April 9, 2016
The clean-up of Meador Manor continues as we race toward the city’s annual Spring Clean-up and Operation Clean House. Our friends the Hendersons will be loaning us their pickup truck in a couple of weeks so that we can haul items to the Phillips 66 parking lot and the Washington County District 2 Barn where Operation Clean House will rid us of accumulated lawnmower oil, a gigantic old CRT computer monitor and old printer, and possibly an old dishwasher. We are grateful to the city, county, and several environmentally responsible companies for making this possible.
Then we plan to haul to Goodwill several huge bags of gently used clothes, valances, and bedding, along with various oddball items and unwanted small appliances. Wendy’s family benefited from thrift stores as she was growing up, and she sincerely believes in paying it forward.
The Super-Deluxe Home
Wendy opted to use two standard bedroom closets when she moves in, with me using the walk-in closet off the study for my things, a portable bed, and our luggage. So we cleared out one bedroom closet last weekend, and this weekend we cleared out the other one.
I had a bunch of Legos I wanted to pay forward, but Wendy did me a favor and let me work elsewhere while she gathered them up into a big bag for Goodwill and disposed of the old beat-up boxes. When I was very little, my parents got me hooked on building things with TOG’L Blocks. Later, my aunts had some old Legos, and they gave them to me after noticing how much I enjoyed playing with them. My parents augmented that with the 135 and 145 Lego sets, so I had perhaps 1,000 pieces which gave me countless hours of enjoyment. After bagging them up, Wendy came to me and asked, “Did you notice the instructions typed onto one of those boxes? Was it for some sort of game?” I had no idea what she was talking about.
So she brought to me what she had found taped inside one of the boxes: Building Specifications for The Super-Deluxe Home. It says a lot about me as a child that I had carefully typed out and taped to the box detailed requirements I had devised for a high-quality Lego house. The architects and contractors who have worked with me over the years on school additions will not be surprised at what follows:
The End of Analog
I’ve written at length before about the evolution from analog to digital storage. I had crammed all of my old phonograph records and cassette tapes into that bedroom closet. We junked the cassettes, along with the last two cassette players, and boxed up all of the vinyl records to give away. At school I have a selection of 78, 45, and 33 1/3 rpm records which I use with old phonographs to illustrate circular motion concepts to my physics students. But at home I will have no more analog sound recordings.
Wendy decided to repurpose the old stereo cabinet, which was also stored in that bedroom closet, for her crafts area in the study. We reworked a wall which once had shelves of paperback science fiction novels to now have the cabinet and deeper shelves. Wendy also is reworking some old cassette storage bins she found in the closet into storage bins for her paints.
She has a real knack for organizing things, and has convinced me to have drawers in another part of the house for commonly used tools, rather than having them stowed in an inconvenient tool box. Here is what her crafts look like when bundled up at her apartment:
And here is how we’ve changed the scifi corner into a crafts area, although we may wind up shifting things to put her little desk there:
Decluttering the Big Closet
The walk-in closet off the study was cluttered with my clothes and some of the luggage. Before I tackled that closet, I visited Kmart to get a set of plastic drawers and three clear plastic bins, and we had already purchased a large blue plastic bin at Dollar General. The new set of drawers allowed me to gather my socks, various shoe items, and miscellaneous articles. I put that unit up on a side shelf, taking the place of an old plastic shelving unit that was overflowing with underwear. I took apart the old shelving unit, sawing down each of the legs to form two raised shelves I stuck in the built-in shelves at the rear of the closet to organize my casual socks and underclothes. I had some costumes and dress-up props in bags on one corner of the floor and jumbled on a long upper shelf. All of that got organized into the big blue bin. Wendy and I consolidated off-size pants and jeans from another closet into bins on the top shelf of this closet. We wrapped up by culling the clothes I no longer wear. Items that were too old or damaged were disposed of, while gently used items were bagged for donation to Goodwill. And lest some of you who click on the photos for a closer look be left wondering…no, that’s not Fluffy stowed on the top shelf of the closet; she’s in my classroom at BHS. That’s a different cat someone gave me years ago.
No Strut Tube Hangers!
When we were cleaning closets, Wendy professed her dislike for strut tube hangers, although she was infinitely more reasonable about it than Joan Crawford’s take on wire hangers as portrayed in Mommie Dearest. I’ve never been fond of them either, so we got rid of them. For decades I’ve been using open end hangers for my pants, along with some newer velvet hangers, but for far too long I have tolerated a bunch of open end hangers with little end caps that would fly off. It was time to fix that annoyance. So I ordered some new hangers that won’t shed parts and put the others into the donation pile.
The Hidden Hoard
The study has a 60″ x 50″ walnut partners desk my father gave me when I moved into Meador Manor. Over a quarter century later, it will actually become a partners desk, with Wendy and I each using one side of it. This big piece of furniture can hide many items, so for years I’ve had a hoard of bags, electronics, and file boxes of newspaper clippings hidden behind it and a big bin of electronics cables and parts stashed in the legwell. It was time to clean out that hidden hoard.
Wendy was amused by the electric typewriter behind the desk. I refused to part with it, although I did shed all of the other obsolete technology stowed back there. The newspaper clippings went as well, since I now rely on online sources. That freed up enough space that the big bin of electronics parts and cables could be shifted back there along with a few other items. Wendy plans to put a trash can back there for her side, since she does a lot of school paperwork at home. She also needs space for her printer and its supplies.
Wendy and I also went through the foyer closet, piling unwanted coats into the donation pile and discarding a bunch of unused hats. Wendy has been gracious to spend days helping me clean up the house. We’ve cleaned four closets and a bank of cabinets and drawers and decluttered the study. The only spots left to deal with are the kitchen and a closet and a corner shelving unit in the garage; Wendy already organized another shelving unit out there. It looks like we’ll be ready for the April 23 hauling day, having sacrificed multiple weekends of good hiking days and foregoing visiting friends or watching movies. Hopefully we can hit the trails and visit friends in Tulsa during May before we have to move Wendy out of her apartment in June.
Wendy’s apartment is already decluttered; she is less of a hoarder than I am. Her philosophy on clothes is, “If I haven’t worn it in two years, it needs to go.” And I know she won’t have much trouble discarding her accumulated coffee creamer and coffee cans, even though she grew up in a family that never threw anything away. Wendy’s folks inherited their hoarding habits from their own parents, who had lived through the Great Depression. Although my mother was born during the Great Depression, she was too young to remember more than its aftermath, while my father was an impressionable young boy throughout those hard times. So the fact that I’m only one, rather than two, generations removed from that experience is my flimsy excuse for the mess we’ve had to clean up at the Manor. The Manor certainly isn’t yet Super-Deluxe, but we’re working on it.