I planned to leave for my parents’ house, which is in a different state, about 11 AM on Monday so that I could spend the night with them and get an early start on decluttering on Tuesday. I find that I get so much more done if I can get an early start. So I gathered up a cleaning outfit (I can get pretty filthy cleaning and decluttering in my parents house, stirring up dust bunnies that haven’t been disturbed since 1997, at least.), a few toiletries, pj’s, and one of my best friends, Norton, who also happens to be my beagle dog. Norton needed to relieve himself before our trip, so I took him on a short walk in the alley behind our condo. Then he jumped in the car and waited, wagging around, while I made a trip into the condo to get my load: my duffel bag, Norton’s pallet and a bag with his food and supplies, and a coat that a bird had pooped on while I took Norton on his morning walk, which I needed to wash in my parents washing machine because our’s shoots out a layer of black lint on everything. Anyways, I shuffled with my load to the passenger side of the car, and behold, we had a flat, even though we just bought new tires on Saturday at Firestone. I tromped back inside with my beagle and belongings, thinking I would delay my trip until Tuesday. Firestone the tire servicer was busy, but amazingly, they had the tire that they admitted they put on incorrectly ready in a couple of hours. So I carried Norton and the above-mentioned load to the car again and made it to my parents’ house.
I had a restless sleep. I woke up every hour until 3, then I slept until my parents new dog began barking at 6 AM. I could have gotten up and began my task, but instead I promptly put in earplugs and went back to sleep until 8. After a breakfast eaten in the recliner (the one chair you can always count on to be free of clutter), I began sorting through the mixture of papers stored on top of and in the three trays of a small, rolling kitchen cart. It was the usual assortment I have grown accustomed to at my parents place: old bills from the past 5-10 years that can now be thrown away, old paystubs (which are filed away), envelopes that once held Christmas cards from which my mother some day plans to write down the return addressess, magazines from the past two years, and school papers, letters, and drawings from my sister and me. The collection of sentimental things I deem to be okay to keep for now. Ideally my parents will pick their favorite items and discard the rest, but that is a battle for another day. The cart also contains sewing supplies mixed in with the papers: thread, material, needles, scissors. The sewing supplies I place on top of a plastic container filled with more sewing supplies. Actually, I place the sewing materials on top of a typewriter that is on top of the plastic bin. My mother, who is still asleep at this point, has plans to let her sister, an avid sewer, go through the assortment of sewing materials and tools. The typewriter she is considering letting go. She does use it once a year due to her unacquaintance with the computer and Microsoft Word. I also begin making a stack underneath a kitchen chair of items to be given away. These are totally random things such as an old ball and McDonald toys left over from my childhood.
At this point, my mother is awake and joins me in the clutter-clearing. The kitchen cart is cleared but the top is ruined. Here my parents and I have a disagreement. My dad wants to keep it in the kitchen and store canned goods in it instead of the cabinets or to take it to the basement to organize tools. My mother expresses her disgust that the top is ruined and simply says that my sister wanted this cart for her house, and now they can’t give it to her. I point out that I bought the cart for $30 in the first place, it’s not worth her remorse, and suggest we take it to the dump. My dad looked so sad, though, that I relented and said he could keep it if he took it to the basement immediately. So he picked it up and hastily placed it on the porch. Mother and I started to sort the one remaining chair of clothes. (Other clothes were sorted in two previous visits.) These items are quickly pronounced to be articles that my mother still plans to wear or will relinquish to family members. They all need to be washed from the grime and into a black trash bag they go. I insist that it go by the washer. My theory is that if we sort out items and advance them to the rooms they actually belong to, this decluttering process will go faster. If we just leave them in the kitchen, there is the same amount of stuff in the kitchen, except it’s in separate piles instead of one big pile.
Then it is time to go through a few shoeboxes, grocery store bags, and a tote, which are all full of stuff. Mom sometimes cleans out her purse, which means she dumps the contents of her purse into bags, which then are placed together in larger bags. So we found receipts, notes she’d written to herself, crumpled candy wrappers, and more old bills. We sorted through this in a couple of hours. We threw away an old rusted Care Bear TV tray, the handle to a mop, and a glob of thread that my mom couldn’t separate. Yes, she did try to separate the thread, but she gave up saying, “it’s probably too old to use now anyways.” I concur. There were about ten pairs of children shoes. Two pairs can go to my cousin’s daughter (I put in Mom’s car.), and the others I put in my dad’s car to donate. We also found this computer thingamajig that my dad said he needs to get the files off their ancient PC. Sadly, they have a PC sitting on the kitchen counter. The keyboard sits in front of it on a wooden kid table that once belonged to me. I only uncovered the computer and keyboard about a month ago. It sat for years hidden by unused plastic containers, trash, Barbies, dried corsages in their plastic containers, and clothes. They want to get rid of the thing, but they want all the files off the hard drive first, when means they have to find the equipment to get the files off the hard drive. So the PC is waiting on the kitchen counter. My parents reorganized their wrapping paper plastic organizers, which for now are still in the kitchen.
I love to see decluttered surfaces! I definitely lean toward a minimalist approach to living. The kitchen table is clear except for a couple of houseplants! We cleaned out three 30-gallon bags of trash, one bag for the thrift store, and one bag for recycling (along with about fifteen magazines). We made some major progress. When I go home in a couple of weeks I’d really like to finish the kitchen, but I think it’s more realistic to say it will take two more trips. I assigned Mother some homework. There’s a large plastic tub and a tote bag of her papers by the china cabinet she’s to go through tomorrow while she’s off work. I will call her tonight to remind her. We still have four kitchen cabinets to comb through. I’ve been over the countertops once but there is still much stuff left on top of them. The computer, sewing bin, typewriter, and four bags of clothes (need to be put in queue for wash) all remain.
After my parents exclaimed about what a slavedriver I am and how they could never work for me, they thanked me. Norton and I drove back home Tuesday afternoon. I was so pleased with what I accomplished that I couldn’t stop smiling, but Norton found my parents’ house too exhausting and slept in the backseat.