It’s five weeks after our holidays and summer finally arrived in the Netherlands. That is, I don’t feel the need to switch the heating system on in the morning anymore. Not that either Lawrance or me have time to enjoy the weather. Lawrance is definitely back in the rat race, having been to Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium…

And what about me? Well, I started getting rid of all the junk I managed to collect in my (rather spacious) house over the last thirty years. Lawrance calls it hoarding, but I don’t agree with that. A hoard to me means something that has a value. Either for mankind (like the Staffordshire hoard) or for a single person (to sell it and get money for it). But who would be interested in bank statements from the eighties? Not even the Tax Department! So I spend my days opening cans of worms, so to speak. And instead of putting them in a new, bigger can, I throw them in the paper wheelie bin, I shred some, and at night I enjoy sitting in front of the wood stove, getting rid of the real private paperwork (like very old bookkeeping stuff). The amount of paper that went into the wood stove would have been enough to heat the boat for at least a year! I still have to find space on our boat to store the seven years of bookkeeping that I need to keep for the Tax Department, though…

And since I have to read everything, in order to know if I have to keep it (which means scanning it later) or can throw it away, my past is also haunting me. The good times, but definitely the bad times. My remedy for a bad day is writing, and writing I did…! I spend at least an hour a day scanning all this. There might be a moment in the future that I want to read it all again. I also try to scan a picture album every day. I could have been a millionaire, had I not spent all that money on pictures, and picture albums! But I must admit, picture albums are a lot easier to scan than the loose pictures I keep in boxes.

It took me some time to find the right procedure to do this amount of scanning though. It has to be relatively fast, without too many mouse clicks. So what do I do? Most black and white stuff I scan with Nuance Omnipage. If it’s handwritten I save it as a pdf (and will type it in later), if it’s print I OCR it and make an ebook out of it. Picture albums I scan with Windows Fotogallery (eighty pages take about an hour), and process the files in Adobe Photoshop (there were 160 pictures in the album which took me about half an hour to process). If the background is a solid colour, Photoshop can find the different pictures on the page (Files – Automatic – Cutting and straightening pictures). And after that I save them. I don’t have the time to adjust colours or levels or what ever. I just have to find some space on the boat for the negatives, in case I ever want to get one printed in the future.
Oh, and by scanning and processing these 160 pictures myself, I saved about a hundred euro’s, which is not too bad.

So far I managed to empty a heap of carton boxes, scanned numerous pages and pictures, and made a (very small) pile of what I really need to keep as paper.
A car load of stuff (VW Golf, stuffed to the max) went to the skip. And while I was at the skip, a woman saw me throwing away a kind of wicker basket.
Are you throwing that away?”, she asked me.
I said: “Yes, do you want it?
Yes, please.
To my question if she wanted more of these baskets the answer was affirmative, so I got rid of some of my (empty) baskets as well.

Most of my baskets, ready to go

Most of my baskets, ready to go

Tomorrow the truck from the second hand shop will take away a heap of more or less valuable things, like an old windsurf wet suit, hand bags from the seventies, books, kitchen equipment from my camper van and empty picture frames.


Real old junk

Real old junk

And where would I be without the internet? Because that’s how I found out about the Cross Stitch Museum. It’s only twenty minutes away, and they were very happy with all my embroidered pictures. Well, the ones that were in the cellar, that is. They will get the other ones, still hanging in various rooms at a later moment. Otherwise my house will look too empty for possible buyers.
Because that will be the next step. Find a real estate agent, and put my house on the market. But in order to do so my house needs to be in pristine state, and it very hard to clean places like a cellar when there is a lot of junk. By the time I can let a real estate agent in, the holiday period in the Netherlands will be over, and people will be queuing in front of my house to view (and buy) it. I hope…

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