Onward and upward: outward and trashward

Inline image 5







I’ll tell you, Gentle Reader, this 40 Day Lenten De-cluttering Challenge has been the best thing that I’ve done for myself, and for our home, in a long, long time. I would recommend it highly to anybody. Take just a few minutes on a daily basis and dig in. Sort! Toss! And do it quickly! I’d love to write about it every day, but there are other things going on around here, too.

To wit:

  • My pepper seeds have germinated! This is an accomplish, since the temperature has been wintry-themed again (19 degrees this morning, alas) and everybody knows that pepper seeds need warmth to germinate. They’re fussy that way.
Aren't they cute?

Aren’t they cute?

  • Turns out that our adorable granddaughter Anya, er–I mean Princess Anee–is newly crazy about “princess movies” so we are trying to schedule princess movie dates with her as much as possible. Tonight we’re watching “Frozen.” I hope Anee wears her tiara. We’ll eat supper together first, and then do our nails. We’ll let Uncle Mack apply the polska-bots. Natch.

Here’s our princess all fancied up for a tea party. (photo credit Sonia Miller)

  • Our grandson Emmett turned one this month! And he has taken a few steps. Somebody–quick!–slow down the clock!

Emmett. (photo credit Rachel Miller)

  • Little Mack earned his yellow belt in his Taekwondo class. He is very proud of himself, and I think it’s beginning to connect in his brain that if he practices at home, he does better in class. That’s a nice lesson for him to learn. 🙂

Here is little Mack with his teachers, Tom and Cathie. They are terrific people. He is blessed.

Back, though, to the de-cluttering: two neat things have happened, after two weeks of daily de-cluttering tasks:

1. For a change, we were home all weekend. But that’s not the neat thing. Well, it was neat. But guess what everybody was doing. De-cluttering. I’m not lying. I did several make-up 20-minute de-cluttering sessions myself; Bryan worked in his shop; Amalia spent much of Saturday in her room (she said she was cleaning); and little Mack–well, okay, he was the exception–he tooled about, watching everybody else’s progress, and frequently flopped down on his stomach to read Calvin and Hobbes.

I wanna be a seven-year-old boy! Waaaaa!

There. I got that out of my system. Here’s the kicker, Gentle Readers: all this de-cluttering was not suggested by me. I said (note my self-control) not a word. I didn’t nag or cajole or coax or whine. Or gloat.

But my tiny (teeny! tiny! itsy! bitsy!) daily successes in de-cluttering–I am astonished to report–have begun to cause a ripple effect in my home full o’well-meaning, but messy folks. I didn’t expect this.

In essence, that means that I have cloned myself in my mad de-cluttering abilities. Kinda. Not really. But maybe? In the very least, it means that (if it continues) because of my resolve to de-clutter 40 areas in my home during Lent, that even more than that will get de-cluttered, without my lifting a finger. Cool, eh? Every mother’s dream!

The weather turning back to winter may have had something to do with all the cleaning, too, but still—!

Can we discuss the weather for just a minute? We’ve experienced the classic bait-and-switch of springtime in Nebraska. The weather finally, finally, after months of bitter cold, warms up for a day or two. Tra-laaa! We all sing, happily, and dance, failing to notice that everything outside is still very dead and brown, and that the calendar on the ‘fridge still very clearly shows that it is March. Not May. Not June. In ignorance and bliss, we shed our cumbersome woolen coats, we cast aside our dark depressing colors, our multitudinous layers which have begun to make our shoulders droop. We toss all the winter clothing into the donation bag, and we go outside for a frolic. In springy colors like lime green and pink. We possibly even bare our toes.

And then. Boom. Winter returns. We wake up the next morning and it is 9° again, a stiff 30 mph wind is blowing from the northwest, and snow is in the forecast. And then we take a look out the window–oh yes, it is still brown and gray out there, could it be–?—and our eyes catch sight of the calendar–oh yes, it is still March, which–last we checked–is still winter in Nebraska. Sigh.

We pull out the board games and scrapple about in the donation bag for the woolens, and add some wood to the fire. Resigned, we make one more pot of a stew with beef and potatoes and carrots in it, and we pull the quilts up a bit tighter to our chins. We try not to complain. We’ve still got a few weeks, after all, to go.

But back to the de-cluttering successes: imagine this, if you will: A neat junk drawer that can be opened without having to jerk all the junk around first. A tidy mud room with open spaces on the shelves. A neat kitchen spice cabinet, with no cascading of spice jars or candy pumpkins or sesame seeds spilling out every time you open the door. Oh. It’s just nice, nice, nice.

2. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that once a small area is de-cluttered, it tends to stay that way. We’re such slobs in our house, this doesn’t really make sense, by all accounts. But take my “tricky closet” project. I was (literally) trembling at the thought of digging into this closet. It was so full, and I just couldn’t even imagine what was at the bottom of that pile.

I dug into it after supper one evening. I set the timer. I grabbed the trash can. Everybody fled the kitchen while I was doing this, at first. For once the kitchen was empty and quiet. I’m sure nobody wanted me to ask them to help. What a job! But then, eventually, everybody came wandering back in, just to watch. It was fascinating. It was like a prehistoric dig. I found old potatoes that had sprouted years ago, grew a bit, and then died and dried up. Plastic pants from when little Mack was a baby. A bottle of soda that was eight years old. Some lunch bags from Subway that Andrew brought home to me when he worked there over six years ago. Phew. It was bad.

I hope you don’t turn off your ‘pooter in disgust at this, Gentle Reader, now that you know about The True Me, and that I am so flawed that I actually have prehistoric rotting potatoes in my kitchen closet and seven-year-old plastic pants and bottles of eight-year-old soda.

I don’t think people even use plastic pants on their babies any more, do they?

Here’s the before picture:

Yikes! Even Ollie is a bit disturbed by this mess.

Yikes! Even Ollie is a bit disturbed by this mess.

And here’s after a 20-minute (plus a few extra minutes) de-clutter:

Our cat Pippin had to check it out.

Our cat Pippin had to check it out.

In the picture, the closet still looks cluttered, but actually it isn’t. After I dug everything out of there, I sat back and thought about what I really needed to store in there: egg cartons. The broom. A few aprons. Some plastic bags and a few shopping bags. I tossed all the rest of the stuff. That felt goood, baby.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with those plastic pants. I am curiously drawn to them.

So! Onward and upward. What next, you ask? Here are the two challenges for the next few days:

1. My first challenge is to donate some books. We love books, all of us. Every time we go to the library, we study carefully the “donation” table, jammed full of the bookshelf-cleanings-out of others, for any titles that we are missing in our own library. We order books online. We buy books at bookstores. We give each other books for gifts. Our local library has a BIG BOOK SALE with a donation box, every summer. The librarian actually makes a point of calling our family, the week before, just to remind us to come, because they know we’ll haul away a goodly portion of those books.

Well. I’m exaggerating, but only just a bit. But it is the truth that we have more books than we’ll ever have the time to read. And sometimes when you get that many books, you spend more time dusting them (although I can’t say that I dust very often) and rearranging them and sighing over your lack of bookshelf space* and looking for the one book you really needed today, and so forth, than you spend actually curled up in a chair reading one.

That’s really a sad state of affairs, wouldn’t you agree?

So I’m determined to pull out books that I suspect we’ll never read, and put them in a box for donating. I will promise myself not to try to sell them or try to find homes in somebody else’s house, but just to do the quick and easy thing, and plunk them into a box and donate them to a worthy place. Just 20 minutes’ worth, too.

There’s one bookshelf in particular that looks dangerous to me, and I keep passing by it thinking that we don’t really need all those books, so I’m going to pick on it this time. Also I want to move it to another place, which means it has to be emptied first.

Here’s the “before” photo:

This looks dangerous.

This looks dangerous.

2. The second challenge I’m setting out for myself is just to clean up around the bathroom sink. I don’t know how it gets so cluttered. I mean, really–DOTS? Why are they in here? And why on earth is the rug sitting next to the sink, instead of on the floor? (I’ll tell you why, because for a while that was the preferred napping spot for our kitty, so I left it there. But she has moved on. And so, I believe, should I.)

Here’s the “before” picture.

I'm hoping that putting it in black and white makes it look a little less disgusting. Does it?

I’m hoping that putting it in black and white makes it look a little less disgusting. Does it?

That’s it for today, I guess! I think I’m rambled long enough and that now I need to get up and get busy!

Thanks as always, Gentle Reader, for reading. See ya next time! 🙂

By the way, I’m going to share this intoxicating post with the great folks over at the link-up party at The Prairie Homestead. Join me!


14 thoughts on “Onward and upward: outward and trashward

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Good for you, Patricia! Good luck, and (word of advice) just start TODAY. Do 10 minutes or 20 minutes but start today!

  1. rita

    wow! so great! I have a closet at the end of the hall that is so over-stuffed. It’s supposed to just have linens in it. What has stopped me from cleaning it up? I know I’ll have an overwhelming amount of stuff that won’t go back in and I won’t know what to do with it. It’s not just crap. There’s artwork from when the girls were little. Wrapping paper. Old Christmas card. Ok, those could go. A couple of large glass jars with coins, saved about 30 years ago. There might be real riches in there, no? sigh. Can I do it? I feel like if I could do this area, I might be able to do others. Is it a gateway mess, sort of a log jam? Perhaps order and tidiness can find a home here.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Set a timer and just dig in! You’ll feel SO happy and proud of yourself after you’ve restored order, and you never know . . . it might inspire you to even do more!

  2. Chef William

    We have a chain of stores in Wisconsin called half price books. I am going to box up a lot of books and hall them off to half price books and sell them. Not to make a profit, I will never get out with a dime, whatever they give me for my books will be reinvested in more books. I am a book addict. When I wanted to relax for a couple of days I would read a book by Robert Ludlum then I got the bright idea to buy everything he wrote (at half price of course) so I could read them while lying in a hammock in Mexico. I packed up about 2 doz. of them this last Sept. and took them to our place in Mexico. We were there 6 months and I never opened one book. Maybe next fall, ya think? Love the progress your making, you are so going to enjoy the “new” house when you finish.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Chef William,
      So you are a Bibliophile, too, eh? I suspected as much! The problem with being a great cook AND a bibliophile (AND a blogger), is that you spend so much time cooking (and writing) that your reading life suffers! I think it’s time that we all got BACK TO THE BOOKS!

  3. Gillie

    Attagirl! You are doing great. Don’t you find once you start you just don’t want to stop? Seriously, the more you do the more you find you dont want to buy, you are more conscious about multiple uses for single items. I’ve signed up for Plastic Free July. I KNOW it’s going to be hard so I’m starting now eliminating as much plastic (particularly packaging) that comes in to the house so I have less to get rid of.
    Love from the Mad DeClutterer ( 🙂 )

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks, Gillie, that means a LOT coming from the likes of the Mad DeClutterer. You ARE the master, after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.