the abundance project

I’m 12 days into the abundance project, in which I empty out our clutter, give away what’s more useful in other hands, throw away what’s not useful to anyone, and appreciate the things that I keep.

1. a once-favorite black cotton sweater, soft and flowing but too ripped at the sleeve to repair. It was so comfortable to schlumph around the house in it. Except for the frayed yarn that tickles and scratches. And the sleeves won’t stay pushed up when I’m cooking. And it’s so soft and worn that it’s a bit see-through. And the tag always did irritate my neck, so when I wear it around the house, I turn it inside-out. And it’s acquired a faint odor that won’t wash out — not a dirty smell, but maybe a not-clean smell. So hang on: I’ve been walking around in a raggedy threadbare smelly sloppy-sleeved inside-out sweater and thinking it was cozy? TRASH.

2. a black boatneck nubbly cotton-linen tunic. It’s a little washed out now. But as not-quite-pajamas, it’s a cozy replacement for the sweater at #1. USE.

3. an azure drape cardigan. In the online image, it looked light and breezy. In person, it looked like the drapey, draggy jackets Liz Lemon would wear to obscure Tina Fey’s pregnancy. I tried pinning it or belting it, and thought about adding buttons and buttonholes, but — of course — ended up stuffing it in a closet and forgetting about it. This week, I tried the simplest fix of all: tossing it on over a fitted dress and knotting it in front. Ta-da! USE.

4. a paperback of John Fowles’ The Magus. Bought it used, read it begrudgingly, infuriatingly discovered the last few pages are missing. Today, three years later, it went into the recycling bin. TRASH.

5. a pricey lavender soy pillar candle. As soon as I took it out of the plastic, I knew I couldn’t stand the flowery scent, but I tried — oh, how I tried! Apparently I jammed it onto a closet shelf and left it there to infuse everything with that scent… that scent I cannot stand. TRASH.

6. a maroon pima t-shirt that I wore frequently until it shrank. I didn’t toss it (even after I discovered a hole near the front hem) because the fabric is so nice: soft and luxurious, and a deep rich color. I always thought I’d refashion it into something else. Well, this week, I did: from the arms, an Alice band and a kerchief-style hairband; from the body, a long circle scarf. I’ve been wearing lots of winy and deep red shades lately, so this scarf should come in handy as autumn gets cooler and crisper. USE.

7, 8, 9. I spent this afternoon sorting through milk crates full of old papers and notebooks, and I’m arbitrarily giving myself credit for disposing of three things. Among them: old sketchpads, stacks of magazines (a very few into my craft box, most into recycling), and a battered plastic paintbox. TRASH.

10. While sorting through that pile of stuff, I discovered a completely forgotten sweater — a favorite style that I bought on clearance in duplicate colors — that’s perfect for this between-seasons September weather. USE.

11. The glass and brass hurricane candle holder Mom gave me. It’s very handsome and functional, and has been boxed up in bubble wrap for the past two or three moves; maybe a friend with a deck would like it. GIVE.

12. The plum-colored fleece throw sister N. made me. I found it balled up in a closet, dusty and stale. I washed it, dried it, and tossed it on the futon so it’s easy to grab when the evenings cool down. USE.

13. My favorite jeans. They’re perfectly fitted, flattering, and soft — so soft, in fact, from countless wearings and washings that I daren’t wear them. The vulnerable spot right below the rear pockets, the sit-upon spot that has perched on so many rocks and rough benches and grassy slopes and porch railings, has worn treacherously thin. The last time I washed them, I held them to the light and realized I daren’t wear them again; the patch under the pockets is that close to just disintegrating, whispering away into nothing. So… why did I keep them, tidily folded away, for at least two years after that? TRASH.

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