In approximately three years I will retire, and Husband and I plan to move to Brookings, SD.  We have much to do before we can move, including some updates to our current home to make it easier to sell.   We also have to get rid of many things we have accumulated over the years.  This includes hundreds of books.

I got some really good boxes from work last week, and started filling them up with books.  This was a strangely poignant activity. I only chose books I considered mine, as I don’t know which of his Husband intends to keep.  I started with the ones I had purchased most recently. These were mainly books I bought for pleasure reading, not the professional ones I keep in my office at work.   There also were books that  my parents had in their home for years. Some were college textbooks from when they were at Mankato State in the early 1940’s.   I tossed a few of those, but not without wistful regret.  I hadn’t looked at them in years, and I suppose I kept them as reminders of my parents and of my childhood.   It occurred to me that this task was going to be more difficult than I imagined, since we have associated emotions with many of these books.

When we have had uncertainty, instability, or grief in our lives, we seem to have relied on our books as anchors.  I think that is why we bought so many over the years instead of going to the library.  They provided such comfort.  Our life is much different now, and we really don’t need the comfort of all of those books.

We decided to keep history books and books concerning natural history and flora and fauna (including a book on wolves by a certain Baboon).   There are other, one of a kind books, that we intend to keep, as well as cookbooks.   Most novels will go, unless they are particularly beloved.  All children’s books will be kept.  The World Book Encyclopedias from 1966 are going to the landfill.  Husband perused the philosophy and religion collection at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, and feels confident he can get what he wants through interlibrary loan via SDSU’s  library system. He already figured out how to apply for a guest users library card.

We intend to take our time with this project.  We have a couple of years to do it.  Our local library has a second hand bookstore, and we are donating our books there.  They may need to expand their space by the time we are done.   I just hope we can limit our book purchases in the meantime.

What can’t you live without?


54 thoughts on “Downsizing”

  1. Live? Well, air, water, food? But I’m guessing that’s not where your question is going. Despite the fact that I have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF, I’m not as emotionally attached to most of it as I sometimes think I should be (otherwise, why so much)? But if I were moving to a small cabin in the woods, I would find it hard to leave behind my Kitchenaid mixer, most of my craft stuff. Books? I’m thinking a handful of cookbooks, my Riverside Shakespeare, my big book of Sherlock Holmes (yes all of them in one book). Wrinkle in Time, Jane Eyre. And probably Shining Through by Susan Isaacs and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. My John Green books. My Naomi Novik books. My Jasper Fforde.

    Uh oh……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. books are an area of mass and space for me too
    amazon makes almost every book so easy to get when needed it is not required to hang onto anything
    libraries , e readers, and how it works have turned books into coffee table fodder
    you want to touch them, ok
    you want access to what they offer there is a better way
    what do i need, music, tea and a goal
    a touch with people i love and a soak in the tub

    that and a good top coat for 3 months a year

    Liked by 3 people

  3. reading a book right now called spark joy by kondo
    it is about eliminating excess

    life changing for me

    if you skim the first 20 pages renee it will give you some excellent guidance
    it sounds like you are on the right track

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m still doing well with my “get rid of three things a week” plan. Of course with so much stuff even with three things a week it’s going to take a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. the Spark Joy book is the followup to the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (same author). That first book really was life changing for me. Unfortunately it was not life changing for other people in this household or people who still have their stuff in this house (ahem college graduated daughter who stayed in Seattle after graduation).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Today I get my Gravatar back. Oh, the mysteries of WP.

    I think that my family antiques play the role your books play for you, Renee/Renae. I love the old objects from my family’s pioneer past and the experiences they represent. As I get older I have been trying to choose carefully about who in the next generation will get the old treasures and appreciate them. There are are 5 grandchildren and they each appreciate different objects and the stories that are attached to them.

    Marbles, for example. We had two sets of marbles. One set was from the 1890s. They were my grandpa’s toys, made of potter’s Clay, and rolled and glazed by hand, so unevenly shaped and earthy colored.

    The second set of marbles were the marbles my mom picked up off the floor while teaching in her early days. We had a quart and a half of them that she kept in an old white plastic purse, long discarded. The “boys” now men, love those and they each have a pint of them.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It’s good you’re starting now on the books, Renee. 🙂

    What I can’t seem to live without are my connections to people. I hang on and hang on… as I look through my Christmas card list, I’m starting in a few cases to think: “Hmmm, I haven’t seen this person in 3 (or 4) decades – why are we still in contact?

    I also keep an awful lot of Christmas stuff, and will downsize (again) as I put it away this year. Such a small house…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If you haven[t seen friends for 30 or 40 years, all the more reason to stay in contact. I recently contacted a college roommate I had lost touch with for 40 years, it was sweet to hear about how her life had gone, and when I visited her I found I liked her even better than I did in college. We now stay in touch. But I have to confess, I am a sucker for people’s stories.

      I guess I did also seek out a college boyfriend after 40 years….more interesting stories.

      Friends are what I hang on to the most…at least most of them….old lovers, too, but not old husbands.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Music. Music of every type (even Little Drummer Boy). For some time now I have been raiding the library media section and putting the loot on my computer. When I hit 100,000 songs I may stop collecting.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. BiR: just below I mention music on YouTube. If you have good speakers on your computer, the sound is good, and the selection is surprisingly complete. Yes, that classic by the Jamies is available.


        2. Summertime, Summertime was a famous “One Hit Wonder” song. The group was based on a brother-sister pairing, and what makes that hit so special is the high, girlish harmony part sung by Serena Jameson. Nothing else sounds just like that.


        3. Yes, I have found them both on YouTube – it’s great to be able to think of a song and in many cases hear it almost instantly. I’m now looking for sheet music… but realize now that probably isn’t what Wes is collecting… 🙂


  7. Our stereo reciever conked out last week. We have music playing most of the time and it was hard not being able to play our cd’s. Husband ordered a new integrated amplifier and it arrived last night. The UPS guy is married to a work colleague, and he almost ruined our evening. We tracked the delivery status all day. Wade drove up around 6:00 pm and carried a heavy box to the door. Husband eagerly opened the box and discovered 20 lbs of dry dog food! A quick check of the mailing address revealed that Wade grabbed the wrong box. He was still parked in the driveway, so we traded for the correct parcel and set up the new amplifier. The sound is heavenly. We decided sound is something we can’t live without.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I feel differently about collecting music after learning how much good music is available on YouTube. For example, I bought and treasured a copy of the first album Leo Kottke made. It was recorded at the Scholar coffeehouse on the West Bank in 1969. That album had a song he never recorded again, and it was a song I liked. But because I no longer have a turntable, I couldn’t play the album, and one day I gave that copy to tim.

    Now it is on YouTube. Several obscure albums I love and once owned in vinyl are there, too. I still have 6,000 tunes on my hard drive, but I might let all that go sometime since I can listen to just about any of them on YouTube.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The whole west wall of my living room in my pink bungalow was a giant bookshelf. My dad made it. I never tried to count all the books, but there would have been several hundred.

    I used to go to that wall and pick some book at random. It was like revisiting old friends. I had memories about every book there, especially those I wrote or those written by friends. Some books were associated with special moments in my history.

    When I sold that home and moved to Oregon I couldn’t think of a rational way to select which books I “had” to take with me. It was too much like trying to decide which friends you want to keep. In the end, I pretty much walked away from them all. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t remember one of those books and regret not bringing it with me. But that’s just how it is. It made sense once to have a large library of books, and now it does not.

    I don’t even have a small bookshelf in my current apartment. No room. When I read books now I drop them in the recycling bin or give them to my daughter. I miss having books, but no more than I miss other things no longer in my life.


  10. Books are difficult for me to let go of also. With time on my hands since retirement, I have been indulging in at least touching and opening them, if not actually reading. Just noticed a set of Audubon paintings that I had forgotten…with time to open one up and enjoy. time to go back for a longer better look.

    We have a little used book store in Mahtowa that takes in the orphans, for every book you turn in, you get to choose one to take. I’ve been very good about turning in stacks and/or boxes and not taking any back. But have actually bought quite a few. It is a disease…or, at least, an addiction.


  11. As Tim mentioned, I totally recommend any of the little books by Marie Kondo — “The Life-changingl Art of Tidying Up”. It’s a profound little book that can really help with deciding how to part with items that have a lot of emotions connected with them. I think she takes organizing to a minimalist extreme, but nevertheless, she has great ideas and has become quite popular in the past few years.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What can’t I live without? No surprise here – my photography equipment, software, etc. It’s kind of cluttered, though. I need to go through it all and figure out better ways to store them. Especially now that I have greeting cards and prints kicking around the place. It’s all kind of awkward stuff. (Books are easier to store – put it on a bookshelf and it looks good. This stuff – put it on shelves and it looks crappy.) Once I figure out what I want, I will look at the free section of craigslist to see if I can find what I want.

    I like books but not to the extent I did before. I used to have about 1,500. Now it’s maybe a couple hundred but it feels like the right amount. I do cheat a bit, though – I own 50 books on my ereader.

    The internet. Chocolate. Quiet places. Nature. Walks outdoors where I see beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. i have decided i have so much stuff i have almost zero attachment to that i will begin listing everything on ebay craigslist etc to make it useful out there in the land of need and want
    clothes yeas books yes many of my 15000 albums ( there are 1000 i do have attachment to) yes. some art pots and pans etc
    i am not able to focus by thinking about what’s not important only by focusing on what is
    i can always get another hammer or shirt but things if it’s my dads hammer or shirt i will hang onto it for now
    if it’s not toodeloo

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can’t really think of too many things that I can’t live without. If that’s the case, how come we have so much stuff that we really need to start getting rid of? Husband’s family heirlooms, of which we have a significant amount, would be the most obvious things to sell because some of them might actually be worth money. Most of my stuff would qualify as “junque,” of little monetary value to most people, but precious to me because of who made it or gave it to me, or the history of it. OK, I’ll admit there’s also a significant amount of just plain old “stuff” that has accumulated over the years; too good to throw away but could easily go to a new home. I should really get back on Freecycle.

    Books I don’t have trouble with – mostly. I take a fair amount of books to a used book store, others I just hand off to friends who want to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. We spent today making Bremen Klaben and sorting through our Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines from 1980-1990. We removed the recipes we wanted and tossed everything else. Boy, was life different in the 1980’s ! The opulent ads in Gourmet, and the women’s hair!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. A couple of months ago, as I was helping my mom and her husband prepare to move to assisted living, I learned of a book that will be released in English next month. I’m looking forward to reading “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.” It sounds like a helpful and practical book for the downsizing generation(s).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i have cousins that are distant
      they had been waiting for the wealthy frugal parents to die and when they did they immeadiatly ordered a dumpster and emptied and sold the family home saving nothing


      1. Basically, that’s what happened to my parents’ stuff. Neither my sister nor her two adult children wanted much of what they had. Aperitif glasses, that a few months before dad’s death he considered too precious for us to use for a sip together, were turned over to a company that specializes in emptying homes of deceased old folks. My sister actually had to pay the company to hall away teak furniture that no one in the family wanted, but which, I’m sure, fetched a nice price when sold to a company that exported it to the US.

        The sad part is that there were certain small items that I would have liked to have, but my sister considered it bad taste to take them with me when I returned to the US after visiting dad as he was dying. He no longer cared, but I didn’t want to hurt her sensibilities. These were small items of no monetary value, but items that were so representative of my parents’ way of life. In retrospect, I’m glad I don’t have them now. They both passed away in 1992, and I have precious little to remind me of them except my own stubborn self. Certain days that’s more than plenty.

        Liked by 2 people

  17. Will have to read later. OT: I saw Neighbor outside this morning, almost wimped out but got up my courage and went over to talk. Told him how I liked the lighted trees, but is there a volume control for the music, esp. after 10 pm? Very nice guy, he turned it down tonight so I can barely hear the Christmas music unless open our door. Whew.

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Like ljb, chocolate. Like BiR, Christmas decorations. Like Jacque, stuff that came from family.

    I have avoided the Marie Kondo books because I suspect they would just make me feel bad about myself. Maybe I will check out the Magnusson when the library gets it.


    1. Lots of people like the Kondo books but lots don’t like them. For me, it came at a good time and resonated with me and I believe the process had something to do with discovering (or re-discovering) that I should do photography. But I would never say that everyone should read them or that they are for everyone.


  19. Moving, or the anticipation of it, are good reasons for paring down, especially if you still have a set of encyclopedias and twenty-eight freezers. For myself I expect that life circumstances—physical or economic—will require a deaccession of some things and when the time comes I’ll make those choices. But not yet.

    There seems to be a tacit assumption underlying this thread that getting rid of one’s possessions is a virtue in itself, that material goods are necessarily anxiety-producing or burdensome. I can’t agree. Of course one can objectively have too much. If your possessions exceed your ability to suitably store and organize them (and I use “organize” in the broadest sense), you should pare down or improve your storage. If a portion of your possessions is truly clutter, then by all means cull, but clutter is a value judgement and not one anyone else can make for you.

    To answer the prompt question, there’s very little I couldn’t live without, but my quality of life would be diminished.

    The things I own and retain tend to represent potentialities. I have art supplies and tools of various kinds and books—lots of books— but for the most part they are not books I could or would get from the library. They are all books I hope to read and refer to. It’s a fact that I will not get to all of them in my remaining lifetime but I like having options and why not?

    If I were more a consumer of the passive and ephemeral—if I watched a lot of television or went to movies or read primarily contemporary novels—I could eliminate much of what takes up space in my home. But that’s not who I am and as long as I have a choice, my choice will be to retain the possibilities.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s a good point, Bill, and I think one of the reasons I have difficulty getting rid of stuff is because of the emotional attachment I have to it. For instance, my small baskets made by the Seri Indians who live in the Sonora Desert near Kino in Mexico. The Seri Indians are an ancient tribe whose numbers are dwindling fast, and while these baskets are not artistic masterpieces, they do represent an indigenous craft that is almost extinct. I have purchased these baskets directly from the women who made them, and Hans has made beautiful black and white portraits of the artisans, these items mean something to us. Now, if you look at these small baskets, no one in their right mind will pay $250.00 for each of them (although I did), so I know that unless I can hand them off to someone who will appreciate what they represent, they’ll just end up on sale at Goodwill for a buck, or heaven forbid, tossed into a dumpster.


      1. You can call it an emotional attachment but I think it’s more than that. You know and understand what the baskets signify and as such they are numinous. You would like to pass them on to someone who will protect them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes! And preferably not just protect them, but also appreciate their unique, primitive beauty.

          The same thing holds true for my Greenlandic tupilaks. I know I have mentioned those on the trail before. To most people they are probably just knick-knacks, to me they signify so much more. They are invested with the spirit of the people who made them.

          Bill, I think it’s interesting that the things you own and reatin are tools and materials that represent the potentiality of your own skill and creativity. Perhaps because I’m lacking in the creativity department, I’m holding on to the objects that are the result of other people’s creative pursuits. I really appreciate your insights and comments – a lot.


        1. 28? No, just 2 upright freezers, 1 small chest freezer, and 2 freezers that sit atop our two fridges. Now, if we were talking about different kinds of flour, 28 wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

          Liked by 1 person

  20. Just begun our own downsizing …… but within our existing home by only living on our ground floor of a three storey Cotswolds house. Books not so much a problem thanks to Kindle though! Our problem is …… clothes and already taken 5 sacks full to village charity shop. Kitchen utensils, gadgets, wine glasses next.


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