think mine are just some evil dandelion cousins. I call them granddaddies because they’re so tall (they just grow fast), so many stems, and the leaves are super spiky.

After a recent rain, I was pulling some out of the ground and chopping the top off of others. But apparently ladybugs really do love dandelions (and I do love ladybugs).

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Ladybugs mating on a dandelion plant

Fortunately chopping off the dandelion tops didn’t disturb these little guys enough to keep them from their business. So no harm done, right?

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Ladybugs still at it

Of course, this week I took it a step further when my scythe arrived in the mail. (More on that later after it’s more than dry-fit together and after I learn to use the proper form.) So many dandelions and other weeds cut short in the prime of their lives.

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Lawn trimming in progress

But no worries. Finally the clover underneath can share in the love now too.

Infinite Waste

In the past year and a half I’ve read a lot of books and blogs about throwing things away. In most of what I’ve read people say there is no “away”. But in real life I’ve learned that for just as many or even more people believe that “away” is anywhere that they’re not standing at the moment.

The other day I was waiting at he bus stop and since there was some litter surrounding the stop, I decided to pick up some of it and put it in the trash can that was right there at the stop. While doing this, another man at the stop asked me if I worked for the city. He was appalled that I would pick trash up without being paid for it.

“I don’t work for the city. They ain’t paying me nothing.”

“You must have clean hands.”

And he was especially offended when I picked up and threw away the lottery tickets that he had just thrown on the ground.

“You can’t pick up all the trash in the world. You’re fighting a losing battle.”

“Why don’t you go pick up that piece of trash?” (Of some trash on the divider a few lanes of traffic into the street)

This wasn’t part of a conversation. He was listening to his headphones but just occasionally making rude remarks loudly. I would have liked to point out a small hillside covered with wildflowers that was visible from the stop, but he probably wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway.

Some people don’t care about this world we live in.

And since we moved to our new home on a busy road, every day we’ve had to pick up litter from our yard. Yesterday there was a used condom on our sidewalk. It’s discouraging.

A couple of weeks ago, a large group of college students came by to clean up the creek area near our house. It looked beautiful that day, but a couple of days later it rained and the water rushing along the creek replenished the litter level from all the other areas that had not been cleaned.

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Creek next to my house

I took this picture yesterday. Not all the litter is visible in the picture, but you can clearly see the beer can floating in the water and a snack cake box towards the top.

Unlike many, though, I can’t accept living in a world full of trash. These are valuable resources at their absolute worst use like this. I pick up at least some of the litter that I come across every day and recycle what I can, even if to some people this just means more empty ground to throw their litter on. Someone please tell me, what can I do to help us win?