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Riding the Crest of January

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fresh, crisp, clean, blue-sky January - how I love you. Even more than the first cool days of autumn, after the long humid and hot summer of the southern US, you bring me energy, inspiration - action!

As I have often said, I'm a very good journal/diary keeper for January. Lists of things I hope to do, lists of things I have accomplished, lists of different concepts of "perfect" fill the front half of a shelf-full of notebooks and planners. Unlike the scolding fingers of magazine advisors, I have never felt bad about the fact that my enthusiasm and productivity die down sometime in February. If that is the way of the world, so be it. Instead, I love it that I know I'll have this one month of the year when Great Things are Accomplished!

These GT have topped my list of resolutions in years past. One of the Great Things that has claimed second or third place on my list of resolutions for decades is to clean out the attic. This, of course, is because we store Christmas decorations in the attic. Not just in the attic, but in the most inaccessible spot up there. Each December I am up there and see just how awful things have gotten. Our house has a steep roof that slopes half-way down the second floor. Stand-up room is fairly narrow for my 6 foot husband, just a little wider for me, but there is lots of floor space under that steeply angled roof - you just have to kneel down to reach it. Not a problem for the 29 year old Bess and her 38 year old house building husband. Not as easy for the senior version of us.

A chimney that rises up inside the house separates 1/3 of the attic from the rest and the only way to get into that portion is by crawling on your hands and knees between it and the (brand new shiny green) roof. Because it's so inaccessible we've always put Christmas decorations up there. You only need them once a year so it means only two squirming wiggles down that tight passage - made by me. There is a hatch in the floor up there and I can pass the boxes of Christmas to and from a willing helper standing on my bed.

Of course, over the past 39 years and 10 months of living here, Other Things I Don't Want To Think About have made their way up into that inconvenient space. In addition Even More Other Things I Don't Want To Think About have crammed into the more open attic space. And those things have slipped down from the easy to reach sections into the almost impossible to get at places. And then stuff was piled on top of those things. Clothes from the past 4 decades are hung on a pole. Boxes (and boxes and boxes) of fabric scraps that "I might make doll clothes from, if I ever have a granddaughter". A box of business records from a small home business DH ran during one of the "Worst Recession Since The Depression" downturns - uh oh. eaten by silverfish. The best of our son's old books and toys - 3 boxes of them. A broken chair. A 3rd spinning wheel? the kerosene lamps we used when we lived in the yurt. well - you know what sort of stuff gets hidden in an attic.

So yes. This year I promised myself, once again, I would get started on the attic and yesterday, riding on the crest of January enthusiasm and determination, I did. 13 boxes of junk were hauled away. These were things that would require too much effort to make useable, sellable, donatable. 4 cardboard computer boxes are waiting on the back porch for someone with a box cutter to make them stove-ready. 26 round trips up and down two sets of stairs constituted my workout yesterday.

Still up there are 4 large window sashes, a 4 poster bed with its own staircase, and a massive Victorian dining table - all of which we will never use. They were up there, waiting, for when we built the final section of the house - a living room and another bedroom. We built the house we could afford when we had a 2 year old, always assuming there would be more children to pressure us into building more house. That never happened and we yielded to the ease of a smaller structure. Just think how much junk would be in that attic if there had been more floor space and more people to hoard stuff!

The attic is by no means clean OR tidy OR organized. But it is, at least, no longer full of 13 boxes of actual trash. It's now open enough for me to see how it Could be tidied, Could be organized, Could be a valuable piece of real estate. For years I just wanted the junk to be out of there. Now I want to claim the space.

All this - the gift of January - the wild surf on the wave of its Fresh Start Promise. Boy oh boy - don't you just love a friend like that? A friend with gifts.

(btw - in the middle of all this I had to stop, shower, and host a zoom meeting. I swear - I just love January!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have always decluttered before and after moving house. Since this is intended to be our forever home, I must stay on top of things... and slowly, slowly I will get there...
    45 days ago
  • DESIREE672
    I think you deserve a month off after all that work!
    48 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/19/2021 7:19:27 AM
    Clearing out stuff is saying goodbye to past lives. Sometimes to people we loved
    49 days ago
    Good job and oh, my!

    The attic has been my territory since the saga of the racoon. It was only in the attic for 12 hours, left on it's own but DH was so spooked he won't go back in. It's been TWENTY years!

    My fat body still can fit that 24x24 inch opening to get behind MY furnace vents clogging my way to items but one day I panicked thinking I might get trapped back there! I stick to the easier garage stairs and slightly bent over stroll along the open walkway!
    52 days ago
    Ah, the feeling of accomplishment -- congratulations on your fruitful clear-out of the attic!
    54 days ago
  • SPICY23
    Love the feeling of freedom one gets when clutter has been shifted out of one's space. Thank you for the reminder that I need to 'put in the time' on my own attic equivalent.

    Peace and Care
    54 days ago
    Why is it the things we do not want to do make it as far as the to-do list but seldom to the DONE list. Or maybe that's just me! Congrats on getting to one of yours!
    54 days ago
    Great job! ! If I could get rid of some of the paper clutter, I would feel much better emoticon
    54 days ago
    Oh, my...sounds like a huuuge undertaking...and accomplishment...even if ONLY 13 boxes, and 26 times up and down the stairs...yowza!
    We have never accumulated a lot because we were a military family our first ten years and moved a lot.
    The longest we were in the first home we built was 25 years and I must say we did accumulate some stuff in closets and the big basement (attic was even less accessible than yours sounds).
    My last year of teaching we spent the entire year cleaning out, selling, donating, culminating in a huge dumpster, which we filled.
    We moved into a wonderful small two bed condo with a great attic, which did fill up (no basement for Xmas and out of season clothes).
    Then we upsized back to this house which we inherited part of in 2016.
    Seems like we are pretty good about the stuff situation...haha...tho I did just fill six big bags and boxes of clothes and housewares to donate to a few families burned out in an apt fire last week.
    54 days ago
    Wonderful!! And . . . what would you want to claim that space FOR? What are you imagining you might do up there??

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    But oh my goodness: it feels SO good to get one of those places (we all have 'em) cleaned out!! At last!!
    54 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    Now I would say you certainly got your workout in yesterday. I too would be pleased with myself for getting rid of so much junk. Why, oh why do we keep all this stuff?
    Good for job Bess! You didn’t mention you were sore today from all that activity so I am thinking you are in great shape.
    54 days ago
    Wow! You did a good job decluttering. So hard! Hope you keep riding the crest of January enthusiasm! I am trying.
    54 days ago
    SCORE! That is a huge amount! Good on Ya! I find much of my 'fresh start' happening in August/September. Even after not working in a school system for three years I am still on that schedule!

    You go Girl!!
    54 days ago
  • WILDKAT781
    emoticon emoticon
    54 days ago
    I understand your enthusiasm for January, I just don’t share it. I also feel some of that excitement for a fresh start but the dreary, icy days quickly dampen my eagerness to clean, organize and initiate that fresh start. I want to hunker down with my fleece blanket and a good book with soup on the stove! My fresh start excitement? Well, the fall. The crisp air and beautiful leaves inspire me to be ready for my fresh start. I loved school as a kid, I taught school for over 25 years and the fall, the start of school, is always my new year and my fresh start! (Congratulations on the attic!)
    54 days ago
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