My mother really didn't want anything for her 80th birthday. So we didn't give her anything. Instead we took things away. My sister Leslie flew in from San Diego to Charlotte on Tuesday the 13th and I from Albany on Thursday the 15th. The mission: to get rid of stuff, specifically from the shed, which is the size of a small trailer home, that's in the back yard.
Part of the task was to ascertain just what was there, so there was a lot of sorting of papers. But we were able to put all those canceled checks from 1983 in the "to be shredded" pile, and Avon catalogs for the last decade of the 20th century in the recycle pile, except for the back page stamped with Mom's name and phone number, to the shred pile.
We also had to deal with a nasty little infestation of ants, hundreds of these large black insects eating away at everything in one corner of the structure.
We did keep photos and references to my father's 39 (or more) businesses. And there were things we kept of sentimental value. But lots of stuff went, including, unfortunately, a box of FantaCo publications that had gone to mold.
All told 562 pounds went to the shredder. I've discovered that there are companies that will come to your house and for about $90 for the first 500 pounds, shred the stuff right there. Some of the companies even have cameras inside the vehicles where you can see the shredding take place. We opted to go with a company that was a member of the NAID®, the National Association for Information Destruction. This process beats the heck out of doing it yourself with some $30 shredder from Office Max, since the cuts are more precise, and the time savings is ENORMOUS.
Additionally, 14 Avon boxes of recycling went to the recycling place and 13 contractor bags went to the garbage. My sister Marcia held a garage sale for some other items, and while not much of it sold, not much of it returned either, since Leslie found some medical charity to pick up the unsold items after the event. Marcia also took a few things to Goodwill.
So, I think it is not a reach to think that we got rid of 1000 pounds of stuff before Leslie and I left a week ago Tuesday. And Mom's happier with things going off her property than coming onto it.
If you're tackling such a project, consider latex gloves; we occasionally used hospital masks as well, though not as often as we should have. Also, drink PLENTY of water to wash out whatever toxins you might come in contact with.
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