Greeting cards for my kids/grandkid

Earlier in the year, my sister-in-law gave me some stamped post cards.

Earlier in the month, I made holiday cards for my kids, and mailed them.

When I owned my house on Walnut, we got hundreds of kids trick or treating. Their parents drove them in from less family friendly parts of the city. It was lots of fun.

Mom says if we get two trick or treaters tonight, she will give me a nickle. (That’s our high-stakes betting around here.)


Fun Family Photos

Yesterday I got into a box of old photos and found some real treasures.


My family when me and brothers were teens. I’m the one with the bad hair…..oh, wait….


Four generations. I’m sitting on my great-grandmother’s lap.


My dad is the boy with the glasses. Next to him my uncle Hank. Grandma Mimi is holding my cousin Rusty.


Here are some family that mom doesn’t know who they are. Mom is the last of her generation, so it will be hard to find out now.


Looks as though mom and dad’s wedding rings were $27.48 with tax.



Photo of two of my dad’s friends from high school. The one in front was killed in WW II.

Organizing Mom’s Papers


Two bins of files and seven bags of shredded papers.

While I am waiting for the spiders to die, I have been destroying one of their habitats–old dusty papers. Mom has been storing papers since dad died fifteen years ago in various hidey -holes and cabinets in the house. And she has been saving everything–every bank statement, every credit card receipt, newsletters from organizations my father belonged to.

I checked the preferences of my older brother, an attorney, who will be executor of my mothers estate, for how far back he wanted the records kept. With that information in mind, I began shredding anything no longer relevant.

I’m just getting started, I haven’t even gotten into the tax papers that my father saved from when he did the taxes. But I still manage to fill the recycle bin and trash can each week, and have stuff to take to the thrift store and offer up to the grandkids. Like this old washboard:


These things are selling on eBay for $20-$40. Still no takers in the family.

The Spider Problem


By the time the exterminator arrived, I had seven specimens.

The clearing of the basement has come to an abrupt halt with the discovery of an infestation of Brown Recluse spiders.

In case you are not familiar with the fauna of Missouri, they are a poisonous breed that live in the cracks and spaces in between, whose bite can leave a crater-sized wound in the flesh that takes weeks, and sometimes plastic surgery, to heal.

The exterminator has sprayed and left glue traps. I am working on other projects until his return in one month. He will check the glue traps and determine if repeated spraying is needed. Once the population is reduced (I’m told you can’t get rid of them completely) I will proceed to clear out the basement cautiously, taking care to protect myself with gloves and by jostling the piece I am about to pick up, to give any living critters a chance to move.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better argument for minimalism than Brown Recluse spiders. They love the protection of the clutter and seclusion in the basement. Because the wet bar sink and bathtub in the master bath have not been used for years, the traps under the sinks went dry. This left a vent-sized open door to outside spiders inviting them into the warmth inside. I found a spider living in each of these drains. I found one behind the refrigerator, one living in the leaves of a folding table that had not been opened in decades. And I found 30-40 empty egg sacs under the TV stand. Yuck.

The silver lining in the spider problem is that mom is far more willing to let go of unused objects that she ever would have been otherwise.

Meantime, I have turned my decluttering attention to other issues.

Oh, The Irony

The writer of the Small House, Big Life blog is now living in a big house.

When I lived in this house as a teenager, I knew that I didn’t want to live in a house like this as an adult. It is too big, requires too much time and money to maintain it.

My mother loves this house. She doesn’t want to live anywhere else. But she is frail enough that she can not take care of it alone. A lot of work just didn’t get done for the past 20 years or so. I moved in to take care of the house, so my mother can stay here for the rest of her life.

Before I got here, I thought that I would spend a month or so getting things in order and then on to writing my novel. I’ve been here 2.5 months now and I will probably need to work that much again to get things under control.

Here is a partial list of what I have been doing: cleared out the room and closet that is now my room. Sorted through that stuff and moved some to the basement, some to a thrift store and some to other family. Sanded, stained and sealed the floor in my room. Painted my room. Moved two old mattresses to the basement (and later to the curb for pick-up) and helped mom buy new ones, new linens for the guest room,  cleaned and sealed the limestone in the master bath, coordinated the electrician visits to replace the electrical panels for the house, moved two large rugs: one to a different room and one to the thrift store, cleaned and organized four kitchen drawers, fixed three assorted drawer pulls/knobs, cleaned out and organized two bath cabinets (from the master bath seven shoe boxes of expired medications and toiletries were taken to a hazardous waste center), cleaned and boxed up about thirty framed family photos, cleaned and organized the shelves in the laundry room, installed two new smoke detectors.

It is a good thing that I actually like to de-clutter and organize.