Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Cleaning the dark corners

Well, I didn't get stuck in the closet, and I am done sorting through pictures. I feel like I have released a burden, thrown off a hindrance, and I have found the house I love again. It's no wonder we were crowded around here. On Monday my husband spoke another one of my love languages: "Hauling Stuff Away." We had one huge load for the dump, and one huge load to donate to the thrift store. We own an old Suburban, so please don't underestimate how much I have ignored the piles around here. Huge load = HUGE load. Sad, but true.

I don't know what you find if you ever have the pleasure of decluttering on such a ridiculous level, but amidst all the handfuls of lego heads, Lincoln logs, pen caps, pretend money and matchbox cars, I found some treasures. I took every photo album (those non-pc sticky kind that make memory keeping people's hair stand on end) and every huge box of photos that were stuffed in one cupboard and spent many hours sorting. Just a handy hint from me: if it is blurred - toss it immediately. No need to be stored for three - five - fifteen? years. Handy hint number two: if you have ten pictures of baby blowing the candle out on his/her birthday, maybe two would suffice. If you have just taken the pictures, perhaps the grandparents would like the extras. If it has been fifteen years, I think the trash bag is your best bet. If you have four children who all look alike in their baby pictures, make sure that you put noticeable differences in the background. Is there no sibling? Ah, baby #1. House #2? Ah, baby #5. Does baby have a doggie, a piece of fake fur, or a silky blanket? That will show the difference between babies #1, #2, and #3. Fortunately for us, baby #4 had noticeable hair and eyebrows. Yes, some photos had dates, but not all of them. I'll tell you one thing - they were all adorable.

I also found a note that my oldest daughter wrote to her youngest brother when he was born. It told him how happy she was that he was born, what a wonderful mother he has (sniff, sniff), and how Gracey the cat would keep him company. Gracey is long-gone to glory (she died defending the cat food from a skunk....it's not easy living for cats in the country), but oldest and youngest have certainly had a sweet friendship through their six-and-a-half years of knowing each other.

I usually get rid of things that we no longer use, but some toys were too much of an investment to toss. I put Brio trains and Duplo blocks in the attic -- for the grandchildren. That gave us a moment's pause, let me tell you.

Resolutions are taking up a lot of space in my brain these days. No more junk. Just say no to hand-me-downs, unless we need them desperately. (Extra note: husband and wife should both see a need. This checks and balances system could eliminate a lot of clutter around here.) Lock the doors. Bar the windows. No More Clutter. In the bottom drawer of my desk, I found an email exchange between a cyber-friend and myself. It was written almost exactly a year ago, and I was describing some of the same cluttered feeling that I have just rid myself of. Unfortunately, it doesn't just clutter the house; my mind gets into a mess, too. But, an annual feeling of chaos is totally unnecessary; I just have to quit letting it all in, or deal with it immediately. The piles, and the back of the closet mysteries, need to head on down the road. I like fitting in my house again. I like knowing where things are. I don't want to go back.

If you want to come over just to see my house, please come over while we are on vacation. Tomorrow we scrub and polish the place from top to bottom; Friday (pre-dawn) we head off into the sunrise. You could ask my mother to let you in, and you can snoop through all the closets and drawers. They. Are. All. In. Order. You will be so impressed. Well, at least I am.

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