Sunday, May 18, 2014

You Might Need Spring Cleaning if . . . .

You come across a full sized lamp that you were sure you lost years ago, and "Hoarders" and "American Pickers" are vying for the right to film you.

Okay, okay, it's not really that bad at my house. Still, we've stopped using spring cleaning to describe our yearly ritual. We call it winter purging. After this long, long winter, we have so much stuff to get rid of we may even need to get a special permit from the township.

You see, I, sadly, am a pack rat. Well, I prefer "collector of rarities." My husband, Matt, is the exact opposite. I call him a neat freak, but he prefers the term, "minimalist." If not for Matt, I'd probably still have the burned out nub of a candle from our first candlelit dinner.

I'm sentimental that way...and it smelled good.

I have a tendency to start projects, get bored and stash them away. I still have a ceramic coyote that I began working on almost 20 years ago, wrapped in a bunch of netting that was going to be a canopy for our bed and nestled in a box that also housed old fabric paint left over from a Christmas project. Actually, I don't think they can be called fabric paints at this point, since they're so dried out that they resemble brightly colored concrete. Projectile objects might be a better description.

One time, I decided to pick up knitting. I went to the craft store and purchased skeins and skeins of yarn. They were on sale. Well, that's what I told Matt, anyway.

I actually made a scarf, which encouraged me to continue. To this date, I have only the one scarf to show for my efforts. I also have two half-knitted blankets, three halfway done scarves, one almost finished doily, and a box full of yarn in a rainbow of colors and a cornucopia of textures.

In a surprising turn of events, my daughter, Aubrie, took to knitting like a magpie to a mirror. She's knitted mittens and scarves for her brother and sister, always completing her projects. She even knitted a hat that looked like a fox, which she has since sold world wide. I tease her that she has her own empire; and I'm not far from wrong. She definitely gets that "finishing the job" stuff from her dad.

I admire that gene. If I ever had it, I ignored it and it died from indifference.

I'm also a collector of pots, pans and knives. Every year we go to the Poconos on vacation and I have to visit the Crossings Factory Outlets. There are three or four "gourmet" places that I have to visit or my vacation isn't complete. Matt loves to hold my hand as we peruse the stores - he's afraid if he lets go I'll buy everything.

I've amassed quite the collection of chef's knives, skillets and pots, and a variety of glass cups. I also purchased tiny porcelain bowls, the type that restaurants use to put salad dressing, expensive olive oil for dipping and other assorted condiments in. I think I used them once--as Easter egg holders.

And thanks to the children, I've added animals to my "collection." At any given time, the menagerie has included dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, mice and chinchillas.

Currently, we have two large labs, two cats and a ferret. As such, gathering animal hair is a daily cleaning nightmare. It's amazing what these beasts leave in their wake. I could knit sweaters from the amount of fur collected on a daily basis. Then again, I'd probably get bored and stash the project away.

As any owner of a pet can tell you, keeping the fur from flying whenever you walk into a room requires constant vigil. Getting it out from under couches and other pieces of furniture, however, is an ordeal most often saved for the vernal equinox.

One day last spring, I was in my bedroom when I heard the leaf blower. I thought it was awfully loud and presumed that Matt was blowing leaves outside our window.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the sun room to find my husband wearing safety goggles, sporting a tool belt to which he'd attached Windex, paper towels, a squeegee, a sponge and other cleaning supplies, wielding a leaf blower and grunting like Tim the Tool Man Taylor.

He'd been outside mowing the lawn, cleaning exterior windows and blowing leaves when the thought had occurred to him--the leaf blower would make getting all the fur out from under our couches possible in record time. I thought he was crazy until he demonstrated his invention.

I have to point out, though, that if you have a powerful leaf blower, check under the couch before turning it on. Ferrets don't weigh much so you can imagine his shock at being blown clear across the room.

The problem was, after Ferret Bueller recovered, he thought it was a game, and began dancing around Matt, wanting another ride. We ended up locking him in a room until the job was done, both for his safety and because we'd blown half the fur off of him.

Having a ferret, we didn't only find pounds and pounds of fur. We found hidden stashes of old Christmas candy, bottle tops, bobby pins, ribbons, scraps of yarn and a myriad of beads.

If I'm being honest, I kind of knew he was stealing the beads. I was in the middle of making an intricate necklace and it was driving me crazy. I figured if he stole enough of the beads so that I couldn't finish it, I could stop without having to admit the truth. I'd completely lost interest.

Spring cleaning is a way to welcome the sun and wake up from a seemingly endless winter. You open windows, wash drapes, get rid of things you haven't used in years, and occasionally find things you thought you'd lost. But sometimes, spring cleaning turns into a spring 'replace everything'.

For example, you've washed the windows, when you notice the room needs to be painted. You paint the room, only to realize that the curtains look shabby in comparison, so you have to buy new ones. You sanded and polished hardwood floors, but then the throw rugs look dingy and need to be replaced.

It's kind of like shoveling the walk in the middle of a blizzard.

But, everything smells nice, clutter is removed and things have their place. And if all else fails, I'll let "Hoarders" have at it.

I smell an Emmy.

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The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.