Friday, October 17, 2008

coping mechanisms

True confession: I'm fully aware that my compulsive need to clean closets stems from a deep-seeded desire to gain control over my life. When everything seems to be pitching wildly out of order, I pull apart a cupboard and carefully re-organize the contents. Once I've restored order to the chaos and found a few items to discard or relocate, I feel an enormous and disproportionate sense of accomplishment. And I can carry on the with rest of the mess that may be awaiting me elsewhere.

Well, someday when all the closets are completely organized (which may happen soon, judging from the events of the past few days), I've found a new control-freak activity to occupy me: cleaning silver.

It's the coolest science experiment ever. You line a pan with aluminum foil, pour boiling water into it, add a teaspoon or so of baking soda and salt. Then drop your silver into the mixture and watch the magic: a chemical reaction occurs that removes the tarnish from the silver and transfers it to the foil without removing any of the silver itself in the way traditional polishing does. So it's totally safe for delicate silver plating and doesn't harm the environment, either.

Last night I wanted to polish my favorite sterling earrings and ended up polishing the entire silverware drawer. Which wasn't very tarnished to begin with, since we use it every day. But I just couldn't stop; each piece instantly turned brilliant when I dropped it into the pot. An obsessive-compulsive dream come true.

Now I'm just wishing we had more silver in the house. Because I'm still waiting for Verizon to grant us internet access at the studio after more than six weeks. And UPS misplaced a very important package.

So I hope I don't run out of closets now that our silver is very shiny.


  1. thanks for the tip! i wish i were compulsive about cleaning out closets and cupboards.

  2. I so love your blog and think you are one of the coolest ladies out there. Now I think you're hilarious!! What a fun post. Boy, can I relate to you, and I'm about to go get out my silver and try it.

    peace, jennifer

  3. Anonymous7:29 PM

    I've been looking at my old rings for months now, thinking -- you know, I really should clean those so I can actually wear them. Thanks to you, I just did. Yay!

  4. Wow, Jennifer, thanks! And littlecumulus, isn't it amazing? Beats all the scrubbing with noxious chemicals that I used to do.

  5. Funny, I've been feeling the same way this week, and completely cleaned my desk at work yesterday. I always find myself obsessively straightening up when life gets out of control. Sewing something precise, like piecing a quilt, tends to have the same effect as well. Meanwhile, my cat is sitting just behind me and snoring contentedly ... oh, to be a feline!


  6. yep, gotta love the compulsion to control. My mom mocks me because I do things like organize everything in the closet and desk and take hours and then I am to tired to finish cleaning and de-cluttering like I was supposed to :)

  7. I have some silver I could send your way :) I will try your tip for sure.

  8. Crack! Up! I'm so glad to know this wonderful tip - I've always put off polishing my silver because, well... the effort of hand polishing.

    Are you kidding? 6 weeks without Internet access? How do you cope?

  9. Anonymous9:49 AM

    I love polishing silver, but I have to admit the science-project part of that makes me really keen to try it!

    I think there's something closed-organising in the air at the moment...

  10. I wish I had more silver around! I've been cleaning and organizing a bit this week too. Is it because of the fall season?

  11. I SO get it -- and will have me some polishin silver, uh hum... soon :)K