A January Letter-a month to get things done


Petoskey Lighthouse & breakwall in mid-winter

It’s midwinter in Michigan. January gives us nine hours of sunlight every twenty-four. We get about two murky hours of rising sun in the morning and two hours of dreary setting sun in the evening and those hours sandwich the gloom in the middle of the day.

January is a fine month for getting things done. While the skiing and snowmobiling and ice fishing and snowshoeing are excellent, sometimes the mere act of layering on the proper clothes is a chore. Twenty minutes to get dressed is enough to scare anyone back inside.

The clock across the room reads 6:50 AM in dim orange tones. I lay in bed this Saturday morning and begin the mental calculus which allows me to do the days’ tasks in the most efficacious order.

I should start downstairs, in the basement, and work my way up. That’s the best way. But before I head downstairs, I’ll get some laundry going. After the laundry is sorted and a load is on the run, I’ll go downstairs. I brought in the plants from the deck and sunporch back in November and they’ve been working on their tans under a couple of grow lights ever since. They need to be watered, but before I do that, I need to put new saucers under a lot of them.

I really should reorganize my bookshelf. A few years ago, I had them organized by genre, but when I bring a book back downstairs, I get lazy and just add it to a random stack. I should put them all in the correct shelf. While I’m at it, I should alphabetize them within each genre. That makes it a lot easier to find the one I’m looking for.

There are three cartons of papers and magazines that need to go to the recycling center. I’ll bring them upstairs and load them into the back of the Jeep. While I’m at it, I should take those 6 bags of clothes over to Goodwill. It’s mostly winter stuff, and this is the time of year when people need warm clothes.

In that same closet are all my books from my Masters degree program. They were useless then and useless now. I should bundle them up, and take them with me to the recycling center.

I already brought the shopvac downstairs so I should vacuum out the window wells. The bugs like to lay their eggs in there and I want to get ahead of them. Since I’ve got the vac out, I may as well vacuum out my wife’s craft room. She made wreaths this season and there are lots of fir needles that should get sucked up. Over on the furnace room side, I should suck up the broken glass from the lightbulb that popped the other day. I’ll put on my face shield and respirator, a hat and some gloves and my one piece coveralls and vacuum up the mouse droppings from above the dropped ceiling. No matter how many traps I set and mice I kill, those rodents reproduce like rabbits.

That’ll be a good start to the morning. After I get done with the basement, I think I’ll have a cup of tea, and get to work on the den. The CDs are all over the place. I need to get them back in order; all the blues stuff together, alpha-order by artists’ last name, classical, classic rock, jazz; I have about a dozen different categories and entropy always wins out. Before I do that, I think I’ll vacuum the rug. I like to vacuum. It’s warm and noisy and the  vacuum smells like I’m getting something done.

In the den, we’ve accumulated three different piles of magazines and catalogs. There’s one on the hearth, one on the coffee table, and another on the desk. Since it’s the new year, I think it’s okay to throw out all the magazines older than October. There’s also all those Christmas catalogs and the home renovation catalogs. I guess I should bundle all those old magazines together with the catalogs and take them with me to the recycling center. The spring seed catalogs stay.

We made a few quarts of marinara sauce the other day. Filled up some old jars and put the sauce in the freezer. We had a little boil-over accident. The cooktop needs a good scrub-down. Tomato sauce is pretty persistent stuff, and every time we cook something else, it gets baked on just that little bit more. So I really should find the time before lunch to scrub that down.

While I’m at it, I noticed that some of the veg we used in the sauce and pitched into the crisper drawers in the fridge has turned and leaked some rotten veg juice into the drawer. Since I’m in the kitchen, this would be the best time to pitch the veg and scrub out those drawers.

While I’m working in the fridge, I should pull it out from the wall and shopvac all the dog hair out from behind the fridge to keep those coils efficient, and under the fridge to keep good airflow. I know that makes for a more effective fridge that’ll last longer. I’ve noticed a lot of dog hair under the racks in the pantry so I should get down under there and vacuum that hair out, as well.

Before I head upstairs, I think I’ll take a few minutes to mount the new wireless speakers for the stereo up on the wall. The new speakers don’t weigh very much, and my drill is charged up so I’ll grab the brackets, drill a few holes, and the stereo will be good to go. I might as well configure the TV so we can stream Netflix onto the TV downstairs while I’m knocking that out.

Once I go upstairs, I plan to start with the closet and the rest of the winter clothes. It’s time to take all the winter stuff out of the bins, and hang the hanging stuff in the closet and fold all the folding stuff for the shelves. That means I’m going to have to take all the spring and summer stuff out of the closet first and lay it on the bed while I put all the winter stuff away. Then I can take the warm-weather stuff and put it all into the plastic bins that held the winter stuff and put the bins back in the storage closet.

I really want to cut out a small piece of wood, too, that I can put in my sock drawer to separate my ankle high work-out and cycling socks from my regular socks. I’ve been using a piece of cardboard that I duct-taped in place and it’s time to make it more permanent. I’ve got some shelving stock out in the shed that’ll be just the ticket. So, I’ve got to remember to take my tape measure out of the toolkit and take that upstairs with me. The chopsaw is out in the shed so it’ll just take a few minutes to make a few cuts, grab the wood glue, and glue the board in place. Then I’ll have my sock drawer just the way I like it.

It’s time to start thinking about tax season, so I’m going to sit at my desk for a bit. I’ll take all the medical receipts, add them up, and enter that into the tax planner. While I’m in the office, I can take all the stuff in the folders from “tax year 2013” and put the folders in the fireproof strongbox. That’s a good way to get a jumpstart on the ‘tax year 2014′ folder.

By the time I get to the tax stuff, the sun will be setting, so I think I’ll let the dogs out and watch them romp around in the snow as they chase after their early evening shadows. That’s a good way to end a Saturday, I think.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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