Tag Archives: image

things to hold on to, things to let go

Sadie just left for her new life on a country farm. We’ve had ample time to prepare for her departure, and because she’s visited the farm several times already, we know she’s happy there. All of this preparation makes her absence much less sad than it could have been. Letting something I’ve loved for a long time go to a better home is OK. Besides, in my mind, Sadie will live happily ever after. I will never have to suffer those days of watching her in pain or the agony of deciding to put her down.

While I’m able to let go on this point, I still hold on to ridiculous pieces of someone’s past, not sure where to file them. These two photographs were tucked inside of a rare book by Marie Cardinal that I picked up at a flea market in Lausanne, Switzerland. I have held on to them for the past ten years, not knowing who the woman is, but imagining she looks something like Cardinal. I’ve studied the pictures over the years and tucked them back in the book again, forgetting they exist. It’s almost as though I’m the guardian of someone else’s memory, a memory now vacant of meaning and waiting for my story to transpose itself there. Will my new photo replace the paper copies making the meaning now mine? Am I the new home for this adopted memory, a better place for the image to live on? Or is it now up to me to decide if the photos should be discarded, laid to rest, put down and out of their misery?

inherited antiques

While cleaning out the basement this weekend, D. brought out a box of doll house furniture that I requested from my parents last year. This box sat in the top of my closet at my parents’ house for the last 20 years and it contained pieces I had inherited from I do not know whom. I  know the furniture is old: that’s visible in the blue style of the kitchen appliances and the type of plastic used to form them. There are little dolls made in Hong Kong that look like they were to resemble American Farm Life of the 1950s. There’s a little boy with his naked butt showing because the hatch on the back of his pajamas has come open. How old is that image?

I decided to soak the pieces in a bleach solution because, to my knowledge, they had never been cleaned. I remember playing with the furniture when I was a small child … until my brother and second cousin had a war with their army men inside my doll house and destroyed a good bit of it.

I believe the furniture came from my mother and maybe some of it predates her childhood. How can you throw it out when you don’t know where it came from? But I did throw out the broken pieces, even some that could easily be fixed. I then sorted through the clutter and gave our daughter the parts that don’t seem so breakable and saved a few of the nicer pieces in a box on her shelf.

Striking in this process was the image of a hoard of toy furniture, not much different in appearance from a life-sized hoarding house.


Part of the downfall of craigslist for me is that the weeding out simultaneously creates a new type of collection. To properly list and successfully sell items, I photograph them. And now my hard drive is filling with images of the items that no longer clutter the house. A few of the images were deleted with ease, but I have duplicates. A new compulsion to catalogue what leaves the house tugs at me gently, rationalizing itself as beautiful.

exemplifying clutter

While searching for images of cluttered homes and coming up rather empty-handed, I stumbled into Nikdaum.com‘s exploration of “chaos” in Thailand. While he finds chaos in his surroundings, I find the way he framed them to be structured studies of clutter. This particular image typifies the beauty in clutter.