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Senior Contributor

How neat are you?

I stopped by my cousin's house yesterday-hadn't been there for over a year-for a visit as I had a little extra time.  She & I seem to have similar interests.   She & DH have always been tidy city folks but her house is immaculate.  She showed me some of the house projects since I'd last been there.  Every room-immaculate.  NOTHING out of place-no laundry to be put away, no make up or lotions in the bathroom, no dishes on the counter (& no dishwasher either)-  Nothing!  Everything ready for a Country Sampler photographer.  They do pretty much "live" in the downstairs family room which I would never do.  There's not even a TV upstairs except in their bedroom.  Sewing machine, TV, computer in this downstairs room which you travel down steep steps to get to.  But I have to say, even that room is neat & picked up.

Then I come home to my tornado house.  Never looks like hers on my best days & I'd be mortified to have anyone see it yesterday.  Put FIL in hospital yesterday morning for anemia & dehydration & I've been running over there with food, etc. every day so my house is in shambles.  If nothing else, seeing her house has got me going to try a little harder.  I think I should take the rest of my family there too!

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24 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: How neat are you?

I AM NOT NEAT!   

My house is not neat  except until the 5 minutes before my house cleaner shows up.   My car is not neat and clean on the inside.   My garage is a mess.   Even the work room in the farrowing house is a disaster area.   About the only area I try to keep neat looking is my yard.   At least on the outside I look neat and organized. 

 

I'm usually embarrassed when people stop by.   But,  I've had to accept that most of them accept me for who I am.   Not what my house looks like.    

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Advisor

Re: How neat are you?

I've always figured it was just a sign of what they now call OCD. Smiley Wink

 

I've got to be careful saying that because I know if I go to Mom's right now, at 8 AM, not only have the dishes been done, but the sidewalk has probably been swept and while everything may not be "in its place" everything is neatly arranged. I either didn't inherit that or out grew it.

 

I am selectively compulsive.  For instance, when I ran my own service truck it was maintained that way in the tool boxes.  The bed and cab were catch-alls, but I could stand on a ladder and tell someone on the ground to open the front left door, reach  in on the left side of the second shelf get a specific tool.

 

I guess it just boils down to what is important to you.

 

If having everything in it place is important, you will have it that way.  If other things are more important, you won't.

 

So what?

 

50 years from now it won;'t make a whole lot of difference anyway. If it will make a difference in 50 years, then you better hop to it.

 

Sorry, I am waxing philosphical this morning (see my blog post at http://walnutprairie.blogspot.com/) I better get out and do something productive.

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Advisor

Re: How neat are you?

It depends. 

My personal stuff I can keep fairly straight, but I have to have things more exposed than what you describe, so I can see them and remember where they are and that I have them.  In a drawer or cabinet is "out of sight, out of mind" for my brain. 

Consequently, I tend to use lots of baskets, cubbyholes and hooks, rather than closed cabinets or drawers.  If it is a closed cabinet, I want it to have a glass front, except for kitchen or bath base cabinets.  (Son just made glass fronts for my dish cabinets in the dining room last summer, to replace the old solid ones Mike and I had made.  I cannot tell you how happy these made me!)

I like my kitchen gadgets hanging on hooks, a pot rack over the work area, etc.  The Lodge cast iron collection is mostly hanging on the wall behind the woodstove in the back room.  Mike cooks more than I do, so I default  towards  meeting his needs in stashing cooking utensils. 

If it has a handle with a hole it in, I will probably find a way to hang it. If not, I will put it in a crock or something similar, as a way of having it visible if it is used daily to weekly.  Less often than weekly-used items may be stashed in a drawer. 

 In my stained glass and office work zones, I use a lot of mugs and organizers to hold tools and pens/pencils/scissors.  All of my patterns and supplies are very well-organized, because no one else ever violates my rules of order there.  I can thus put my hands on anything I need in my sleep in these two areas. 

Heaven help my office kitchen, since Mike homebrews and makes wine out there, and there are boxes of bottles, empty and full, overflowing the shelves and taking over the floor.  I cannot STAND things on the floor!  This is one issue I intend to deal with very soon...we've either got to have fewer bottles or more shelves! 

I leave work out when I want to in either place, since they are both MY spaces, and that was the point of dedicating them to my work and hobbies.  I lived for decades in a a house that was given over to the kids and their needs for homework space, storage space, kicking-back space...now, it is my turn. 

Mike has the garage, which is very nice, to enjoy maintaining the bikes.  The entire farm shop is his for his work and tools.  I clean up the garage every so often, and never set foot in the shop anymore.  The kids are doing the farm and farm building cleanup/cleanout this winter.  I know my limits. 

He completely trashes the work area we set up (for my other, non-glass hobby interests) in the back room....my little workbench is eight feet long, with a hundred feet of his pocket detritus on it.  My router table and drill press are up there somewhere...another afternoon's hassle on the to-do list this spring. 

Managing the mail daily helps me keep piles of paper down, but I do keep stacks of books in progress pretty much everywhere, except on the floor!  I have drop zones in the house by the door to the office, and in the office, for things that need to go one way or the other.  Same thing at the bottom of the steps up to my glass work area. 

I need to move the last leftovers of the tiling projects out into deep storage for repairs, now that the guys are finally finished with that work.  They look junky in one area in the hallway right now.  My pantry and closets are very neat, I think. 

The antique card catalog drawers in our family room need some solid bottoms, and then I can store tons of small items there and label them clearly.  Labels are my best tactic for putting things away...if I have a label to guide me, I can accept it out of sight.  Need to cut some luan (or even cardboard) for that. 

If my house is not neat enough for someone to come into, that is their problem, not mine.  It is our house.  I woke up to hear a stange man's voice in the house yesterday morning, and found Mike visiting with our old farm serviceman, who was working in the area, and stopped by to say hello. 

He was here to see us, not our house.  My mother used to wear herself and everyone else out worrying about people coming by and how things looked.  That generation of women tried to get the
"better homes and gardens" seal of approval from everyone.  They hired decorators, for goodness sake!  Last thing I want is a complete stranger deciding what goes into my cave. 

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Advisor

Re: How neat are you?

Mike, I spent a spring/summer/fall off and on a couple years ago finally organizing this house and the outbuildings around it.  Mike had set boxes and piles all over the garage floor (My pet peeve!), papers had piled up in the house and office, and I was sick and tired of not knowing where anything was all day long. 

I can now be pretty much anywhere and have Mike call and ask me where a particular tool or supply is stored.  Since I thought about how I wanted things to be accessed that time, I put things into rational order, with like and related things near each other, I can walk him right to vitrually everything.  It is eerie in a way, but it is cool, too. 

The cardinal rule is that he has to put things back where he found them.  If he uses something up, I ask him to let me know when we run out of supplies, by writing it on the list. 

Anything used in "his" spaces and for the farm has to be taken out of the house..I try to put most items straight into his work truck on onto the bed of his golf cart. for him. 

I think that putting things back is a courtesy to the people who share your life and work with you.  Ffity yers late, other peopel may not remember it, but each of you will, not as much if you do this, as if you don't.  It is just a sign of respect to help each other in this way. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: How neat are you?

I can relate to Linda's experience. I have a dear friend whose house is like this, never anything out of place. My MIL was like this too and her house had a very cold feeling. Mine is like Linda's, I never am ready for company unless it is planned ahead. I am also like Kay in that I have things organized to a lesser extent but I usually know where a item is located. My office is always a mess. I  have thrown away lots of stuff this winter and cleaned out files.

I always have stacks of stuff, things I don't know what to do with and stacks of things to read. Stacks of dishes in the sink. Stacks of paperwork to do. I never have stacks of laundry or an unmade bed.

I really think there is a major difference in lifestyles between living on a farm and in town when it comes to this subject. (Although my friend carried it off while living on a farm for several years) When you have yard work, garden, bookwork along with every day chores and a job, something has to give. Or is it just genes?

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Advisor

Re: How neat are you?

Nature v nurture and neatness is an interesting subject. 

Are we neater than our families were, since we were always embarassed at their mess when we were growing up?  Or, did we rebel against a tyrannical OCD mom who made us feel unwelcome in our own home. 

 And, meshing two different people's lives into a marriage, then throwing in a handful of children whose genes are a mixture of both, makes this one very complex, as questions go.  

Adding pets to the mix and mess is another whole dimension.  We never had pets in the house back home, then were allowed a few kitties that came in during the day only.  My kids had housecats, and then when they were teenagers, I allowed Murphy, my first Blue Heeler, in, since she was my farmwork assistant/shadow. 

Now, we have several dogs that inhabit different parts of the house at various times of the day and night.  My bird makes more of a mess than all of them combined.  Cats are all outdoors here, since I've apparently grown sensitive to their allergens.  Anyone who is offended by ouranimals being inside can get over it.  It is our home and theirs. 

I go by the saying my mother repeated from one of her college professors:  A home should be clean enough to the healthy, and dirty enough to be happy. 

 Everything gets dusted, vac'd/mopped and scrubbed every week.  If you come on the right day, I am a great housekeeped, and on the wrong one, I am not.  All matters like this are relative anyway. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: How neat are you?

I came from a "porcelin" (sp?) house.  If there's 2 pieces of mail on the cupboard top, my mom freaks at the mess.  I agree about farm women having so many plates they're juggling it's hard to catch the right one.

If I could get organized just once, maybe I could do the "everything in it's place-put it back where it belongs" theory.  When we moved to this house I wanted to sort everything out from the old house & pitch.  But I was still painting upstairs when DH got his friends to help move

EVERYTHING here. 

I also agree my DH's family is not so neat & he brought it to our marriage.  Unfortunately my kids took on the attitude also.  We used to laugh tho.  DS#1 came out of the house looking well tended & nicely dressed.  But his room!  Couldn't see what color the carpet was.  DS#2 - everything the opposite.  Still holds true.

I believe in "a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life" but my cousin with her beautiful quilts & cross stitch, church activities & cooking skills kills that idea.  Oh well.  In another life maybe.

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Honored Advisor

Re: How neat are you?

Linda, I was lucky in one way that we kept our home in VA and started this one on the side as a farm office.  We made some less-than-ideal construction choices, but in retrospect, had very few options, given the lay of the land and the house as it was when we found it. 

I think about it sometimes, and cannot figure out a much superior way to solve the problems this place presented to us.   What we did wrong with the house, we did better with the new office, which can serve as a backup residence,  if we ever get hit with another 500-year hurricane.  Probably will not be around for another one, though! 

What you are talking about is essentially the same as that new de-cluttering technique that I read about and wrote here about recently.  It is nice to have an empty space, and move in only what you truly want there. 

I have gotten so I will use an outbuilding or a trailer to hold items for a room to be done, or we can usually stash them on the porch if for a short duration, as with the floors last summer, one room per week.  Another practice that helped me was not going light on the backhaul...once we had one room done, every trip to the porch to get something to bring back in was also a carry-out of the next room's contents. 

Half the steps that way, and it really didn't seem all that bad, since you are finishing one space, and commencing on the next one with the same time and roughly the sameenergy.  Whether it helped me physically or not, it did wonders for me mentally with that slug of work.  Mike was more willing to help me once than twice each week, too, or get a helper to handle things the two of us couldn't manage alone. 

More than one way to skin a cat.... 

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Senior Contributor

Re: How neat are you?

I am picked up enough that you have a place to walk, sit and eat.  I am NOT a path person!!!  I may not have my counters cleaned off after a meal.  I just spent an hour cooking (and you all know how hard it is for me to cook)!  I don't want to spend another hour cleaning up the mess.  It will wait till the next day and I will clean it before I start cooking again.  I don't dust every weekend...I used to have to do that when I was growing up.  I like to watch the Hoarders show and the wife Swap show. They make me feel better about my house and also make me do some cleaning.  Wish I didn't think I had to keep everything though.  I like to think I make a little progress everyday. 

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