Everyone has a brand; at least that’s what my husband Bill says. You make a fashion statement when you dress, a transportation declaration when you drive, and when you decorate where you live, you declare your personal style: I have chosen Cluttered Victorian. 

Victoria was Queen of England from 1837 to 1901. She had nine kids and they gave her a lot stuff. She was also an Empress in India, parts of Africa, the Bahamas, and don’t forget Canada. People sent her stuff and she kept it. That 64-year reign is known as the Victorian era.

Now I have friends who look with a different eye on my décor. My friend Nancy, calls my home Early Halloween and another friend, Sonja Lee or Tots, calls my look Latter Mardi Gras. It is truly unique. OK, it is borderline hoarding.

I have collections of things—50s things, like paint-by-number sets that were popular, and I have two sets. One I painted and the other I bought at a garage sale. Then the 60s, lots of orange and brown Tupperware, couch covers in avocado and rope macramé potholders for potted plants. Silly! From the 1930s I have ceramic vases of pink and light blue, and antimacassars, which are crochet covers for the arms and backs of chairs. Then there is all kinds of Oriental art; you name it, I’ve got it. I have art from internment camps where Japanese Americans were kept during the Second World War. They made art from straw and twigs. It is especially dear because they made beauty in the face of tragedy. I can’t get rid of those.

Each corner of my home is a treasure to me, mostly memories of certain times in my life, or celebrations of some kind. So when we decided to get new windows for the house, I was in favor of removing the pillows from the drafty aluminum and vinyl skeletons, er, windows. We thought they were state of the art 30 years ago, but what we were sold is now double-pane glass with leaky, hard to close, UV destroyed, plastic wrapped, cracked and cloudy atrocities. They have been nightmares for the last 25 years. And away they go. Anderson windows are coming to replace 18 windows and two doors.

Here is where style and new windows meet. We have wrought iron on all our windows, and it must be removed to put the new ones into the house. Did I mention it is a two-story house? Then they have to tear up the windowsills and they need THREE FEET OF SPACE around each window to install correctly. I haven’t seen 3 feet of unused space in this haunted house in 32 years. But wanting to lower propane bills and stop from looking like a participant in the Alaska Iditarod, or Peary’s trip to the North Pole this winter, I am willing to clear a path.

Actually I am writing this column so I don’t have to face one more bedroom. I know my compulsion to keep ticket stubs, old buttons, and ceramic figures of all types is a special type of really crazy. But when I hold the object in my hand and think of a student who gave it to me, or my many relatives that have pawned off their stuff, or the costumes we used in a play, I can’t do it. I need to get rid of all the clothes and knick-knacks, and I am trying. If I haven’t used it in over a year, it goes to Bethel Storehouse or Salvation Army. If it has sentimental value, I put it in a plastic tub. If I must keep something, I hide it in the barns. Don’t tell Bill.

I know we will be happy when the windows are installed, if I live long enough to enjoy it when I clean out the clutter. If you have any good ideas on how to part with your beloved whatever, let me know at jomouse@aol.com. Roaring Mouse, shopping for another barn, out.