Maybe Some Territory Should be Left Uncharted

 I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had started trying to declutter and organize the house a little earlier this year than last, partly because I had the urge and partly because last year I started in November and was irritated when this ran into Christmas season and I had to stop and change gears before I was ready. 

Matt was away for four days last week and then he left Sunday again for ten days, so I'm trying to take advantage of being alone in the house to make as much progress as possible with no one here to be disturbed by the piles of stuff and the copious swearing. 

This may have been a terrible decision.

Eve's fall break week was a couple of weeks ago, beginning with Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. My sister and her family were coming here for Thanksgiving and they live just the other side of Hamilton where she goes to school, so they picked her up on the way. It was wonderful, as it always is when we're all together. We talked and laughed and ate and drank and played dumb games. I found Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader in a cupboard in the basement. 

Have you ever played Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? The questions and answers are printed on cards but then scrambled or filtered so they can't be read with the naked eye - you have to put them in a card-reader sleeve that unscrambles them - theoretically. What we found out was that no one over 25 could read anything - we kept going to younger and younger people until my niece, who's 20, could finally decipher them. Am I smarter than a fifth grader? I don't fucking know, can you make the questions legible so I can find out? Hmph.

The game was still fun. If Charlotte thought the question was too easy, she'd read it in French. Eve or my nephew would shout out the answer while the rest of us were still trying to translate in our heads. I said the wrong answer for whether stalagmites go up or down, which was upsetting because I made a point of learning which was which a few years ago and I KNOW the right answer, I just said it wrong. I did, however, invent something called the Sizeable Gin and Tonic that weekend, (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, but whatever, some inventions are beautiful BECAUSE of their simplicity), and I'd like to see a fifth grader do that (no I would not, that would be very inappropriate, I'm insecure and lashing out, I'm sorry).

My sister's family left on Monday and Eve had the rest of the week to recover from the preceding insane week of midterms and assignments and hang out with her friends. Four years ago we did our first pumpkin patch photo shoot with her four friends, and it was so much fun we try to do it every year. Of course, four years ago was right before Covid, so the next year the shoot had to be masked and distanced. Now they're all in university, so we go with whoever we can gather - this year we had Eve, Alison and Davis for the photo shoot and Jackson joined for the pumpkin painting later that night after classes. Marianna is in B.C. at drama school so she only gets home at Christmas.

They usually come here to paint because I used to paint stuff for fun and we always have a lot of craft paint and brushes lying around. I completely forgot this year that this would be happening, and I had moved the box of paint that used to sit at the end of the coffee table behind the chair downstairs. I had to go into the big scary storage room behind the laundry room and try to find some, and kept emerging to where Eve was waiting with boxes containing a few bottles of paint and also marbles, ribbons, crumpled paper, and a tiny wooden chest I've had since I was a little girl. I apologized for the fact that we still live like this, and she said "I think it's awesome. You get so many surprises". Way to put a nice spin on it, I guess.

I had book club on Monday night and we were talking about home organizing. Someone asked me if I was going room to room systemically and I laughed and laughed because no, my system is not going methodically room to room. My system is not even a system, because why would I not bring the same chaos demon energy I bring to everything? I started upstairs in Eve's closet, and packed up some outgrown clothes to give away, then brought a couple of things down to store in the downstairs closet, which was a disaster so I started moving things around in there, then brought something up to the dining room and ended up emptying out the china cabinets. I've managed to leave the family room largely untouched, which is good because it means I have one more-or-less orderly space to retreat to.

The book we read this month was Michael Palin's Erebus: The Story of a Ship, about the other ship from the Franklin expedition (the one that wasn't the Terror, which is the one I always think of when I think Franklin Expedition), which was also sailed extensively around the Antarctic before Franklin and everyone else involved kind of screwed the pooch and got her sunk. Now that I've typed that it sounds disrespectful to all the men who died, which is absolutely a tragedy, but it really does sound like the expedition was ill-conceived and fraught with poor judgment from the beginning. And whoo, Jane Franklin was a terrifyingly smart and manipulative piece of work. The past couple of days I've been mostly navigating the vast and perilous shoals of my basement and I have to tell you, tinned meat and sleeping in a frozen hammock are not sounding terrible by comparison.

I went to the One World Bazaar with Jody (HI JODY) on Saturday and she was mad at me for engaging in negative self-talk - apparently I'm not supposed to say I'm an idiot even when I'm being an idiot (wait, sorry, that's doing it again. I'm really having to be on guard against that while engaged in this particular pursuit, because all I keep thinking is 1) how on earth did we end up with all this crap and 2) why am I even bothering with this because clearly I am just a worthless slattern who is incapable of maintaining any level of order and structure. This is not helpful. Most of these things served a purpose at one time. Now they do not, and they can move on and serve a purpose somewhere else. I might not be able to maintain the level of neatness and precision I'm aiming for, but that's okay - anything will be an improvement, and it will take a while for entropy to reassert itself. Right?

So right now a lot of my basement looks like this:

But, like Eve says, you get so many surprises. Like this get well card she made for me when she was little, that I found inside a biography of Virginia Woolf:

Also, I bought one of the carved ducks that I yearned for last year at the Bazaar, and quite extensively rearranged stuff on the two pieces of furniture by the entrance solely to show it off to best effect, and I regret nothing.


Ernie said…
This is hilarious. The game card reading and the language translation alone would have me so confused. Love the sweet get well mom card that you found. I have a scary storage room too - it is a tad creepy because that's where I store my Sesame Street costumes and they look like they are staring at me when I enter.

I'm dreaming of reorganizing the house, but I am barely capable of occasionally running the vacuum and keeping the bathrooms mildly clean. So, my house organization is only a lofty dream - but I've just decided that I should invite you here to help me. I assume the decluttering my house task would include tall gin and tonics or whatever drink you want to invent and lots of laughs. Let me know when you have your calendar ready, so we can select a date. ;)
StephLove said…
It sounds like quite the project. Sometimes I think Beth and I will undertake something like that when we're empty-nesters, but maybe that's just an excuse to put it off for another (almost) 2 years.
Suzanne said…
So much fun mixed in with the absolute SLOG that is a big organizing project. Sizable Gin and Tonic, indeed -- I would be using those suckers to soften the edges of the task... and then probably getting gin-despondent and ending up on the couch watching TV. So never mind.

P.S. I love your booted duck with all my heart.
NGS said…
The duck is AMAZING. I would also rearrange things so that it could be prominently displayed.

Our guest room looks like your basement. If someone actually wants to stay in our guest room, I don't know what will happen. I suspect I will just cry.

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