Lots of folks in the county were being productive back during the pandemic. That time at home offered the chance to tackle all sorts of Honey-Do chores and the things that seem to always be put off until another day.

That day was apparently the entire month of April. The county’s solid waste department recorded 182 more tons of waste than in March. 

I missed the chance to spring clean back in April. I was working about as much as usual, though in different ways as meetings moved online and events were canceled. 

So my closets stayed full of clothes from three sizes ago and the supplies for long-forgotten crafts stayed carefully stowed in my “craft room,” the Bermuda Triangle of craft supplies. The garage didn’t get cleared out and the storage unit kept having stuff moved into it with little more thought than “yeah, that’ll fit there.”

I’ve always been more of a “summer cleaning” fan, anyway. It gives you some time to work up to the task of cleaning the whole house. 

First, I tackled my closet. I had dreams of installing built-in shelves to help organize my shoes, my purses, my scarves and the boxes of photos and memorabilia. I checked websites, made measurements and then realized Ikea would charge more to ship what I wanted than the shelves actually cost. And I didn’t really want to drive to Atlanta. 

I really wish they’d do better with their shipping policies or go forward with that Nashville location. But that’s a wish for another time.

I found a few cube shelves that would provide some organization and used those, instead. 

And I started getting rid of stuff. Does one really need five fleece jackets? No. But I’ll fight you over my work cardigans. Those things are a year-round must-have. 

I once tried to have a “capsule” wardrobe — where you limit your clothes to just 30 pieces. I couldn’t do it. But we only wear a fraction of the clothes in our closet, so I tried to get rid of the pieces that hadn’t been out in daylight in a year or more. 

It’s a lot easier to organize when you’re not trying to organize things you don’t use or need. So away that all went.

Then there was the kitchen. 

My kitchen isn’t very large. People who cook would find it cramped. I spent many years primarily cooking things from frozen packages in the microwave, so I never really thought about storage issues. 

I wanted clutter-free countertops, the kind you see in real estate photos. 

Turns out, the secret to clutter-free countertops is getting rid of clutter. So I culled a bunch of spoons and gadgets that I don’t even remember how to use. That helped a lot. I even got rid of the junk drawer that lives in most kitchens. I’m sure it will make a return, but right now it’s gone. 

Next, the craft room.

Sometimes, I find it easier to make a bigger mess when cleaning up. So I emptied the room. My living room was unusable for two days. But that’s OK. I couldn’t watch TV so I went through the boxes and threw away old notebooks. I don’t really need those notes from a school board meeting in 2004, do I? 

Soon, all the stuff that’s still perfectly good for someone — just not me — found its way to the guest room. There, I stored everything for about three weeks and then started taking it away in batches to the local thrift stores. 

The garage was the focus of my efforts this past week.

Several years ago, I built three work benches from pallets. I knew they were still in the garage because of the mountain of stuff suspended above the floor, but the tops of these benches were nowhere to be found. 

Out came the trash bags. Another pile of “giveaway” stuff was made. I reorganized my shelves. I found a bunch of stained glass I had made, way back when I made stained glass. I had forgotten they were there. 

Now, I’m driving around with a car full of board games that never get played, waiting to get around to dropping them off at the thrift store. I’ll get it there — eventually. 

But my house seems a little calmer without all this stuff screaming at me. I’m not a follower of Marie Kondo, but being able to find your shoes in the morning really can make your life better. 


Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.