I’m in the process of putting my home on a 'diet' by getting rid of things I no longer need or want. In other words, spring cleaning, and this is a good time to start. I usually have spring fever by the time March rolls around, but the outdoors will just have to wait!

Our modern versions of spring cleaning isn’t nearly as drastic as in times gone by, when our great-grandmothers cleared the homestead house out to the bare walls scrubbing down the walls, ceilings, shelves and floors. They also washed the bedsprings and bedsteads, beat the rugs with a wire carpet beater, washed curtains and put them on curtain stretchers–nasty wood frames with little nail ends sticking through them. They stretched the wet lace curtains on them to dry. All quilts, sheets, and other bedding were hauled outside to be washed and cleaned as well.

The water to do all these tremendous chores was hauled in buckets by the children from a well or a creek. Sometimes, it was quite a hike to carry just one bucket of water, according to some of the elders I’ve visited with. The water was poured into wash boilers and heated on a wood stove. Everything was washed with homemade lye soap and scrubbed on a washboard. (Now that will take the hide off your knuckles in a hurry!) All the fabric items were wrung out, hung on lines or fences to dry and then ironed with those heavy sadirons that were heated on the wood stove.

I made a New Year’s Resolution to get rid of a bag of ‘stuff’ every day throughout this year. I may have 3 or 4 bags ready to go out at once, so I can do something else on the 'off' days and still stick to my resolution. I’m keeping track on a calendar and so far, I am ahead of the game. I’ve also been purging all sorts of things as I go.

When my husband and I married 52 years ago, we couldn’t afford new furniture and took whatever our family members didn’t want any more. Some of these items are still in the house, and now they are antiques. Some items belonged to grandparents, some to aunts and uncles and other various relatives. I really don’t care for wall-to-wall furniture or dusting, so I’ve managed to give a good share of it away. The pieces were ‘gifted’ to members of the younger generations with the family history of the items as told to me by the original owners (or one of their children). A few items remain, but they too will be gone as more years pass by. I’ve helped clean out enough homes of elderly folks who didn’t pass on their cherished possessions, and the cleaning crew hauled them to the city landfill.

I am a collector of ‘paper’ stuff, like books and magazines. Most of these items will find their way into my daily 'purge' bags and will be put to use in the compost heap.

I also intend to clean out my closets. I must confess, I am not a shopper. I will wear jeans, t-shirts and sweaters for years, rather than go shopping. When I am finally forced by circumstance to shop for clothing, I’ll check out the thrift stores or find the stores holding big sales and only buy what I have on my list. The last time I bought something was two years ago when I purchased two sweaters–in July–that were hanging on a rack with a big ‘FINAL SALE’ sign above the garments. The original price was $39.95 per sweater and I bought them for just 97 cents each!

When I clean the closet, I will take out every single item, thoroughly inspect it and place in a box to donate to a charity organization. I toss anything that is ripped or stained into the 'rag-bag'. When you live in the country and do your own mechanic work, there is always a need for old rags to clean up the oil and grease dripped, dribbled and smeared during a repair job. I keep some of the rags in the house for cleaning and dusting.

Finally, I plan to paint the inside of the closets. After 30 years, I think it’s time. I’d better start ‘getting at it’ before something more interesting comes along and I get sidetracked.

Until Next Month,                                                                             


by Paula Vogelgesang

Paula Vogelgesang is the author of the monthly column "Pennywise", and is a monthly contributor to the Farm And Livestock Directory.

Email her at [email protected]

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