Thursday, March 06, 2008

Baby Steps

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the running list of chores that need doing that I become almost immobilized. Have you ever caught an episode of How Clean is Your House? on BBC America? I can almost sympathize with the folks on that show, because I know how easy it is for the clutter to take over. I can't really fathom the depth of filth they allow to set in, but I do understand how one can be overwhelmed at the amount of work it will take to set things right.

So a few weeks ago I was watching this show and being perfectly repulsed at the slovenly state of the family's dwelling. The cleaning lady pointed out that you have to start somewhere and anywhere is better than sitting and doing nothing. I decided I would start tackling my to-do list and focus on one chore at a time, so I could at least enjoy the feeling of completing something even if the list remains long.

So, the first weekend I tackled the refrigerator. Mine never gets into the penicillin laboratory stage, but things do spill down the back and out of sight. I took everything out, washed all the shelves and drawers, scrubbed down the walls and at the end of a couple of hours I had a spanking clean refrigerator. The same weekend I got all the spiderwebs and dust bunnies that collect around the washer and dryer at a frightening pace. The next weekend I tackled the kitchen, especially the dishwasher. Over time food spatters onto the rubber seals and edges of the unit and the cabinet surrounding it and the next thing you know it's an embarrassing mess. I cleaned that little sucker to within an inch of its life, then got after the stove and microwave oven with the Windex. Maybe I'm the only one who will notice the improvement, but it's made me feel better.

Yesterday I decided it was time to tackle two more projects - replacing the living room television set that broke a couple of weeks ago and replacing the decrepit refrigerator in the garage. I headed out to the Bastrop Sears store to see if I could get the shopping done locally rather than having to make a trip into Austin. I was pleasantly surprised to find that our little store is nicely stocked with options on both counts. In the space of an hour I had picked out replacements and they are to be delivered next week and the old ones hauled off at the same time.

That extra refrigerator in the garage has become a necessity, not a luxury. I had acquired a second refrigerator while living at my old house, a leftover from the previous owner. He had bought it used and I fully expected it to expire at any time. It surprised me. It lasted all of the 12 years I lived there and when it came time to move, we hauled it to the new house and installed it in the garage. It holds the soft drinks, bottles of water, overflow of the indoor freezer and provides a place for extra food during holiday season. It has lasted 7 more years in the new location, but has begun making alarming clunk, clunk, clunk sounds when the compressor kicks on and off. I'm sure it would keep on running for awhile longer, but I decided to take advantage of a good deal and replace it before it dies. Taking action now also saves me from the severe cleaning it has been needing for some time. Sometimes it is less traumatic to just have the old one hauled off than try to clean it.

But now I have the problem of clearing the path in the garage for the delivery men before they arrive. I've been involved with an ongoing purge for several years now - first the aftermath of the move and more recently the aftermath of disposing of Daddy's belongings. As I clean out, sort, donate and dispose of each layer, I just uncover another layer that has to be tackled. Every little bit helps, but sometimes it just seems like you end up shifting piles from one location to another. It takes a long time to purge after years of life as a packrat.

But I must admit that even baby steps make you feel like you are accomplishing something. Much better than sitting around, depressed at all the work that's not getting done. I'm just going to try and focus in one one thing I can get scratched off the list and stop looking past at the crowd of jeering chores that continue to heckle me.

I've made a believer out of that dishwasher. And the other appliances are now aware that they can shape up or be replaced. Next up for review is that cranky garage door.


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