Does anyone else have any of these extra challenges when it comes to purging and decluttering?

Here’s the first one: You’ve separated out your piles, boxes and bags of stuff to get rid of and then they just sit there.

It takes as much effort to actually get them off your premises as it did to get them ready to take away. This is not the trash we’re talking about. It’s the deliveries, returns, donations, etc. Right now, many places accepting things are closed and that adds to the preexisting phenomenon.

I think for me it might be related to my number two perplexing challenge: I often get 85 percent done with a project and then leave it. There’s something about that last 15 percent. And no, it’s not that I’ve enjoyed it so much up to that point that I don’t want to be finished.

Or perhaps it’s because my projects are always leap-frogging. Lately I’ve been going full bore into the archives. Truthfully and optimistically, I’m only about 15 percent done with that. But last week I walked by the cartons of books we’d cleared out of our bookcases a good three months ago.

They were in five or six boxes, right next to the sofa, so I’d notice them numerous times each day. But of course I didn’t notice them, until this particular day.

My husband had started taking small sacks of them — all he could fit under the seat of his scooter — to his building on campus, then left them outside the office. The books were always quick to disappear, but then the university shut down. We still had four or five cartons by the sofa. I’d been noticing these Little Free Libraries around town.

Hey, now that’s an idea. We live on a busy street too, so a please-take-some book receptacle might get a lot of notice out in front, especially since there are a lot more people — and some very happy dogs I might add — walking around the neighborhoods this particular spring.

I went to check things out at littlefreelibrary.org. Maybe we’d buy one of those cute little house things, or maybe just some plans so I could make one — though another project was the last thing I needed.

Wow. Little Free Library, the nonprofit, is pretty sweet. It was started by Todd H. Bol in 2009. There are now over 100,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide. And yes, there’s a store, with boxes, plans and more. But yikes. Way out of our budget.Even to simply “register” and get an official numbered plaque is out of the budget at this moment, even though it includes access to a world map of libraries, community forums and more.

But I happened to search further and saw tons of registered DIY boxes, some of them darned whacky. I got to thinking and looking around our place.

I found our old Coleman cooler. Still works, but with broken hinges, so the lid is separate. I could turn the thing on its side, take the detached lid and make that into an overhanging eave to protect the books from weather. But I’d need a table or something to put it on.

Oh, I can spare one of the ArtCamp tables. I don’t need them all. Hmm … How to put it together so the cooler doesn’t blow off the table?

Duct tape.

I put on a facemask and headed to the building supply.

Wow. Which color of duct tape? Too many choices. How about all of them.

It took me a while to tape and lash together my cooler library, and strap it to the table. But I even made a plaque: “Unofficial Little Free Library No. 0000002.”

It’s number 2, because there’s got to be at least one other imposter out there somewhere.I’m looking forward to seeing if it gets any business.

I’m also hoping I won’t get busted. Or cited by the local police for a neighborhood eyesore. Hopefully the officers will check out the book selection first and maybe find some things to take away. Hopefully my neighbors will too.

And now I’m going to try to leapfrog back to the archives. I’ll report back on both projects.

Jeanne Leffingwell is still plugging away at ‘downsizing without moving or dying.’ To commiserate, reach her at

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