Friday, July 18, 2008

Decluttering My Home (and My Life)

How can I put this delicately? I guess I should just come right out and say it - my house was a mess. Not a little, ordinary lived-in mess but a real contender for one of those home makeover shows on the House & Garden channel - you know, the one that features a mouthy woman with a team of professionals. They invade the home in question, empty it of almost everything and have a huge sale in the yard. My house was so bad that I have been fighting off temptation to submit it to that show. The only thing that stopped me from submitting my name was the risk of public humiliation.

My home has not always been like this but I have to admit, house work is not a favorite activity of mine. During the past eighteen months or so, things went downhill. As I became more and more ill (which I was not admitting) the house became a real disaster area and resembled some of those homes that "survived" hurricane Katrina (only without water damage). Things on the home front came to a rather ugly head during my most recent hospital stay.

As the paramedics wheeled the gurney up to the ambulance, all I could think about (aside from the pain and nausea I felt) was that I needed someone to feed my dog, Koukla, and make sure she was given her medicines twice a day. Once things settled down at the hospital, I made some calls and arranged for a group of friends to take turns caring for and visiting Koukie. Thank God I have a lot of wonderful people in my life.

Now I need to digress here just a little. I am not one of those people who cannot stand a dirty kitchen but I do wash the dishes every day. For some reason, I have always liked to soak the dishes in the sink overnight and wash them first thing the following morning while my coffee is brewing. I had a sink full of water and two pans soaking in it at 3:30 AM when I left for the hospital. Not a big deal. On the window sill above the sink, I have a cup and saucer which I leave there 24/7 - I use them to hold my rings while I work at the sink. The night before my "trip," I was only wearing one ring, my diamond and platinum wedding band. As usual, I put the ring in the saucer. For some reason, that night, I looked at the ring and thought, "should I move this? not a great place for a ring." But I was queasy and tired and not fully functional, so I left the ring where I always put it.

When I returned from the hospital a few days later, the first thing I did was go to the sink to get my ring. It wasn't there! I thought, "Ok, well, maybe I did move it." So I went in to my bedroom and did a quick check of my jewelry armoire: no ring. I looked in several places where I might have set it down but that little bugger was nowhere to be found. I went back to the sink and my heart sank - someone had washed the dishes. Nice gesture but, well, you see where this is going.

I called all five people who helped me with Koukla and Debbie was the only person who remembered seeing the ring. She described it perfectly and told me where she had seen it, which was a 10 point match to my recollection. If Debbie's memory hadn't matched my own, I would have assumed that I did move the ring and just forgot where I put it.

I went to the hospital early Tuesday morning and Debbie had first been at my house on Friday night, which is the night she saw the ring. She said she came back on Saturday night but did not go near the sink so she could not tell me whether or not the ring was still there. Three other people were at the house between Friday night and Sunday afternoon - Bethy, Angela and Cris. I called everyone again and this time, asked if they had come alone. They had. I really began to panic but honestly assumed I would find the ring in a day or two and tried to relax. I knew none of my friends would steal from me - I have known them most of them for at least twenty years (one of them since 1957!). Plausible scenarios were scarce but the one thought that kept coming into my mind was that someone noticed the ring in the saucer, moved it elsewhere for safe keeping and forgot. The only other idea I had is that one of my friends did not notice the ring and accidentally knocked it down.

When Narciso arrived on Monday night, he took apart the pipes under the sink and dismantled the dishwasher. No ring. He then went through all the drawers and cabinets near the sink and looked in every item on the counter top. Debbie came by and the two of them moved the refrigerator in case the ring had rolled underneath it. It is with great sadness that I report we still did not (and have not) found that ring.

Meanwhile, I am just about ready to return to the topic of this post! Nothing spurs a cleaning frenzy like missing diamonds but house cleaning is not an ideal task for someone just out of the hospital and recovering from surgery. Narciso is still here and my sister arrived on Tuesday, so we have been cleaning everything very thoroughly. Today, Vicki and I worked in my bedroom, which has basically functioned as a trash heap and storage facility for some time (I have been sleeping in one of the other bedrooms). I said hello to the floor in the bedroom today for the first time in years. This house does not have walk-in closets but I have two closets totaling 19 linear feet of closet space in my bedroom and they were both packed. Everything came out but many items were re-directed to either charity or trash.

Ok, I put this post on hold as I was writing early yesterday morning and now I have no idea what I was talking about. Oh well... Perhaps you can seek and identify my point and return it to me via the Comments.

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