One of my New Year’s resolutions was to declutter my garage and my closets.  Having squirreled it away piece by piece, I was stunned by the sheer volume of stuff I had crammed onto shelves and into cupboards, drawers, cardboard boxes, and plastic totes “in case I might need it.”  There were parts from things I don’t own anymore and others I could not even identify.  Warranty paperwork from three lawnmowers ago.  Parallel printer cords, presumably from a dot matrix printer we had in the 90’s.  Most impressive was my collection of “Other-Ware,” lidded plastic food containers I feel compelled to reuse because they can’t be recycled.  I assume I inherited my magpie tendencies from my grand-mother, who saved and repurposed everything.  Margarine tubs held leftovers.  Paper bags became book covers.  Family-sized boxes from Post Toasties lined the bathroom trash can.  When she passed on, the closets in her upstairs bedrooms were stuffed to the gills with fabric.
I recognized a remnant that had been around for decades.  My mom probably had a dress made out of it, one that got handed down to all five of her sisters before it ended up in a rag rug.  When I was a child, Grandma used a scrap of that same fabric to sew a dress for my doll.
It popped up again in the quilt I received for graduation and I’d bet it plays a supporting role in some of my cousins’ quilts, too.

I took a deep breath.  I chucked glass and paper and cardboard into my recycling bin.  I filled two 35-gallon trash bags with Styrofoam and #4 and #5 plastics.  In the end, I couldn’t resist snatching back a few of the discards.  C’mon… you never know when you might need an ice cream bucket or a manila envelope or some packing peanuts…

The following “list” poem is also a KYRIELLE.  Click HERE for the rules on how to write one.


My storage spaces overflow
with salvaged things I can’t let go
Be it malady or frugality,
my grandma’s spirit lives in me

Empty shoeboxes, tin pie pans,
mayonnaise jars and coffee cans,
tubs from yogurt and cottage cheese
My grandma’s spirit lives in me

Brittle thread and fabric scraps,
reams of paper grocery sacks,
plastic spoons from the Dairy Queen
My grandma’s spirit lives in me

I’ll brave recession or depression
horsemen, trumpets, Armageddon
armed with bread bags and ingenuity
My grandma’s spirit lives in me

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  1. humanitiesphilosophy January 20, 2019 / 8:37 am

    I was led to believe opposites attract, perhaps not where hoarding is concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 20, 2019 / 9:32 am

      Well, dear, I did eventually throw the stuff away. Most of it. OK, at least half of it. Hoarders are probably attracted to each other’s junk. 🙂


  2. Carri January 20, 2019 / 9:43 am

    Grandma would be so proud to know that you noticed her habits and are recycling. We all have those stashes of “maybe someday items”. You made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 20, 2019 / 10:19 am

      Little eyes see more than you think. Remember the cut-down half-gallon milk cartons she used as freezer containers for her vegetables? How the noodle scraps from polka-dot soup became spider web soup another day? How the legs from an old pair of pants could be repurposed into two fashionable kiddie swimsuits? (I think you and Marilyn made us the swimsuits, but where did you learn to do that?) I’m glad I’m not the only one with a stash of potentially useful items. 🙂


  3. Tippy Gnu January 20, 2019 / 10:24 am

    Funny verses. I think we all have a touch of hoarder in us. It must harken back to an ancient survival instinct. After all, you can use a bent nail as a fishhook, and that old broomstick over there could double as a spear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 20, 2019 / 11:08 am

      Thanks, Tippy. Everyone has their hoarding Kryptonite… for me, it’s paper grocery sacks and lidded plastic containers. At this moment, my deep freezer is filled to capacity with quart-sized yogurt containers of chicken and beef stock; the mister just made a big batch from bones and salvaged vegetable scraps. Tin pie pans are great underliners for potted plants. Tall, skinny coffee cans are perfect for freezing (or giving away) stacks of homemade cookies. Shoe boxes are just the right size for memorabilia, my poetry chapbook collection, fabric scraps, or different kinds of tape (packing, duck, scotch, aluminum, electrical.) I reuse bags from bread, buns, and tortillas; I haven’t had to buy a box of Ziplocs in over a year. This is how I’ll keep busy in the final third of my life, I guess. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu January 20, 2019 / 5:00 pm

        Wow, you could stay busy just trying to keep all that sorted.

        Liked by 1 person

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