Saturday, October 10, 2009


Some of you that read what I write here are too young to remember George Carlin's routine about "Stuff." Others will remember it quite well. It started like this:

     Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff. That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there. That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

     A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you're saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff!

Today I got to clean out more stuff than I ever want to see again. Unfortunately, there will be many more hours of working on this particular "stuff." My father-in-law has been an antique dealer (as a hobby) for 45 years. He was responsible for finding, framing and selling many of the items you see across the country on the walls of a popular chain restaurant. A year ago he was involved in an accident, which at his age, was the end of his antiquing.

Today my husband, his sister and I (along with a couple of cousins that stopped to help for a few hours) attempted to clean out the 3 car garage that was his workshop. He has literally thousands of old magazines, old phones, typewriters, pictures, get the picture. We threw away a lot of stuff. We donated a lot of stuff. We still ended up with a completely full 3 car garage. He also has 2 storage spaces that I understand are full.

My father-in-law was there during this process, doing more than he should. He was telling us the stories behind the items, telling us that we really should take things home with us and telling us we couldn't get rid of this or that because "he needed it." My husband and I could barely stay awake to drive the hour or so home. We hurt everywhere.

My "mom hint" for all of you today, is try to control your "stuff." If you are young and just starting out, you probably don't have much yet. Your grandparents might need a little nudge to start getting rid of some things. If you are my age, you are probably still housing your kids "stuff" even if they don't live there anymore. I wonder if there will ever be a day when the Ninja Turtles and the baby dolls can go live at someone else's house. I have tried over the past few years to get things in tubs with labels. I'm not entirely successful, but I'm getting there.

If you happen to be the age of my in-laws, you are very cool to be blogging! You also need to organize, label and get rid of some of your "stuff" so that your middle-aged kids don't have to do what we did today. It was not only hard work, it was emotionally draining. I felt as if we were saying to my father-in-law, you can't do what you love are too old. It made me sad.


Life Laugh Latte said...

Such wise advice. My father was a collector and it was overwhelming and painful to have to figure out what to do with the things he took such pride in collecting. I made a vow I would never do that. Only a very few things made it into the hands of us kids. What I really wanted was the suede jacket he wore often that smelled just like him. It is still in a bag, closed tightly. I dare to open once a year to inhale the fragrance that meant LOVE to me. Love the post. Glad I am now following both of your blogs. Thanks for the comments. Holly at

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hey Sue
I've never been to your MOM blog. hehe
Well I'm sure I am old enough but I don't know this George Carlin's routine but it is so true!

Now though.. you have me yearning for YOUR stuff.. those typewriters!!

Although on a sadder note. It is sad that he can no longer antique. When my father died [my mother already gone] we had to clean out his garage to sell the house. There it was.. my childhood gone mouldy and somewhat ruined. Luckily I salvaged some family photos but yes it was an exhausting and emotional experience.

Great post.
Ciao.. x Julie

Sue said...

Holly-I am lucky enough to still have both of my parents but can so imagine feeling the same way about something belonging to my dad. Thanks for the kind words, I'm really enjoying you and Charisse as well.

Julie-I'm glad you made a visit to this blog. You will probably get to "know" me better on this one. I only wish you could visit my in-laws house and do a little shopping. We have so much to get rid of and we aren't quite sure how we will go about it. I don't think there is an easy time to go through things. When they are gone, it would be so very sad. When they are watching, you feel as if you are violating their space.

Kate said...

I have "stuff" that I know I do not need, but somehow can't get rid of... this has given me the motivation to really get up into my guest room closet and just start purging. And hey, maybe I'll make a few bucks on CraigsList in the process.

Sue said...

Kate-you are still young and in the "gathering" stage of life, I'm still "gathering" a bit myself, but I've decided that when new stuff comes in, old stuff needs to go out.


Lexie said...

my grandmother is slowly whittling down all of her collections (she has sooo many!) so that my dad and aunt don't have to! it's sad, but understandable.

in response to your comment: you can definitely wear patterned tights! i think that as long as you're dressed appropriate for the weather and the occasion, you should have fun with your clothes - no matter what age!

Sue said...

Lexie-It is sad, but maybe it is better that she is doing it when she wants to...rather than when she has to.

LOL about the tights...somehow I knew that is what you'd say!

Beach House 27 said...

I do remember George Carlins bit about stuff and I still think about it every time we fly over residentials. I woulda loved coming over to "help" you guys clean out the garage and storage - my kind of busy afternoon!

Just about every Sat morning there's at least one or two garage sales that a lady takes me into her garage and shows me stuff {usually includes a vintage car} her husband was saving for retirement -and died too soon.

Everyday I tell myself to live for today.

Have a good one -

See you soon

Sue said...

Marsha-live for today is a great motto. Luckily, my fil had several years of enjoying his hobby before his health took a bad turn. I just wish he'd kept the amount of things he purchased to some kind of normal. It was crazy.

BrightenedBoy said...

We had a similar experience when my elderly grandmother got liver cancer. She was eighty-one years old and had been antiquing for most of her life.

Her three-hundred-year-old home was full to bursting with old items, most of which we threw away.

When you do clean out things you don't need, though, it makes you feel so good.

Nice Mom tip.

Sue said...

Thanks BB. It was quite eye-opening for us. We knew he had a lot of stuff, just not this much stuff.

J Rodney said...

Great advice! My dad lives on a farm, so he has a lot of stuff. We went through a period of two years, where we moved three times though, and this really cleared out a lot of stuff. Since I have been moving around with a couple of suitcases for much of my adult life, I have yet to acquire a whole lot of stuff. I still get to freecycle quite a bit though.

Sue said...

Frug-moving is a great way to be forced to let go of things.

Kelsey said...

Someday you'll be able to get rid of the baby dolls....not any time soon though!

Sue said...

Aw sweetie-I love your baby dolls!