Getting Cheeky

In our neck of the woods the squirrels are hurrying and scurrying in fat-cheeked ernest as they gather, stock, and store in preparation for winter. These industrious little fellows click, chatter, and scold as we walk by, warning each other with staccato-like tail flicks of potential danger — “Duck and cover, there’s humans and dogs!”


Considered to be in the “autumn” of my life, I recently enjoyed my 57th birthday. Unlike squirrels, as a dyed-in-the-wool minimalist I have not amassed a collection of things. I have, however, accumulated great memories—with many more to come!

Do you stockpile anything?


98 thoughts on “Getting Cheeky

  1. I admit to being a bit of a squirrel or chipmunk when it comes to amassing things. It’s not so much that I like material things as I have trouble parting with anything that has a shred of nostalgia. Hence, we have a lot of ephemera, kids artwork, old files, old books… etc. Just. Too. Much. One of my goals is to declutter.

    • Julia – I don’t know if this idea will be helpful to you or not, but I photograph items like that before I part with them so that I can still look at them if/when I want to, but they’re all neat and organized in “albums” on my laptop 🙂

  2. Since my son’s 38th birthday on Sunday, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve tried to help my children value and store memories. I’m afraid that I’ve kept a little too much memorabilia, like Julia above, but now I have the joy of visiting the stash of “acorns” and letting them help me sort out the ones that get to remain. Thanks for another thoughtful, minimal, post with maximum impact, Laurie.

    • Shirley — I’m glad you’ve got “squirrels” to come and help you “gather acorns.” As I mentioned to Julia Munroe Martin, you may want to photograph those “acorns” before they leave the house and keep them in an online album that you can refer back to whenever you want 🙂

  3. Good morning, Laurie! Hmmm, stockpiling…I do not usually collect things. Sometimes I stockpile blogs, lol….OK heading off laughing! Happy day to you.

  4. Notebooks. New crisp, clean, inviting pages to write upon. From the simple to the sublime, I can’t resist picking one up and taking it home with me whenever the opportunity arises, or at least holding them in my hands and imagining doing so. From the simple and functional to the colorful and sumptuous, I have way more than I need. Definitely a squirrel.

    • Dorothy — I love the word picture you painted! I like writing with pen and paper, too. Once I’ve filled a composition book, I transfer what’s worth salvaging to my laptop (making edits along the way), and then the notebook gets recycled and replaced with another one, starting the whole process over again 🙂

  5. Oh gosh. I keep moving to smaller and smaller places which has helped me simplify and reduce possessions. I hold on to papers and books.

    At the same time, like the squirrel I do prepare for weather related shortages. I travel solo a lot for work by car so I always have a “go pack” in the trunk. For winter I have car items
    (jumper cables; etc.); first aid kit; a flannel blanket; energy bars; and water; led crank flash light; and NOAA radio. I still want to get a small folding shovel.
    At home I have a similar preparedness kit: LED lantern, NOAA radio; first aid kit, recommended 3 day water and extra food supplies and other recommended items.
    Living alone has taught me self-reliance. However I’m not shy about accepting help when need be.
    I guess I’m taking seriously the extra cold and extra snowy forecasts.

  6. As you know from our previous conversations Laurie, I neither stockpile much but nor am I a true minimalist – except for clothing. I never seem to have more than the bare necessities. Great photograph and all the best of the week to you!

    • Terrill — I’m with you, a few basic pieces of clothing can be dressed up or dressed down as the occasion demands (and my version of “dressed up” is many people’s idea of casual)…

  7. I think the minimalist approach is the way to go and hope, as a culture, we move more toward that. With the popularity of these ‘small houses,’ I think we ARE moving in that direction! Happy birthday — hope it was fabulous!

    • Melissa — Thank you for the warm birthday wishes. As you said, some people are moving toward smaller living spaces. The carriage house we live in is 600 square feet and we absolutely love it!

  8. My first thought was books, pens and journals …I have them everywhere . But then I thought dreams , without doubt , I stockpile dreams . I have always had a dream something to aim for . It doesn’t have to be anything major just a tiny dream that is special to me . Something secret that only I know about . I urge everyone to have a least one .

  9. First, I have to say, how much I enjoyed your opening sentence–as a sentence, that is–especially “fat-cheeked ernest.”

    What do I collect? As an artist, I’m experimenting with using metal bottle caps in my work, and so I pick them up off the street more than my partner Sara appreciates.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Kathryn — In the time that I’ve followed your blog I enjoy the vibrantly colorful photographs of the final outcome of what you do with the items you obtain. Your artistic projects never cease to amaze me 🙂

  10. Hey ho! Sometimes you just feel like a nut, eh? Squirrels are getting to be quite popular. There are two squirrel sites on Facebook 🙂 I have a picture almost identical to your picture…maybe closer up but it was the same tree (laugh)!! My sunflower garden was registered with Wildlife Federation this year because of all the activity…mainly focused on saving the bees. There have been a lot of bee parties with the yellow finches hanging out and chipmunks and squirrels scurrying about. They are quite friendly indeed. Next year I’ll be adding milkweed to help with the survival of Monarchs. Great article & love the little cheeky squirrels.

    • Thorns4Roses — We live in the historic east end of Boise. The tree (and squirrel) are just off Warm Springs Avenue. Are you anywhere close by?

      Your garden sounds AMAZING, and that it’s enriching the environment, even more so. My hat is off to YOU! 🙂

  11. There you go again making a punny title into something grand. And also turning a pejorative into a positive.

    I’m stock-piling memories at the moment, taking Aunt Ruthie out for her 96th birthday celebration.

    • Leanne — Several years ago I donated ALL of my books to the library for their annual fund-raiser event. I use the library almost exclusively for my book-reading needs. Once I finish a book, I take it back and it’s theirs to house. If I happen to buy a book, I give it away when I’m finished with it. No muss. No fuss.

      I agree with you that there’s ALWAYS room for MORE uplifting experiences and supportive people. ALWAYS! 🙂

  12. What I have a hard time parting with are books. But once a year our library has a fabulous booksale and I part with many there. My youngest brother was a hoarder. At one point his girlfriend told me he had 300 pairs of socks. So I’m quite familiar with the syndrome and try to clean out stuff on a regular basis.

    • Joan — yes, Yes, YES to donating books to your library’s annual fundraising event! That’s a wonderful way to streamline one’s book collection 🙂

      300 pairs of socks? Holy Toledo!

  13. I’m also with the people who have accumulated books. Through my studies and my love of reading I have many. Since I bought my Kindle I’m trying not to buy any more…I love owls and even when I try not to buy trinkets or new ones, friends who know I like them always give them to me as gifts, so…But like many people, I’m also trying to get rid of many of the things that now I don’t think are important.

    • Olga — I know so many people who ADORE their Kindles and other eReaders. It’s a hard thing to do — getting rid of things that people have purchased for you — but I’ve done it.

      Most people who know me well know I’d prefer not to receive gifts. To those who feel compelled to give me something, I request an Italian Orange scented soy candle from Stella Mare. It’s affordably priced. It burns clean. I love the fragrance. And it disappears with time 🙂

  14. Reblogged this on Karinconway's Blog and commented:
    I am working thru my storage unit now and enjoying the “freeing” feeling of releasing some items for other uses. It is a great feeling! 🙂 I’m lightening my load and finding all sorts of things to donate and recycle.

  15. Memories are much more fun to create and collect than things! But I do have a tendency to stockpile books… Once in a while I weed out the collection but there are a few that I just can’t seem to part with.

  16. Should I name a few! My family seems to be collectors of things. Even though I have moved many times, and had stuff in storage for way too long, waiting for another day to be used. Ha. For me mostly books, I love books. And now a collection of Photograph books and photographs of course.
    As we go through the house readying it for future sale, it is like a museum of our lives lived here for the past 57 years !

  17. Everything ! 😉
    I took the scout motto of “be prepared” to heart.
    We have several months of food on the premises – and guns, nets and fishing gear etc so that I could easily gather food in an emergency longer than 4 months. We also have half an acre of fruit and nut trees and gardens (including covered gardens under polythene).
    We have water supplies for 6 months, heating and cooking fuel to last a year, tools to fix anything, generators, information (over 20 terrabytes of onsite storage).
    I have many memories also.

    I have backups for everything – two generators, two saw benches, two cookers, 7 computers ……..

    I just don’t feel secure in a minimalist environment.
    I am aware of so many levels of threat, that my sense of security is maintained only by knowing that I have active mitigation strategies at hand for every level of threat I have identified.

    And I make an active effort to get out an experience life as well 😉

  18. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and black berries. My freezer is full until next June when I will start again…:)

    I used to stock pile books, now it is more fun to give them away and share!

  19. I stockpile many things (books, crystals, artwork, Mason jars, etc.), and only recently I’ve started REALLY APPRECIATING what I have, rather than feeling guilty about not being a minimalist. 🙂 Consider me a squirrel… AND PROUD!

  20. Laurie, I am wondering if I acknowledged your recent birthday on FB, I rarely forget those things! Oh boy stockpiling eh? My entire family are guilty as charged I’m afraid. never any minimalism here. Books, DVDs, blu-rays, CDs, the kids’ video games, and even two pinball machines (Addams family and Elvis) to boot. I’ve always been a collector and Lucille is a pack rat. A perfect match? What chance did the kids ever have? Ha! But yes there is nothing to match memories, and we have quite a few of those my friend. Lovely post!

  21. Nope — having lost a whole house-full of stuff in a fire a few years ago, I refuse to purchase or hang on to anything. When I have to buy something, I buy used when I can . . . I even purchased used kitties from the rescue shelter!

    • Barbara —Amen siSTAR! Like you, we buy things we need from resale shops as well; HIGH QUALITY items that other people have cast off for whatever reason. Clearly, great minds think alike — we also adopt our companion animals from shelters 🙂

  22. I am working at letting go and purging so as not to leave too much stuff to be cleared out when I move on – 20 or 30 years from now. I am trying to collect only photos and memories, but then I find a new hobby or renew one from many years ago which creates this “need” to collect supplies.

    • Carol — When it’s time to move on (20 or 30 years from now), we too don’t want our son to have to go dig through a mountain of “stuff.” Fortunately my hobby is bicycle riding so I only need one 🙂

  23. I only stockpile knowledge and memories. The latter frozen in time in my photos…lots of them! I love how the squirrels look at us when we walk by with a dog. I’ve seen that observing, evaluating look many times 🙂

  24. Laurie, I love the squirrel photo, he’s ready to dart away at the first indication of danger. Seeds. I love seeds. Flower seeds, vegetable seeds. Everything from artichokes to zucchini. I have enough squirreled away to plant a small third world country. No matter that I will never be able to plant them all, but I have them in original packaging stored safely in the Deep Freeze. And come Spring when the seed racks go up, I will buy more…just in case.

  25. We live in an old walnut and pecan grove. Just a few days ago I sat at my kitchen table and watched a squirrel bury a nut.

    Like that squirrel I’m also stocking up on food for winter. I’m not burying it outside though, it’s stored in my laundry room. This area is known for ice storms and I’m not driving into town on ice.

    The squirrels also like to use our deck railing as a dining table. I don’t mind, but I do wish they would clean up after themselves. When I go out in the morning there are all these empty walnut shells lined up on the rail.

  26. It’s funny to watch the squirrels in our backyard because they are in the same frenzy of activity–and they’ll have their food supply all winter. No snow and no loss to them! Instinct! I think my family set me in motion for the same “collecting” instinct, and for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to shift to a more “stuff free” life. It isn’t easy! I have several sets of old china and glassware that belonged to ‘every possible previous generation’ and antiques that have value, but tend to clutter…I could go on and on. I’m making progress, but it’s still going to take more time. But the secret is not bringing anything more into my life and that’s not been hard at all. I really want the freedom. 🙂

    • Three Well Beings — You’ve won half the battle in not bringing any more stuff into your home.

      We have a place here in Boise called “Ricochet” where people can take their high-end items and sell them on commission. I wonder if you have a place like that in your neck of the woods where you can take any items you no longer want/need?

  27. I love the idea of stockpiling memories. I think blogging has helped with that.
    Right now as I’m in the final stages of getting my next book completed, anyone who enters my house knows I stockpile books and papers! Books and papers EVERYWHERE! 🙂

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