In one sense, my linen closet is pretty danged well-organized and de-cluttered these days. There was a time, the towels and sheets and what-not were jammed in every which way, and they overflowed the shelves. Nowadays, some of the shelves are nearly empty; and well-labelled boxes collect odds and ends like lightbulbs (and lightbulb receipts), toilet paper, towels, and first-aid stuff, each to their own box. It's easy to put things away in the right place, and it's easy to find things when we need them.
But in another sense, this closet is an Ebenezer Scrooge, with the ghost of Hoarding Past rattling its chains and prophesying future unhappiness.
The closet looks fine, as long as everything stays put in this particular place . . . but in a year or two, we're hoping to move to a new, smaller house. And for all that the visible spaces of our home are looking more-and-more clutter-free, I know that means that the clutter has gone into hiding. I've started looking into the backs of our closets, trying to figure out how to get rid of the long-forgotten, no-longer-wanted things we don't even realize we own -- get rid of them before the days when we're moving the whole house at once. When we start pulling out boxes to pack them into that moving truck, what's in the closet that we don't want to move?
Well, we have more towels and sheets than my husband and I will need . . . but probably, a bunch of the linens will go to N-son and/or J-son as we help them get started up. So no purging needed there, at least not yet. I'm also not worried about having too much toilet paper. Um, yeah. And probably the lightbulb box is fine, although I admit I haven't scrutinized it closely lately.
But the first-aid box yielded a treasure-trove of objects that deserve a place in someone else's home now. Because, really, do we need three slings? (Actually, we had four slings, but one of them had a foam pad that disintegrated and left yucky dust on everything it touched, so we ditched that. Therefore, we only had to wonder if we need three useable slings, not four).
No, we really don't. We're not planning to break three arms anytime soon. My husband and I discussed this briefly, and we agreed we actually don't need any slings at all: even if we do decide to break an arm again, we're pretty sure we can get a sling from the hospital along with some lovely matching non-skid socks. So, good-bye, slings!
Except that saying good-bye to slings isn't as easy as it sounds. A Freecycle post yielded no takers. I called a local health center that serves a lot of the low-income neighbors, but they had no way to accept donations. I offered the slings to the missionary who travels to Haiti (the one who helps us connect with X-son, a child-turned-young-man we've supported), but she's incommunicado right now. It's possible that our local rescue mission -- which has it's own health care team, could use the supplies -- we're working on that that now. So it's good that we've got a long stretch of leisure time for re-homing these things.
Also formerly in the first aid box, but not any longer: hot and cold things. We seem to have acquired a rather amazing variety of hot water bottles, ice packs, and microwaveable heat pads. We sorted these out into the (small) pile we do use, and the (larger) pile we don't use. The larger pile got listed on Freecycle, and went within 48 hours to someone who does massages. So, they've emerged from the dark recesses of our closet, into the light, and from there to a home where they'll get used and appreciated. Good.
We also decided to keep a knee brace and a wrist brace, and so those will stay in the closet with the small pile of hot/cold packs, when they're not on our knees and wrists. Therefore, one box in the linen closet of our upstairs hallway is now streamlined for usefulness. Phew.
But our home has a lot of closets. A lot of spaces where it's easy to put things and forget them. I have a feeling that the next few years are going to give me a lot of reasons to poke around into the past.