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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Uncovering a surprising New Talent!

Folks, I've just discovered something I'm good at.  I think it's a very useful and potentially lucrative talent.  I'm not considering giving up on the riding lessons career goals, or giving up on that goal of actually having a real book to sell, but I think I may be onto something here.  I have a job title made up and everything.

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.

TOOLS NEEDED:
a broom and dustpan
dusting rags
garbage bags
recycling box
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.

GETTING STARTED
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!)

8 comments:

Heidi said...

Oh! Could you come over and find my floor??

This sounds like you are doing so good... you are cleaning and organizing and throwing stuff out and everything... that has to be good mental stuff, right?

And above all, your sense of humor still reigns!

Just don't give up the writing!

coffeypot said...

I think you are on to something, Heidi. You can start a company, "Finding Floors Are Us."

In cleaning the straw mow, does it stink with all the old straw and stuff, and do have to wear a mask from all the dust, or is the area well venerated so you can get a cross breeze?

mugwump said...

I will be the first to hire you. The subject? My daughter's bedroom floor. A horrifying spectacle. I suspect after you get through the first three layers it will begin to smell. I may have an army surplus gas mask laying around somewhere. Wait, I think it's in the Kidlettes room.

Biddie said...

Ok, so let me get this straight..This floor finding thing..ANYBODY can do it??
I know that I had a floor in my room, somewhere..
If you found any crap from my first two weddings, you can throw it out.
No, really, they just practice runs :)

millhousethecat said...

This cracked me up!

dilling said...

we found some good stuff here under the 1960's carpet covering the 1940's lino....

Heidi the Hick said...

Heidi- I'll do it, and I'll need a week in your imaginary beach house to recover, ok?

Yeah, I feel pretty good about what we got done. I'm pretty tired now but looking back on the accomplishment is worth it. My mom feels pretty good about it too!

(The writing will get back in shape, don't worry!)

Coffeypot- glad you asked about the straw mow! I wouldn't say it stank, but there's definitely a musty smell. I've dealt with much worse anyways. I should have been wearing dust mask, and when I go back to finish the job I'll have one.

I had the north barn doors (the big doors) slid wide open and luckily there was a good strong breeze coming in. Also luckily, it was not hot at all last week, and not humid either, because that would have been awful. I've still got half the width of the barn to go yet. The house had to take priority this week.

Mugwump- you mean, your teenage daughter's room?!?! Oh boy, a challenge! I suggest finding the gas mask first. Go get a shovel...

Biddie, yes, ANYBODY can do it! But, NOT ALONE!

Seriously, I would help you find your bedroom floor. I have to recover all the floors upstairs at Mom's first, but I love you enough that I would find your floor with you. All you have to provide is a box of garbage bags (to put all the leftovers from your practice runs) and a couple recycling boxes.

I'm serious, by the way.

I might be able to help you out in September. Hint, hint.

Millhouse- yeah, we can laugh about it NOW...!

Dilling, wow, I don't know whether to laugh or groan! What exactly do you mean by "good stuff?" I'm so weird, I have a sick fascination with finding little treasures. Like, we found a shilling in the bedroom. One coin in a little leather change purse, and I don't remember taking that purse to England with me so who knows how it got there.

You never know what you'll find. Other than, eventually, a floor.

Kerri said...

I love to organize. Hubs loves it too, we just disagree about getting rid of stuff. I'm sentimental and he's practical. I want to keep all the baby clothes and he wants to keep any mechanical/electrical/scary looking thing.

Good on you for getting it done. I like your advice, "Stop buying cheap crap!" That's bumper sticker worthy 0_0