Maybe the mess wasn’t so bad

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It started in the bathroom. One morning I said, “This bathroom counter is messy.”

Well, clearing it required more than cleaning the counter. Oh no, you must find places for all the stuff. That meant venturing into the cabinet underneath the sink, a place not often visited.

What I found was no room for anything from the messy counter. So, I started cleaning and trashing. Then I moved to the makeshift storage I created with an over-the-door hanging shelf. I won’t go into detail about what I found. Let’s say there were things with expired expiration dates.

The shelf hung over the closet door. Well, how could I not move into that black hole my cats find so inviting. It hadn’t been long since I spent a whirlwind day editing my wardrobe, but the shoes were another thing.

With the closet straighter (not straight – straighter), the counter un-messy and the over-the-door storage gone, I peeked inside the bathroom closet. It was a jumble of towels, cleaning products, old back massagers, out of date hair color (I stopped coloring a couple of years ago) and other expired “personal” products I shall not name. Oh and a couple of vacuum cleaners were in there, too.

By this time, sentimental attachment to anything was gone and I pitched stuff into an expanding garbage bag. Then, I refolded the towels and shoved the vacuum cleaners back in. The bathroom looked good, better than it looked in years. I felt a wave of accomplishment rise in my chest. Then I walked into the bedroom.

Where to start — where to start. Some furniture had not moved an inch in years. When I vacuumed and mopped, I told myself it was too heavy to push around – so I didn’t.

Now, bitten by the cleaning bug, I wanted every dust bunny gone. Did I say bunny? If I rolled the bunnies together, well think basketball sized dust ball.

Heavens, I even dived under the bed, where things go never to be seen again. I pulled everything out, vacuumed and mopped. It was magical to see the floor under the bed without a carpet of dust.

I piled things into space bags and shrunk them almost flat before sliding them back into the no-man’s-land beneath the bed. Next, I polished furniture in places that had not seen polish for a long time.

When I finished, I stood back smiling, filling my nostrils with the sweet fragrance of lemon-scented furniture polish and fresh-smelling floor cleaner. Ah, it was good, good until I noticed the bookshelves beside the window.

Books clung to the shelves, some barely hanging on. The same was true in the living room where there are shelves down an entire wall, books in a shelf on the opposite side of the room from the wall of shelves, books stacked on a shelf under the television and books filling yet another shelf at the end of the hall.

I decided to go big. So, I started checking out (no library pun intended) every bookshelf in my house, making the challenging decision to let some of my friends go.

It was agonizing. I’d put a book in the “to go” pile, remove it, sit holding it tenderly and then, finally, return it to the stack.

So far, there are more than 20 books ready for new homes. Unfortunately, if you look at my bookshelves you can’t tell I’ve done anything

After a morning of book purging, I was exhausted, physically and mentally. Still, I feel good about what I’ve accomplished so far.

Wait, I see the built-in cabinet in the living room. Probably should look in there. Then there is the other bathroom, the closet in the hall, another that has holds Christmas stuff, the drawers in the buffet and china cabinet…

As I stand here considering all that still needs doing, I’m wondering what was so wrong with that messy bathroom counter in the first place.