The Process of Personal Archeology



“How’s your Swedish death cleaning going?” my cousin-in-law asked last week.  In Swedish that’s döstädning — a combination of the word “” (which means death) and “standing”.

I hadn’t heard the term before but was both delighted and amused by it. Why wait? Why burden someone else with all that I’ve accumulated. That wasn’t actually why I started. I had time and the rare form of energy required to examine and evaluate. But it definitely played a part in continuing. Here are some of the places that I dug into on my personal archeology review, in no particular order:

Hard Drive

Keeping back up drives up to date and mirrored and the hard drive organized are on-going struggles. I renamed and rearranged folders to reflect how my mind and days are organized now and made sure all the information I wanted to keep was saved in 2 places.

The Cloud

Box, Dropbox, Evernote, all contain dirty footprints from files now mysterious and vacation travel research long past useful. Time to go.


I deleted a blog I no longer maintained, my 15 year old Flickr account because they wanted to bill me $99 to keep it going, and most controversial of all, my Facebook account. The good news is that all 3 had the ability to download an archive copy for my records.

The Garage

The paint we used on our interior 15 years ago can be recycled at paint stores. But the various spray paints needed to go to the city’s hazardous waste disposal site. Appointment needed. Some old photography chemicals have a shelf life of forever. These I gifted to friends. Others I took to the city hazardous waste site also.


Much of the hardware that I have used for photography is still useful but nonetheless aging. Seals go bad, apertures stop working, so saving an item to use someday is silly thinking. In the face of entropy, donation to a local junior college is my best bet. Old electronics like mice and keyboards can be taken to the city hazardous waste site.


We’ve been fortunate to have a tree trimming and exterior painting projects that have forced us to evaluate what’s on the patio. No need to keep a rake and a hoe when we replaced all the dirt with pavers. Even the potted plants may still go.

Passion Projects

I had 6 paintings that were taking up space in the closet. They were experiments at one point in time. I put them on the curb and 4 of them disappeared immediately. I am repainting the other 2 with something cheery to see if they will disappear as well.


That IKEA Poang chair and ottoman in storage were not getting used. Thankfully, I found some friends in need of furniture because a roommate had moved out. The furniture is now in use.


I threw away a ton of my photo prints all carefully filed away in photo albums when that was a thing, but I kept the negatives and photos of people. It was interesting to look in the rear view mirror at experiences that seemed so dear at the time but in retrospect, I didn’t need the evidence to remember the enjoyment.


I have a lot of works on paper that I had stored in various sizes of boxes, in various places. I pulled all of these out and consolidated them into an Alex drawer unit from IKEA which I LOVE! I am much more able to find things and enjoy them more.

In short, I’m learning a lot from a life examined.

Many thanks to my friend Kathryn for the title to this post.

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