How to Keep Occupied on a Rainy Holiday Afternoon

I mean, really, I could have sat on the couch and read a book. That's how the girls entertained themselves all afternoon. But it is the second week of the school holidays, and I felt an unaccustomed itch to achieve something. This basket of towels has been annoying me for months. I unpacked my towels into this laundry basket the day after I moved in, and it has sat there ever since, in the little alcove next to the bathroom, getting in the way. Lacking a linen closet I have been eyeing off storage options around the house. Should I tip out Posy's teddies from their large, lidded cane basket and use that? ("NO!" shrieks Posy..) Should I get some dedicated storage built in somewhere? I could turn that entire alcove into a large storage cupboard.. but really? I am much more comfortable with my 'less is more' mantra, and using what I have.

Today I decided to move the towels into the chest of drawers behind them. That chest of drawers was the hall table at my old house. So of course it contains, you've guessed it, a lot of useless crap. The bottom drawer contained all the things I have borrowed and need to return to friends. This was actually kind of useful at my old house, because I would check the drawer every time friends left the house. But here? These drawers are nowhere near the front door, and I haven't even looked in them since I moved in. That drawer was easy. Pile everything in it next to the front door. Done. Next drawer was piles of paper tossed in when I opened mail or emptied bags. Again, easy. Everything recycled or filed. These days far more gets recycled than gets filed. I am learning that I do not need to hoard every piece of paper that walks through my front door..

This leaves.. the thing drawer. Who doesn't have a thing drawer? So handy, just to pop 'things' into when it is too hard to decide where to put them really.

This one was sheer agony. Hundreds of tiny things in there, which no more have a home now than they did when I threw them in there over the years at my old place (yes, I really did just throw them in a box and bring them with me from the old house. Then I tipped them straight back into the same drawer when I arrived). Lots of them have gone to bin heaven now. Or recycling heaven. I am pretty fierce about letting crap into the house these days, so the very tiny drawer I decanted the essentials into will be enough (essentials: stamps, pens, pencils and other stationery. Phone books. Address book because I am old school). This was a desperately boring exercise, so I had to take little breaks every ten minutes to do something interesting, like walking the dog, and going to get my hair cut. But finally..

We have a cupboard for towels.. only eight towels, mind you. I had to get rid of some of them too. Not that one ever gets rid of towels. They are too valuable for drying the dog and cleaning up when the roof leaks. But then you store them in the rag pile, which luckily has space to spare. There was no space for flannels or hand towels in the chest of drawers, but this inspired me to man up to a task I have also been wrestling with since I moved in. The bottom drawer in this ridiculously adorable bathroom vanity (made out of an old chest of drawers) has been stuck closed all this time due to being painted in by the previous owners, who clearly did a quick touch up paint job before they left. So far, all I have managed to achieve was to pull off the drawer knob.

The thing I love most about this vanity is that the mouldings on each of the drawers is different. I like to think the long-ago cabinet-maker was having a whimsical afternoon..

But now I needed that space so I messed about again with box cutter blades and knives to no avail, when it finally occurred to me to take out the third drawer and bash the bottom drawer from behind. Der! Fixed, and now all the flannels and hand towels have a lovely new home.

So here ends my small triumph for today. A storage solution that hasn't involved buying anything, and has encouraged me yet again to think about living with less. What I have gained - another laundry basket, less clutter, and an unfortunate case of piles - no, not a medical condition. Bags of stuff at my front door, including, but not limited to: nine pairs of 3D glasses to go back to the cinema, piles of books to return to friends, a dance costume that we borrowed three years ago for a ballet performance, keys that may possibly fit the doors of the cabinet I gave to my dad, a bag of dead phones, chargers and batteries to be recycled. Tomorrow will be the day for schlepping.

Tell me about your thing drawer. Is it scary? Go on, I know you have one..


Anonymous said…
Hi Jo
I have to confess to having two. In my defence though, they are quite small. They contain all manner of useful bits and bobs that I'm sure will come in extremely handy one day. Or I will have a surge of inspiration and deal with them. Or not ;)

PS, my apricots are flourishing.

Regards, Specks
Anonymous said…
Ha! A junk drawer? I have a junk room. And various hotspots around the house. A spare dining chair. The TV table. The bookshelf behind where I sit. Around Mr S's favoured seat.

Luckily I am at my mother's and her place is neat and tidy. And quiet so I can sit in peace and not think about what needs to be done at home. Being 9 hours drive away means I couldn't do it even if I did think about it.
Anonymous said…
After we renovated the kitchen, I went to put everything in its newly assigned home and discovered I had NO Thing Drawer, but I still had Things that needed accommodating - like eleventy bazillion rolls of different kinds of tape, the buckle thingies for putting on the seat belt to install a car seat, a couple of sets of alan keys, string, washers, candles, the spare car keys... all residents of the Drawer of Crap that are all useful things that I sort of need to keep. Because well, useful. So I got those nuts and bolts boxes from Bunnings (three different sizes) and crap is now in boxes in the hall cupboard. Even the spare car keys. But, in saying that, one of the drawers in the kitchen has an accumulation of pens and battery packs and charger cables and weird shit. But it's only a small section of the drawer, so we're living with it.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Just wanted to say thanks for the Ruth Park referral. What a great book! So full of raw pain and triumph over troubles and circumstances. And she is blessed with 20/20 vision and a razor sharp wit. I'm half way through Fishing in the Styx and I'm a little bit in awe... And she has such a delicate touch with her confidential, yet not quite confiding voice, she is very aware of the line she walks. Wow.


Jo said…
Specks, yes, I could have happily lived with my thing drawer forever except for my towel dilemma!

Lucinda, that is a very elegant solution. Just stay there until you go back to work, then there will be no time for worrying about junk rooms for a whole term.

Miss Maudy, what is it with allen keys? They come with all sorts of weird things, and no labels. In my thing drawer I found an envelope with allen keys that unscrew the light fittings in the hallway in my old house, so I will have to drop them in to the new owners. Why? Why?

I do still have a thing drawer in the kitchen with string, birthday candles, and very important objects like bread tags and twist ties.. because you can never have too many of those.

Chris, I felt like you would like those books, and I'm glad you are enjoying them. I hope you read Fence Around the Cuckoo as well, about Park's childhood in New Zealand. Then you can start on her novels..
GretchenJoanna said…
Ugh - I have too many drawers and other places like this. I will have my work cut out for me for years to come - and I am working on it! Enough said about, as you named it, a boring job. It's much more fun to tag along with you while you are cleaning out, and that is inspiring and educational, so not a total evasion of duty!

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