Sunday, September 23, 2007

Cluttered House on the Prairie

When I was a little girl, I read all of the "Little House on the Prairie" books, and longed to be exactly like Laura Ingalls Wilder. All things Laura were what I decided to be. I wore my very long hair in braids. When I bought 3 cent grape bubble gum at Skaggs Alpha Beta, I pretended it was penny horehound (even though I didn't know what horehound candy was). During the early 80's, it wasn't that hard to pretend to be Laura - there were only a certain number of TV channels, and cloth dolls and long dresses were in easy supply. I clearly remember telling my mother that instead of my regular allowance, which was up to $4 per week depending on the chores I completed, I wished instead to max out at 50 cents. This was a king's ransom to Laura, and I thought that I should live as she did, in order to make the cloning process complete. Mom gently explained the concept of inflation to me, and advised that I not make it a practice of asking for pay cuts in the future. She used words like responsibility and reward, and advised that Laura didn't use electricity either, so I might want to choose carefully where I decided to align my situation with that of the Ingalls'.

The one area of my life that has never aligned with Laura's is the arena of material possessions. The Ingalls' packed up everything their family of five owned, loaded it into a covered wagon, and took off across the country to find a home. If my family of three had to load up our material possessions, it would take a 21' truck, two cars, and some creative wedging. This isn't an estimation, it's a fact.

Today, I live a mile away from the neighborhood where I grew up. A lot of things have changed, but the one constant is that a ranch style house can become an obstacle course of strewn toys in a matter of minutes. I am an organization fanatic - I can't stand disorder, it gives me a headache and makes me generally cranky. My next step is to rent a dumpster and give myself 2 hours to fill it up. Where does all this stuff come from? I cringe to think about how much landfill space I'm personally responsible for.

Am I alone here? I really don't think so...there are those who are much better than I at maintaining an acceptable level of clutter, but overall I think it's part of life now - for every necessity item, there's a free sample; for every kid's meal, there's a toy; for every DVD rental, there's a pile of receipts and coupons a mile high. Not that I'm blameless, here. I don't come home empty-handed every day. So, what's the answer? I honestly don't know. There are shows on home design channels about this exact issue.

I'm calling Necie Nash. I'll let you know how it goes.

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