Monday, May 3, 2010

Reflections on a Clean Basement

One of my favorite things in the world is sleeping-in on the weekends.  Mom apparently believed that kids who slept-in were damning their souls to eternal hell; she made sure she sang out, "Good morning, Mary Sunshine!!" or "Rise and shine!"  no later than 9am on Saturday mornings, which is why I'm sure she was proud of me today when I showed up on her doorstep at 9am, ready to tackle the basement. Six hours later, my sister Mary and I had finished half of the basement, had a few large bags of garbage stacked outside, and our vehicles full to the brim of stuff Mom was finally willing to part with.  Here follows some observations from the experience:

***If cobwebs were spun gold, my mom would have been a billionaire. I say "would have been," because they re not worth a dime, and they are no longer; I am personally responsible for destroying the habitat of a bajillion spiders in Mom's basement. (I hope I don't have nightmares.)

***Poor Mom-Having been born during the Great Depression, she can't throw a thing away that's of potential use down the road.  Consequently, she saves everything from used sandwich bags to yogurt cups. (On the bright side, many a grateful teacher has received pinecones, used greeting cards, toilet paper tubes, and yarn scraps.)

***Confession: I sometimes pretend to need empty butter tubs, ice cream buckets, coffee cans or yogurt containers, just so Mom will offer hers up. (She's very generous.)

***Mom's also the best person to see if you need a can-can skirt, chicken hat, Elvis wig, or any number of other odd get-ups. She is the master of costuming and has the clutter to prove it.

***Even seeds do not go to waste at Mom's house. (She has an incredibly green thumb.) She has enough trumpet vine seeds to create her own rainforest. (Want some?) [Click here to see Mom's trumpet vine in all its glory.]

***It is a great blessing to have so many siblings to help with the Big Clean at Mom's. The guys sided the garage this week, Michelle made the windows sparkle and dusted (no small feat!), and Jim organized the "workshop" in the basement today.

***I was going to drop my load of junk of at St. Vincent DePaul, but that is Mom's favorite place to shop, and she has been known to have second thoughts and buy her stuff back, so I went out of my way to take it to Goodwill, instead. (I hope Mom doesn't know about that store.)

***The biggest part of the basement job left is this....

Anyone want to help sort/organize 64 year's worth of Christmas decorations?


  1. I would love to....if only I lived closer. I'm on of those freaks that actually likes doing that kind of stuff. I'm sure it's a bit of a battle for her to let you part with some of her stuff but it's a necessary evil. Have a great week.

  2. Another great job girls, and another reason for me to feel a bit of guilt cuz I wasn't there to help! Which reminds me, I better get downstairs soon and get rid of the cobwebs cuz I haven't done that this spring, and at least one daughter will visit this summer. :0
    Oh, and I made and painted a vase with daisies on it for mom in 1977,which probably ended up down there, so I hope it goes to a good home, ha ha!

  3. Just imagine all the memories that you will find in those boxes of Christmas decorations.

  4. Geri, that vase is something Mom insisted on keeping because you made it! It's awesome :)

  5. You are a wonderful daughter!

  6. Oy vey. Try inventorying hundreds of Beanie Babies, Precious Moments figurines, and Cherished Teddy figurines for later sale on eBay. My sister & I did that one year at our mom's house. We had only scratched the surface..

  7. 64 years of Christmas decorations...No thanks. But you have fun with that!

  8. My SIL told my mom that when she & my dad pass away, we're just going to get a big truck, park it under the window, and throw everything in there. My mom knows she needs to start looking through everything while she's still able, but she hasn't started yet!

  9. I dread what will happen when my mom is gone. I know there are treasures buried amongst all else, but to have to sort through it to find them? Unfortunately I inherited her thrifty genes, and am working towards sparing my son the same fate.
    Yet, can not help but love looking through other people's stashes.

  10. There have been times that my mother would enlist my aid when she knows she can't throw things out but she knows I can. Can trumpet vine be sent in the mail???

  11. A bajillion is what?

    Is that like jiggawatts?

    I have often happilly accepted things I knew I didn't want. Wait till she asks to see wht you did with those goodies!

    Do you work east coast basements? I'll hire ya!


  12. That is some great basement cleaning out you got done! I love that you had to donate to a different store so she didn't have a chance at "second thoughts" so cute!

  13. Oh my word, I have been dying for a chicken hat. For reals. :)

  14. Yup, my dad was the same way, also from growing up during the depression. He even saved broken things because he was planning to fix them "some day." He saved orange juice cartons, kitty litter boxes and Whiskas boxes that he made into drawers, and frozen orange juice. You are lucky she lets you clean it up while she's still alive--my dad didn't want anything moved and wouldn't even throw away his broken microwave!

  15. You're right, Karen-We are lucky; I'm not sure what possessed her to let us start getting rid of some stuff, but I'm going along with it happily :)

    Oh, Frau! If only....

    Melisa, I wish Mom had more stuff that we could sell for her; she could use the extra cash!

    As for the Christmas memories, a lot of that Christmas stuff is stuff Mom has bought since we moved out! She just loves picking up "cute" stuff to add to her collection. On the positive side, she does know how to go all out with the Christmas decorations! :)

  16. I am an organizing fool. If I were closer, I would be ALL over that. And since Curt and I are just starting out, I'd love to take some of it off her hands ;)

    Nice job with the clean up though! I organized a ton of our closets this weekend-- the wedding had us full of ridiculousness!

  17. I'm cracking up at the thought of your mom buying her own stuff back! Y'all are so sweet to do all that for her.

  18. wait...who's dad was it that saved every dang pebble he walked on? and then Mom had to rent a dumpster after he died? surely that wasn't YOUR dad...cuz then Mom surely didn't learn the lesson too well!!!

    so Shirley, you're doing a great job de-cluttering...and I'll only help if I can acquire some super cute Christmas decorations.....OH WAIT, maybe that's not a good idea....NEVERMIND!

  19. Holy macaroni! That's quite a project.

    Hubby's mom/grandma (he was adopted) is anti-sleeping or something and she'll always call at the butt crack of dawn on weekends and she literally acts mad if we said we were sleeping. what the heck?


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