It was Saturday morning and the bedside was out of control. Shoes, books, notes, yoga gear, magazines, clean laundry that hadn’t been put away all week, baskets of miscellaneous, etc. Seeing this before I roll out of bed really takes a toll on me. You’d think I’d learn.

At any rate, right after breakfast, I hauled out the vacuum and started picking up pillows and children’s books. What’s with the children’s books, when our own children are grown and there are, as of yet, no grandchildren? Well, it was a project I’d begun, having grown weary of the top shelves in our closet groaning under the massive juvenile library, much of it the largesse of our own parents. But did we really need to keep every volume for generations to come? I’d been planning to move my own favorites to a bottom shelf beside the bureau, then box up and stash the remaining books till our offspring could visit, peruse, save any additional favorites, and then we’d donate everything else.

So now I pulled all the books down, covered the bed with little piles, and there they stayed. Because I still needed to clear the floor, and after that make room on the shelves. Putting away some slippers, I noticed the husband’s “couple extra pairs” (his description) of trousers at the back of the rod were all extremely dusty, especially on the folded edges and hanger tops. I was feeling benevolent, so not only did I not question how “a couple extras” equals one dozen, but I spent the next 20 minutes running the upholstery brush over the trousers and realizing that a few of those hanger dustcover things might be a good investment. Still feeling benevolent, I stowed all his homeless ties (rarely worn since the advent of his Hawaiian shirt collection). Let’s see if he notices.

Next, trying to fit my clean, folded leggings in with my socks, I thought perhaps they needed a drawer of their own. This entailed emptying out all the drawers and purging T-shirts, underwear, nightclothes, my travel drawer and all the cash, gold and silver (joke) burglars always look in the bureau for first.

Next, loose items from on top of the bureau, mostly escapees from the bathroom because there was no space on the countertop in there, were another major thorn in my side. If that stupid glass shelf over the toilet wasn’t listing 4 degrees off the wall, it could hold more than one tissue box.

“There’s a set screw or something to tighten,” I was thinking as I headed for the tool tote.

Hmmm, the screwdriver got no purchase whatsoever, no matter how hard I pressed into it. I called our son in Portland and he said, “Yeah, that eventually happens when the screws don’t go into studs.”

So, bright idea: Find the studs, go buy a wider, or skinnier shelf (they must exist), take this one down, and put a new one up.

OK, long story short: I went to the store and wound up buying (along with hanger protectors) a nice three-shelf tower that stands on the floor around the toilet. No studs needed, and no silly shelf hanging off the wall ever again. I brought the tower home, opened up the carton, carefully read the instructions and took the pieces out. Wow. Every piece was marked correctly, though I needed a sturdier screwdriver than the small one included, it all went together smoothly. And it’s better quality than I expected. How often does that happen?

Soon, it was time to set it up behind the toilet. Oh, I hadn’t finished taking the silly shelf down. My son had said, “Take your power drill, an older bit, and just drill the tiny screw underneath out.”

OK, here I come, you little sucker. Hmmm, I’m not as strong as my son, and after going through a couple bits, I tried more serious wiggling. The first side came off. The shelf hung straight down. I couldn’t quite wiggle the other side off, but it finally seemed pretty loose and that’s when the sheetrock split.

So, I went and watched a YouTube video about patching sheetrock, then went to get the spackling compound I already had, the kind that dries white. And it was, upon opening, dark brown and rock hard.

One trip to the hardware store later, I prepped the hole, spread in some spackle and left it to cure overnight.

The hole wasn’t small, so it needed a second fill Sunday, and another rest before the sanding and paint job. Because the “dries white” popped out so much I knew, I couldn’t live with it. But at least I found a leftover quart of a light gloss paint. Not exactly the color on the other three walls, but close enough. At least not brown and hard.

All weekend, the half-assembled shelf tower was laying on its back in the hallway, surrounded by brushes, sandpaper, hardware, tarps, rags, cleaning supplies, and all the other necessary gizmos and gear.

Back to Saturday night: I hadn’t wanted to make up the guest futon, so I passed up a movie outing to get the books sorted and the bed cleared off. That part was done. And by Wednesday afternoon, my Saturday morning tidying was done, too.


Jeanne Leffingwell realizes she might be trading one collection of postcards for another, but she’s okay with that for now. jleffingwell4@gmail.com.

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