The Mediocre HousekeeperÔ

Dust and Clutter Can Be Your Friends

(Part 2 – Clutter)


by Jim Penn


When my friend Bernie Levy asked me to write about dust and clutter, I began with a discussion of dust.  We now explore the world of clutter.


Going hand-in-hand with dust is clutter.  The CCC (Constructive Clutter Collectors), a national organization, is financially supported by the ACCC (the Association of Credit Card Companies).  I particularly enjoy the CCC’s motto:  “A cluttered mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Your mind and your surroundings should be full of stuff.  The secret is knowing how much clutter you and your personality can take.


Not only are dust and clutter compatible, but clutter often makes dusting difficult, thereby building in an important antidusting mechanism.  An empty table top invites — may even cry out for — a dust cloth wiping.  However, cover it with knickknacks, gewgaws and doodads, and it becomes dust and clutter heaven.


Clutter collecting promotes good health. Frequent visits to flea markets, garage sales and antique stores promote walking, stooping and jumping up and down when you find a particularly good bargain.  I wish to thank my good friend Ken “Dusty” Sindora for allowing me to use his classifications of clutter:


1.      Daily living clutter

2.      Lapses-in-memory clutter

3.      Collectible clutter

4.      Friendship clutter

5.      Event clutter

6.      Ego clutter

7.   Trauma clutter


Briefly, daily living clutter results from living your life.  Remarks like “Gee, this is a nice plastic container.  I think I’ll wash out the mold and keep it for future use” trigger great collecting.  Forgetting if you’ve ever begun or stopped collecting an item is an example of lapses-in-memory clutter.  For example,  “I’ll just put this used bicycle seat right here in the hallway until I find my bicycle seat collection, if I ever started one.”  Collectible clutter is the easiest one: adding to a collection you’ve already started and identified as a possible major future investment.  A collection of old fly fishing reels is a good example, as is a box of wine bottle corks.  I must have five cartons of corks because when I retire, I plan to build something grand with them.


Friendship clutter merits special attention.  These items need to be prominently displayed because you never know when your friends may visit.


Event clutter is a fun activity that could turn into collectable clutter, but only if you are sufficiently motivated to continue collecting.  For instance, memorabilia from a baseball game or two may be important to keep.  Even if those of us lacking season tickets are not positioned to continue the collection, an occasional basketball or hockey game could produce good collectable stuff and possible E-Bay sales.  It’s even better when you can take home a photo of yourself and Big Dog, the team mascot.


Ego clutter may be the most expensive category because it supports a passion for personal possessions and displays of wealth and power.  Sportsmen in particular participate in this clutter with collections of rifles, shotguns and the occasional antique Thompson submachine gun or the more current Uzi. Fishermen also accumulate redundant collections of rods, reels, and lures of every description.


Lastly, trauma clutter is becoming one of America’s greatest problems.  Because our divorce rate remains high, the clutter from broken marriages takes up many a storage unit as well as spare bedrooms, garages and attics.  If you are already cluttered-up (that also may be a cause for divorce) and divorcing, you may be tempted to aggravate your soon-to-be ex-spouse by destroying a lot of marriage stuff – not a good idea!  However, this will allow you to free up space for more coveted clutter, once you’re released from the hospital.


There are reasons, conscious and otherwise, for all clutter-collecting decisions.  The following guidelines should help you:


Was your clutter acquisition:


         Made while inebriated?

         Made in haste?

         Made alone or under peer pressure?

         Made as an all-or-nothing decision?


In summary, it’s clear that dust and clutter are enemies only if you view them as such.  They’re wonderfully compatible with each other.  Family values are important, and the family that accumulates dust and clutter together is a family that literally and figuratively sticks together.