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Clean Up Your Room!

How and where do you start? When I was a kid, I made a big pile in the middle of the room.

Then I swept it all under my bed and pretended I was done.

My father wasn't fooled. He always looked under there and got you for dust bunnies, if not for actual piles of junk.

And if you swept it all into a drawer? Or any part of it? Well, he would pull the drawer out and turn it upside down in the middle of the floor and you had to start over.

Now I've heard that my Dad wasn't all that unusual, especially for his generation. Someone's mother used to make a pile in the hall of everything from her room and she had to sort through it. It taught her how to approach large jobs, such as editing a messy manuscript. "Begin with a single blouse," she suggested when I was stuck on an edit. I don't actually dump anything of Miss E's. I just go in and point "here, and this, and that, and there." Then she picks up "here." But sometimes she just decides she's had enough of the mess in her room and she begins going through her things and I pitch in and help her put it all into bags, trash or donate.

Which is what happened about a year ago. Our living room became the intersecting point between the parallel lines of Weatherdude's plants coming inside for the winter and Miss E's massive fall cleanup in her room. And it wasn't exactly in great shape to begin with, since it already housed various boxes leftover from downsizing the parental units into a retirement community. Boxes that held such treasures as a sewing machine, braiding felts, rug wool for hooking, yarn, and some miscellaneous books, pots, a tea service, and clothing.

Miss E stands in the middle of it all.

Bags of books, games and puzzles sit waiting to be listed and donated to a charity. A detailed list of each item and its condition is required in order to take a charitable donation deduction on Schedule A. And then the items need to be valued. "One bag clothes @$200" does not cut it. Not to mention that the price should be the price the charity can get for it, not what you paid for it. (end of lesson)

Another corner, this one with my mother's Singer sewing machine, circa 1962. No, I don't know how to use it. But she did. And Miss E might. I did give someone, a costumer, the patterns she had saved. Also in the corner are more wool boxes, a frame for hooking rugs, and apparently some of my father's darkroom equipment. Not that anyone develops film anymore.

Hmmm. The mind begins to boggle, doesn't it?

It's not just the plants one has to work around. It's also the Things-That-We-Can-Fix, like the red leather chair the military movers broke :::mumble, mumble::: years ago. All it needs is a weld. We don't weld, of course, but someone does, don't they? Shame to waste a perfectly good chair..,

The only person who was determined to still use the room was Miss E. She loves the light and warmth and she likes to find the cats in there. Her dollhouse and various toys were in there as well. Not her main occupations, of course. But pleasant ways to pass the time on a nice day, rearranging a dollhouse, for example.

All of those photos were taken a year ago before the current project started. The room slid further into chaos during the year. Occasionally, one of us would go in and sweep up the leaves from the ficus trees. But there was simply too much debris to do any serious vacuuming. Clutter continued to accumulate. Cat hair was, naturally, everywhere. Spiders made webs. Stinkbugs stank. And the trees stayed in there all summer long. So with those images in mind, tomorrow's blog entry will provide photos of how the room looks now, after a week of work.

Frog Out



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
That's a lot of stuff!

I am looking forward to the after photos :-)
Nov. 3rd, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
It was so much stuff it was overwhelming. Where to start? There wasn't a good place, an easy place. The trigger was that his trees and plants went outside for October and knowing they would be coming right back inside again. OMG! A 4-week window! Had they gone out in the spring, I would have put it off and put it off.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
You have my full sympathy. Still working on the office/basement. Hours of meticulously going through large boxes of small parts, tools, arts and crafts supplies, books, photos, etc. etc. etc., trying to categorize and winnow out the dross of nineteen years of "putting away to deal with later". It all adds up, and the total equals one long, dusty job!
Nov. 4th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
Oh my gosh, yes! I feel exhausted just reading your list. There are still pockets in the house that need this done to them. My office is once again buried in paper.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
I'm with E, that room looks fantastic and well worth tackling.

Actually, with us dragging in stuff we buy for the antique part of our business, the room looks pretty much like my house. No sooner do I get everything sorted and hauled to the shop or the trash than a new batch arrives.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
I have a tip for the pesky itemization of donations-- I just lay out all the clothes or stuff on the floor or bed or wherever so I can see a bit of each item (not fussy) and take a digital photo of the lot. I estimate the value of the bag and the receipt will say "1 bag of clothes $200" or whatever. But if there ever is an audit, I can back into the itemization by referring to my little digital file of photo evidence saved with the other tax backup. By the way, I've been audited oodles of times, but no one has EVER asked about the bags of clothes deductions. Just sayin'.
Nov. 4th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
you've been audited oodles of times? Naughty, naughty for triggering an audit. If they didn't get anything off of you in the past, the next time it happens, tell them that. They should give you a pass. Your system wouldn't work for the books, which are the worst for us. I give those to the school.
Nov. 4th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
The audits have always been worth it-- when T was a business owner and I found a way to save the equivalent of an annual salary by some fancy tax strategy, I took it. But never anything that was less than rock-solid, and I had my audit package ready to go before I even filed, so I never got any adjustments and there was relatively little disruption, I just sent the documents off. Now that we're paying no taxes and still making charitable donations we're an even bigger flag, but still, rock solid. Bring it on.

Don't you just have to count the number of books, hardcover and soft?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )