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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, April 16, 2016

The here and now

This will be quick, Miss Daisy is waiting to start the night time routine.

We are home now for about four days. So happy to see the family and already have got in some of my babysitting. They change in a few months and are even funnier.

It's good to maintain a sense of humour.

One of the things that happened while we were gone was that we had a large contingent of mice move in. My son-in-law passed by an Exterminator's convention, I guess they have those things, and overheard that this has been an excellent year for rodents and bed bugs. Something about the warm weather etc.


This is what it looked like.

We got home late at night, checked the mail that had been collected and left for us, and headed off to bed. 

I pulled back the sheets and guess what was neatly piled on my pillow, in substantial quantities? Mouse poop. The husband was in the same situation. Needless to say that bed got stripped down toute suite, with the expected amount of vacuuming paranoia and pulling around the furniture. At this point my poor husband who has done all the RV driving said, enough I have to get to bed.

So off I went to get some clean sheets.

Well ten guesses what was interfiled between all my clean linens?

I suspect you have picked up on the theme here.

So what, late at night when everyone is dying to get to bed in their own king sized bed, and not the other random beds in the house, do you do without any clean sheets, when you have a husband who at this point, really, really wants to just get to sleep?

Well in the end I did find some clean mouse free sheets - old ones I had put away as drop cloths for painting, so we did get to bed finally- sleeping soundly between the stripes of dried latex.

So much of the rest of the time I have been home has been on mouse evidence clean up. I will spare you the population control drama, but the husband has been doing a lot of carrying paper towel bundles outside with long tails hanging out of them. 

It's just been great.

All the cleaning has led me to a resolution of a long standing issue I have had, and written about here before, which is how do you successfully live in a place that is crammed with the evidence of those who used to live here but have left, articulating the space that is never quite filled the same again.

How do you declutter that I ask you?

Well I figured it out.

The issue was not just managing my memories but realizing they had them too.

So I have been asking each kid what from the house they would like in their own homes now in their own happy lives? I have been allocating paintings, dishes, and whatever there is here that might have a memory attached. Our shared history, I realized, should be shared and not just deposited with me.

It feels so great to do this.

Why wait to be like my grandmother who had every item in her house with a name on the underside, names that always changed depending on our current status with her?

And the best part of this process is what I now have more room for, is my family's present. 

In the space left by one picture I am hanging putting up the hanging from India my son and new daughter-in-law brought back from India. 

I have a map of the New York subway system in the hall and a photo of the grandchildren in the corner where I used to put the Christmas tree. 

The long hallway I am starting to fill with photos in one place, like those restaurants where the walls are covered in autographed pictures - a lot of important people once ate here too you know.

And in other places I am going to put things from the travels we are now able to do and rooms are going to be cleaned and painted for two nieces that will be staying with me this summer, and probably one beyond while she starts school.

So I haven't lost all my memories, some are just going to go now to those who made them.

Which I finally realized is what is supposed to happen next.


Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

I'm sorry about the mouse problem! You are better than me because I wouldn't have slept in that house until after the exterminator visited. Glad you're sharing memories with your children, I did that a few years and it's great that all of those photo albums I had reside with my daughters and grandchildren. There is something comforting and amazing about seeing my grandchildren looking at the albums of their mother and aunts as little girls.

SewRuthie said...

Oh dear an unpleasant welcome home. I remember years ago coming home after a holiday to a failed boiler and water sodden carpet plus partly destroyed kitchen countertop and cupboards.
Love the idea of giving family the items now. Much better than living in a museum of the old days.

KathyS said...

What a nasty surprise to greet you after a long drive. Reminds me of the time I came home from hospital with a brand new baby to find the kitchen table black with ants. I had a total meltdown!
Unfortunately none of the clutter/stuff in our house belongs to anyone but me and my husband. Must tackle it eventually.

Bunny said...

Eeeewwwww. That is one helluva greeting! Way back when I worked in a fabric store and it was halloween, the time of year when people who don't sew buy difficult fabrics to make their kids costumes. One of the staff unrolls a hefty bolt of Saskwatch black fur. Guess what pops out? A bit of drama ensued, screams, etc. The critter's nest was inside the bolt too. So very yucky.

If you are into kindly saving critters you can do what hubby does in his barn outside. (Luckily no critters have ever made their presence known in our home. ) He puts bits of cheese on his work table. Could be your dresser or kitchen counter. Then he puts more in a deep clean garbage can.The meeses inevetibly jump into the can after the cheese and end up having one helluva party down there. In the morning, he takes the can, goes across the field and dumps it into the woods. Did I say my family calls him St. Francis?

Lucille said...

Amen to your declutter plans! I am also going through a bit of this - but no children to share with. However I have the same urge to put pictures on the wall that are important to me, not just going well with the decor. Obviously you have a lovely house. Mice like a nice house when they can find one.

bbarna said...

Ewww! I once had an infestation in my fabric stash...major clean and wash...When I was a teenager we lived in an old farmhouse on an acreage. I can honestly say I never saw a single mouse. Much later it was discovered that a large garter snake lived under the water tank and was doing a great job of controlling the rodent population. My mom almost had a heart attack.
I am also cleaning and sorting. Great idea to pass these items on to be enjoyed now. I am still trying to find a good home for my mother-in-law's good china. No one collects these things now.
Hope the mice stay away!

Sally King said...

I was laughing so hard at your Search For Sheets and your thoughts about family memorabilia really touched me. Thank you once again for your wonderful writing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, surprised you could get any sleep with that scene.
Mice are awful. I know you are a dog family, but cats sure help with mice problems, something about their scent is a fabulous deterrent. Extermination is important but sometimes they don't get it all. They also are excellent helpers when it comes to sewing, helping with paper patterns, chasing down thread, or sitting with you watching the fabric feed through the machine.

Marianne said...

Oh man, I almost had to stop reading after that picture you painted. I used to live in a very old brick home and there was nothing to be done about the mice that found their way inside through tiny openings here and there. I was somehow able to tolerate this at the time, but not anymore! Aahhhh!

Glad you solved the clutter problem. I find it an ongoing issue, one that requires constant vigilance. I love seeing hallway walls filled with pictures. I grew up with this and we did this in our last house, but 8 years after having moved into our current home there is still not one single photo on any wall. A few paintings, that's it. I almost feel a little guilty for this, as if I'm demonstrating a lack oflove for family that photo collections show, but really it is only because I function better when my environment is uncluttered, and for me this includes stuff on walls. Also, I'm trying to decrease the amount of time I spend dusting things! Anyway, I'm glad you found a solution that feels good to you.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yuck. We came back starving from a trip once and discovered a desiccated mouse in a cardboard box of rice - it plopped out into the pan.

So that took care of the starving part of the problem. I was SO TIRED by the time I got done cleaning the kitchen, if my bed had been full of mouse poop can't imagine what I would have done.

Hope the uninvited guests have all departed!


Jane M said...

Yikes, what a PITA to find after such a wonderful holiday. Mice are such opportunists. We had one in a cupboard(and who knows how many hidden ones) after a trip in December. Fortunately he was one of the dumber ones and was caught in the trap the next day. But once we start our home renovations this summer and tear out that cabinet and flooring in the area I bet we find the homes of more of them. Thanks for reminding me to add exterminator to the renovation list.

Mae said...

"how do you successfully live in a place that is crammed with the evidence of those who used to live here but have left" Oh, I thought you meant the mice.