Recoup My Coop – Dining Room Corner: Progress!

Remember a loooong time ago, almost a year ago, when I started the Recoup My Coup series? And remember a post entitled, Recoup My Coop – Dining Room Corner Declutter – The Plan? Well, I’ve finally made some progress!

These were the main items that were living in that corner a year ago:

  • soap making supplies
  • bow and arrows
  • tennis racquet
  • a box of videos and DVDs
  • winter coats, jackets, and hats
  • papers (ugh)
  • bike helmet, skateboarding helmet, roller skates
  • skateboard
  • soccer ball
  • scooter
  • backpack

The main type of clutter was sports equipment, and still is. Most of these items will eventually go in the coat closet, once I complete the remodel, but for now will be returned to this location once they have been sorted. Soap making supplies have moved to a cabinet in the kitchen, so that they are easily accessible when I make soap. My scooter helmet and gear now lives on the small bookcase in another area of the dining room.

So when I started working on the area this weekend, it looked like this:

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I removed everything from the corner and cleaned it well. Then I began sorting out the items that should be kept. Some things got relocated. The bag full of bags was relocated to the trunk of the car to be used for groceries. Two folding tables and a bolt of fabric got taken upstairs. There were several boxes that had to be sorted through, so I set them aside. Other items would be returned to the area. The remaining items were sorted for donation or removal: a box of old cell phones for recycling, a few donations for Goodwill, a backpack that needed to be returned to work.

I then turned my attention to the four boxes which needed to be sorted. One held craft supplies and one held my daughter’s schoolwork and artwork. The other two were filled with papers, cards, letters, notes, mementos, and so on.

I started going through one of these boxes of letters last year and became pretty quickly overwhelmed. There were literally thousands of items, so it was time-consuming and exhausting going through them. When I decided this weekend to revisit the boxes of paper, I seriously considered just dumping the whole thing in the garbage. But instead, I sighed and began sorting through the items.

When I was young, I had pen pals all over the world. The box that I worked through was filled with letters from my pen pals, as well as letters and notes from school friends, letters from my parents when I went away to college, cards and letters from my grandparents, and on and on. I ended up tossing 95% of the items from the box. I saved some notes from my high school friend Susan, some letters and cards from my parents, a few letters from my sister, a few of the many letters and cards from my grandparents, a couple of letters from high school friends, and a bundle of letters from some of my pen pals in Japan, India, and Malaysia.

I also saved a handful of what were called “friendship books”. These were little booklets that you would put together and send to a pen pal. They would put their address, write something about themselves, then send it on to one of their other pen pals. When the book was full, the last person would return it to the originator. You then had a booklet of the names and addresses of new people you could correspond with.

I had dozens of these books, possibly a hundred. I saved a choice few that had traveled all over the world. One of my favorites went to East Germany on its way to Bulgaria, Poland, and South Africa, among other places. Cool!

I was able to condense the huge box of letters down to about half a shoe box. I would like to eventually go through and scrapbook the items that I selected to keep, so that I can enjoy them.

When my daughter returned from skateboarding, she helped me sort through the boxes of craft supplies and school/artwork. We were able to pair down both of these boxes substantially. We now have a well-organized box of craft supplies, and a box of artwork that I hope to frame and display.

With everything sorted, relocated, or disposed of, I returned the remaining items to the corner of the dining room.

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While the area is still not completely clear, I feel that I made quite a bit of progress. For one thing, I can get to the blanket chest now, which will be the next area that I tackle.

However, the best part of the whole process was what I found in that box of letters and cards. Near the bottom, mixed with some letters from my parents, I found a birthday card addressed to my dad. I opened it up and it was from my grandmother. It was postmarked 1981, the year that she passed away. I phoned my dad to tell him about it, and he was absolutely floored. He said that she had never sent him birthday cards – usually she would just call to wish him a happy birthday. So not only was this one of the only birthday cards that she ever sent him, but it was the last that should would have ever been able to send him.

After I hung up the phone, I set the card aside to take to my dad the next time we see them. I know it means so much to him to have this memento of his mother. And I am very thankful that I didn’t just toss the whole box! A happy ending all around.

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