8. Clearing the stairs

Stella let me in and we sat down to discuss how her special event had gone.

She said: "It was a bit much for me and I am still very tired, but I did it. I did leave a bit early, but I did manage to speak to everyone I'd planned to"

I said:"Sounds like a success to me. What do you want to do today?"

"I want to do the stairs. My life is changing. It used to be that I would come down the stairs once a day. Now I find myself going up and down a lot and I'm trying to move things around. The loose stuff on the stairs is getting in the way and it is really irritating to look at. Having the front hall done has been good. This feels like the next step to opening the house up. I like the whole 'clustering thing'; putting like things together. Gradually, the clusters are finding homes.

"Among other things, we found two small mixed bags. Stella said:"Put those in the living room they can be our 'after lunch job'."

We usually work for 3 hours and then have lunch. The 'after lunch jobs' take about an hour. After we had cleared the loose bits, I suggested stacking some of the paper filled boxes more tidily.

"Hey, here's some magazines that we missed the first time around." We both laughed. In any big job, there are always things missed the first time around. It's also kind of relaxing to do those things for which the strategy has been set.

Stella and I started removing the magazines and empty envelopes; not serious sorting, just pitching the obvious junk. Before long we had two big bags of recycling, a black bin liner and all the remaining paper contained in boxes and neatly stacked. I did some hoovering which is our way of signally space has been reclaimed rather than being a thorough clean.

We were both excited by the stairwell. There were still piles of books, but as I said to Stella;

"I've seen interior design magazines with books piles on the treads in a very artful way"

"Oh, good" she replied, "I don't want to leave them there forever, but in the meantime, it looks okay. If someone comes to the door, I can open it knowing that they will see a normal hall and normal stairs"

"Oh, yes!"

"It's going to look even better when I get those pictures hung in the stairwell and that will mean that they won't be cluttering up the floor.

"As we left for lunch, Stella commented,

"My sister came by on Sunday to pick me up for a family do. Just having the hall done meant I could invite her in to use the toilet, if she wanted to for the first time in two years. Now she could actually go up the stairs"

When we got back from lunch, I looked around for the little bags we would set aside in the sitting room.

“I did them by myself, while you were finishing the tidying up," said Stella." And I've called a window washer".

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