Friday, November 18, 2011

Stand Back and Admire Your Work

Margaret and Dick Janes
"When you've worked hard, stand back and admire your work."  -- Dick Janes (my dad)

All who knew my parents, can testify that they were hard workers.  They believed in working hard, and they taught their children to do the same.  Mom thought that a house was never really clean until she moved all the furniture and vacuumed behind and underneath it.  She also felt that if she was going to move it to vacuum, she may as well change the furniture around, so each week the furniture was in a different place.  My parents also believed that a good job and good work ethic should never go unnoticed -- especially by the person doing the work.

I remember working along side my parents doing many things.  There were times when I would be absolutely exhausted at the end of a project.  It was then that Dad would sit me down, pour me a glass of ice water, and say, "Stand back and admire your work."

In late August, I quit my job to stay home and enjoy life with my husband.  Before I could do that, however, I needed to get control of my house again.  You see, 35 years of raising kids produced a lot of "stuff."  I was not about to grow old in a house full of unorganized "stuff."  My house became more disorganized when I went back to work full-time, and only got worse as we made room to store boxes for kids who were in college or on LDS missions.  While it wasn't in "hoarder" condition, it was definitely out of control.  I told myself that if I would do something every day, that eventually I would have a house that I could actually enjoy.

So beginning August 27, 2011, every day (with the exception of an 8-day vacation), I have worked on my house.  I have done something every day.  Systematically, I went through every room of my house, including the garage, closet by closet, shelf by shelf.  Each day I sorted, gave away, donated, tossed, and then began anew the next day.  I'm almost done.  There are a couple of little things left, but not much.  I cleaned the carpet in the living room today.  Sometime this weekend I'll clean the carpet in the family room.  I want to clean off a couple of marks on my office wall or use some "touch up" paint on them if they won't clean.  I want to use Murphy's Oil Soap on my old oak table and then wax it, and I still need to stablize the track on the pantry door.  I need to shave the bottom of the linen closet door so it doesn't drag on the carpet.  Then I think I'm done.

I'll admit that I left the spice cabinet until almost the last thing.  I'll also admit to waiting until Danny went to bed last night before starting that project so that I could shed a few tears in the process.  You see, my mother always cleaned my spice cabinet for me.  Every time I had a baby, she would come and help me, and she never left without cleaning my spice cabinet.  I don't know why she did that.  Maybe she thought she was good at it.  Maybe she thought I was bad at it.  Maybe she just chose this uniquely weird way to give service to her daughter.  I don't know if she gave the same service to her other children, or if she did something else for them.  I've never asked.  All I know is that I appreciated it immensely!  Danny used to tease me that it was time to have another baby because the spice cabinet needed help.  I don't think I've ever cleaned it until last night.  After Mom died, I coerced children to do it for me because I couldn't do it.  It just didn't seem right.  Mom died in 1991 -- I decided last night that it was time to be a big girl.  It looks nice -- maybe not the way Mom would have done it, but I can work with it.

When my youngest returns from her LDS mission in Brazil and moves her stuff out of her closet, then I will move the Christmas bins out of the garage and into that closet.  Then for the first time in many years, we'll be able to fit a car in our one-car garage.  That is something that hasn't happened since the first year a semi-truck parked in front of my house and filled my garage with boxes of Camp Fire candy.

I'm close enough to finishing my project that I'm beginning to stand back and admire my work. I'm actually pretty proud of myself and the quality of my work. It has taken me less than three months to get this house in shape, and I thought it would take me much longer than that.  I should finish just in time to decorate for Christmas.

After the holidays, I'll really begin retirement.  I have a long list of things I want to do.  At the top of the list is calling Sister Grover and making an appointment so she can teach me how to tat (the lost art of lace making).


  1. Oh Laurie, I just love this post for soooo many reason. Thank you!


  2. What a lovely post. Thank you. I'm still not gonna clean out the spice cupboard.

  3. Thanks to both of you. I enjoyed writing this one.

  4. Hmmmmm.........I don't recall Mom ever cleaning my spice cabinet. She would move my furniture and vacuum under it, since I never really thought that had to be done more than every six months or so! When Dad died, I did miss him cleaning my windshield. I don't think I've really had a sparkling windshield since he died in 1985!