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Mychal Wilmes: Decluttering campaign takes its toll

Our house, which once seemed two sizes too small, is growing larger because of Kathy's de-cluttering campaign. I'm a bit player in the process, due to the belief that no matter how large a house is, its inhabitants will fill all available space with things.

Thus far, the de-cluttering has involved removing a mattress and a battered chest of drawers. Mother's Singer sewing machine has been shuttled to what used to be the girls' closet. A Michael Jordan poster has been removed. What remains on the walls are small fingerprints in plaster and glitter-encrusted "I love yous'' on construction paper.

I fear the campaign will soon intensify.

Kathy has designs to rid the kitchen of itsdark paneling and replace it with a yellow paint that will let the sun shine in. I do not protest much, because I have another project in mind.

I would like to replace the clipper ship wallpaper in the bathroom because it is a daily reminder that I flunked swimming class. The instructor insisted that failure didn't reflect badly on me because muscle-bound Adonis bodies can't swim. It was both the first and last time I was called an Adonis.


My to-dos continue to grow as summer ebbs. Two old furnaces — one heavier than a German Tiger tank — must be removed from the basement. Three basement holes that were once windows must be cemented before winter delivers its blow. I don't like working in the basement, because 25 years ago it was supposed to be transformed into recreation and living rooms. Around-to-its are hard to find when one's heart and mind doesn't get it.

I'm not certain how committed Kathy actually is to de-cluttering.

Recent garage sales have yielded a remarkable bounty of Lincoln Logs, plastic toys and miscellaneous items for our grandson's use.

"It seems to me you are backsliding,'' I said while retrieving logs from beneath the couch's cushions.

The urn that contains Wishbone's ashes has been targeted for removal. The dog — the best one we ever had because it was the children's first and grew from a runty puppy into their guard — died five years ago. Rachel found her as a giveaway in a cardboard box and the kids named her Wishbone after the Jack Russell terrier who starred in the public TV series of the same name. The TV star lived up to its "the little dog with a big imagination'' moniker by taking watchers through classic literature adventures.

We intended to include the entire family in placing Wishbone's ashes in the stream and burying her dish beneath the tree that she liked best. Lives get busy and no one seemed fired up about the ceremony. It was well past time to take the tin box from the mantle. Sam was around to help.

"We should say a prayer or something,'' I said.

"We just need to thank Wishbone for being who she was,'' Sam said.


I had a first dog a long time ago. Laddie was a collie who was an expert at trailing break-out livestock back into confinement. Laddie was still young when we gathered around the kitchen table as fading daylight left behind the day's heat. He had been in a fight with a skunk and gotten the worst of it. While we talked, Laddie paced in a drunken pattern behind a hastily erected fence. Some thought we ought to call the veterinarian. Dad said it would be a waste of money because dogs that are foaming-at-the-mouth mad can't recover.

Dad asked someone to get the shotgun, which was kept hidden in the bedroom closet. More than a few tears — including some of his own — fell.

No one followed him out the door or said anything until after it was over.

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