September 6, 2011

Unintended Consequences...For the Better

Labor Day weekend marked the unofficial end of summer. Of course, here in Phoenix it will stay above 100 for several more weeks, but now we have hope. Still, it is a time when change is in the air. With many activities starting up again after a few months break, there is a feeling of a fresh start. Looking at my calendar for this week was enough to tire me out before it even began: moving furniture, two church meetings, a luncheon meeting, a dinner party, and packing for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. A satisfying retirement is not dull.

My wife and I are both happier when we are busy...not overloaded and stressed...but busy and feeling involved. So, this week's list of things we must do is actually no problem. But, we have become so used to sleeping in late and taking it easier over the summer months that we'll have some adjusting to do when the alarm clock starts ringing at 6:00 AM again.

The past few weeks have involved a series of decisions to make room for our  daughter to move back home temporarily. That meant converting an office back into a bedroom. It meant turning a closet that had been used for storage back into one suitable for clothes.

Amidst the adjustments several changes occured. We had wanted to get rid of the big, heavy, 1970's entertainment unit in the living room for quite some time. Two gigantic floor speakers I had since college days needed to go to audio heaven. The furniture simply overwhelmed the smallish room. 

In order to make the office back into a bedroom, Betty's computer desk and files had to move into our master bedroom. But, that meant the entertainment stand and bookshelves in the master bedroom had to go somewhere else.

Guess what? They fit our needs in the living room perfectly. So, the old entertainment unit and speakers were manhandled into the garage for an upcoming sale. The bedroom unit & shelving came downstairs into the living room. Finally, the computer stuff moved down the hall into our bedroom where it fit into the space left by the just-departed bookshelves. The bedroom is back in business and we didn't have to buy a new entertainment unit for the living room. 

We have a large roll-top desk in the family room. It has been used for storing stuff that didn't go anywhere else: wrapping paper, out-of-date files, odds and ends of this and that, and the family junk drawers. Daughter needed the desk for her business papers. So, for the first time in at least 10 years the roll top desk was emptied of stuff and suddenly was re-born as a ....desk! In the process we got rid of all sorts of trash that was only taking up space and cluttering up our retirement lifestyle.

Next came the pantry. Since some of the stuff in the desk really belonged in the pantry, that space had to be decluttered and rearranged. Half a dozen empty recipe boxes, cookbooks we never look at, two sets of salad bowls we didn't even know we owned, and assorted junk went into the garage sale pile.

Finally, we discovered we had three DVD/VHS players that were not needed and had been stored for who knows what reason. Guess what their fate is...garage sale.

So, what started as a must-do process ended up affecting major living and storage areas in a very positive way. The rule of unintended consequences came into play. When faced with changing one thing, the string of adjustments that followed worked very much to everyone's benefit.

Now, we await a garage sale that will move our junk into someone else's house and give us half the garage back. Isn't the end of summer grand!

See anything you like?


  1. I noticed recently that my local antiques store was advertising that they had just brought 300 new pieces back from Europe for their showroom...and hurry on down! I tried to imagine what I might look for in that lot, but there was nothing. I have lost my acquisitivity! I think that has more to do with my age than the times, but, whatever is responsible, I'm more in the business of producing antiques than of buying them.

    It's good you were able to re-purpose all that stuff. But, poor you, a garage sale! I'd rather chew rocks in the parking lot than stand in my driveway while people pick over my things.

  2. Nance,

    You had lost your acquisitivity...that sounds like a good thing! And, yes, I dislike holding or going to garage sales. I am hoping my wife and daughter are in charge and my part is simply throwing away what doesn't sell.

  3. I keep telling my husband that we need to de-clutter. If I lived alone, my dream is to have a house with very little stuff. I am tired of having camera stuff on the floor of our walk-in closet and a brig in the garage that he made to shoot a movie. The best feeling for me is when we get rid of stuff, and you're right, we sometimes find things we forgot we had. It's a waste of money to duplicate stuff because you forgot you already had it in the garage.

  4. Sonia,

    One of the best lessons I had in the problem of clutter was when I helped clean out my mom's closet after she died last year. We found literally dozens of blouses, slacks, and dresses still with price tags on them...obviously bought and forgotten about. She also had at least a dozen pairs of shoes still in their original boxes, unopened.

    It is much too easy to accumulate stuff we don't need, won't use, or have stopped using and are just storing. With our youngest moving home for awhile, we are doing almost as much thinning out as when we moved from a large home to a smaller than average one 10 years ago. It feels good.

  5. First maintenance and now this-I'm exhausted just reading this! You seem to have a lot of energy and got a lot done. I felt guilty after reading this so I cleaned the kitchen and threw out some junk-but that is it for today.
    I do find that having guests coming gets me moving. Also, throw out or give something away every time you bring new stuff home really helps.

  6. Donna,

    Actually all of this cleanup and moving wouldn't have been my first choice, but it turned out OK. Know that we are going to Maui in a few weeks for 18 days of total relaxation (except for blog work!). There should be nothing more strenuous than deciding what time to go to the beach and where to watch the sunset.

    That is a different type of delayed maintenance...the mental kind!

  7. Bob,
    My wife never lets us get very far with accumulation, much as I try. I hate to admit is but she really saves us a lot of grief. Still I complain and dither when she want to clean up my room.

  8. Ralph,

    I figured moving the furniture from the bedroom to the living room saved me $800 or so. That was a simple call.

    Trying to fit my daughter and her belongings into a house that was designed for just the two of us is proving to be a bigger challenge. Luckily, my dad has plenty of room at his place, so lots of boxes and out of season clothes have ended up there.

  9. Ha! We still have those speakers in our husband can't seem to part with them....they are UGLY, but apparently worth some $$$.

    We had to do something similar when our oldest had to move back home until she found a teaching job last year. It's a great way to de-clutter!

  10. Sharon,

    Let your husband know the floor speakers are Cerwin-Vega monsters with great 10" woofers. After all this years the cones had completely dried out and the rubber mounting had crumbled away. It was time to move on. But, they sounded great for several decades.

  11. We have a set of 4 foot tall Kipsch speaker---and a set of one foot tall Kipschs and and and---your generation was obsessed with speakers:>)

    Congrats on finding room for your daughter. I am sure she will remember your kindness for many years to come.

  12. JBO,

    The only reason I hung on to those huge CV speakers was cost. To replace them would have been at least $400 a speaker. But, with the new living room furniture and my hearing not what it used to be, two $100 bookshelf speakers are just fine. Since I don't blast out Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin anymore, I am good.

  13. I know what you mean about unintended consequences. My daughter who is expecting my first grandchild anytime now moved back home. She moved into the family room, which meant moving the family room into her old bedroom. And now the "new" family room has become my favorite place to hang out, work on my blog, read, etc. So I feel like I got an extra room in the house.

  14. Galen,

    Isn't it nice when things like this work out so well! Make sure you let us know both here and on your blog when you become a Grandmother!