Forgotten treasures outgrow the junk drawer

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There’s nothing like hanging a brand new calendar up on the wall to get me in the mood for organizing and decluttering. The year 2019 is over, thank goodness, and it’s time to put a little order into my life.

What better place to start than the much maligned yet aptly named “junk drawer” (the name is often preceded by some expletive). Every home has at least one of these. Ours is part of a wooden cart which sits at the end of our tiled kitchen counter.

Like most junk drawers, ours is stuffed to the gills with all sorts of clutter that makes it virtually impossible to pull the drawer open without yanking the handle off. Once open, I am immediately attacked by a Gordian Knot of twist ties, in a variety of lengths and colours, which have tangled themselves together into a mass large enough to challenge the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Some of these twist ties date back to the last millennium and may well have held together vegetables that have since gone extinct.

After sorting through the twist ties and removing all but about a dozen of them which I leave bundled together with a rubber band, I realize I’m going to need a major dose of stimulant to keep me on task. Once properly revitalized with caffeine and a special cookie, I return to my organizational objective. The drawer spews out its little forgotten treasures and I place them in separate piles on the lid of our firewood box. Rubber bands over here and paper clips over there. I toss a stack of old post-it notes and a clump of outdated ferry schedules into the “burn” pile. Now it’s just a matter of splitting up the remaining mix of dead batteries, copper pennies, marbles, loose string, dryer lint, thumb tacks, push pins, screws, bolts, nuts, washers and a few indeterminate pills that had landed on the floor on their way from the bottle to the palm of my hand (who knows how they entered the junk drawer!) That just leaves a couple of expired licence tags from long-gone dogs who are now fetching balls up in the sky, shopping lists that never made it out the door, and what was probably an important receipt but is now virtually useless because the printing on it has faded to zero.

Finally, I just need to refill the drawer with a few samples of each category of junk, stash the rest in a big cardboard box (which I will keep somewhere else on the off-chance that there may come a time when I will need that tiny spring from a dried out ball point pen for a science project with the grandkids). 

There, that wasn’t so hard. Why did it take me so long to get around to it? It took only . . . WHAT? Three hours!? Maybe lining up all the twist ties so they were straight and parallel to each other might have pushed the job into overtime. Never mind. Now to organize the fridge magnets.

Let me first make perfectly clear that keeping food cold is actually our refrigerator’s secondary purpose. Its main objective is to provide as much metal surface as possible to which we can stick fridge magnets. Some of the magnets are pretty little adornments such as lady bugs, butterflies, and leaping frogs. Others hold up slogans and aphorisms like “don’t worry, be happy” or “never lend your car to anyone you have given birth to.” Covering the front and sides of our fridge we have postcards bearing photographs of Bob Marley, Che Guevara, Frida Kahlo and Albert Einstein (who when asked what weapons would be used to fight World War 3, replied that he did not know but he was certain which weapons would be used for World War 4: sticks and stones).

That’s only the beginning. Our magnets also support pamphlets for environmental causes, bumper stickers for political parties that no longer exist, recipes for dishes with ingredients our digestive systems are now intolerant to, as well as a temporary occupancy permit from 1996 (it never was removed from the fridge even after we finally passed inspection in 2004).

Wait, there’s more. A notice encouraging us to get out to vote “yes” for the swimming pool (or should I say “aquatic centre”) referendum. A revised Easter weekend sailing schedule for the long-departed Bowen Queen ferry. Tucked into one of the top side corners of the fridge is a poster inviting us to the 1985 New Year’s Eve dance at the Vesuvius Inn with Club Mongo.

Of course, there are a multitude of class photos of the children when they were still in elementary school now vying for prominent position with more recent pictures of the grandchildren. Add to that their early “stick people” crayon drawings and some paper cutout snowflakes (the grandkids will probably be in med school by the time we consider taking these down).

One last sweep and off go the ubiquitous Cuban grandmother sitting on a bench smoking a honking big hand-rolled cigar, as well as the notice warning me to disconnect my computer before the calendar clicks over to Y2K.

Okay. That takes care of the junk drawer and the fridge magnets. What next? I guess I could go through the VHS tapes (for which we no longer have a working video-tape player) and organize them into alphabetical order. Or maybe my time would be better spent sorting through the stack of CDs leaning precariously to one side on grandma’s old dresser, so I can reunite each one with the case it came in. 

Then again, I could pull out all those half-full jars at the back of the lower shelves of the refrigerator to see if any of them are not growing a green mouldy biology experiment, and therefore could spend some more time in the fridge. No, that sounds too scary and should be attempted only when there is a qualified HAZMAT team waiting outside the front door.

Nobody asked me, but even the thought of this continued organization is getting me hungry. Time for a piece of toast to quell the appetite. Oh look, one more slice of bread left in the bread bag. Now, what to do with the twist tie? Guess I’ll just throw it into the junk drawer. I’m sure I’ll get around to dealing with it soon.

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