I’ve had feelings like this plenty of times before, and I’m actually pretty good at ignoring them for long periods, having honed that particular skill over many years of being a lazy housekeeper.
But this time it’s so strong that it’s even overcoming my dislike of housework.
You see, the thing is, it feels like a warning, and it goes like this:
“You’d better start preparing now, because the day is soon going to come when you’ll have to put this house up for sale, and you know perfectly well that although it’s sturdy and basically in good condition (thanks to your Dearly Beloved’s years of care and upkeep), it’s not in any kind of salable condition visually. After all, this is not a fixer-upper; it’s an already-fixed-up, so make it look like it.
And visual is what you need if you want buyers. You know you’re going to have to clean it up sooner or later, so do it now.
Do it now.
Do it now.”
As a result, I’ve laid aside the half-dozen or so books I have on the go at the moment and armed myself for battle.
The drill is: clean, paint if necessary, remove clutter, sort, put much-loved things back, and the rest goes out. Period.
And furthermore, let’s not forget about cleaning out and painting the three rooms that DIDN’T get done four years ago when I performed drastic surgery on the rest of the house, because I had to stop and have surgery myself. Oh, the inconvenience. And I was on a roll, too. Since then, all such work has ground to a complete halt.
Furthermore, those three untouched rooms are now too far gone now for normal “surgery.” They’re going to require some kind of exorcism. Since it wouldn’t be practical to set fire to them, we’re going to have to get in there and shovel out the mess, tear out carpeting, and paint before we do anything else. Groan.
You see, Dearly Beloved and I are both getting a little long in the tooth (not to mention enfeebled) to continue to do the maintenance a place like this requires, and I’m beginning to think longingly of something a little smaller than a ten-room house as our nesting ground.
The kitchen, for instance, is badly in need of a little elbow grease, and it will actually feel good to get those cupboards clean and sparkling again, do a little touch-up painting, and put up fresh curtains.
Then, once I’ve got the cleaning done, it will be time to declutter.
However, having already started my project with the kitchen before I got the book, I’m doing it backward, as usual. I’m cleaning, and then I’m going to declutter.
I think I know how to clean already, having had to do it since the world was new, so I didn’t buy a book on the subject…
My rationale is perfectly sane, and rather well thought out, if I do say it myself:
It takes me forever to get things done because of all my various aches and pains, so why on earth would I take everything out of the cupboards and lay them out on every horizontal surface I can find before I’ve done the hard part, the part that takes the longest, which is cleaning?
The solution is to clean the outside (in small spurts), with rests in between (and, just possibly, a little reading…), then I empty the cupboards, wash the shelves, choose and dump (i.e., declutter), then put everything I’m keeping back in place.
And here you thought I didn’t have a plan!
Since we have an open concept kitchen, dining and living area, this will likely take several weeks, given the rate at which I’m prone to work. But the result will be three clean, attractive areas that I can look at with pride. I hope.
There’s also painting involved, which I enjoy doing as long as my trigger points don’t act up. (Don’t know what trigger points are? Neither did I. But apparently I’ve got ’em, and boy, do they hurt!)
The most emotional part of the process will be going through the multiple shelves full of books that I’ve been collecting since I was old enough to read.
I admit it freely; I’m a book junkie, pure and simple. Books are gold to me; they make me feel rich. And try as I might, the books I periodically release back into the world are as a piddling stream compared to the rushing tide of new books that flow into this place.
However, there is a limit. I mean, much as it pains me to admit it, I have books in there that I’ve never even opened but have been saving anyway, against the day when I run out of books to read. Really. As if.
Furthermore, there isn’t any way on earth that they could all go with me to a smaller place, so it’s time to unload the ones that are merely “clutter.”
Bite your tongue. Clutter, even if it’s labelled “books,” is still clutter.
(Sorry, I have these sorts of arguments with myself all the time. Sometimes they seep out into my public persona.)
Still, my resolve is strong. The new sorting criteria will be: “Do I love this book (or think I’ll love it)?” and, “Will I ever read it again (or for the first time)?”
If the answer to either question is no, then out it goes. Goodwill Books is in for a book bonanza.
Ten fresh, clean and presentable rooms being the goal, I’m thinking this entire housecleaning and decluttering project will likely take the summer to complete, so I’ve begun flying below the radar, removing myself from the world until September, while I transform our home into something worthy of Better Homes and Gardens. (Well, in my imagination, anyway….)
So adieu, my friends, adieu. I’ll report back in due course.
Wish me luck!