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In Praise of Clutter....

There comes a time when clutter can be very useful. Case in point, when I needed a place to rest my mouse on as I was about to write this post from the questionable comfort of my new treadmill, I didn't have to look any further than the top of my dresser, which, thankfully, is not visible in this picture.

Suffice it to say that it sits just two feet to my left as I walk. And, yes, I am walking at 1.5 mph at this very moment. I'm more comfortable walking a bit faster than that, but my keyboarding accuracy diminishes exponentially with each tenth of a mph increase in speed. Thus, I am limited.

To begin the saga of the treadmill, I decided that having one close by when I needed a break from the computer would be a good thing. My weight and blood sugar have been steadily climbing since I began spending so much time at my desk, and after reading Robin's post about her "walking desk" I decided that having a treadmill would be a good thing. The only problem was lack of space.

After looking at Dick's huge monsters (and, yes, that pun was intended!) I had about given up finding one that would take up about as much area as the rocking chair that used to sit at the foot of my bed next to the cedar chest. But my trusty DH and websurfer extraordinaire finally found one for me. We ordered it from Amazon in November and after a few false starts, it was finally delivered by a nice young fellow who smelled amazingly good. I had to meet him at the end of the driveway with my truck since he was driving a semi which wouldn't easily pass down the lane to my house, so I got to ride with him in my truck and get a really GOOD whiff of him. But I digress. . .

I had to work for the next few days, so it was later that weekend before we got my new toy out of the box, only to discover that it didn't work. At least, not the way it was supposed to. There was no such thing as a steady pace, and it would speed up and slow down in a manner destined to make me fall on my butt eventually. Aside from that, the heart rate monitor would read 50-70 whether my finger was on it or not. Something had to be done!

The service department was contacted, and a technician finally returned my call. He diagnosed the problem by having me hold the phone near the motor while it was running. He then shipped us the needed parts and the real trouble began: getting a repairman who covers all of southern Indiana to show up at my house on a day that worked for both of us.

He originally planned to come on Dec 12th, but the day came and went without him. Then Christmas arrived and my DH gave me this nifty shelf for my computer, plus a handy gadget to hold a book open, should I ever decide to read a book while I was exercising. I had new CD's to put on my MP3 player (the treadmill has speakers!) so that I would have music to walk by, but still, I had to wait.

We rescheduled him for the 29th, but he got pneumonia instead.

Eventually his health improved and he came on January 9th while I was at my INRWA meeting. He came with two other guys, replaced the circuit board in about fifteen minutes, and, voila, it worked! Then I checked the previously unopened box of parts; the technician had sent every possible electrical component on the entire assembly, including another motor, which was good, because though the repairman had assured us that the heart monitor worked, it didn't. My DH and I wound up replacing the sensor, which, unfortunately, only works when you are standing still.

But now I'm walking and writing and am back to the subject of clutter. I have now discovered a use for all of those boxes of old printed manuscripts. Look closely at the stack to the right. Yep, you got it; all filled with original Cheryl Brooks manuscripts, except for the spare hairdryer on top. So, to all of you writers out there, the moral of the blog is this:

Never throw away an old manuscript. You never know when you might need a shelf for your mouse!


  1. Cheryl

    Loved the post and picture I am glad I am not the only person who finds use for clutter LOL.
    I take after my Mum and am always sure there will be a use for the things I have. Keep up the exercise Cheryl good on you if only I was more enthisiastic

    Have Fun

  2. Hmm, I remember once hearing how an author received her mss back--rejected two years later, that had the imprint of a chair leg on it. Apparently, it served to keep a chair from wobbling for a couple of years. Maybe they finally got a replacement (mss or chair, not sure which!)...glad you found a use for it, Cheryl!

  3. I didn't used to be so cluttered, Helen. My pack rat DH has rubbed off on me!

    LOL, Terry!
    Hey, at least it's me using it and not someone else!

  4. Great post. You inspire me to get out and walk. I'm not one for the treadmill. But if I had one with all the extras yours has, I might try again. And clutter is a handy thing. Beside, if you're like me, I throw something away - next week I find I need it for something. Happy walking.

  5. Hey Cheryl, great post! I too am a pack rat and I hate it. I did to do a huge purge in my home as we have literally run out of space. I'm interested in the gadget you mentioned that allows you to read a book. I've tried walking and reading on the treadmill and it's just too awkward. But I do need to get back on that thing and if I can read and walk, well, I might find the motivation. :)

  6. Cheryl, You're a scream. I have organized clutter and I that's fine by me. I can't understand how anyone can walk and read or type at the same time on a treadmill. I can't do it. My arms have to be moving back and forth at my side. If I'm not looking straight ahead. I'm dizzy and on my face.
    You know those things you find at a Ikea called storage boxes. You put the manuscripts in the boxes with labels. And they also sell shelves too. You'd be surprised how much stuff you can put in those boxes and then you put them on the shelves. Slick as can be. LOL!!!

  7. 1. Cheryl you are amazing, I do believe you could write about anything and make it interesting!

    2. I'm with Helen, my Mom was a pack rat, now so am I. I just try to keep it as organized as

    3. Donna, ikea, storage boxes, it's easier said than done.

    4. Lisa, you go girl! walking is a great exercise and it can be fun too. I know I need to do more of it.

    5. Tread mills and ipods with audio, can't read and walk at the same time....try an audio book. I listened knitted and embroidered this past December. It's pretty neat listening...;)

    I love reading with you guys!

  8. ROFL! Only YOU, Cheryl, would be sniffing the delivery guy and then admitting to it. :-)

    I personally live by the motto: Immaculate housekeepers lead boring lives.

    So that means I have one of the most EXCITING lives ever! HA!

    who wouldn't get near a treadmill

  9. Words to live by, Cheryl.I'll remember the tip about how to employ old manuscripts as a functional design element.

    On the subject of setting up a writing space, last night on HGTV they designed a "writing retreat" for a romance writer. My Rube Goldberg assemblage of adjustable-height tables, oddly placed lamps and desks, with wires snaking everywhere, could use an overhaul, so I watched it hoping to get ideas.

    For starters, the designers gave their room a crystal chandelier and a fireplace! Both were needed for ambience because the writer wrote (and I quote) "RoMaaaaannnncce." Funny, it had never occurred to me I needed either one.

    What they didn't give the writer was storage space, power outlets, a keyboard tray, a lighted work area, or a chair that wasn't a chiropractor visit waiting to happen. They certainly didn't supply a treadmill or a way to write while using it.

    I'm with you Cheryl. Sometimes clutter is good..

  10. LOL at your use for old manuscripts, Cheryl. Mine went through the shredder.

    I tend to be ruthless every so often and clean out like crazy. Trouble is, the next time I ask myself "why did I keep this?"

  11. Happens every time I decide to clean things out, Mason, and sometimes I find a use for it right then, which means that nothing EVER gets thrown away!

  12. Lisa,
    I'll email you with the details of the book holder. It's a neat little gadget.

    LOL, Donna! I don't have room in my house for more shelves. I wish I did!

    Audio books are a good idea, Jessica. I have a friend who put Slave on audio before it was published. It was read with a British accent, and you should have heard some of the strange pronunciations that program gave to the "alien" words! It was hilarious!

    Right on, AC! If my house is any indication, my life is certainly not boring!
    Who sniffs at all men who come in range of her nose...

  13. A crystal chandelier and a fireplace????? Do they think we're rich? I'm with you on the practical aspects, MM, and electrical outlets at eye level would be perfect--a least a dozen of them--and a good chair! Mine is killing me!

    LOL! It takes me at least ten years to decide that I don't need something, Linda. I really need to speed that up!

  14. I am not a clutter person, but my husband is. Drives me crazy!

  15. Cheryl, is there any way to get a copy of Slave gone British??? I would love a copy and might even scrape enough pennies to pay for a copy...maybe...;)

  16. yet another reason not to clean.

    That works for me! :)

    Glad you finally got it working!

  17. LOL, Cheryl! I would have never guessed such a useage of manuscript boxes. It proves ya just never know. :}

  18. Creative mess is always better than tidy idleness!!!

    I have a sign on my refrigerator that says "MARTHA STEWART DOESN'T LIVE HERE" and that has to compete with room along with the ones that say "Visualize whirreled peas" and "Stop the violins"---and "Eat and drink, and be full and drunk" There are so many things that are important for each of us to do that do NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HOUSEWORK!

    I'm lucky--my sister came out to visit me, since we are both dealing with our Mom's decline into Hospice---and Karen deals best with stress by CLEANING---so she got me going cleaning out the stuff that clogged my kitchen, and I now have a functional, clean kitchen for the first time in years!!

    Karen was amazing--I'm hauling loads of stuff out of here, to Am Vets and Goodwill--and to the local churches that have some sort of Food Bank thing going on---it's actually HARD to find a place to donate food!! They just want money---so like ost 'charities'...

  19. I wasn't a clutter person originally, Estella. I had to join the clutter club or lose what was left of my mind when I married a pack rat and gave birth to two more of them.

    I'm not sure there are any copies of Slave done that way, Jessica, it was a program my friend had that would turn anything into an audio file and I'm pretty sure I don't have a copy, myself. This was the original book called The Rescue, which was altered a bit to become Slave. I'll check on that and see what I can come up with for you.

  20. Hi Judi,
    I haven't DEEP cleaned my house in twenty years. You just never know what you'll find around here. We remodeled the bathroom a while back, and I got rid of a lot of stuff there, but the other rooms are untouched. Among other things, my husband still has a file cabinet drawer filled with notes from when he was in engineering school a VERY long time ago. We need a dumpster!

    At least they're serving SOME purpose, Kathryn, even if they aren't earning royalties!

    I think for my house to be tidy, we'd simply have to move out. Congrats on your "new" kitchen!

  21. Cheryl~

    I'm so glad you got yourself a tread-desk too! I'm excited to start my next book so I can see how many miles it takes to walk through a book. Unfortunately, I spent most of this last book writing in Starbucks while Twinkle toes danced. This next one, well, I'll be walking my way through it.


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