Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Purge, Part 7

It occurs to me at this late date I should have subtitled all these posts. Oh well.

Okay, so this probably wasn't a great idea for getting all the things done I want done, but the truth is I never expected it to take as long as it did. I thought a couple hours one afternoon and then I would move on to greater heights. How wrong I was.

What am I talking about?

I purged my hanging clothes. I thought it would be easy. It was not easy.

When last we met here, I had cleaned the laundry room and decided the obvious next step was to clean the upstairs bathroom and purge a few toy bins. It made sense to prioritize a few smaller tasks to make housekeeping maintenance easier. However my motivation for those particular tasks was low. After spinning my wheels for several days, I decided it was stupid to let time slip by while procrastinating the things I did not want to do, and I should do another large task that I wanted to do. I looked towards my closet, which has been a source of crammed, wrinkled angst, and thought I will purge my clothes this afternoon. And so I began.

After I got all my clothes out of the closet, I realized I had probably made a big mistake. This job was going to take more than an afternoon.

Let us catalog all the ways purging your closet is not a fun activity:
  • How do you try on clothes while wearing a baby? You don't.
  • How do you decide if you like the item you tried on while the baby screams on the floor? You can't.
  • How do you know if this shirt is still relatively fashionable when you absolutely remember wearing it just a few years ago? Or maybe that was a decade ago? When *did* I last wear this?
  • How do you figure out if these pants are worth keeping even though they don't fit right now, but will probably fit in six months? Maybe? Unless the slowest possible weight loss while still being able to detect weight loss rate of a pound every six weeks stops altogether. What *do* I do with this pile of pants? 

  • How do you decide which old favorites to let go because they have seen better days while suppressing the urge to re-imagine them as quilts? Even though you don't sew!
  • How do you keep from imagining possible scenarios of use for every single item you find?
  • How do you decide between this shirt and that similar shirt? Or if you should keep the skirt that has no matching shirt but you love it? Or if this shirt in the great color that should be cute but maybe the cut looks odd on you is worth the closet space? Or maybe the cut doesn't look odd? Maybe it's your own perception? How do you know?!?

  • How do you make these decisions without some person, knowledgeable about the issues and sympathetic to the cause, sitting there metaphorically patting you while listening to you natter on like a neurotic?
  • How do you even meet people willing to do that? How might I acquire one? 
  • How does Facebook decide that you shouldn't even have access to the virtual world of advice by helpfully refusing to show your pleas for assistance to more than single digit numbers of people in groups with dozens of members?
Where was I?

Oh yes, the closet. 

After a long and cranky week in which my clothes were spread all over the downstairs in ginormous piles and several existential crises, I filled an entire diaper box overflowing with discards from my clothes closet. 

After. Yes, I know it looks almost exactly the same as the before, but it's different. Believe me, it's different.
I probably didn't purge enough, but I did the best I could. Now on to the rest of the closet! Surely it won't take more than a few days, right? 

I have two weeks now before school has to start. I want the kitchen reorganized. I know for certain that large job will not happen when my attention turns to school so it has to happen soon. I also have to organize all the school books and, um, plan the school year. I am also teaching a music class twice a month to three different age groups. The room to procrastinate that little planning task is shrinking fast. A complication is that outside obligations are beginning to take their slices of time since pretty much everyone else around here has started school.

As a result, my room is probably not going to be touched, but if the closet is made functional, I might be able to work on my room in fits and starts after school is in full swing. After I finish the closet, I will move to the kitchen. The end of the summer is in sight. 

Ella, chewing furniture

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Purge, Part 6

After last week's hormonally induced panic and a conversation about a rejiggered schedule, it has been decided that Algebra has to start on time, which is Aug 20th, but every thing else and all the other students can wait until after Labor Day. I am trying to take the wise housekeeping advice that a clean house makes schooling more efficient. It is against my nature to prioritize in such a way, but I'm trying. So I still have another month and suddenly the mental block against the laundry room organization evaporated.

The laundry room serves several purposes. First it is the, um, laundry room. It isn't big enough to store anything more than the active laundry, but I need places to collect dirty kitchen towels and cleaning rags and store laundry sundries.** It is also the most easily accessible bathroom for guests. It is also home to a bookcase that stores most of the arts and craft supplies, the kitchen tablecloths, and some books.

I jumped into the cleaning on a whim. I'm not sure what happened. I started picking collected junk off the dryer and then before I knew it, I was outside spraying bins out with the hose. Because of the unforeseen nature of the cleaning job, I don't have any true before pictures. But here are a few kinda before pictures:

The machines didn't take all that long. I wiped up the collection of sticky, congealed laundry detergent and the lint. I cleaned out all the bins, some of which had wandered to the garage, with soap and the garden hose. Why the garden hose? Well, the reason the bins fell out of use is that we had a mouse. Mice poop. The bins were moved, but not cleaned. Disaster ensued. The laundry area, spiffied up:

Between the toilet and the washing machine, the red bin is for collecting dirty kitchen towels. I wish I had a pole for letting them air out but I don't. On top of the dryer, the left blue bin is for laundry supplies. The right blue bin is for collecting cleaning rags. My goal is to do a weekly load of rags to keep us in the cleaning mode.

After the laundry area was complete, I turned to the disaster of the bookcase. So much stuff crammed in there. So little room for sorting.

I broke down science and craft kits. Please, people, no more kiddie kits from Target. I tested markers. I sorted crayons. Why is it hard to throw away broken crayons? The problem with purging and organizing is that success is defined by forcing myself to go against my natural inclinations. There must be something to be done with crayon bits, right? No. No, there's not.

Here are my bags of collected beeswax Advent candles. I am going to meltdown and repour those candles one fine day. It might be years from now, but it will happen.

Let's dissect the above picture. This is me sitting on the floor between the toilet, a stool, the sink, the bookcase, and a trash bag sorting a variety of objects with Ella asleep on my back while I listen to a podcast. Both of my legs are asleep in this picture and I am in no small agony. Nevertheless I persisted.

After 2.5 days of work and a 13 gallon trash bag crammed full, the clouds parted, angels sung, and my laundry room was again functional. Nothing will crash onto your head when you take something off the bookcase.

I moved the loose leaf school paper into a bin and the drawing paper into a bin. The construction paper, which has always had its own box, was moved back onto the bookcase. I consolidated most of the kits into quart freezer bags inside a different bin. There is a crayon box, a chalk box, a marker box, and a colored pencil box. Long may they all be separated. There is even enough room, I think, to move some remnants of art supplies that are in the closet under the stairs to this bookcase. If this is true, it will be amazing.

As for the housekeeping portion of the bookcase, I need to buy another bin to put the tablecloths. This bin will live underneath the school paper bin. I also need to take the sides off of those two clementine crates on the shelf. One of those crates will hold clean handtowels for easy replacement in this bathroom. The other will hold clean rags for cleaning this bathroom. This system is going to work great!

(A small lament for clementine boxes. Where have they gone? It's been several years since I have found them in the grocery. They have been pushed out by those upstart California Cuties, which come in a stupid plastic mesh bag. Has anyone seen any genuine Spanish Clementines lately?)

My next task will be to clean this bathroom--I mean disinfect clean, not organize clean--and then clean the upstairs bathroom. After these two bathrooms are clean, my dear children will have a daily bathroom job so that maybe we will never be embarrassed by dirty bathrooms again.

After the bathrooms are set up, I will return to the toy purge. And then ?probably? my bedroom. I have two solid weeks for cleaning. Then I will take a week on the kitchen, hoping a week is all it takes. Then I will plan out the school year. It's going to happen.

**I love the word sundry. It aptly describes so much in this house.