Friday, October 29, 2010

I am a Squirrel

I don't believe in reincarnation or past lives or future lives (eternal life in Heaven, of course)....BUT...if I did, I'd be convinced that I was a squirrel at some point. Either that, or I am harboring some secret, undetected illness called Squirrelitis. I have serious squirrel-like traits. I hoard and hide things, often important things, in "safe places" that I rarely remember until years later when I come upon the THING that I tried so desperately to keep safe.

In my primitive home, I have many cupboards. If I had my way, I'd probably have antique cupboards, dry sinks and pie safes lining my walls. I can't get enough of them. They are full of history and character. And storage space.

It just occurred to me a few moments ago, as I was "speed cleaning" the mudroom, that I have a problem. Well, to some it would be a problem--it me, it's more a way of life. For example, I have had two awesome outside light fixtures that I picked up from the middle of nowhere off of a craigslist ad, they look like something out of the 17th century. But since I don't know where to use them, they have sat on my high back settle in the mudroom for, oh...a good two months. I don't want them broken, and I'm not ready to sell them because I really hope to use them. So what did I do? I opened the doors of an old pantry cupboard, moved around some stacks of leftover wallpaper border, kids spiral notebooks, found a stack of DVDs I didn't know were in there, my son's 7th grade band music folder (he's in 9th grade now)...and found room to stash the lights. Closed up the cupboard. Then I noticed the corner of the room, pretty hidden from plain view, but there was a bag of 'stuff' from the van, all sorts of crap the kids left in there at one point or another, and in a rage of infamous "speed cleaning," I dumped it all in a bag to bring in the house--with good intentions, of course--the kids were supposed to claim their stuff out of the bag and put it away. But no, there it is, still stashed in a bag in the corner.

And drawers. Thank God for drawers. I have so much mail and receipts and all that sort of "important paper" stuff that I need to file away...(but never get around to it)...and it all gets stashed in drawers. Doesn't really matter which drawer anymore. When we moved here a year ago, I found four built-in drawers on the other side of the kitchen base cabinets that face our kitchen table. Perfect. One for my bill stuff, one for kids' school papers, one for Jillian's crafty stuff, and the bottom deep drawer to use for my tools. Well let's just say that my one drawer for bills has spilled over into the kids' school drawer. And into the bottom of the Hoosier cupboard. And into one of the drawers of the 1890 butler cabinet from PA. You'd THINK I'd have reached my stashing limit and find the motivation to sift through it all and pitch out what shouldn't be kept, but no. Out of sight, out of mind! And I have this quirky internal emotional thing that makes me feel like in some warped way, I'm organized. After all, in the hasty moment that I need to find a certain paper, I know in an instant that it will be in one of four drawers. That's sort of a version of organized, right??

But it's not just paper stuff and delicate light fixtures. It's anything that isn't being used to enhance my primitive decor. Junk drawers? Got 'em. (Not one, mind you...a few.) I don't mean to keep junk drawers. I'm just not sure where the stuff belongs if it really doesn't have it's own category!) Make-up drawers in the bathrooms. Miscellaneous decor stuff in just about every old cupboard in the house.

Crocks? Yes, I love my crocks. I have dozens. Many of them are empty but many of them are full of God-knows-what. You know what is useful? A crock, when a woman is vacuuming and speed cleaning her home. Just when the vacuum is about to suck up something it shouldn't, we can grab up whatever it is and toss it into a crock! It's safe, it's out of sight, and it's not sucked up into the vacuum.

Wooden bowls are also handy. If they are not kept displayed upside down in a dry sink or on their sides in a bowl rack on the wall, they attract stuff. I don't know why, but in my mind, a pile of random pigtail holders, receipts, a broken zipper, and a handful of candy out of a kids' pocket are much more attractive in an antique wooden bowl in the center of a table, than strewn all over said table.

The garage and the pole barn the big black holes of my squirrely behavior. I don't know what's in them, I just know I can't park in there and that I don't want anyone to see inside them. Well, truthfully I do have some idea what's in them. Holiday stuff, baby stuff to keep, furniture that doesn't fit, bags and boxes of stuff from past houses that keep getting moved but never unpacked, tools too big for my drawer, bikes, shovels, cardboard boxes for mailing "something someday" know.

I once attended a wonderful seminar taught by the most organized woman I had ever met in my life. She was amazing and motivational and encouraging. I loved her to pieces. She taught a way of keeping all of your stuff in a dozen, white office-type boxes, each labeled with a number, which corresponded to a number on an index card, which had the list of what things were in the box, and all the index cards were kept in a recipe box neatly placed on your desk. Amazing! I thought I had been taught the secret to a wonderful life. I came home and immediately went to work. I brought home a bunch of white boxes and tackled a big walk-in hall closet. I separated everything into categories (baby stuff, Navy stuff, craft stuff, paperwork, etc) and each had its own box. They stacked neatly up and down the walls of the closet.

After 47 boxes, I was tired of organizing, and that was only one closet. At that point, I had the rest of the house, closets, basement and garage. I don't know if I was the only person who ended up with more than a dozen white boxes, but honestly, it was getting expensive, buying all those boxes and taking up days and days of my time to stash my junk into numbered cubes and writing it all on cards. Good intentions. But exhausting. I had too much stuff for that kind of system!

And so, all these years later, my squirrelitis continues. I bury and hide and stash everything I own and hope to someday get through it all. But in the meantime, my house appears pretty neat and clean for the most part.

Just remember, if you visit my home, open cupboard doors and drawers at your own risk...!