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Quarantine pro tip: Use your time at home to tackle household projects you’ve been putting off.

Michael has had a long commute over the last decade and decided to move to a new office closer to home. His new office is smaller, so my husband brought his extra furniture home just ahead of the shelter-at-home order. The staircase to the old attic became a shelf for plants, and I could no longer get to my sewing room. Empty bookshelves, chairs and baskets of knickknacks were piled in our living room.

Now, staying at home, Michael thought he could find a place for all the extras, but only if we did extreme spring cleaning and rearranging first. I was deep in grading essays and left him to his own devices. The next thing I knew he was carrying stuff downstairs. He has his studio upstairs with big, sunny windows on three sides. It doubles as a cozy place to knit and watch movies in the evenings. But I have to say it has become a bit cluttered. Piles seem to congregate up there, and some of it we could get rid of, but not all. It mostly needs sorting, and maybe some dusting.

I like to tackle things slowly, making careful decisions about what to keep, what to donate, what to recycle and what to throw away. Michael has another method. I watched from my perch in the living room where I work on my laptop while he carried armloads of books down the stairs. These he piled on the floor in the corner of the dining room. In the evening, he called me upstairs to see what he had done, and I had to admit that the studio was newly welcoming, open and airy.

Over the next week, he added to the piles of furniture, knickknacks and books. We threaded our way through the path between the piles to get to the bathroom, the kitchen. I pointed out that I’d be happy to donate some of this stuff to my favorite thrift store, but who knows when it would be open again? Meanwhile, another project was calling. A few months back we had bought a new faucet for the kitchen sink and hadn’t had time to put it in. Michael decided that now was the perfect time to work on plumbing. “I’ll have your new faucet installed in a jiffy,” he said, before piling everything from the under-sink cupboard in another corner of the dining room. Of course, the sink needed to be removed so the countertop tile could be re-grouted. “You’ll have your new sink tomorrow,” said Michael, as I carried the dishes through the narrow alley in the living room to the bathroom to wash.

Ursula, the black dog, looks puzzled as she tries to make her way to her bed that is now between two chairs and the piano. But Cullen, the brown dog, just thumps himself down at my feet while I type in my recliner chair. Meanwhile, the dogs can’t go outside off the leash until the baby rabbits leave their nests that are hidden throughout the yard. I just want them to be big enough to have a fighting chance. Oh, and there’s the double-sided tape Michael put on the couch so the cat wouldn’t scratch it. Somehow, Cullen got his hock caught up in it, and I had to cut it out, which was harder than you think. The tape seemed to disappear in his long, feathered fur, and when I finally liberated it, it looked like some kind of giant, wooly caterpillar.

Next there was trouble with some drainpipes. “You’ll have your new sink tomorrow,” he promised. Three days of no water in the kitchen, and finally we can use one side of the sink (Michael still needs parts for the other side). It was a relief to do dishes, even if I had to put towels in the other side to catch drips from the drainer. And now he’s tackling the tiles on the counter surrounding the sink. He put the grout in a plastic bag and piped it between the tiles like frosting. We’re not to touch it for a day, not to lay anything on it for four days, and not to get it wet for a week. But it sure does look nice with the new sandstone-colored grout.

Meanwhile, we’re hanging in there, surrounded by clutter, but the place has potential. We look forward to the day when we can go about freely, shop at the thrift store, chase rabbits and casually wash dishes. But we won’t be able to have people over until we can put books on shelves, put the cleaning supplies back under the sink and take the tape off the sofa.

Rearrange Beauty; Reorganize Peace; Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at or via snail mail care of this newspaper.