More Pressing Matters

More Pressing Matters

It has been over a year since I moved out of the living room into the new studio. Although we didn’t get a chance to have a big opening party in the new digs. Honestly too, at first, it was such a mess to move and there was so much to do last Fall that I thought the opening should be at the beginning of the year. 


It’s the best studio for my business and situation, not wanting to overextend myself I have to keep it within reason until we grow beyond the immediate square foot space. Did I mention how close to home it is? Less than one mile alongside streets perfect for riding my bike there (wearing a bicycle vest of course) or I can walk. Someone said to me recently “But you never do?” Wrong. I ride my bike a lot and walk often but as with going anywhere I often have ****loads of stuff to carry, more than I can carry on a bike or in a backpack.


The workspace is on the ground floor with the ability to move rolling racks in and out without any steps which are almost worth its weight in gold alone. There are two rooms, a separate room for photo/video shoots with a big green screen besides all social media planning and posting. I do have the automation setup. First I usually have Fiverr finish the copy on many of the posts, I’ll edit visuals with Canva, and schedule with Tailwind on my Pinterest account. 


This year we staged many zoom calls and conferences there too. We do not keep anything valuable there because we carry our little equipment back and forth. On a side note my son has discovered the joy of the studio making videos there in the evenings. 


But all that was slow going as I had to help my mother while the pandemic was looming. Instead of making masks that everyone was looking at us to make. The tides were turning.


More pressing matters, a pun I love because I always have pressing going on! But in this case, my mother had some urgency to sell her house and put the wheels in motion between x-mas and New Years’! 


I knew she needed my help which would eclipse anything I had going on. My business had been in the slumps before, actually kind of always ebbing and flowing. So I put my excellent daughter’s face on and we got to the business of selling our family home. Not an easy task really, it had been the home of my mother and stepfather for forty plus years and had the memorabilia of ten kids, tons of grandkids, and a few great-grandkids to put in respective boxes. 


My mother is an artist and had a studio in the garage and in a room in the house full of all the shows she had exhibited, priceless artwork, and measurable career documents of noteworthiness that needed cataloging. I was amazed at all the work she has done with documentation just strewn about in two five-foot file drawers and stuffed everywhere else. So with the help of about twenty bankers boxes, I got to work. Putting her artwork photos in one box and friends of the art scene in another, work-related exhibits, commissions, and lectures she has given went in another. 


Fortunately, I live for times like these in the organizational world. With my mom, not my own house I could be slightly more objective and discern the trash from the keep important papers, photos, and writings. I separated other photos with bankers’ boxes at the ready. Our one side of the family broken down into individuals, and the other side of the family broken down into three boxes, one of the framed photos, unframed, and their dad’s memorabilia. 


Of course, I had scores of boxes and sorting stations in the garage where everything would end up and be the last room to clean up. 


In the house, I had a humongous donate pile by the back sliding glass doors for any and all stuff. And I had black trash bags throughout the house for trash. Some black bags in one room for the stuff she absolutely wanted to keep. No one was to move the bags around until they had my directions. Which implies I had help. The kind of help where my mother would want to “clean” up and start moving stuff around or the well-meaning friend who thought they would take the trash out. Even though I had masking tape labels on most bags we did not want to confuse where they were by mixing them up. 


This was about the time Covid hit and the donation centers were not accepting anything. Our pile grew as we gifted neighbors with thoughtful choccies for being there for us, and we called friends to come over to take whatever they wanted, asked the handyman to take any and all, then we finally saw a junk collector drive by and flagged him down to take it all but no we still had a lot to carry to the alley in the hopes somebody would walk by and take boxes of greeting cards, more plastic dishes and plates that never ended. 


The one black bag filled to the brim of plastic stuff spilled over into another black bag. Well, I know my mother and she loves plastic. She once had a “formal” dinner for my in-laws all in the plastic of every kind for all the types of “glasses” needed, serving dishes and plates, napkin ring holders, and homemade plastic flowers made from old Clorox bottles. It was pretty cool and why we didn’t always take pictures of every table she ever set I don’t know. We have a lot of the time, but not that one. My mother cares more about ambiance and decor than how good the food tastes. The plastic was hardly ever the throw-away kind, it was washable. 


That one setting was her response to a dinner she had at my in-laws who have beautiful dishes and glassware. My mother joked she was going to get lead poisoning from the glasses. Who knows what chemical poisoning we get from all the plastics? 


So it was important to sort all the plastic out from a huge pile on the floor. Most of it I just gave away. She may have kept one tray. 


We only had about a month, and I canceled a few of my events before we were going to list the house. While also planning a big event of hers. A ninetieth birthday party and art sale all on one weekend in February. We spent around a thousand dollars to mount all the artwork, buy scones and champagne for two days of an open house, signs, and some platters of sandwiches, and pizzas for the family who were going to be in town. The pizza and champagne were her ideas of the perfect spread. We ended up selling about three thousand worth of work at firesale prices and only had a few leftovers. Plus a nice sampling of friends and family showed up. She gave each kid one of their picks of artwork. Still, she had a lot of work to get rid of because it had nowhere else to go.  


We eventually did get a storage unit for said boxes and artwork. My husband put a lot of his artwork in the unit, and our transient kids put a lot of their stuff in as well. The expense and rationale for a storage unit. Worth the cost? 


We avoided getting a storage unit for so long, most all our lives trying to keep the crap down instead, but getting a unit changed everything for the better and freed up so much space without the regret of losing something important. 


It helped us stage the house easily. We only had some bare essentials and artwork hanging which made the house very chic and huge. We removed everything practically. Only my mother was living there and she knew she was extremely downsizing so we took advantage of the fact and made the house seem functional and modern because nothing was there. 


The garden windows had three vases each instead of seventeen. There were seven paintings on the wall instead of twenty. The pillows were only a few, and you get the idea. No personal photos. Only one set of dishes in the kitchen cabinet. One set of towels. One set of sheets. The closet had only a few clothes instead of bursting at the seams. 


The window treatments were brand new and in neutral gray shades. We kept the dining room table permanently set. All daily clutter we put in one box in a lower kitchen cabinet. That is how my mother had to live through a few weekends in February after her birthday/sale party and few real estate open houses.


It was a success, selling for the asking price on the first day, and not bothering with any other offers. My mother moved to independent living on March 15 with so many restrictions on how we had to move her in. We couldn’t go up to the apartment and help her arrange anything. But they managed to hang all her art and set everything up (without me). Although the pandemic made us nervous the house closed on March 31.