Thursday, March 10, 2011

Minimalism and the Ten Dollar Rule

While out this morning, just before sunrise, I walked by the shops and stopped at the thrift store.  Sitting by the "wrong" door, there was a bag of skillets and some other kitchen items.   Thinking first, "Oooh Shiny", I then drifted back into time.

Back when we decided to move to Florida, we realized that it was going to take some significant changes in our lifestyle.  We had to stop being pack rats and, GASP!, throw things out.  I gave out treasures captured and held onto (Precious!) for years and sold others.  It was a long three year plan to move down here.   First we had to pare down our "junk".  We had to get the house in "Sellable Condition".  We had to box everything up for moving.  The problem is that you just don't switch off your needs for three years. 

On top of that, we had to come up with some sort of standard.  Just what are we going to pack up?  Of course everyone has heard the old line that if you haven't used it in 3 years throw it out because you don't really need it.  Our "precious" possessions spiraled down over that time to the absolutely necessary, and a few "shiny necessities" and very few sentimental things, but when something new showed it's shiny face would we buy it?

Generally the answer was no.

We had a hard and fast hard headed rule.  "If you can buy the item or a near-enough replacement anywhere, for ten dollars or less, do not move it and try to make do without it". 

Impulse purchases stopped immediately.  Upgrades would happen, but the old items could no longer be held for someone else.   If we didn't know of someone to give the old item to in short order, it would go out to the foot of a driveway with a note on it saying "Free to a Good Home".  

Slowly at first, the house emptied into three places, the trash can and recycling, the driveway or down to the basement.   The basement was a room of doom for me.   More specifically it had a ceiling made of rough beams, joists and exposed nails that was at six feet.  I am six feet four inches tall.  I had to be VERY careful. 

We would pack the precious treasures up into boxes and begun what I euphemistically called the "Box Farm" and tried to escape with my scalp intact.  This became a city scape of mostly small boxes by the end of the packing time that covered a footprint the size of a small bedroom.

If you have ever visited the new house, and there are some of my readers who have, you would laugh at my using the term "Minimalistic" to describe my life.  The reality is that we moved from a 1900 square foot house to a more "cosy" 1200 square house with outdoor living space adding another couple of rooms worth of usable space.  The treasures we brought are here, but mostly they're crammed into much less space making the little house look that much smaller.

I'm still paring down the old gear from the move, years later.  I'm still the packrat I have always been, as my sister and my cousins will attest.  But now, the piles are dwindling.  Digital copies of paperwork has helped a lot - you simply don't need as many filing cabinets when most of your finances are on a little memory stick chock full of PDFs created from web sites that helpfully offer a printable version.

This flood of memories came to me last night.   After attending a Wilton Manors Main Street Meeting we walked over with Lettie to visit one of the oldest homes in Wilton Manors.  The currently departing owner, Doug, was wrapping up his move and asking "Can you use anything out of this pile?".  He was loading up the last few things into trucks and pods and moving out of the home he loved and improved over the years to smaller digs.  It all reminded me of that time where I would ask people "Can you use anything out of this pile?" and then lapse into the story of the Ten Dollar Rule.  I'll miss seeing Doug as much as I have, he is truly one of the best people who I have had the pleasure of getting to know here in Florida but you do what you must.

We didn't take anything last night.  It would have been wrong, after all, where would you store it?

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