I just found three more drawers! Three drawers of chaos, cords, and old dvds… under the tv. I’m not sure which is worse, the math of what happens to things INSIDE of drawers, or the math of keeping track of the drawers we have in our house!
Todays drawer adventure included three little drawers in a cabinet in our front hallway. No surprises today – games, flashlights, and mittens. Just needed some straightening up. Threw one deck of cards that went to a game that we haven’t had for years. One of the flashlights needs batteries. And I’m pretty sure I have a small box of mittens somewhere in the house that can be consolidated into this drawer.
I keep losing count of the drawers I’m going to be cleaning in the 30 days of September. I have notes and counts scrambled down on postits and in a document where I am trying to plan my success. But darn, the numbers keep changing around on me. And this weekend, I realized I’d miss the oven drawer (ick), 2 refrigerator drawers, and our freezer is actually a drawer (that has an additional drawer). Last week, my count was 41 drawers. Today my count is 37, plus those five in the kitchen that are appliance related. So that puts me at 42. I’m going to keep thinking about whether I want to do the appliance drawers a little bit longer. But I think it’s time to be honest – I’m going to do more than 30 drawers in 30 days. But I’m not changing a thing, because the title I gave my challenge inspires me. So now that I’ve been honest, here is what was done this past weekend.
The first drawer I tackled was our Tea Drawer. I expected this drawer to take a little longer, since there is also a tea stash in the cupboard below the drawer AND in the pantry. All those spaces benefitted from attention and re-stocking – and I averted a major disaster by discovering we are dangerously low on rooibus and peppermint tea.
The second drawers I tackled are in our downstairs bathroom. We don’t keep a whole lot in these so it was really just a deep clean and disinfecting of all inside and outside surfaces.
Today, I took a break from the kitchen. We put in a monthly essential oil order toward the beginning of each month, and I needed to take stock of what it needed. So that led to our big bathroom drawer.
This drawer. It is one of the few drawers that Marc and I share, and I have to confess, he is the much more considerate drawer sharer.
From this drawer, I removed about 10 (full) match cases (it would take a long time to enjoy that many candle-lit baths), a small handful of ‘what is this doing here’, a good amount of small glass bottles for essential oil usage (they were consolidated in another drawer), and some allergy pills dated 08/2006 (no kidding!).
It took 18 minutes to do this drawer which didn’t surprise me. I knew that I would be searching in closets, other drawers, and in cupboards to make sure things were in the right places.
Today was the first day it occurred to me that maybe sharing the insides of our drawers is really personal. Not feeling the urge to turn back, so here we go. Tomorrow, I’m back to the kitchen sorting out the ever cluttered and overflowing tea drawer. 5 Drawers down, 41 to go.
I took true inventory of the drawers in our home yesterday – 76 drawers. Of the 76, 26 aren’t my responsibility, 4 are for filing (not doing that this month), and 5 are empty. If I’m doing my math correctly, that still leaves 46 drawers. So in some situations, if I’m going to attempt to get them all cleaned up and tidied by October, I will be doing more than one a day. Today I tackled two corner drawers in the kitchen.
These are two relatively small drawers and I knew they would be easy to get done quickly. The cloths drawer was made even easier by a load waiting in the dryer for me to fold!
No surprises today. I moved a candy thermometer to the island drawer that has other thermometers in it. And I briefly wondered if we have too many spatulas and measuring spoons. I quickly got over that foolishness.
This drawer is the next door neighbor to Day 1 Drawer. They live in the “Island” of Pitman kitchen. This drawer represents some of our favorite things – pastry cutter (biscuits!), cookie dough scoops (who needs them baked?), and a rolling pin for pie crust. I thought today would take longer than yesterday, but I was wrong.
There are two things in this drawer that I feel like belong somewhere else but I’m not quite sure where – the ice cream scoop and the potato masher. As I continue my Drawer Tour through kitchen, I will be looking for those spaces.
As a side note, this is one of the things I HAD to buy in April or May. Did you find yourself having weird buying habits after a couple months of pandemic life? I bought them thinking about mini-quiches and mini-cheesecakes. But have I used them? No. What would you make? And even more importantly, do you have a recipe to share?
There is a drawer in my kitchen that has bothered me most of the summer. Today, I’m winning against that drawer.
Anything that has an ability to hide clutter is wonderful. Houses and furniture are built for people that are most often paying more attention to their Real Life than they are the careful placement of a butter knife. There are gazillions of gadgets I could purchase to help me feel like the hidden life of my cutlery and hairbrushes is in order – but who am I kidding? Unless I’m very careful, and unless I tell my family that only I am allowed to put things away (are you kidding?), declutter tools are just as likely to add to the clutter they are meant to control.
Last week, as I caught the sing song verse “30 days has September” crossing my brain, I found it at the intersection of irritation with our Knife Drawer – the one that has bugged me all summer. At that crossroads, I came up with the idea for 30 drawers in 30 days.
I have counted the drawers in my house – 60. I am not responsible for all of them, and some are actually empty. But if I tackle one a day in September, then I will feel like a whole house makeover has taken place. My commitment is to take a before and after picture each day, to spend NO money on ‘organizers’ this month, and to time each clean out. I believe that I spend more time being bugged than it would take to deal with it in most cases.
Here is Before Picture 1. Looking at it, it doesn’t really look that bad, but you can’t see the crumbs and spills (how do we get spills in a drawer?).
Everything came out of the drawer, the drawer was wiped clean inside and out, the knife block and (previously purchased) organizer were cleaned, then everything was put back in. I threw out an egg slicer that has been broken for two months and a tool that none of us could identify.
It took me 10:11 80 minutes according to my stopwatch. Have I spent more than 10 minutes being bothered by this drawer? You bet.
Why bother to blog about my drawers in 2020? Yes, I know there are Big Things happening in our world and a clean drawer here and there isn’t going to make the world a better place. For me, this tiny bit of soul/self-care and home organization is anchoring. My heart and mind are entirely overwhelmed when I look at pandemics and politics, at injustice and un-love. Ten minutes to renew and redeem a space and evaluate a system… It’s not changing the Whole World, but it’s changing my little interior spaces in a way that is oddly sacred.
If you want to join me, let’s use the hashtag #30drawers30days.
We had been married for four months. We had moved three times (another memory). Marc had moved from Starbucks barista to an admissions counselor at our college. And I was knee deep in my senior year.
Part of Marc’s glamorous job responsibilities as admissions counselor was to visit and recruit from his territory – Ohio. So the time came. Our first significant time apart since our wedding.
I don’t remember feeling terribly apprehensive or nervous about this separation. We were busy enough that I imagine it must have been more a matter of course – but this is through the lens of 25 years of his travelling for one thing or another. Maybe I have forgotten. But what I do remember about this trip is spending a night or two or three with his mother and sister in the condo at Old Orchard Beach Maine. The main living room faced out into the ocean. It was fall and I think our days were surrounded in endless grays and whites in the sky and Atlantic.
I remember cooking. I remember sitting on the couches under heavy knit afghans as we all worked on knitting projects ourselves. We watched either Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 1995) or Anne of Green Gable followed by Anne of Avonlea – either way it was VHS style binge-watching.
I remember being warm and not alone. That first time Marc travelled.
Our college required attendance at chapel. Most of the time, this was fine. A large percentage of the community gathered together (I liked our community) and the speakers and leaders were gifted.
I remember I was in a class with Marc’s (Beloved and Revered) academic advisor that met immediately after chapel at the other end of the campus on the top floor at the end of a hallway in an old castle. And it was during this brief transition time between the chapel service and Old Testament Prophets class that Marc decided to propose.
The proposal itself wasn’t exactly a surprise. We had been talking about the direction we thought our relationship was headed, and even about the timeline. But the actual location and timing was a surprise.
Here is how it happened: Our chaplain had been doing a series called “God’s will for your life, one wife or two’. It was a pastoral (and humorous) look at Free Will and PreDestination. There were robots and stuffed frogs involved, if I remember correctly. At the end of the chapel service, as we all rose and began collecting our things, Marc looked around and saw “All the people I want to be with me when I propose are here”. His sister, my roommate, dear friends.
So he knelt (I think on the pew, not between the pews) and pulled a blue satin pouch with Hindi lettering on it out of his pocket. (He had bought the diamond in Calcutta where we had been on a missions trip just weeks before!) and asked me to marry him. I remember saying yes. He remembers me saying “I’m going to be late for class”.
Either way, his sister screamed “I just got a new sister” and my roommate screamed “my roommate just got engaged” and the chaplain (who had been mentoring us in our dating relationship with his wife) wondered if maybe he should have done an altar call.
The tradition at our college was to ring a bell to announce the engagement to the whole campus. So after we accepted congratulations, we hustled to The Bell and rang it. (Once or more, I don’t remember.)
Then we hurried me to class. Where I was late. And I have no idea what I learned that day. But I am beginning to understand what I signed up for with a yes that day and continue to be learning with my best friend over the course of the years to come.
I’m not sure which came first – the horse drawn surry with the fringe on top clomping through the high school cafeteria in small-town Maine or sitting in a Boston theater with my Aunt and Uncle and some cousins experiencing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Both happened before fourth grade. Both still evoke a gut-rooted delight showing up as a dimpled grin on my face.
I remember my first On Broadway Broadway show, when we were working on Long Island (“Footloose”, thank you Rob Wenner). Most days I could barely believe that we lived so close to NYC. And here we were going to a show that I would only have ever seen on the Macy’s Day parade. I remember taking both sets of our parents to see “The Music Man” – reliving my high school performance as an extra, and crying at the end of each performance with perfect satisfaction. And then Marc and I took an overnight to see “Phantom of the Opera” when I was 8 months pregnant with Anna, and this included my first domestic bicycle rickshaw ride.
I remember taking the kids to their first touring Broadway Show in SC – “Anna and the King”. We pulled off a total surprise going to a conversation series offered by the theater telling them it was so we could hear from some of the actors and technicians of the show. Then, we pulled out the tickets and hustled to the main theater for the whole shebang. We have gone to several more shows since that first one – each feeling like a Christmas morning surprise.
And now I will get to remember taking the girls to their first On Broadway Broadway show in NYC. I had only ever written this desire on my secret “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I got to do this with or for my kids” list. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the performance or the act of making the experience happen more.
Live performance, live music, live theater, live musical theater fills my deep Self. A perfect blend of story, entertainment, music; an ensemble seen and unseen combining their best selves to create a Whole; exaggerated gestures, colors, conversations that lap onto the coloring page I carry with me into each performance. Professional and polished or in a high school of earnest, hopeful cast-members – I adore it.
This year I am challenging myself to remember and write about 52 things. I have called it a Remember52 challenge in my mind and on my to-do lists. I’m choosing #remember52 for myself because I spend so much time wondering what to write about that I just don’t. And being in a season of increasing significant transition (and hopefully self-discovery), remembering seems just write.
I don’t hold to many possessions too tightly. We’ve moved too many times for that. But this is something I have treasured for myself at least since we got married, maybe earlier, I don’t know. It is shocking to me how this little naive wish has yet to find a peaceful resolution. My first Remember52 coincides with a tense global climate with someone being killed, some bombs being sent in retaliation, an airliner ‘accidentally’ being shot down.
As my daughter prepared for high school finals, I remember studying for my high school midterms with Wanda and her family as they heard that her cousin was to be deployed. I remember friends losing friends and family. I remember trying to get off of Long Island on 9/11 with a 2yo Caleb and a not yet pronounced but almost certain Anna within.
But of this framed piece, I remember sitting around a warm evening meal, my family holding hands. God is great, God is good, let us thank God for this food. Or some other child’s dinner prayer. We never said PS. But we always added “and please help there be peace in the Middle East”. Amen.
I didn’t know where or what the Middle East were. I probably didn’t even know East, yet. If I’m honest, I still have very little grasp of what, where, or who the Middle East are. But we prayed every night, for peace. And we still are. In fact, I’m guessing I have a pretty narrow understanding of what, where, and who Peace is, how it is brought.
Is peace captured in one of the first essays of a second grader – a midyear version of ‘what I did this summer’? I remember struggling with this assignment because I knew that it wasn’t quite right to wish for material things for myself. I didn’t want to let on that I really wanted a particular doll or book or some other toy (though I remember that that was the year I got a beautiful full series box set of Little House on the Prairie books that I still have). I remember where I sat – in a row where I could stare out the window. I remember Ms. Heal read Charlotte’s Web out loud to us that year – and she did it just right. I remember my classroom was across the hall from my first grade classroom at Ella P. Burr Elementary School. Ms. Fogg was my first grade teacher. It was her mother who penned the calligraphy piece.
All of our My Wish essays were hung in the hall. Was there a parents night or some other open house? Who were the hallway bulletin boards decorated for? They were up too high for me to see and read. Maybe elementary teachers decorate some bulletin boards to encourage and amuse themselves and each other.
I had no idea that weather patterns wouldn’t cease fighting and war. I knew that when it rained or snowed in my life, things stopped. We stayed home and were family. Sometimes treats were baked and served. It was quiet. Less interrupted than usual. Together.
Maybe I wasn’t wishing for weather patterns. Maybe I was wishing for peace.