Location, location, location!
While that mantra is usually associated with real estate, for me, it is the weather which factors into the locale for my daily walk. Today’s fog and sogfest sure put a damper on my morning constitution, so, it was neither Emmons Boulevard, nor Council Point Park, but, instead making the short journey downstairs to the exercise bike, where surprisingly, I have logged in many more pedaled miles, than walked miles thus far in 2017.
On the plus side, the bike is a boon to the exercise regimen, since pedaling permits me a moderate workout to feel better about myself. The disadvantage is, that from my perch on my bicycle seat, even by the light of a solitary table lamp, I’ve got a great opportunity to scope out the basement, which looks even more ravaged than usual, since I’ve been cleaning like crazy upstairs. That makes me feel badly about myself.
You’ll recall from prior posts, I’ve been busy fulfilling my New Year’s resolution to clear out the clutter and organize the house, so that I know what is in every single cupboard, closet, chest, dresser or drawer. Upstairs that is. Downstairs will be a job to tackle this Summer, because, it seems that, in an event to declutter upstairs, many items have been relegated to downstairs. It is a catch-22 situation, because my mindset as to purging items is not so great.
The basement hasn’t always looked this way. I take responsibility for the disorderliness, which is no badge of honor, believe me.
For years, my mom would go downstairs to do laundry twice a week, and, between loads, she’d mop and dust the basement and vacuum the carpeted area and braided rugs. Then, as her mobility issues increased, and she had difficulties getting up and down the cellar stairs, the task of keeping the basement neat and tidy fell on my shoulders. Continually, she would admonish me with “I hope you are doing a good job taking care of the basement because I don’t want anyone to think we are slobs.” “No Mom”, I would assure her while crossing my fingers, “it looks great down there, really.”
But, I am sorry to say, I was the ultimate con artist, who would ensure that as far as the eye could see, that is – when my mom would peer downstairs from the landing to the basement – that area was clutter-and-dust-free and up to snuff.
I recall, when we were on the cusp of the infamous Y2K event, with all the dire predictions of what calamities were in store for all of us, Mom made me promise that the basement’s pantry and laundry rooms had been scrubbed and waxed, and, in the larger part of the basement, the furniture was clean and dust-free. She fretted over cleanliness constantly, and, in this case, it was because she had extended an invitation to our neighbors across the street, that they could hunker down in the basement, since they had no basement of their own, should some tragic event befall us at Y2K.
Mom had a cardinal rule, similar to that old adage that “everything has a place and a place for everything”, so, as a result, for years I could go downstairs, at any given time, and find anything within a minute.
Rule number two was that for any new article of clothing brought into the house, an old article of clothing would be put aside in a bag to give to the Salvation Army. Of course, sometimes there were exceptions, like garments which could be repurposed for yardwork, or painting jobs, but that was how we kept orderliness at all times.
Sadly, all that orderliness has departed in the last decade, and, while looking around the basement in the semi-darkness this morning, I wondered when order would once again be restored? Not to disparage my mom, but I am just not as persnickety about keeping a clean house. My regimen is relaxed … perhaps too much so, and the result now is abysmal.
How disappointed she would be in me – how disappointed I am in myself!
But, I do deserve some kudos since, true to my resolution, I have organized upstairs to a point, where I now am left scratching my head where I put stuff , since I was so diligent in ensuring that there is no visible clutter anywhere. Containing clutter obviously has not been my strongpoint, though I have reluctantly parted with some things, abiding by all the magazines and internet site suggestions about the purging-your-stuff- rule, i.e., if you have not used it or worn it in one year, then toss it. Hmmmmm – I wonder why my mom never preached that rule to me instead of the in-with-the-new-but- out-with-the-old edict?
I conceded to some of Mom’s purging stuff mindset, though, in desperation, many times I tried pointing out that the “good china” and “fine glassware” had perhaps worn out their welcome since they went unused year after year, in favor of the more durable and easily-accessible earthenware tableware. After all, who needs a gravy boat and silver ladle when there are no guests at the dinner table, but us? And the salt-and-pepper shakers with their silver lids that required annual polishing? So, why should these fancy-schmancy items get dragged down yearly, just to wash down the top shelves of all the kitchen cabinets, then wash and dry the items before replacing them, only to repeat that effort the following year? Unfortunately, my plaintive arguments just fell on deaf ears, or, more often than not, garnered a sharp retort like “I never knew that I raised a lazy child Linda”, so, I dropped my plea to avoid raising Mom’s hackles, resulting in a stony silence for the balance of the Labor Day weekend, when we usually spent that three-day holiday refreshing and revitalizing the kitchen.
A friend of mine once told me the secret to properly declutter your house, was that you needed to carry five trash bags to the curb every garbage day. Then, after you winnowed your bags down to just the weekly accumulated trash, and only then, have you have achieved success in containing clutter. Well, suffice it to say that I’ve been making our garbage men earn their wages at my house bigtime since the beginning of this year.
Location, location, location. In the end, it not only makes or breaks a walk, but, it is all about where you choose to stuff your stuff.
In the meantime, until the day I can take that white glove test downstairs and pass with flying colors, going forward, for each foray to the basement, I’m taking a flashlight with me, so I will avoid that guilty conscience and not see Mom’s shadow, looking over my shoulder, with arms folded, while clucking her tongue at me in disappointment.