COVID – and cleaning: Musette’s Musings

Before you get all skritchy, this is NOT a post about how to clean during this COVID-19 pandemic.  I promise!  It’s about… well, it’s about how a lot of us are coping with some of the weird changes that have occurred – and continue to occur – in our rapidly changing world.

This will be Musette’s Musings Lite.  A really skittery post because, to be honest, I’m not having a very good time with my own thoughts these days.

Let’s ramble.

By nature, I’m a cleaner.   I have been told that I clean ‘unconsciously’ – and not only do I do it at my own home, I’m liable to do it at yours.  So if you come into your kitchen and find all the cabinet faces and handles, etc washed…. it was probably me.  The good thing is, my friends KNOW this, even though I am unaware of having done it (auto-cleaning? Ambien-clean?).  So no offence is intended and none (apparently) is taken.  And hey!  You get a clean kitchen!  What’s interesting is during this enforced isolation, a lot of my friends who are by nature NOT cleaners, have suddenly found themselves cleaning and reorganizing!  Closets!  Cabinets! Shelving!  I suspect it’s an urge to control some aspect of our currently uncontrollable situation.  When we are all released back into the wild, they’ll be able to access that Staub pot that was hiding in the back of the cupboard!

It’s official.  I am a hoarder.  But not in that ‘newspapers to the ceiling’ kind of way (I worked with a guy whose entire office was floor to ceiling newspapers!  The only way they could get them out of there was Building Maintenance! and a scissors lift!   Seriously.  So, no.  Not that kind of hoarding).  My hoarding is totally ridiculous in that I hoard the things I bought SPECIFICALLY for something.  Case in point:  SOLO cups.  I buy them for one reason only:  to germinate (or harden off) seedlings.  If you come to my house you will NOT get a beverage in a SOLO cup, so it’s not like I’m saving them for some future cookout.  Nope.   Just. For. Seedlings.  So, imagine my surprise when I found myself getting panicky about using all of the SOLO cups.  For seedlings!   And it’s not like they’re toilet paper – go to any grocery store and you’ll find shelves full of SOLO cups.

So what gives?  I think I inherited a bit of my mom’s gene – she wasn’t a hoarder but she placed value (?) on weird things.  I remember her absolute certainty that Mrs Butterworth bottles would be a collector’s item in the future.  When she died I found three (THREE!) boxes of Mrs Butterworth bottles, washed, labels removed (hence destroying any collectability, had there ever been one to begin with (hint:  nope).  She’d even shrink-wrapped them!!!

I pray nobody finds boxes of SOLO cups in my storage room.  To be fair… I do wash and reuse them – they’re usually good for several seasons… so maybe…….

The garage.


Okay – this one is a bit sad.  And a bit liberating.  Mostly liberating – but also a bit sad.  So.  El O was a hoarder/tosser (in ALL the iterations of that word but for this post we’ll focus on the ‘buying stuff and tossing it somewhere’ definition).  Sooo much money was spent re-buying things that he’d already bought – and never moreso than Stuff you find in a garage.   I considered the garage the least of my worries but it turns out that The Garage was the weird trigger for me – just looking at mounds of… crap… made me feel anxious and enraged.  So, on a chilly Saturday I embarked on Operation GTFOH!  A friend asked why I didn’t just sweep all the crap into trash bags.  Well!  Hoarders of El O’s type rarely separate the wheat from the chaff.  The 4 hours I spent combing through all that detritus netted me, amongst other things:

jumper cables

an unopened coil of electrical wire

18 Allen wrenches

a pipe wrench (anyone with old plumbing knows the value of a pipe wrench.  Also great for home defense)

bags and boxes of unopened connectors and caps and stuff like that

A tote full of MY GARDEN STUFF (including a fountain pump that I was planning to purchase!  Squeee!)

A partridge in a pear tree (okay, I made that one up)

My drill

My circular saw (when you live with someone as handy as El O, DIY isn’t something you even think about.  Now I have to think about it again – and I’m glad to have my tools!)

…. and after!

Most important –  by taking on that filthy, triggering task  I am actually claiming this space as my own.  This is not where I expected to be – but you know what?  Feck it.  It’s where I am and it’s totally FOINE!  But it’ll be mo’ betta if I excise the ick and start thinking of it as mine.  Well, mine and Jane’s – or maybe just Jane’s.  Ya nebber know with her!

So.  There’s so much more I want to share with you but this is getting long.  So tell me – what are you musing about right now?  How are you doing during this weirdAF time?  I know this is a stressful time for so many of you (it’s stressful for me even though, for the most part, it’s my Regular Life on steroids).  How are you managing?  Please feel free to share here – you are heard and respected here and I hope you feel comfortable in knowing that.

I would tell you I would have The Girl poke a pawnail but, to be honest, right now I’m not good for it.  I dash in to our tiny little PO, grab my mail from the box and get the hell OUT!  People here are completely careless and, if you can believe it, in this teeny, 1400-person town, we’ve had at least one COVID-19 case (he’s fine – but his colleague is on a ventilator).  The number of people not taking any safety precautions is terrifying so I mostly stay out of spaces (it’s ironic that I actually feel safer in the larger areas, isn’t it?  but perhaps that’s the whole thing – Kroger’s employees are masked and gloved.  Here?  nah.)

  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    Here I am, late to the party, as usual. I read & enjoy all comments, and I always read you Musette, whether I comment or not!

    The Massachusetts schools have all shut down for the academic year. This means I definitely won’t get to play the high school musical (Cinderella) I was contracted to play. Sad for the kids, the music director, and for all the musicians like myself who were looking forward to having something to play.

    Anyway, I’m tending to my Etsy shop–listing things, hoping that somewhere out there, people will still want to buy. Husband sleeps very late, so morning is my time to email, surf the net, watch the TV shows that he doesn’t like.

    The big Spring cleaning urge has yet to hit but it will eventually. Congrats on your garage victory! Except when we have a heavy snow winter, I’m glad we do not have a garage. Strange how many houses in New England do not…

  • AnnieA says:

    Like others, I have been doing an unusually thorough spring cleaning. I have found a couple of items it was nice to see again. (I have also grouped all the beauty supplies, so now I know I really really am okay for shower gel for the foreseeable future. Really.)

  • Patty says:

    I am not a hoarder in the least. I will be the person in the apocalypse constantly amazed at what people have saved. I unintenionally hoard. I run across areas of things that I have no idea why they were saved, and I am ruthless – it is gone, all of it. Then 3 months later, I am wondering where I put that X that I might need, and yes, it was in the pill I tossed. So I buy it again, rinse, repeat.

    • Musette says:

      I wish I could be ruthless like that – sometimes I am but have almost always regretted it. However! As I get older I realize that the things I found in a cupboard 13 years ago are probably NOT things I have missed overmuch. So… baby steppin’ it to decluttering that sort of thing, I guess.


  • Dina C. says:

    My weakness is paper ephemera: greeting cards, letters, notes, play and concert programs, etc. So I’ve been sorting through a bunch of that from years ago, shredding anything with malignant vibes, and sending some fun ones back to the original sender just for a chuckle. It’s not quite Swedish Death Cleaning, but it feels cathartic.

    • Musette says:

      omg! paper – and paper ephemera! I just came across all the sympathy cards I received upon my dad’s passing – and… it was difficult…but I did put them in recycle. The dog sympathy cards are a bit more difficult to part with, but I will do those as well.

      My real struggle is with notecards THAT I SPECIFICALLY BUY TO WRITE NOTES WITH! They are the paper equivalent of SOLO cups! lol! Recently March challenged me to USE them – and so I’ve been doing so. It was a weird, and slightly difficult experiment – but I’m slowly beginning to enjoy using them.


  • Kathleen says:

    There are so many things we can’t control right now, cleaning and organizing is something we can do. Great job with your garage Musette! I had already cleaned and purged my house a couple months ago, planning on selling the house and moving. Not sure that is going to happen, but I’ve enjoyed a more minimalistic environment. I’m not enjoying work from home but thankful for work, husband not working (however, I can spritz perfume to my heart’s desire), and missing the gym more than anything. But I’m receiving so much joy from longer daily walks/runs with my dog.

    • March says:

      I may be moving next year after the boys graduate high school (who knows), so I’ve been slowly chipping away at it. Even if I don’t move I’ll have a more orderly house with less stuff in it, so win/win.

      • Kathleen says:

        Clearing out and organizing the house feels great! That is what I love about moving; it forces us to take a good look at what we have and decide if we really need to move it with us. Very cleansing!

    • Musette says:

      Jane (aka The Girl) is LOVING this – even though I actually work from home, the thing is: I work! So I don’t have huge swaths of time to walk with her. Now, though? My people are definitely ‘don’t call me, I’ll call you’ so I have lots more time to spend exercising her – and me!


      • Kathleen says:

        Jane and my Benson are loving this! I think dogs are winners with the Stay in Place. Upon reflection, I’ve found the stay at home to be a restful journey (it felt unfamiliar, scary and awkward at first as many might relate); it has brought more peace and joy to my life. xoxo

  • Cinnamon says:

    Got rid of a lot of stuff when packing for move to rental and rest of stuff went into storage. So when we move back into house once work is finished there will be 1) more storage but 2) less stuff to store. Here in the rental we’ve got the minimum (beds and dressers, a couch the dog mostly uses, and a shitload [excuse me] of computer stuff for my work and because child has a laptop for uni and a desktop he built [so not going anywhere]). I look at this situation and think ‘actually, this is how I’d like to live going forward — ie, with less stuff around me’ (just beloved or useful stuff). Don’t know if I’ll be able to keep to that thought/intention but I have a sense I might. I believe our world is going to have to change because of the virus in a way it didn’t have to after previous crises. Hopefully for the better.

    • March says:

      Yes. I’m not a minimalist by nature, but I aspire to it. And definitely moving periodically forces a hard look at one’s possessions.

    • Musette says:

      from your fingertips to Floyd’s ears! I do think a lot of people are looking at the world differently – maybe we’re finally awakening from a long soul-sleep…time will tell. xoxoxo

  • March says:

    I love the way you cleaned the kitchen when you were here lol, gonna need to invite you again! I’ve been going through piles of stuff and putting together donation bags.

  • Portia says:

    WOW Musette,
    That was a wild ride.
    Garages are seriously hoarder happy places. I reckon we ALL have stuff in ours that should be gone. Good for you taking control.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      Portia – pre move out, you couldn’t even walk in the garage! Just tons of stuff piled high… and no rhyme or reason. I’m using that south-facing space as a potting, etc bench – it even has a vise for sharpening stuff! Squeeeeee!


  • Bee says:

    Garage clear out sounds amazing! I re-arranged my perfume cupboard. I had packed everything into crates in anticipation of moving house but that’s not going to happen. We’re stuck here so did some garden maintenance – it’s a rental so not very invested in planting. Done a lot of cooking and reading and painted a couple of walls that suffered from flaking due to damp. Not feeling as creative as I had hoped. There is junk jewellery to be sorted and mended – maybe get into that this week. Not bored enough yet for inspiration to move me.

    • Musette says:

      sounds like you’ve already done a squickton of stuff, Bee! My own garden plans were to simply LOOK at the damb thing this season, see what was working and what wasn’t. Well! That lasted about 32 seconds. But! I’m not buying anything this year – mostly the LOOK was to see what needed to be moved. I’ve been moving a LOT!


  • Maggiecat says:

    The cleaning and reclaiming helps, speaking from experience. I’m teaching from home, a …surreal…way to teach communications. Skin care is my new stress reliever, along with perfume. I know I’m lucky to still have work, but I’m mourning my lost vacation a bit, and tired from the extra work.
    Hang in there, friend. The worst of it passes, and the self care skills you pick up will last a lifetime. And, hey, if you like to clean and wanna come to Dallas for a visit, you’d be more than welcome. Coffee, tea, pastries and all the cabinets you can handle.?

  • Tara C says:

    I am not cleaning, not cooking much, not doing anything out of the ordinary. Just as bone lazy as ever. But high five on dunging out that garage! I can tell it was cathartic. When my ex left I wanted every trace of him out of the house asap. I was elated as I gathered up and tossed stuff!

    • March says:

      I spent …. some time…. pondering throwing everything of my husband’s out the second story window on top of his BMW, and then setting it on fire a la Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale. I didn’t, because a) the driveway was too close to the house and b) maaaybe a bad example for the kids? I dunno. I settled on chucking his much-loved crystal drinking glasses out there instead, they made a delightful sound as they exploded on the pavement. I had to clean it up but it was worth it.

    • Musette says:

      On one side of the garage, a propos of absolutely nothing, there arose a very specific El O Smell. Omg. The rage-trigger! I still don’t know what that was (the smell almost immediately evaporated) but… boy! that spurred me to completely finish that cleanup! ick!


  • Gina T. says:

    My musings all are around how to pay the bills. I was laid off March 20. My company called today and said if they can afford to bring any of us back it wouldn’t be until July. So, all those months with that loss of income. Kiss savings, investing and being debt-free goodbye. Kiss a vacation goodbye. Kiss it all. That’s my musings today. And I try to escape this obsession with my horse/barn, movies, shows, books, baths, perfumes, cooking. Hoping somehow, some way I can keep it all going.

    • Musette says:

      you will, honey. Just breathe. I wish I could offer you more concrete intel but… I think you are going to be fine. Keep to your escapes – they are healthy distractions. And give your horse a kiss from The Girl (not from me – I’m allergic! 😉


    • Kathleen says:

      I’m sorry about your lay off Gina. I join you in your musings about loss of savings. This is a huge set-back with losses, for many us. I also am trying to focus on the positives and the things that I am gaining, such as more time with my dog and in nature, more rest and self-care, enjoying my perfume, reading as are you. Sending you a fragrant hug.

  • Pam says:

    Enjoy your musings, I do. And yes, I’m cleaning some extra. But not really excessive. Instead I’m making quilts. Usually I work leisurely on a quilt. It’s relaxing. Since The Quarantine started I’ve completed four quilt tops and am working on Number Five. Compulsive.