I'm a FLOOR FINDER!
Last week, I was up in the straw mow digging through several years' worth of old car parts, junk, straw, lawn mowers, pigeon crap, scrap wood, feathers, crap, junk and stuff. I FOUND THE FLOOR. Turns out it was there all that time, under everything, and all I had to do was keep digging (literally) until I found it. There it was, the floor, incredibly wide planks sawn over a century ago out of what must have been huge honkin' trees. What a relief to find that floor. What a relief for my ol' man, who hadn't been paid any storage money in too long and just didn't have time to clean it all up.
This week, I've been up in the hallway at the front of the house, finding a different floor. The stratified remains weren't quite as clear in this job; as a result of adult children moving off the homestead and gradually removing and sometimes bringing stuff back, the layers of clutter were a little more varied. Darn grown-up kids. Yes, I am referring to Sweetie and me. When Mom has a big old farmhouse with a few unused bedrooms upstairs, it's so tempting to leave some junk there... or bring some back, for storage, just for a little while...
At least I didn't have to deal with any bird poop. However, if you live in an old house, you know about the dead flies gathered under the windows. I'm not gonna sugar-coat it, you know that. Don't believe the pictures in the pretty magazines... they sweep up the dead flies first. Trust me, it's an ongoing process.
I found that floor, people.
I had help, like with the barn. A kid or two, and a parent, are big help with carrying things and making decisions. I do think the decision making is the hardest part of the floor-finding process. Most of the time things are kept because they seemed to be important. That alone can trick you into thinking it really is important. Some of us have a real hard time with that.
I'm not ruthless or cruel about it. I'm a big believer that today's seemingly unimportant objects can become tomorrow's antiques. It's history, man.
HOWEVER. Sometimes it's truly useless.
Want to know how I find floors? I'll let you in on it. I might be ruining my future Floor Finding Business by giving away my secrets but I'm feeling generous tonight. And, blissfully free of, well, everything, really.
a broom and dustpan
cardboard box for things being donated
*if you're finding a barn floor, skip all the fancy stuff. You need a wheelbarrow, a burn barrel, a pickup truck heading to the dump and a scrap metal trailer. And gloves. And a paper dust mask.
Without a doubt, the hardest step, and the reason this job often doesn't get started.
Pick a corner. Don't wade into the middle.
Choose one corner, and pick up the closest object to you.
Look at it carefully.
Is it still useful?
No? Garbage or recycling. Yes? Okay. Do you love it? No? You can donate it to the thrift store. Or if you do love it, great. Where are you going to put it? And are you actually going to use it? No? Give it away? Seriously, look at this thing. Are you really, truly, honestly, ever going to want or need or appreciate it ever again? You wanna keep dusting this thing?
There's a good chance you don't want to keep it. Let it go and then stop thinking about it.
I allow some sentimentality. If you genuinely want this thing, set it in a safe place until you're done floor finding for the day, after which you'll take your thing and set it in the place it'll live while you continue to pour affection onto this thing and be glad you decided to keep it.
Good luck, hope you're happy together!!
GETTING THE JOB ROLLING
As you're sorting through the mounds of paper and magazines and shoe boxes full of 15 year old income tax papers, have your dust rag in one hand. There will be dust, trust me, and don't feel bad about it.
You might even find spider webs and a few dried up flies but you did not hear that from me, okay, because we're so very tidy around here we just never see anything like that, right? Right.
Sometimes it's hard to tell if a piece of junk is actual garbage or not. I'm not kidding, a brain can be seriously fried by this process. Mine's already a strange place so I'm not in much danger. Anyways. Is it garbage? ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE! Chances are if it might be, it just is. You want it? No for real, do you really want this thing? Is it beautiful? Is it broken?
Could you get one just like it, for a reasonable price, if you suddenly realized you needed one?
Yeah? Boom, out goes that piece of garbage.
On an ecological, environmentally friendly note, if you're concerned about throwing out garbage, my advice is... stop buying cheap crap. That's all I'll say now, because I think that's worthy of its own blog post.
None of this is new. All of those Perfeshnul Organizers have been preaching this for years. Imagine that! A whole career built around our hoarding habits. I'm not going to make anybody roll up their socks and put them in individual plastic holders in the top drawer. Yeeesh. Shudder. Deal with your own socks dude - I just wanna find your floor.
YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL AT ONCE.
Once you've got your corner sorted into Give-away, Garbage and Recycling, grab your broom and give that corner a sweep.
You can stop here. You don't need to knock yourself out and do it all in one day or one hour. If you need a break, take it. You must pace yourself because honestly, this is hard work.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE.
Find someone you trust and like to help you, even if all that person does is keep up the light witty banter while you agonize over a souvenir from a beautiful wedding you went to. A helper can dust things, hold things, move things or carry things. A helper might have a better perspective on how valuable your crap really isn't. If you're lucky a helper might take you out for ice cream after!!!!
This whole process can be emotionally harrowing. I for one have placed way too much importance on material things... not valuable things, just stuff. I'm not a materialistic person in the way that I must own or buy status items. It's just that anything I've acquired feels hard won, and I am often reluctant to give that up.
I'm getting better at it though, sooo much better.
I'm getting good at Floor Finding, and learning that an empty floor can be a beautiful sight.
(Mom- thanks for holding the garbage bag open. And thanks for giggling when I tossed those perfectly good paper clips. And please remind me to take the other 400 paper clips out of my pockets before I do laundry. Thanks!)