The representative from the town assessor’s office came by yesterday to look at the inside of my house. Someone had been by a few weeks ago, but we weren’t home. They had the new photos of the outside. Now they needed to inventory the inside. According to my husband it was easy: just let the guy in and show him that we still have only 1 & 1/2 bathrooms.
It was easy. But he looked at more than the bathrooms. We went down into the basement, where he measured the room. He looked at the unfinished area and asked what was behind the wall in back of the washing machine. (The garage.)
He looked around the first floor and checked the upstairs. He asked about attic access, but didn’t need to go up. He noted that we had pulled a permit last year for a new roof and I noted that we did, in fact, have a new roof. And other than some cosmetic changes (paint and wallpaper) and some repairs, the rest of the house was the same as the last time they were in it 10 years ago.
It’s strange to let a stranger in to look at your house. He was nice. We had a nice conversation about old houses, non-conforming lots, permits, garages, and stuff. He told me that his wife is a neat and tidy person and his stuff, therefore, becomes the clutter of his house. As the person in my house with too many hobbies and too many books, I understand how that works.
As I walked through my house with him and after he left, I paid attention to the “too much stuff.” The pile of books that I really intend to read. Someday. The bookshelves that need another purging to make room for the books I use. I thought about the books I like and the books I think I ought to keep that I don’t read; the ones that are taking up valuable book real estate. (Happily the town dump has a “give and get” book section. As long as I just leave books without looking at what others have left I’ll be fine.)
I looked at the art supplies, and yarn, and fabric that I use but also the projects I intend to get to (including some art exchanges and community projects that I will get to – because they have deadlines.) The clothes I intend to give away, with a full donation bag already sitting on the bedroom floor.
The representative from the town just inventoried the property. I am inventorying the “stuff” that fills the property. As we move through Elul, I have the intention to clear out part of the inventory. Some of it will be easy – we’ve gone computerized at work, so “goodbye” to the boxes of forms in the garage. Some will be harder – I really, really, really love books and the Kindle is not the same as turning a real page. But I want to enter the new year with more space – so that my home and my heart (and my closet) will be filled, not with things that I intend to use, but with what I really will use and with what I love.
# BlogElul is a project created and coordinated by my colleague Rabbi Phyllis Sommer to help us thoughtfully and prayerfully move into the new year