Sunday, June 7, 2020

Pandemic Cleaning @LucyBurdette



LUCY BURDETTEI suspect many of you have been cleaning out closets and drawers for months since the lockdown commenced, but I have done none of that. I was determined to focus on finishing a big book project and I would not allow myself to get distracted. Cleaning and straightening would be a slippery slope--so much easier than writing and more satisfying because of the concrete results. These photos can't even begin to describe the disaster that had accumulated in my office...



Meanwhile, every time John and I watched someone interviewed on the news, we noticed everything in their background--what books were on their shelves, the crooked books on the shelves, the crooked art on the walls, the utter lack of art on the walls, the pets. It was so distracting!

But a week ago I finished the project. Yay! And now I will have some zoom meetings coming up for the launch of The Key Lime Crime. It was time to clear up my background. It took all day, and I didn't even touch the file drawers, but I threw away boxes and bags of old papers and drafts and just plain junk. And I also found some treasures. 



Like this Sisters in Crime New England calendar signed by Janet Evanovich...L to R, Ruth McCarty, Janet E, Lucy B, Cathy Cairns...



And a poem written by my nephew about one of our former (fat) ginger cats, Chuck aka Chuck-E-Cheese aka Chuck Roast aka Chuck and a half.



T-bone and I were worn out, but oh my the results were so satisfying (if you point the camera in only that direction...)

So are you guys all straightened out, clean and organized? Or has your energy been focused in a different direction? Do you pay attention to what's in people's backgrounds?

88 comments:

  1. I sort of notice what’s in the background . . . particularly books . . . but I haven’t seen anyone that gave me a “you need to get organized” vibe. It’s always interesting to see what’s behind someone, but I’ve never felt a need to be obsessed with it like those folks on Instagram who actually rate the backgrounds . . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rate the backgrounds? Yikes! I’m definitely not in that league. We just noticed things like a picture that is hanging awkwardly or books slumping over on the shelves LOL

      Delete
  2. I do pay attention to what is in the background, but I don't find it too distracting. Unless they are in front of a bookcase. I'm not judging the organization, but I am trying to determine what books they do or don't have.

    Meanwhile, I'm not more or less organize than normal around here. what time isn't taken up with work (and I worked lots of overtime this past week) is being spent on reading. I've gotten a lot of reading done, which has been nice and been fun. But it means my condo is still a disaster.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First things first Mark, I am glad you’re enjoying your reading!

      Delete
  3. I like to see bookshelves in the background for writers, as I like to see what they read. Your background looks wonderful now, Lucy, and if you can only get T-bone to hold that pose, it's perfect. I hadn't been to Target since the beginning of March, but I finally went the other day to get some under-the-bed storage tubs for books, of course. I decided that I would get a major book shift (the enormity of which can only be understood by the writers and readers who frequent this blog and other booklovers) done before my son comes in for his birthday the middle of next week. I got a start on it, but then the event has happened that we knew would but were dreading. My dear mother-in-law died this afternoon. However, we are counting our blessings because at 91 years old, she had only recently become unable to live on her own, she only spent a week completely incoherent, her children were with her during her time of decline and at the end, she simply stopped breathing with no pain or drama, and she died at home. So, while we will miss her, and I know I don't even realize how much yet, she got her wish of not lingering on in a suspended state, and she had a good life. Everything is well organized to move through the coming week toward a funeral of some sort (it will be more of a limited COVID-19 style) and then getting through the sorting, dividing, and selling of the house. Thank you all for the sweet words you've had as I've gone through this with my husband. I will no doubt rely on you and the blog in the coming days for a touch of comfort and joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry to hear about the passing of your mother-in-law, Kathy. Good to hear it was peaceful and that she was at home.

      Delete
    2. Oh, Kathy, I'm so sorry. You're right, there were many blessings, but still, it's a huge loss. Sending virtual hugs.

      Delete
    3. Kathy so very sorry about this big loss. Sending you virtual hugs xox

      Delete
    4. Kathy I am so sorry—so impossible to handle the enormity , especially early on. I bet she adored you! And so reassuring that she had a good life. Xxxxxx

      Delete
    5. Blessings on you and your family who allowed your mother-in-law to die at home. That can't have been easy, but it was so loving.

      Delete
    6. Kathy, big hugs to you and your dear husband on your loss.

      Your loving care of your mother-in-law soothed her passage, I'm sure, and made her end a comfort.

      Remember, in all the planning, to take a little time for yourself, my dear.

      Delete
    7. Kathy, I am so sorry to hear of your family's loss. Although it is comforting to know that she exited on her own terms, come to JRW for support, as you have supported all of us for the things that happen in our lives.

      Delete
    8. Kathy and family, I'm so sorry for your loss.

      Delete
    9. So sorry, Kathy. I know her death was a blessing and a relief but it is still sorrowful.

      Delete
    10. Let me add my condolences, Kathy. I am so sorry! I also want to add that my mother passed at a similar age and under similarly positive circumstances, and I still draw comfort from that five years later. May your family continue to be a comfort and source of strength for each other as you move through the whole process.

      Delete
    11. Hugs to you and your husband and family, Kathy. No matter how easefull the passing, the loss is hard. I'm glad you all had so much time with your mother-in-law. You will treasure it. Love and condolences.

      Delete
    12. Thank you all for your sweet words of condolence and comfort. She was a tiny woman who was a mighty force.

      Delete
    13. I've known many "tiny women," I think most of them were a mighty force or fortress, especially if they were mothers. Take a minute to breathe just for yourself during this time. May you all find peace.

      Delete
    14. So sorry for your loss, Kathy, but glad that you and your family made is possible for her to go out on her own terms, at home, surrounded by those she loved.

      Delete
    15. Kathy, I don't know you but have been following your family's story and been so impressed with the grace with which you and they have dealt with your mother-in-law's failing health. I admire you very much.

      Delete
  4. Yes, looking at the background chosen at virtual interviews and Noir at the Bar events is part of the fun, Lucy.

    HANK, you were fabulous again at yesterday's Queens' Noir at the Bar event (despite the lag). Did you notice the online chatter about finding each other's books on the reader's bookshelves, including on yours, lol?

    In my case, the usual spring closet cleaning has been delayed for a number of reasons. Being sick, and the prolonged cold spring (we still had record cold, wet snow & sleet in Ottawa a few weeks ago) certainly has prevented the normal swapout of winter/summer clothes. The GOODWILL/Salvation Army stores and donation bins are still closed here in Ontario, so I cannot take my bags of unwanted clothes to a new home. And I have not been doing any shopping for clothes or other large items, so clearing out the closets has not been much of a priority.

    I am an anal, organized neat freak when it comes to my books but the rest of my apartment is a mess. But that is one of the benefits of living alone...no one to nag/judge you about cleaning up!

    I did a huge binge/tossout of stuff a few years ago while cooped up at home with my broken ankle, so fortunately there is much less unused stuff in my other closets and drawers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You’ve had very good reason not to be straightening up! And it sounds like the important things ( books) are in perfect order

      Delete
    2. Oh thank you SO much ! Yes it was truly fun —and yes I am still smiling at all the comments!

      Delete
    3. In my defense about the books, I have over 20 bookcases so I to be pretty anal about which books go where in order to find things!

      Delete
    4. Grace, filled bookshelves make an excellent way to insulate walls.

      Delete
  5. I have been working and willfully ignoring the corners and bits that need going through and tossing. And now it's gardening season, so I'll ignore those bits a little longer. My immediate work area is tidy enough, and my background looks fine. I'm leaving it at that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I forgot to say, I had that calendar! It was when I was just starting out in Sisters in Crime and meeting all of you in the New England chapter. We should do another one.

      Delete
    2. It was a lot of fun but so much work! Ruth and Cathy and I drove all around New England with the photographer to make sure we could get every single member of sisters in crime in one of those photos. Unfortunately the photographer has died, so he wouldn’t be available! It was a labor of love

      Delete
  6. I have been working from home, so I have been to busy to do more than pick around the edges of the stuff I need to clean--mostly shredding old paperwork that has accumulated in stacks. I can see the progress, but I doubt anybody else can.

    On the upside, I've finished four new chapters of my WIP since I've been home, and I've culled through photographs of my travels to build an amazing collection of virtual backgrounds for my Zoom conferences. I've got shots of the Columbia River Valley, the Golden Gate, a snowy forest, the tropical plants on my plant stand, and lots of garden pictures. I'm always somewhere interesting on Zoom--just not in my messy house.

    Does T-Bone ever bomb your Zoom conferences? I think all three of my cats have wandered through my virtual staff meetings. Anybody else? Or do they all hide when strange voices start to come out of your computer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Four new chapters is terrific! And the photo backgrounds sound like a great idea too. T-bones came through the other day when we had a small zoom meeting. We will see if he shows up for the book launches!

      Delete
    2. Gigi: My cat, Holly, has walked across my desk during staff meetings. My colleagues think it's amusing. Phew!

      Delete
    3. VIRTUAL staff meetings, I should have said

      Delete
    4. Jasmine the German shepherd has Zoom-bombed a few of mine! I'm sure the cats will get to it eventually...

      Delete
  7. I love that calendar! It was quite the moment in time—hilarious and nostalgic and instructive.
    True story: I was decluftering like mad before the pandemic. I came across a whole bag of Channel 7 promotional hand sanitizers. I thought—why would I ever need all these hand sanitizers?? And I donated them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hank, I keep reading that as Chanel #7, lol. A perfume I didn't know about!

      Delete
  8. Other than keeping everything in some sort of order, I can't say we've done much cleaning and sorting the past three months. The basement is a disaster and so is the third floor, but I've solved those problems. I just don't go there.

    I did my drawers and closets last fall, and it is time to do closets again. Or not. I've culled my clothing down to the bare minimum, got rid of all that stuff I haven't worn in years. I don't need much I find.

    That's why God invented washers and dryers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your system Ann, about not going to the problem areas! Plus you’ve had a lot going on in your lives

      Delete
  9. I am slowly working on decluttering but not doing it as a big project - just an area here or there as the spirit moves me.

    As for noticing backgrounds I always notice and there are times I wish the speaker would move over a little bit so I could see better. Remember Andy Rooney speaking from his office? I couldn't help but check out the books he had on his shelves and I was impressed with myself that I had one of the same books. But all that noticing and checking means I was probably too distracted to pay attention to what anyone is saying. Same with what they are wearing! And now I find myself wondering if they are wearing pants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judi, your last sentence almost made me spit my coffee!!

      It does distract, in a much different way than the usual newsroom backgrounds. Some people seem to need a tutorial, don't they?

      Delete
    2. Ha, there has been some discussion behind the scenes on JR about what we're wearing!

      Delete
    3. I remember watching a news broadcast, years ago, the weather was particularly hot that week. At the end the cameras pulled back like always did, but this time they were at an angle so you could see behind the desk. The sports reporter looked very polished and professional from the waist up. Under the desk - shorts and flip/flip sandals.

      Delete
  10. Great picture on that calendar! And do I spy a tattoo on your bicep, Lucy/Roberta? Do tell. (Blog topic!)

    I was distracted by wall art in the first Noir at the Bar Zoom I participated in. Art will always draw my attention, because of what it says about the owner, as much as books do, but in a different way. What individuals choose to publicly say about themselves fascinates me. Why choose to hang or otherwise display this piece, particularly? Or why is there NO art displayed? Or gobs of collectibles or other knickknacks?

    We have lived in this house for a whole year now, shockingly. The closets and shelves are still fairly well organized. I'm still tweaking things, but for the most part things landed where they were meant to land, and it must have been logically, since they're staying that way, for now.

    Except for the basement, and the old garage we left standing, both full of just stuff. It's time to clear out all the things we left or brought here that we have no need of. I just have not had the energy or the ambition to deal with it all. But it's on the list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See you are looking at things exactly as I have been Karen--I can't help noticing. Good job on keeping your house organized--the garage will come in its time...

      Delete
    2. PS, we all added fake tattoos for that photo shoot--good eye Karen!

      Delete
  11. I do notice backgrounds but I don't think I fixate on them. It is fun to see which books are on author's shelves, and I do check that out. I do not attend as many events as some of you do, so, I don't see as many other rooms. Last week, several people had their laptops or tablets outside and their gardens were pretty nice.
    All of the JRW authors should give us a "heads up" here if you will be participating in a live event. I have signed up for one Hallie is going to be in this week, but I found it from someone else's invite.
    I am on zoom a couple times a week. Our office was Jonathan's bedroom and there is a giant Empire Strikes Back poster behind me. Only one person has commented on it!
    Love the calendar, Roberta. Your guests this week on JRW have been wonderful.
    As for straightening stuff out, minor accomplishments compared to what should be done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Judy, and good idea to keep people posted about events...

      Delete
    2. I did notice your poster, Judy!

      Delete
    3. Good idea, Judy. I only heard about Hank's appearance last night at the Queens Noir at the Bar because of her FB post yesterday afternoon!

      Delete
    4. Right Deb, the poster was noticed during last week's Travel Book Club interview with you. That is the only time it was ever mentioned in a zoom meeting.

      Delete
  12. You can take down the hidden camera, Lucy. We just moved an old mattress, two office chairs and a lampshade to the curb. (sweeps week is here). My house is about the size of Ms. Gloria's houseboat. We really appreciate the City offering free large pick ups once a year.
    This purging raises a long mental Jekyll/Hyde conversation with Coralee the Hoarder vs Coralee the Eliminator. Since March, the Eliminator has been ignoring the temptations of the Hoarder. Even the freezer was organized. The hoarder is annoyed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. love the calendar photo!

    I'm sick of random thoughts scribbled on grocery receipts so I've started buying small, spiral-bound steno pads for the random thoughts and ideas that don't make it into my composition book. I don't rip the pages out until I'm completely finished with everything on a page.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll have to let us know if those pads work Margaret. I have little scraps of paper with notes on every surface--sigh...

      Delete
  14. Well, if what I see in your first pictures was a disaster, I can't imagine what you would say about my office.
    But details don't have great importance to me. As far as I know where everything is, I can live with a little clutter. I said little because when it begin to bother, I have to act.
    I usually don't notice things when speaking with someone online or when watching an interview online. I began to note books on background when someone here commented about it. My focus is usually on the person and on what she is saying.

    It is the same in true life. Suppose that I visit someone with a friend. Afterward, the friend will tell me : did you noticed this or that ? Most of the time, I didn't. Maybe it is why I can't give good description and why I don't like too long descriptions in books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That makes total sense Danielle! I bet you notice all the little tics about a person’s character

      Delete
    2. Danielle, I used to just focus on the person speaking on their online comments too. But some online events (e.e. Crowdcast Noir at the Bar events) have online commenting by the attendees as the speaker/reader is presenting, and they notice a lot of details about the speaker's room/background, and I also became more fascinated by the speaker's setting/room's appearance. The comments are often entertaining but sometimes distracts one from really listening to the presentation!

      Delete
  15. My office is rife with random scraps of paper and steno pads that I've written in on random pages. And still I manage to throw away the one scrap with the information I'm looking for.

    Right now I've got my eye on my closet. It's where sandals that never fit in the first place go to breed, and at last it's sandal season. I just got an email that the charity we call to pick up discards is back in operation so time to cull the herd.

    When I get anxious, my sorting instincts turn to the garden. Clipping the hedges and random weeding are great ways to make you feel like you're on top of chaos (instead of merely keeping it at bay).

    (So interesting what Danielle said... because I ALWAYS remember the physical details of a place, a room, which is why I love writing setting. I never can remember what anyone said. Hence dialogue is more of a struggle.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s so interesting Halle! Next time I talk to someone I will have to pay attention to what I’m noticing.

      Delete
    2. A dear friend passed away in December, and in January her husband invited me over to look over her shoe collection, since we wore the same size (6, so most of her friends couldn't wear them). She had HUNDREDS of pairs of shoes(possibly over 1,000), two huge closets full, including at least 100 pair black strappy heels, stacked in boxes clear to the 11' ceilings.

      I can't wear shoes with any kind of heel any more, but I ended up with two dozen pairs of footwear, including a pair of over-the-knee boots, four pair of UGGs, a bunch of sandals, and athletic shoes, including a pair of never-worn hiking boots. And some rather amazing apres ski boots in wolf fur (which I hope my skiing daughter can wear). In fact, most of the shoes were either brand-new, or had been worn only a couple times.

      Since I brought them home I have not been able to face editing my own shoe wardrobe, but it needs to be done. Unlike Valerie, I don't have endless numbers of closets to devote to shoes.

      Hallie, I broke myself of using scraps of paper by using a notes app on my phone. Now I never lose them.

      Delete
    3. Wow, over 1,000 pairs of shoes?! I am curious how many of the footwear that you ended up taking were actually worn (at all) by your friend, Karen?

      And yes notes app (Evernote) works for me. Mucb better than losing those random scraps of paper or even small notebooks I used to use.

      Delete
    4. My note app has my passwords. Credit card A used my email address for my name and then a password, credit card B wants a name not my email and a password, bank had my namea and the password has to have a capital letter, number and one symbol...... The list goes on.....

      Delete
  16. I don’t judge a person’s back ground. I personally am a creative mess! I have been Marie Condo-ing my home for the past two years: eight garden size hefty bags of clothes donated and 18 boxes of books donated. I now read my books on Kindle.We are all at a different spot in our house cleaning.
    I am currently moving furniture around and painting walls. We have been in our home for over 25 years.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your clean-up is impressive, Lucy. Well done. And lucky T-Bone for having a better spot to show off his beauty in/on...

    I have engaged in no pandemic cleaning whatsoever. I did complete a writing project in May that was very satisfying, and my garden is coming along nicely, but the basement remains in a jumbled state of things we should deal with. Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love hearing that you completed a writing project! I think really any way of handling this is fine because the last few months, and those to come probably, have been impossible

      Delete
    2. Don’t— repeat, don’t— go to the basement. Problem solved.

      You’re welcome. Xox

      Delete
    3. That sounds like a whole book! Don't go in the basement...whooooo

      Delete
  18. I have not lifted one finger to fight the clutter in my home. It is a task that never comes easily to me anyway, and in recent months I have just felt too exhausted too much of the time. I have managed to do what I need to do to earn the paycheck that continued (blessedly) uninterrupted for me, and to plan, prepare and serve meals three times a day, every day. (Talk about exhausting!) Beyond that, exercise, reading, and a little streaming TV.

    I pay little attention to the background in Zoom interviews, though my husband does tend to focus on what books are visible. A nice piece of artwork will capture my attention sometimes. From the desk where I have been working, the view behind me is three doors -- two leading into a huge closet and one leading into the hallway. I usually have all three doors closed when I'm on a Zoom meeting, and I have wondered what others have thought of the view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've had a lot on your plate! I'm finding the dinner planning tiring, and I think that's partly because we're trying to go to the store as few times as possible. So that means planning way ahead...

      Delete
  19. No pandemic cleaning here. I did manage to work on the corner of the kitchen where my rolltop desk and “office” is. I had a lot of files stacked that I needed to sort through and shred or file away.
    I would love to start getting rid of stuff we don’t need but so many charities are still closed to the public.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love T-bone's pose, Lucy! I have straightened both writing desks a couple of times. What really needs to be done is all the files and paperwork in the shared office, but I avoid that like the plague. However, I did tackle the double lazy Susan corner cabinet in my kitchen, which was a disaster. It's below the counter, and when my knee was really bad it was a pain (literally) to get into it. It became the place where spices and condiments went to breed. It took most of a day, but now I can find the salt!!

    As for the clothes, I didn't manage to get the grubby shorts and t-shirt tubs out of the attic and put up the sweaters and sweatpants. But my nice summer things are still hanging in the office closet, winter wools in the bedroom. I did have to dig a nice top out for a Zoom book club! Most of my free-time organizing has been in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debs, that reminds me that I took all my cute sleeveless tops upstairs last fall to make room for sweaters. I'd completely forgotten I had them!

      Thanks, now I'll have some cooler things to wear.

      Delete
    2. I meant to say I DID manage to get the grubby shorts and t-shirts!

      Delete
  21. My house is as cleaned as it usually is. I'm sure it wouldn't pass military inspection or anything but it isn't a craphole either.

    I've not really seen too many videos or live interviews of people where I would look to see what books are on the shelves behind them.

    I spent three days this past week helping out a friend of mine that owns a record store unpack and sort through nearly 6,000 CDS he purchased for his shop. That was a blast let me tell you. I found a lot of stuff I never thought I would see. Most of the albums came from Europe and Japan so these are rare stuff for US buyers. That will probably be what I have to consider my biggest sorting project of my time off.

    Sadly, I got the tragic news that I have to head back to work tomorrow so my extended freedom is just about over and things that I've been doing during the downtime will go by the wayside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad your friend had you to help Jay--I would have become overwhelmed with that job in about ten minutes...

      Delete
  22. LOVE the calendar cover! You all look like proper bad asses!
    I hope you and T-bone had a nice nap after all that organizing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Libby - I'm going to guess T-bone did, at least!

      Delete
  23. Lucy, I'm late to the party again! On Sunday mornings, I like to sleep in if possible. Great post! Our clean up project is STILL ongoing! I have been finding old notes from my college classes. I have been finding old photos.

    And yes, I do look at the background during Zoom calls or while watching videos, especially at the books on the bookshelves behind the speaker. I like to see what people are reading. There was an interesting article in the paper the other day about what celebrities like to read, based on the books seen during their video calls.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diana, I'm even later to the party, so don't feel bad! Looking at people's houses is one of the best things about Zooming, if you ask me. I only wish I could move my laptop in front of one of my bookcases - I'm on an ethernet cord when doing events so as not to get frozen by our erratic rural wifi, so I'm stuck at my desk in my parlor/office.

      Delete
    2. Julia, thanks! I was so late yesterday that no one replied to my comment to the question yesterday. LOL. I thought perhaps I needed to apologize for being late. Perhaps you can move the books to where your desk is?

      Diana

      Delete
    3. No cleaning or organization happening here. Just being packed by family for that pending move. As I unpack I'll organize my space and then will give I opportunity to purge those items I really don't need anymore.

      Delete
  24. I was weeding the bookshelves in the paperback mystery area in January, had several bags to go to the library store, then everything shut down. Also have bags of clothes for Goodwill, same story. There are three boxes of kitchen and garage items. Ditto. So I'd done a lot of cleaning out at just the wrong time, and now here it all sits. Someday, those places here in Oregon will reopen, I hope. Then I get started on those bookshelves again.

    ReplyDelete