About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

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Clean the Clutter

March 21, 2024

If you have been reading my blog for awhile you may know that Charles mother passed away and we have been working our way through her household items. It is only Charles and I to do this and it has been a mountain to climb in more ways than you can imagine, or maybe you can imagine because you have done this before.

We started a new history study, the year 1917. The workload we are having to do to empty Madge's house and the many repairs has been quite difficult.  The history study will not be abandoned because I am looking forward to this study. 

Clearing Madge's house is quite a lesson in many ways.  It is showing me that we have cutter in our home that I have not seen as clutter. We get used to looking at things and over time do not see them as clutter. 

There is something very different about our clutter though, our clutter is clean and now I realize that this makes a big difference.  I too keep things that maybe I should get rid of but at least I clean it. 

At our house

The reason I know the difference is because after we leave Madge's house to come back to our house, our house feels and smells clean even though it is quite disorganized right now.  When we go back up there it is musty and dirty and cluttered because fishing with her brother, watching sports, going out to eat, attending her clubs and then watching her murder mysteries was much more entertaining. 

It was not our place to step in and clean her home because she was physically able to do this.  We did step in once because it was not healthy and cleaned and painted the inside of her house with her fussing at us all the while. After we did this it all went back to being cluttered and dirty like before in no time. 

I have hesitated for a full week to put up this post and Charles wondered why I was not posting it and I told him that it felt a bit like complaining about Madge but there is such a lesson in this.  He told me that it is the real thing and Madge did not mind telling anyone that she wasn't going to do what she didn't want to do. He said I should do this post so it might be helpful to someone since that is what I try to do. 

There is not a lot you can do to help someone when they are fully capable but just do not want to do it. 

I am using Madge's house as an example about cleaning the clutter and this can be anyone's house because there are many homes that are like Madge's house. 

As we know now that Madge did not like to cook or clean house, but she shined in many other ways. Madge had a big personality and loved to be social and enjoyed eating out with friends more than anyone I have ever known. She loved an invitation and her five most favorite words to be asked were, "do you want to go?"  It would be a yes!  Madge had a laugh that you could hear from far away.  

She had piles of "stuff" everywhere and the past twenty or so years we never had a place to sit down in her house. If we offered to clean she would fuss at us and say no but now I feel that she did not want us to see how bad it was.  We wouldn't know because she would not turn the lights on.  One lamp that was all. 

One time we finally talked her into letting us clean and after we did she made us put everything right back where it was, including what needed to be thrown away. That included worn out broken appliances, things that had no purpose at all. She made us put everything we took out back in the house.

We have Madge's cats here at our house now since the time Madge moved in with us eight months ago. When we go up to her house to work, it still smells of cats and a musty house with litter dust everywhere.  When we come back to our house, even though her cats are here with us, it does not smell like cats are living here. We also have dogs and a bird.

This is because of a pet routine, each morning and each evening we clean the two litter boxes and the litter goes out to the trash daily.  We have litter trappers on the floor in front of the litter boxes where the litter falls in the grooves as they come out of the boxes and that helps quite a bit.  Also we do our best to wipe down and vacuum twice during the week if not more often.  I clean the bird cage every other day and the dogs hang out like people. 

I looked up what essential oils are safe to use around cats and I add a little to my cleaning rags. 

Just like people, the dogs need baths and if we skip baths everyone knows because the dogs will smell and then their bedding will smell and this happens because sometimes they do not get a bath.  A few years ago we purchased a stand up bathtub for the dogs to make bathing easier.  We sit it in our bathroom and it drains into the toilet.  The same can be done in a walk in shower but we do not have one. If these things are done routinely the house will stay clean.  

I am not saying that our house never smells bad and never gets dirty because it does because life can get complicated at times but then we eventually clean it.  Right now as I am typing, boxes are all over the place with sorting to go to the trash, donations and such as that.  The sink area is full of items to wash and donate.  

Doing the my one room proper plan for our home and that I have posted about, means that I focus on one room per day, five days a week. I tidy the other rooms as needed and each room stays clean.  If the house is really messy and dirty it will eventually get clean if you do this method because the next week you get back to it.  I talk about it in my "One Room Proper Articles. 

We do not have an actual scullery that I write in my picture above but I do have a sink so that counts. :)  I like to use the old words from long ago since I enjoy history.  Since cleaning out Madge's house I have gone back to using a Franklin planner as I did many years ago.  The technology today does not help me to organize but if I have pen and paper and a book I do better.  If you want to see what an old fashioned scullery looks like just type into google,   old fashioned Scullery and then images

We came up with a routine of driving the hour drive to Madge's house, bringing back what we can get in the car to sort through, wash, clean and donate or keep some things and take what we need to take back up there after it has been cleaned. We need at least three hours to make this trip.  One driving up, one boxing up things and one hour driving back which mostly ends up after dark.  We literally blow everything off with a lawn blower before we can start cleaning it.  We do what we can outside, washing or polishing, throwing away quite a bit because it is to worn out to donate. 

Sometimes we have pretty things packed away and while old magazines, years back newspapers, broken appliances sitting on the floor or stacked on a table. 

Many of us have clutter, the kind you get used to seeing and do not realize it turned into clutter. The kind you move around to wipe under or around and push it back. Pens and pencils, paper clips, empty medicine bottles we took the label off of clutter. The kind that just sits there and took up residence.

I am not one to tell you to get rid of everything, there are reasons we have too many things at certain times in our lives.  Life if full of stages that we go through, we may have a busy work life, we may have young babies or school age children, then there are children leaving our nests and then grandchildren, maybe you enjoy researching genealogy like I do and have paper clutter, I am working on that too.

After we finish with Madge's house  I will be thinning out things here at home.  What I have learned is, clean the house and clean the clutter.  Move whatever we need to move to clean around it, behind it, under, top  and clean the items before putting it back. 

If we want to use some sentimental items for decorations, then do that but remember to remove it for cleaning because dust is going to settle on anything that has a surface.  This one really good thing about one room proper because that extra time in that room is when you can dust what is in that room and not everything in the house.  The other rooms will get their dusting on their special day.

 We are starting to run out of space in our home to put things because I do not want to put washed linens back in Madge's house until it has been cleaned thoroughly, so they are stacked.  At least they are pretty to look at.

A non clutter off topic Tip:  We have a kettle that we use to heat water and it keeps building up calcium or whatever that is that is hard to get off.  It had gotten pretty bad and flaking off in the water.  I very much dislike scrubbing this off because I cannot ever get it all off the inside of the kettle. I looked around on the internet and read different suggestions so I tried a couple of them and then I did the vinegar one. It did not say how much vinegar or how long and such as that so I put some water to cover all the area that had build up and quite a bit of white vinegar in the kettle and turned on the kettle, brought it to a boil for a few minutes and then let it sit for an hour.  To my surprise it all scrubbed out easily.

We have gone up and back down as often as we can, gasoline prices are going up so we are really packing in as much as we can to get it back down home.  It felt like we were not making a dent but now it is feeling like we are getting somewhere with this.  

There will be a lot of work to do on the house if we decide to keep it or move there.  It is not as bad as the hoarders shows on TV and still repairable.

Our little Myrtle is down below Madge's house, (the tiny house we built out of a old workshop).  It is only 9 & 1/2 feet by 19 feet. We spent the night there the weekend before last and this was the first time we have been able to do that in a long time. We were so happy to be there again. 

This is a porch that we made a priority to clean so we could start bringing the doggies up with us. They do not like being left behind. This porch was stacked with stuff and the windows were covered with bamboo blinds, sheets, cobwebs and the windows were very dirty.  It was years of stacking items that  you don't know what to do with. 

After we cleared and cleaned out this porch, we then cleaned a table and chairs that was sitting outside and put it on the porch so we could have a clean place to eat.

I now realize how people can become hoarders because I think if it builds slowly and you get used to seeing it then we don't notice it anymore.  We just form a new path and walk around it. This can go on to be a very serious problem and the person no longer has the strength to do anything about it.  

After cleaning out this porch and washing the glass I cried because of the beautiful view that was not being seen for so many years. 

There was a lot of silverware in the drawers, several sets we brought home to wash.  I wanted to take one complete set back up to Madge's house and donate the others.

An interesting thing, there were no regular teaspoons, only long ice tea spoons and serving spoons.  Not one teaspoon in several drawers of silverware, what a mystery.  I looked on ebay and found some regular teaspoons that matched the set so I ordered them and happy to complete this set. I wonder what she did with all the teaspoons? 

This house has such a wonderful view up in the woods close to the lake and it is very healing to sit and watch nature. I had a hard time leaving the last trip we went there, I wanted to stay and keep working on the house.  There are many things to consider if we should decide to sell our house in the city, one drawback is would it be too far away for medical check ups or an emergency.  We will not make any decisions at this time to keep or move because it is too soon and it will feel right when the time comes to make a decision.  

If you have ever watched Little house on the mountain on Youtube, the couple is James and Lea and they have a very similar property like Madge's place with the sloped property and the lake.

I am repurposing some of the items.  Here at home I like to save some of the jam jars and such because they are not plastic and can be used to store leftovers or make drinking glasses. This is my jam jar stash, Madge's jam jar stash was very large and very dirty.  We need to take a moment and think about how many jam jars do I need?  That way we can still keep our jam jars and not have clutter. 

Many times we think clutter, we think that means something that should have been thrown away. But the other option is to at least, clean the clutter until we can make a decision what to do with our stuff.  This would be helpful for if something happens to us and we cannot live at home or die.  Then our family will not be left with our things to have to clean before they can even donate.  

Start anywhere, a corner in the room, an overstuffed porch, clear off the back porch and once we get started it is easier to keep going.  It seems most times that is the hardest part, just getting started.

I did not realize how cluttered our little porch was until we cleaned out Madge's porch.  This makes me think of Matthew 7:3.  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 

Don't settle like the dust.  Grandma Donna

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