The Box Lady

No, that’s not a typo.

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The walls of Castle Chiconia

I have become a slightly mad-eyed eccentric, who, armed with a supermarket trolley, goes combing through dumpsters and cardboard recycling bins after suitable packing materials. I have 28 days to pack up this house, and I’ll be mostly doing it by myself. There’s no point being complacent and imagining it’ll somehow happen in the last 10 days. Years of experience and many moves tell me that this is an illusion and the grim truth is that the last few days will be a frenzy.   I will end up shoving things into black plastic garbage sacks because there just isn’t a box the right size and shape…

I . will . not  buy brand new cardboard boxes for moving. There are hundreds of thousands of boxes out there which need to be recycled, and while I accomplish my mission to Get This House Packed, I can be doing the planet a favour. It’s tempting, mind you. But I won’t.

The result is sometimes unexpected. I was in a well know Australian DIY superstore, where they have bins of empty cardboard boxes for the customers to use to take their bits of hardware and cans of paint home in. (They don’t give you plastic bags any more, which is great.) I asked nicely if I could have several boxes, and was told that it was OK to have as many as I liked on Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday through Monday, however, I will be restricted to one, due to the weekend rush… So I got stuck in.

I noticed a young woman eyeing me as I was head down and bum up in the box bin. I gave her my best Box Lady smile, trying for Mad but Harmless as opposed to Mad and Dangerous… As I pushed my loot out the door, she approached me and asked if I was collecting boxes to move house. Sure am, ma’am. She then offered me 10 large tea chest size boxes she was desperate to be rid of, having been given an ultimatum by her other half; they’d been sitting around her house for 3 months. She didn’t want them back, and would I please save her bacon by taking them away.  Woo hoo! A little more serendipitous planet saving!

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I have a tape gun, and I’m not afraid to use it!

Packfest starts tomorrow after the Husband departs for work in the afternoon. The trick is going to be deciding what I can do without for the next month. The first victim will be the books in my sewing room. Then I can take down the shelves and track. It will make quiltmaking impossible for a while, but I can do other things. Like packing. And stacking, and sorting, and chucking out, and fishing things the Husband really, really wanted to keep back out of the bin.

Now, excuse me while I go and practice my Mad Box Lady muttering and arm waving…


36 thoughts on “The Box Lady

  1. Rather you than me! We used to be able to go round the back of the large supermarkets and asked for boxes which they were glad to move on. Now, the crates full of cardboard are deemed to be a fire hazard so they will only give boxes to recycling companies. It’s not just the box lady who has gone mad 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but shelf stackers are now equipped with box cutters, so the boxes are destroyed before they even make it out the back. Luckily there are still a few enlightened companies out there.

  2. itwasjudith says:

    Good luck! it sounds anyway that you’re doing pretty well thus far 🙂
    I once had many boxes to give away and used Freecycle ( – is that an option in your area?

  3. Oh the pain of all that chucking out! And the weight of all those books (I think it was that which was responsible for breaking my spine). We gave loads away, sold some and yet still spent what seemed like hours trundling stuff to the tip. Are you not having removers? They will usually lend you boxes, hanging racks etc. Here you pay a euro per box which you get back when you return them.
    Bon courage.

  4. Kirsten says:

    I hope you were wearing an eclectic mix of clothing whilst rummaging bum up in the bin!!

  5. After my sister moved in January, many of her boxes became mulch for the garden… so, indirectly, she’s been eating them all summer. I hope you can find something delicious to do with yours too once the move is done.
    Oh, and I’m enjoying imagining you in pink ball gown and wellies… I think you probably need a hat too!

  6. KerryCan says:

    I swear I broke out into a cold sweat, just reading about your moving plans! SO daunting!

    • katechiconi says:

      It always seems that way at the beginning, but as more gets packed and the day gets closer, the scope of work gets smaller and simpler. And I’ve done it many times before. It’s not fun, but it’s completely manageable.

  7. I have a pith helmet, brightly coloured wellies, cardigans in every colour and a ball gown that would suit the brief if you were flexible to allow green instead of pink. Otherwise, I doubt you will be able to pull off Mad and Dangerous. But Mad and Harmless earned you those tea chests. It obviously works for you!
    I am now a little worried about my wardrobe choices.

  8. tialys says:

    It’s a good job I don’t live near you otherwise I’d be elbowing you out of the way. I need different sizes of cardboard box for the different shapes and sizes of vintage items I sell so am always haunting supermarket aisles, shop doorways and tops of bins as well as banning friends and neighbours from putting out suitable boxes for recycling. My daughter has banned me from doing any of this when she is with me as she can’t bear the embarrassment. Just a tip -careful when you pick up a box at street level. I bought one home once and I couldn’t understand why my dogs seemed so interested in it until I realised it had been peed on by a passing mutt.
    Have fun!

    • katechiconi says:

      A very good tip! The supermarkets here are hopeless, I’m thinking somewhere that does bedding and homewares would have larger boxes and might not break the boxes up immediately.

  9. Clare says:

    Last time we moved, it was right after New Year’s, which is generally a snowy and horrible time to move in Chicago. However, since it was right after Christmas the alleys were overflowing with empty gift boxes big and small!

  10. Oh, I love the serendipity of the lady trying to get rid of her boxes! Excellent. It is also a bit maddening how many big box stores don’t let you have boxes because they immediately smash and compact them.

    • katechiconi says:

      Wasn’t it great? One of those ‘meant to be’ scenarious. She had what I needed and I had what she needed. To be honest, a lot of the boxes the supermarkets break up are much too flimsy for moving; they’re designed to hold light packaging together for transit, not keep heavy kitchenware in one piece. The hardware store boxes are better.

  11. are you already packing ??? good luck !!!!

  12. Kaja says:

    Good luck! I totally recognize the last minute frenzy: last time I moved I got rid of LOADS of stuff but come the final day, there we were, stuffing black bin bags. Has to be done.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m hoping to avoid the worst of that by starting really early. The trick will be to keep up a steady pace of packing rather than making excuses not to because ‘there’s loads of time’!

  13. Carole says:

    I’m shuddering at the thought of ever moving again, given how many books I have, and how much crafting stash.
    Still, it is a good excuse for a severe decluttering so you should have a nice tidy home once you’ve moved. Good luck with it 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Actually, I find packing the books pretty easy. They just plonk into the boxes and I don’t have to worry about whether to keep them or not. Craft stuff is harder, but anything fabric related of course comes with me; it’s the scraps of ribbon, small bits of paper, reels of thread with just a tiny bit left that slow me down!

  14. Just don’t pack in garbage bags.

    The first time we moved I thought I was clever, throwing actual garbage in black bags and packing some stuff we needed to move in white bags.

    Several white bags were packed with soft towels from my kitchen around some of my favorite books kept in that room, mostly cookbooks with notations about recipe conversions but also some how-to books. Little did I know that my new husband used a few of those same white bags to stuff in old repair manuals and old shop towels he meant to throw away. My kitchen bags, by the door ready to go, looked and felt the same as his bags. Somehow mine got tossed out and his got packed on the truck.

    • katechiconi says:

      That little word ‘somehow’ speaks volumes… It’s hard work, but I’ll be doing most of the packing – mostly because I’m much better at it, but also as I’m here all day and the Husband is not. That way I have some control over what goes where. Garbage bags are a matter of last resort and if I have my way, they won’t feature in the process. I’ve just been to fetch the third trailer load of cardboard boxes – it was Father’s Day this weekend, and the hardware store has lots and lots of big boxes from routers, drop saws, chainsaws, drills, etc.

  15. You’re funny. And trigger happy, now, too 🙂

  16. katechiconi says:

    Thank you! I think it’s fun to try and make what is basically a gruelling process into something enjoyable – at least in words… I am so ready to go now, but unfortunately we have to wait for settlement in 23 days’ time.

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