Friday, May 8, 2015


I wrote this piece for our community magazine but they had many other pieces, including another of mine, to fit into the issue. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I will use it today. I want you to know that my halo isn't really on all that tight - I've not yet tackled many of the chores (well, hardly any!). But I do talk a great Martha Stewart-ish line. It's an instance of do as I say, not as I do. 

Spring has sprung
And grass is green.
I guess it’s time
I finally clean.

Air Out, Clean and Inspect

Spring cleaning time is upon us. Now that the temperatures are mild and the windows wide open, it’s time to handle jobs like touch-up painting, laundering slipcovers, bedspreads, and curtains, and doing a cleaning cycle with white vinegar in your clothes and dish washers. The dryer hose could be de-linted too. It’s time to clean out the grill and make sure that it and all the outdoor furniture are ready for warm weather living.

Our homes have been closed up for months. Now is the time to remove all the dust and grease and greasy dust that has built up on knickknacks, books, and pictures throughout the house, and on anything sitting or hanging in the open in the kitchen. By now you know the right way to clean them, so do it.

If you didn’t get to it in March, the start of May is a good time to check the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and in your flashlights, and to check your fire extinguishers. The days when our clocks Spring Ahead and Fall Back have become the days we’re now told to remember to do these checks, but the beginning of this month will do as well. It might also be a good time, before the summer rush, to have your air conditioning system checked and serviced. This goes for your irrigation system too.

Control the Chaos

Many of these May jobs can be put on a list and done bit by bit. In between times, or if you finish early, it might be time for some creative culling.

Is your garage is in a state of barely controlled chaos? This is a good time to back out the car, pull everything away from the walls, get some storage shelves and containers if you need them, and begin to get a handle on your stuff. As you investigate each item and the contents of every box, ask yourself these questions:
   When was the last time I used this?
   Does it still work? 
   Do I really need this? Do I really need this many?
   Does it have sentimental value? Would the kids like to have it?
   Can I cut down on all these holiday decorations?
   Can I donate it somewhere? Can I sell it?
   If I toss it now could I replace it for under $5 or borrow it if I need to?
   When was the last time I used this? (Yes, again!)

Do the tried and true three-part triage on your stuff:
   Stuff you really need to keep
   Stuff you can donate or sell
   Stuff you should toss

If you have things that you’d really like to have gone but are immensely or even mildly sentimental, take a few pictures of them and keep the pictures instead of the stuff. Just think of all the space you’ll save and the future headaches you’ll avoid when you get rid of all that memory clutter.
This is a good time of year to do some clothes closet cleaning, and kitchen closet culling too. The list of questions and the method of disposal is exactly the same as for the stuff in the garage. And, if you still have May time on your hands, clean out your files. Still have your tax records for the last umpteen years? Look up a good records retention schedule and lighten your paper burden.

Think Outside of the Box

It’s rare for or homeowners to dust off their hands and say, “There! Our home is complete!” There’s always something that can be done to make our spaces better, more efficient, more comfortable or just more visually appealing. With that in mind, you might want to take a look around and see how you can rearrange things.

Instead of all those framed family photos sitting around on every surface, think about arranging them on a photo wall. Use the frames as they are, or invest in coordinated frames from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. If not this, perhaps you’d want to make a special album of all these special photos. Just think of all the dusting time you’ll save.

Do other little things to change the household scenery: trade the toss pillows in the bedroom with those in the living room, put your Grandmother’s afghan over the arm of an easy chair, or curate and cull the knickknacks. Check your cabinets for stored items that might be decorative. Bring out a pretty pitcher, bowl, or tea cup, even a great sports trophy, to put on a table top or prominent shelf. Buy something that won’t break the bank but will change the scenery: perhaps a new set of towels or sheets, a small framed artwork or pottery piece from one of the Sun City craft groups, perhaps some fresh flowers to brighten your rooms.

You probably won’t need to do every job mentioned here, but be honest with yourself and really do a thorough job on what you do have to do. It’s going to be a busy month, what with all the other things going on in your life and in the world, but you will be pleased with your progress. By Memorial Day you should be able to sit back, enjoy the fruits of your labor, and have a wonderful summer.

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