Nineteen Piles and Counting

20 May

cartoon_1Chances are no matter how organized you are things accumulate on your kitchen counters and grow into piles, and those piles beget piles.  It’s like the Duggar family with 19 kids and counting—you take care of one and minutes later two more spring up.

All sorts of things pile up: paper, mail, small animals . . . and these piles take on a life form of their own.  If fact, a pile is probably forming on your kitchen counter as you read this.  It has probably grown a mane of hair, a set of teeth and learned multiple languages by now.

It’s not until you lose something important that you take action—something like your passport, your keys or your birth control pills.  Then you rummage through the bottomless layers of strata until you either find what you’re looking for or strike oil.  Once, my family uncovered a rabbit’s foot left from my teenage daughter’s 3rd birthday party.  That was an exciting find, until we discovered the rest of the rabbit.

Things pile up for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes we leave things out as a reminder to act on them, like a prescription that needs to be filled, a party invitation that needs a reply, or your unread copy of “Conquering Clutter.”  Other times we leave stuff out because it doesn’t work—a deck of cards with missing deuces, a broken flashlight, “miracle” rejuvenation cream . . .

But mostly we leave things out because we’re just too lazy to put them away.  Men are particularly guilty of this, which explains why we finally invented pants with zippers.

There is no real cure for piling.  It’s one of those things in life that’s unavoidable, unless you’re a hobo or a monk.  But there is a helpful trick, which is to think of your pile as a home mortgage.  If it grows too big it can smother you and cause you to lose your house.  The best treatment, therefore, is to keep it down to a manageable size through feverish sorting preceded by a tetanus shot.

If you’re too late and your piles have taken over the house to the point that they mimic the New York City skyline, there’s only one thing left to do—move—preferably to a house with no kitchen countertops.

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75 Responses to “Nineteen Piles and Counting”

  1. Burns the Fire May 20, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I believe in miracles and find anything in my desk piles.

    • Burns the Fire May 20, 2013 at 9:49 am #

      Oops. What I meant to say is I believe in miracles and CAN find anything in my desk piles. Order in the disorder. Life is chaos.

  2. Diane Masucci May 20, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Just as I was about to attack my piles I get distracted by your organizing advice. Now how does one address two years worth of piles ignored while I was in grad school?
    I pray there are no dead animals but those pesky fruit flies have been accumulating here. What is a girl to do?????

  3. Lynda May 20, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Funny you should mention it…

    But we are moving! The house is just under 1000 square feet and less than half the size of this one. Serious decluttering, and getting rid of, going on in this house! Thanks for the giggle and the reminder to get rid of all the stuff that isn’t essential to our lives! 😉

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 8:24 am #

      I hope you were careful to purchase a house without kitchen countertops. 😉 Congrats on your new house and good luck with the move!

      • Lynda May 21, 2013 at 8:29 am #

        Ha! The new kitchen is smaller than some peoples closets these days. The counter real estate is postage stamp sized. The home was built in 1840 and the kitchen was added on in 1920. 🙂

      • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

        1920! Did they have fridges then?

      • Lynda May 22, 2013 at 12:07 am #

        I had to look this up! LOL! The answer is yes, but at $350 to $600 ea. not too many people owned them. They used an Ice Box. However, where this place is located I am certain they had neither until at least the 50s. Very primitive until recent history. The info in refrigerators was found here: The site of Primer Magazine. 😉

      • Main Street Musings Blog May 22, 2013 at 5:54 am #

        Too funny! I was thinking ice box as I wrote that. Thanks for following up. So interesting!

  4. LuAnn May 20, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    You always manage to get me laughing. Great post! 🙂

  5. Dilip May 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Ha Ha most of us have piles of unwanted stuff that ought to be cleared. But a clutter in the house is better that a clutter in the ‘Mind’.

    Cheers 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      I hear meditation works well for a cluttered mind. Too bad I can’t meditate the piles off my countertops!

  6. Traci May 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    The workplace also provides additional opportunity for pile replication. I’m so busy keeping on top of the papers at school that the ones at home can often grow unchallenged.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Pile replication. It sounds so much more fascinating when you phrase it that way, like a genetic science term or something. “I try to make it a habit of practicing pile replication both at home and at work . . .” 😉

  7. Jen and Tonic May 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    One day I will die beneath a pile of unread credit card offers and AAA travel magazines.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      Jen, I would never allow that to happen to you! I would force my way into your house, rush to your side, dig you out of the rubble, and read you the credit card offers and AAA travel magazines.

  8. Helen Devries May 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    My husband makes piles of stuff which are not to be touched and when he fills one table he moves to another…..we have moved….

  9. Jennifer May 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Funny you posted this today. I am in serious pile- destruction mode currently. I have done a serious make over on my bedroom, and now there is the kitchen x 2, the house office and my office. Plus other piles around the house.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      Sounds like you need help from John Deere! 😉

      • Jennifer May 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

        I think so. Part one done. And I feel so much better for it.

  10. Paprika Furstenburg May 20, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    Oregano comes from a family of pile makers. He waits until the pile collapses under its own weight and structural imbalance. To him, the avalanche is the universe’s way of telling him it is time to clean up the piles.

    Don’t tell him, but a few of those avalanches weren’t a natural occurrence.

  11. dorannrule May 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    I have piles of things but they are hidden. That way I forget them until I move to another house. LOL! Your post is hilarious! 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      I hope those neglected piles don’t contain any tax bills! 😉 Thanks for your kind words!

  12. Ruth2Day May 21, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    I hate piles of anything, they really do my head in. MY family on the other hand thrive on them. as you can imagine the mood does not always stay good! 🙂 great blog

  13. Professor Taboo May 21, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Ah, the byproducts of American consumer-gluttony, hoarding, or OCD; not implying anything to you Lisa! But honestly, I’ve found as said American and a father of two, once a husband, and the never-ending bombardment of consumer marketing trickery — the telecommunications industry being the epitome — our home can slowly, in subtle menacing ways, bust at the seams with all the crap we unconsciously accumulate…UNTIL we do something like moving, or as I’m gradually learning now, when I must plan for my mother’s geriatric years and being the primary executor of her house and the DECADES of stuff she has accumulated! Comical post Lisa. Thanks for sharing!

    You know, there is a whole lot to be admired and said for the simplicity of the Native American’s way of life and easy seasonal moving…never wasting a thing or much energy! 😉

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      Ah, the sin of gluttony. You make a good point, Professor. I agree, and I’ve recently made progress in my efforts to scale back. The one thing I continue to accumulate is unwanted facial hair. I can’t control everything. Good luck with your mother. It sounds like you have your work cut out for you.

  14. Terri L. Spilman May 21, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Loved your pants with zippers line! You write like you’ve been in my house! We call ours the Command Center. My husband threatens to throw everything away on a daily basis. –signed, your friend the pack rat.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

      Dear Pack Rat, don’t you think Bed Bath and Beyond should sell a clutter lid, so we can cover our piles and not have to look at them? Oh, but then I suppose we’d own one more item of clutter. . .

  15. cindyricksgers May 21, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    I can so relate…

  16. prachi jain May 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I wait for all the paperwork to pile up to a manageable stack, sit down importantly and handle them feeling great. But pile I make!

  17. Grown and Flown May 22, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    The piles were under control until the two college kids came home, now I cannot even see the top…great post.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 23, 2013 at 6:33 am #

      I’ll have to prepare for that myself soon– watching the summer piles grow along with college tuition.

  18. LB May 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I had to chuckle .. whenever I make a “to do” list for the weekend, invariably it will say “the pile” … no explanation needed 🙂

  19. The Dang Yankee May 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Not only no kitchen counters, but no “junk drawers”, either!

  20. Perfecting Motherhood May 23, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    Oh yeah, that pile on the kitchen countertop… I go through it when it gets too high or there are several piles. Right now I see 3 small piles and I can’t stand it!

  21. earthriderjudyberman May 25, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I’d love a place where everything has a place … and is in its proper place. I, too, have fallen victim to the growing piles of stuff on my counters. And, I’ve had to spend money to replace needed documents to renew our drivers’ licenses because the originals apparently took a trip somewhere without us.

    Thanks, Lisa, for the amusing chuckle on our common frailty.

  22. Dawn@LightenUp! May 26, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Oh, the piles! They’re killing me! At least now, the school year’s over and the piles will stop growing exponentially, the way they have for nine months. Oy.
    Love this post, especially because you found a way to work the word “strata” in.

  23. kriskkaria May 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    My partner, Jack, has way too many piles and constantly loses something in them. He piles them in my way so I trip over them, too.
    This will make a great podcast story. Will you allow me to narrate it?

  24. kriskkaria June 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I just uploaded my narration of your funny story about clutter, Thanks so much for allowing me to narrate it.

  25. sued51 June 4, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Glad it is not just me…:-)

  26. Kylie June 12, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Our kitchen counter is currently stacked with piles of paper, and also the wall organizers that I bought to corral the stacks of paper… funny post!

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      How ironic that even the wall organizers are piling up! 😉

      • Kylie June 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

        Well, they’re heavy. Waiting for my husband to help!

  27. Chicken Nuggets and Elmo June 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    hi there… thanks for visiting my blog! We’re kind of neighbors in the real world. And OMG do I have some piles in my kitchen… they drive my husband nuts. HIS piles don’t bother him though… he’s funny like that. I think part of my problem is a lack of places for things to have a “home”. I could put it away if it had a place to go!

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      I understand. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place” sounds so simple, but we need space for place!

  28. anelephantcant June 28, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    AnElephant, who is a mere male, laughed aloud at this.
    He sometimes forgets to tuck his trunk away carefully!

  29. pattisj July 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Piles, all too familiar! I like the idea of selling them with the house. The new owners will have a head start! Thanks for stopping by my blog. 🙂

  30. totsymae1011 July 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Have you been in my kitchen?

  31. July 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    I like this post, enjoyed this one regards for putting up.

  32. Janice / Dancing with Sunflowers October 9, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    Sadly, I see myself in these words! On the other hand, and in my defence, when you do eventually get around to de-cluttering it is SO liberating!

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