This year, the wife decided to step up spring cleaning for Chinese New Year and started as early as 2 weeks ago.
I was given my first mission, to secure some boxes so that we could throw away things we don't need (or, more accurately, things she thinks I don't need).
To get the ball rolling, she cleared two boxes of old clothes and gave it away. I was most pleased because now I could see the back of the cupboard for the first time in years.
A few days later, she took delivery of some mysterious package in the mail.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Nothing, just some stuff I ordered online."
"Are those more clothes?"
"The prices at the blogshop very nice and cheap lor."
There was nothing I could say, really. Because the next day, my box of Threadless t-shirts arrived in the mail. Hey, I wear them every day in lieu of regular shirts for work, so it is perfectly normal to order 30 t-shirts at one go, ok?
The next thing she wanted to tackle was the kids' toys. We had two tall shelves of toys in plastic boxes in the living room. Every plastic box had to be brought down, emptied and the contents cleaned.
The maids had a set of batteries on standby to test what toy worked and what didn't. Tickle Me Elmo, I am afraid to announce, could not be tickled anymore. For days, the living room looked like a toy graveyard.
The pile of toys that worked and that the kids did not play any longer went into a box to be given away as well. My 4-year-old Joy was elated when she held up her Super Yo-yo and said, "Look Papa! I found my Yo-yo!"
"I didn't know you lost it. Why are you so careless with your toys eh?" I said.
"Look! It's Barbie!" pointing at the floor as she ran away, changing the subject.
Even the fish tank got a spring cleaning. My two fat and lazy catfish had their home cleaned thoroughly and new lights installed. The previous fluorescent lights were already dimming and we felt our pet fish deserved a well-lit home for the Lunar New Year. We wouldn't want them to lose face when they invited other fish over for beer, peanuts and some mahjong.
The final frontier was my study. The wife stared forlornly at the three boxes of computer parts dating back to the time when Macs had monochrome monitors and a PC had less memory than a current thumbdrive. There were also old computer game boxes and manuals to be thrown.
A reader, who saw a small sample of my computer museum on my blog, said, "Psst, mrbrown. Try to hide some of them in other parts of the house. Notice I said ‘some’. Must have something to throw out. Otherwise, if she does a spot check, you are in trouble."
To which my wife replied, "Great idea! But unfortunately mrbrown's wife is reading this too. :)"
Pecah my lobang lah.
Good thing my buddy Ryan, who collects old tech, saw my stuff and said he would take some of them off my hands. So an old Mac LC (the pizza box Mac from days of olde), random SCSI cables and a Mac floppy drive joined his collection.
Even the maids had to clear their things. They take after their employer in the Hoarder department, I suppose. Every time I thought I threw out something, I would find it reappearing in their room. They each had a big box that they would ship gifts home to the Philippines for a fixed fee.
That giant box tended to sit for a long time, until it was full enough to send home. I have contributed my share of stuff to these boxes, like camera bags, bicycle helmets and underused mountain bike tires. I have since resorted to asking them first before I threw something out.
In addition to cleaning out the home, the wife is also in charge of getting Chinese New Year decorations. She started doing this a few years ago, after a trip to Hong Kong. She found some nice 3D paper CNY decorations she liked and brought them home, and also gave some to my Dad.
Since then, both my parents' home and our home looks like a mini-Chinatown with all the red dangly things everywhere.
The decorations never last. When you have three young children with itchy fingers, dangly things have short lives. I suppose it saves me the trouble of taking the decorations down when the New Year is over.
The folding trolley is standing by, ready to cart the boxes to the rubbish dump (we try not to dump stuff at the lift landing for the cleaners to remove). I have a day or so to decide if I want to rescue my World of Warcraft manual and notes from the boxes.
Perhaps it is best to let it go. My wife may go Level 90 Mage on me if she finds out I put rubbish BACK on the shelves.
Have a blessed Lunar New Year, you all!