Tag Archives: Closets

Mad Makeover; or Where Did You Put the —?

When we moved 11 years ago, we agreed, “These room colors are temporary.” With straight faces, even.

Temporary threatened to stretch into forever. For years, I dreamed of painting our living space. Paint chip displays tempted me as if made of chocolate.

Finally, we lined up a painter. This time, when we visited the paint chip display, my dreams would come true!

The paint names reinforced my fantasies, especially pink hues. Noble Blush, for example, sounded like the color of a drawing room in a Jane Austen novel. Peach Indulgence matched its luscious, ice-creamy name. I will not discuss Romantic Smoke because this is a family-friendly blog.

Still, after 11 years, I was having the time of my life.

“Quit sticking those things in your purse.” My husband tugged on me. “They’ll arrest you for shoplifting.”

“It’s impossible to shoplift paint chips. They’re free,” I said.

What was his problem? I left some for other customers.


At home, I held up paint chips to walls. Appliances. Toothbrushes.

“What do you think of this?” I asked Hubby for the 3,973rd time.

He clammed up, so I asked the guys who collected our trash. Both were all about Noble Blush.

“Brings a distinctively neutral, yet warm ambiance to a room,” they agreed.

As our makeover date approached, Hubby and I wondered if we would survive the actual painting.

“This wasn’t my idea, remember?” he said.

Give my husband credit. With my writing deadline looming, he removed all our earthly possessions from six rooms, finding space elsewhere. Unfortunately, Hubby’s digging through cabinets and closets uncovered numerous artifacts, including macaroni the same age as the pyramids.

Also, while we expected upheaval, we didn’t anticipate scavenger hunts for each and every possession.

When I griped, Hubby said, “This wasn’t my idea, remember?”

Well, if he’d kept me away from the paint chips …

Halfway through the painting process, I tried to concoct a vaguely nutritious meal. “Where’d you put the bananas?” I called to Hubby.

“In the Ford’s front seat, of course.”

“Of course,” I muttered.

“Or maybe by the second row of boots in my shower.”

Maybe all this was getting to him.

Our pleasant painters worked efficiently and well. Yet, the process seemed endless. Finally, though, my dreams came true.

We thanked the painters who had blessed us with their expertise. I handed out fresh bouquets of gratitude to my helpful husband. “We never could have accomplished this if you hadn’t stepped in.”

He smiled. He preened.

I gave him a big hug. “Okay, start moving everything out again. The carpet guys are coming tomorrow.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How did you survive your last home makeover?

The Meaning of Cleaning

Maybe a COVID-delayed optometric appointment had prevented me from seeing my office’s squalor. After all, I’d told a fellow pedestrian I was sorry for not maintaining a safe distance — only to realize I’d apologized to a mailbox.

Legally blind, I also had hurdled growing piles in my office to reach the printer.

What finally inspired my cleaning turnabout? A check lost in the chaos.

Rummaging through rubble, I did recover it.

I saw carpet. It’s blue — who would have known? I even (drumroll) cleared my desk.

Hubby thought he’d entered the wrong house.

Of course, “clean” is a relative term. I know people who vacuum their garages — and probably their streets. For us, not only is “clean” defined differently, it belongs in separate languages.

For me, “clean” means piles have been boxed. It also implies my bookshelves no longer threaten to collapse, as (sniff!), I gave books to Goodwill. Three.

I follow a never-fail formula for dealing with UFOs — Unidentified Funky Objects. If it doesn’t erupt, tick or grow tentacles, I toss it into a closet or drawer.

Instead of pushing neatnik perfection, my unique organization system accumulates points for varying degrees of success.

I can shut a drawer or closet in which all items are current and in order. (100 points)

Hey, it might happen. In Heaven.

Highly unlikely, but possible: I can shut the drawer or closet containing items less than 30 years old. (50 points)

I have actually scored these below:

  • I can shut the drawer without paying, conning, or blackmailing someone to help. (30 points)
  • I can almost shut the drawer. (20 points)
  • I can shut the drawer until it sticks halfway. Permanently. (10 points)
  • I couldn’t shut the drawer if I backed a tank against it. (1 point)

Some claim I should receive zero for that final effort. But I tried. Doesn’t that count for something?

Using my system, I met my cleaning goal.

Then came Christmas and a longed-for visit from my son and his young family. Bushels of Christmas gifts, boxes, wrappings and holiday survival chocolate migrated to my office, as did anything fragile. Heaps of trash, attracted to new clutter as if magnetized, also appeared. So did the books I thought I’d given to Goodwill.

Now, the unthinkable lodges in my brain: if I don’t want to lose more checks, I should clean again.

Twice within three months? I hyperventilate.

Imagine how many points you’ll earn, I tell myself.

The system really does work.

If my total reaches 10 points, I won’t have to clean the office for another year.

And I won’t have to vacuum my street until 2099.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you define clean?

In Purse-suit of Perfect Understanding

My husband doesn’t understand why I need more than one purse. Or why I carry a bag at all. One skinny billfold meets his needs.

My answer: has anyone during a business meeting, church service or ski run asked you for Kleenexes? Tylenol? A spare outfit? Extra skis?

Hubby also bemoans how they clutter an entire closet:

  • The pastel-striped birthday surprise from my best friend. Salivating, she offered, “If you don’t like it, I’ll take it.” I wouldn’t think of hurting her feelings.
  • The look-alike brown and black leather bags. Hubby, who took me Christmas shopping, rejoiced at the 50-percent-off sale. “Yay, I’m saving money!” My take: “Woo-hoo, I can buy two for the same price!” Guess who won.
  • The clutch I ordered for my daughter’s wedding. Silvery and pretty, it’s nevertheless a gutsy little bag; when 9/11 struck, it found its way to Indiana in time, despite the grounding of all planes.
  • The light brown, patterned purse my mother gave me. I repeat: Mom gave me this purse. She adored trendy bags she bought at garage sales and rarely surrendered her finds. I took this as a sign from God I should never toss it.
  • The straw clutch I carried Sunday mornings, along with diaper bag(s) and one or more children with car seats. It still contains a Happy Meal figure and petrified Cheerios. My kids puked into it. All the more reason to feel sentimental.
  • The purple purse my daughter gave me. Do you know what a big, shiny, purple bag does for a 60-something woman? Wrinkles retreat as she struts her stuff. Even the Bible says every woman should own a purple purse.

Okay, that’s stretching it a little. However, the first European convert, Lydia, sold purple items. As a woman entrepreneur, of course, she created purple purses!

My large collection’s very abundance provides protection unmatched by deadbolt, alarm system or Lab. No robber will know which one contains money and credit cards. I don’t, either, but he might finish digging through them by Christmas. The only other alternative: stealing them all. First, few burglars want to be caught carrying cute purses. And, as Hubby says, the poor wretch would wreck his back.

A purse provides other protection. Once, a mouthy young man shared my airport shuttle when I was suffering from jet lag.

“What a huge purse!” he trumpeted. “Why would you carry a big ol’ purse like that, lady?”

I swung it in a small circle. “It makes an excellent weapon.”

Not everyone understands my purse fetish. But I think that kid understood perfectly well.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Fess up. How many bags do you own?