Cultural Signs of Spring
Here in Michigan, days are getting longer, robins are appearing in our yards, and the only remnants of snow reside at the edges of parking lots where mountains of snow had previously been plowed up. Physical signs aside, there are also cultural indications that it is now springtime in the American Midwest. Here is the last of three cultural signs.
Spring cleaning. After staying indoors for four months, my fellow Michiganders are going stir-crazy, afflicted with a psycho-social malady known as cabin fever. As springtime nears, people feel the need to begin cleaning up their cluttered homes. My wife and I began by having a handyman install some new shelving in our closets. This led to the desire for more home improvements: new wall outlets, lighting inside closets, new bathroom fixtures and lights, and wall repairs and painting. Once stir-crazy people get started, it’s hard to stop.
The next target, once we got enthusiastic about cleaning, was to re-organize our junk drawer. Every American kitchen has a junk drawer. It’s the place for random objects that don’t logically belong elsewhere. Below is a photo of our junk drawer contents emptied onto the counter. It contained scissors, package cutters, screwdrivers, pens, binder clips, rubber bands, electrical adapters, twisty-ties, screws, paper clips, a measuring tape, picture hangers, nails, scotch tape, pliers, adhesive pads, gripper tongs, two wire mesh baskets, batteries, misplaced gizmos, and unidentifiable junk.
The first thing any organizational expert will tell you is that you never need any more than six twisty-ties in your junk drawer. I counted over 50. I threw away most of them, saving a half-dozen for daily use and putting the fancy gold and silver ones into our decorations cupboard along with the colored ribbons.50+ twisty ties (too many for one drawer!)
binder clips (work better than potato chip bag clips)
picture hangers and nails
Next, I sorted out loose objects that had other “homes” around the house. Nuts, bolts, and screws went into the appropriate organizer bins on the garage workbench. Batteries were taken there as well. Extra plastic caps for the opened dog food can went into the dog supplies cupboard (we only need one cap at a time in the kitchen!). Paper clips went into my office. Finally, into the garbage went broken rubber bands and other unidentifiable odds and ends that had no recognizable purpose—other than cluttering up our junk drawer.
When I finished, I had a neatly organized junk drawer, arranged so that everything was findable. I often tell my wife, “If you can’t find it, you don’t really own it.” We are often searching for stuff we know must be somewhere; we just don’t remember where!
newly organized drawer!
One funny final note. Two days after the Great Drawer Re-Organization, I found a thingamabob in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what it was or where it went. So, I threw it in the junk drawer, figuring that was a good place to keep it for the time being! In two years, I’ll probably throw it away when I’m cleaning it out again.
New Vocabulary and Cultural Concepts (spring cleaning)
stir-crazy = feeling uncomfortable because of inactivity
afflicted = having (a disease)
malady = illness
cabin fever = feeling like you’ve been locked inside your small cabin for too long
cluttered = messy, disorganized
handyman = a person who is handy (skilled) at many jobs (carpentry, plumbing, painting, etc.)
junk = stuff
gizmos = for a full description, see this blog
twisty-ties = thin pieces of wire wrapped in paper or plastic, used to close the end of bread bags, etc.
odds and ends = miscellaneous things
thingamabob = see here
for the time being = for now, for the present time