Spring Cleaning and Buried Treasure

Book WormAND THE WINNER IS: Diana Orgain (Comment #22)

With rain deterring me from my normal sunny spring diversions, I decided to engage in an annual event my mother instituted when we were kids: spring cleaning. Spring in Illinois is almost as cold and dreary as the winter months, as opposed to California, where the sun normally lures you away from domestic duties.

This year I had no excuse. Plenty of rainy day opportunities to sift through boxes, scrutinize cabinets, and peer under beds looking for rambunctious dust bunnies (or in my case, dust elephants.) It’s amazing the treasures you can find hidden in your closet.

One such treasure was a wedge-shaped piece of bright yellow foam with an indentation for a head. How could I forget that I own one of the infamous cheese hats worn by Green Bay Packer fans whose brain cells have evidently been impaired from spending far too much time in subzero weather. Question One: Why would anyone send me a cheese hat? Question two: Why have I kept it for the past 12 years?

Then there’s the bird bath I found in a corner of the garage, a lovely piece featuring three yellow cats holding up the bath, their Cheshire cat grins mocking my incredibly bad taste. Since I bought this oddity myself, I have no excuse other than to blame it on too many margaritas. Surely alcohol must have been involved in that purchase.

I discovered never-worn clothes, their price tags screaming sizes I couldn’t possibly fit into again. Time to share the wealth with Goodwill and hope their new owners will enjoy them.

By the time my day was done, I had accumulated four car loads of goodies to donate. I had also walked down memory lane and discovered a few precious mementos: the mint julep glass from the 1972 Kentucky Derby, the Santa mug my aunt hand painted, the child size rocking chair my daughter rocked in during her toddler years, and the homemade heart crafted by my son in preschool inscribed to “Mom.”

Spring cleaning not only provided a treasure trove for others, but it provided me with the opportunity to savor some of the most cherished moments of my life.

So, what interesting items have you discovered in the back of your closet during spring cleaning? Any dead bodies? Ex-husbands? Dead exes?

Submit a comment by April 15 (that date has such a familiar ring), and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a $25 Macy’s gift card (so you can buy more stuff to replace what you gave away), or a slightly-used Cheese Head hat!


  1. Amy Moore on April 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I think it is funny that you found a Cheese Head while doing your Spring cleaning! HOW could you have forgotten that you owned one of those awesome hats? It would have been a great addition to your Super Bowl wardrobe 🙂 I have lots of Spring cleaning to get done if you would like to come to Wisconsin and help me out….lol Thank you for being a Sassy Girl, without them I may not have found you and your book!

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Thanks, Amy. I love meeting other Sassy Girls, especially new fans. I grew up on a farm in Illinois so much of my youth was spent visiting Wisconsin and sampling great cheddar. I prefer to eat cheese rather than wear it, though. I can tell you want to win this great specimen of a cheese head!

  2. susan decker on April 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Dust elelphants also reside in Hawaii, I can swear to that. Having downsized my real estate office by half and thankfully, finally completing that painful exercise over the weekend, I found many, many treasures tucked away in long-forgotten special places where I was sure to remember where they resided. Evidently, I did not. But today I broke out the long-forgotten laminating maching. I know, it sounds very utilitarian and boring, but we have been laminating everything in sight: business cards, photos, licenses, luggage tags to name a few. Now I am pleased to announce that I am the proud owner of 25 brand new bookmarks of varied color and size. Isn’t that some accomplishment?!

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      You know, Susan, if you win the cheese head hat, you can try laminating that!

  3. Susan Hammitt on April 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Loved your blog article! The only cleaning I’ve been doing is my plate!

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      Hey, that sounds like way more fun, especially is there was some chocolate residing on that plate! Or cheese, of course.

  4. Pamela DuMond on April 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I too have a Cheesehead hat, Cyndi. And we are both authors originally from Illinois who are now living in California. Hmm. Could this be a trend?


    Pam DuMond

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      You can take the farm girl out of Illinois, but you better not take her Cheesehead hat away from her!

  5. Pauline Baird Jones on April 5, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    I used to spring clean but I don’t go there anymore, because I know what I’ll find: rocks and books. His and her treasure. Enough rocks to build a fireplace and enough books for a small library. But our treasure. 🙂

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      I’m with you, Pauline. I almost gave some books away during the cleaning process because I have so many, but I couldn’t part with any of them. And now I’m not too sure about that cheesehead hat. It’s so bright and cheery! The perfect decorative item.

  6. Michele on April 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Oh Cindy, I think that this blog plus the sun finally showing up means that I’m going to have to do some cleaning! At the rate I’m going, it may be summer cleaning, though! And no Cheesehead, either!

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Hi Michele. When the sun shines those dust bunnies appear out of nowhere. Some of them were as big as my dead body cookies!

  7. Matthias on April 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hey Cindy, check it out. I am tackling my garage as well. And going for sure is my big red six foot tall toolbox from back when I took everything apart. 30 years of stickers, 19 years of boat tags, racing events, and oh yes, memories. Now if I could get rid of this cat…..

    • Cindy on April 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Hey, Matt. Sounds like you have more treasures than I. I say let it all go. Except the cat, of course.

  8. Jennifer Walker on April 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Ugh…spring cleaning. I really need to do that!

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Hi Jennifer. It’s too beautiful out. Go play instead.

  9. Cathy Ann Adkins on April 5, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    In my closet I found tshirts, sweatshirts, long sleve shirts with a variety of mortgage company names. Western Sunrise, North American Mortgage Company, Chase, MIT, Mortgageit, and the list goes on… great memories.

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:28 am

      Hi Cathy. That’s kind of cool. A tshirt trip down memory lane. I still own half a closet full of Western Sunrise apparel. I don’t think I could ever part with it.

  10. Roxanne Smolen on April 6, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Way, way in the back of my closet I found an envelope filled with poetry my daughter wrote 30 years or so ago, each illustrated with stick figures. My favorite is titled Easter.

    Chocolate bunnies
    Chocolate lambs and eggs
    Chocolate fingers

    Such a treasure. I had no idea it was there.

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:29 am

      Hi Roxanne. Now that truly is a treasure and just in time for Easter. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Betty Gordon on April 6, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Why do we put or hide things in our closets. It IS a safe, personal place, isn’t it? You mentioned price tags on some clothes — I hung my head in shame as I have a few of those. Bad girl.
    I love taking time to look at old photos which I store in the closet and they bring back so many memories. Your blog made me threaten myself if I don’t get rid of some shoes, my weakness. I love shoes and then don’t wear some of them. I’m closing as I rush to dump shoes in a bag for someone to use!!

    Betty Gordon

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:31 am

      Hi Betty. Good for you. You’ll feel great after you donate those beautiful items to someone else. But I can tell you’re going to want that Macy’s gift card.

  12. Camille Minichino on April 6, 2011 at 7:41 am

    No cheese hat, but a green foam Statue of Liberty crown!
    And a button maker that requires more force than any gym equipment and ditto on a label maker and a sticker maker. Apparently they’re from my small factory phase.

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Camille. I never realized that crafting required biceps. And who knew they made green foam Statue of LIberty crowns? That is truly a keepsake.

  13. Mad on April 6, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Hey Cindy,

    I went “shopping” in my closet over the weekend and found a bright blue St. John top (I found the skirt as well but it’s a size 6 and that’s not happening any time soon). Although it’s at least 20 years old I wore it to work Monday and got lots of compliments. This weekend I’ll see what’s hiding in the dresser drawers. I also found in my garage a bag with 6 different and very precious A’s hats, none of which I can part with.

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

      Hi Mad. Well of course you can’t part with those A’s hats although you might want to share with your guys. As for the size 6 St. John, I swear those skirts can be blocked up more sizes than you would ever imagine:-)

  14. Laura Elvebak on April 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Cindy, I gave up Spring Cleaning a few years ago. Just organizing my paperwork for taxes brought 4 trash bags of paper. If I have to decide whether to clean or write, the choice is easy. I almost put off doing taxes until I finished the book, but then I might have been late filing. So I’m still finishing the book, but the taxes are done.

    Love your book!

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Hi Laura. Thanks for the comment on the book. Yes it was tough deciding between taxes and writing but my CPA made it easy since she gave me no choice. We missed you at Left Coast Crime, especially on the Sex and Romance panel. It was a hoot!

  15. Penny on April 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Cindy, I love you book and if anybody feels inspired by your blog to spring clean I want to suggest they consider the 14th annual Retire Your Attire clothing drive to benefit WEAVE’s Suited for Success program From April 4 – 13 you can donate your gently used professional clothing to assist domestic violence victims in attaining economic independence. For places to Retire Your Attire go to: http://www.weaveinc.org/post/retire-your-attire
    Thanks for letting me use this opportunity to shout out for a good cause !

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Penny. THis blog is a perfect opportunity for a shout-out for a very worthy cause. Let’s put that spring cleaning to good use. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Sarah on April 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Actually, I did come across an ex-husband while spring cleaning. His ashes are on the top shelf of the closet in the spare bedroom. I put them there when he died 10 years ago and our only son, was in college. We had divorced 15 years earlier, but I couldn’t bear putting him in the basement as my present husband suggested. So I tucked him up on the top shelf, next to the extra bedding where he remains today.

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      Wow, Sarah, I was kind of kidding about the dead exes. This story really does take the cake, or perhaps the cheesehead if you’re so inclined. Thanks for making me giggle.

  17. Danna on April 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    My husband thinks spring cleaning means throwing MY stuff out. He may become my new ex! All kidding aside, I would love to clean my closet, a cabinet, my garage. Let’s make it a party! Cindy you’re at the top of my invite list! We can put the “cheesehead” hat in my husband’s closet…it will give him something to do! 🙂

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      A cleaning party. Sounds like fun. I’ll bring the wine when you’re all done:-) And maybe the cheesehead hat if you win. All former Midwesterners want to own one.

  18. Elaine Fagundes on April 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I was going to take your advice and do some spring cleaning, but then I was distracted by a piece of fuzz floating in a sun ray. (Isn’t floating fuzz a precursor to dust bunnies?)

    For what it’s worth, I think my kitty taught me to gaze at things that float through sun spots. Or maybe it was the fact that after all the rain and snow, the sun itself was the draw: I can’t be sure.

    I do know this: it’s supposed to snow here again tomorrow, so I’m going to postpone my cleaning, leave the bunnies to their business, and haul all of the umbrellas back into the shed.

    Ahhhhhh, the SHED, now THAT”S the place to look for treasures dead bodies!

    • Cindy on April 6, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Now that shed does sound like a great place to look for dead bodies …I mean treasure!

  19. Dana on April 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

    hee hee… I’ve been going through the same process, albeit SO much more slowly… and it seems every time I get rid of a bag of stuff, the remaining goodies multiply behind my back. It’s a lovely feeling, though, clearing out and making room… and walking down memory lane. I’ve never discovered any dead bodies, but I have encountered a few spiders (live ones) who were NOT happy that I disturbed their homes in various boxes…

    • Cindy on April 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Walking down memory lane is definitely the best part of spring cleaning, isn’t it, Dana? But those creepy crawly things that like to nestle in our treasures I could do without.

  20. Maddy on April 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Spring cleaning has to be compulsory in California because the quality of light is so pure, where as in England it’s so grey and dreary the dirt just blends in.

    My elderly neighbor mentioned finding clothes which had never been worn and that she donated and I couldn’t imagine ever being in such a position. Now fifteen years later I have a much greater appreciation of just how fast life can run away with you- you turn around and find a whole mountain of memories all ready for sifting.

    • Cindy on April 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      The best thing about “maturing” is that mountain of memories! Thanks for sharing, Maddy.

  21. Julie on April 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    The only time I clean out closets is when I move. You never know when you might need that white suit with 6 inch shoulder pads, or the chunky heeled number with

    the round toes. I believe in adding to the clutter and when room runs out, just move

    into a bigger house and start all over again! I’ll take the bird bath if you don’t want it. 😛

    • Cindy on April 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      Now I know whose closets to visit when I don’t have anything to wear! As far as the bird bath, it may end up in your backyard yet.

  22. Diana Orgain on April 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I just cleaned under the couch and was frightened by all the things the kids stuffed under it!

    • Cindy on April 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      And here you thought they were eating all of their vegetables! My cat also stuffs goodies under the couch. Blech.

  23. Sharie on April 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    After moving maybe 15 times in 39 years, we have routinely gone through our possesions. We still have way too much stuff…or I do, the husband reminds me. I do not consider my precious collections of wineglasses, ceramic & plush bunnies, Muffy Vanderbears, Nativities, and books to be excessive. They don’t even include all the Christmas decorations , the fabrics from when i used to quilt, and the rubber stamps and papers for my current scrapbooking. I don’t think I have ever really done spring cleaning. Why bother if we were probably going to move soon anyway? Our current house is supposed to be our “last” house. Once our dust bunnies mature into man-eating rabbits, maybe I’ll hire some one…..or let the spouse do it.

    • Cindy on April 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks, Sharie. I sort of like this concept about moving before those dust bunnies develop into life size jack rabbits. If your hubbie runs out of chores, feel free to send him my way:-)

  24. Kay on April 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    My spring cleaning is a little different: I remove the winter clothes, and replace with the summer clothes. Unfortunately, I did this too soon, and cast a jinx on us all! As you know, it snowed just a couple of days ago! I apologize for this! I also wash my wintered car when spring arrives…….but I probably don’t need to tell you I jinx the weather with that too!

    • Cindy on April 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      No more cleaning for you until summer. I’m glad we know who to blame for all the spring snow!

  25. Violet Yates on May 25, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Hi Cindy!

    I can totally emphasize with you. When I was in the process of sorting through all of my stored items prior to moving back to Hawaii, I spent countless hours going through an entire 8′ x 10′ room chock full of junk, photos from ten years, 10 boxes of books, 8 containers of college papers… The memories! They were wonderful, but added hours to my work. 🙂 Then of course, my 18 year old son ‘missed’ the dumpster and my old college paperwork wound up papering the block.
    I love your blogs… they always make me giggle. 😀

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