Jean Long Manteufel

Get up! Get outta here! Gone!”

Bob Uecker has a great line. Let’s borrow it to clean out a major league opponent – the “Basement.” That word brings shivers to even the most stronghearted folks.

Don’t balk. You can go the distance. Not only do we want to win this game; we will sweep the series.

Let’s break it down into parts and attack the weaknesses in “Basement.” The batting order is Family Room, Storage Room and, finally, Workroom. You are the pitcher.

Surely, you might admit that 80 percent of the items in “Basement” haven’t been used in 10 years. Or is that 20 years? It’s not part of your life anymore.

Our strategy is to use blue painter’s tape to tag all the things that we want out, be ruthless in our tagging, and then go to the bull pen to get it gone (kids, grandkids, hire someone).

Leading off is Family Room. That one might be the shortest stop. For the most part, it’s stuff that you no longer use, but you avoided dealing with it. Years ago, it was all on the main floor, and then you found furniture that fit your house better. Rather than cut the stuff, you farmed it out downstairs to keep it, because you “paid good money for it.” Recycle those encyclopedias – strike one. That recliner that broke but was still usable, pitch it. Strike two. Press board end tables? Blue tag. Strike three – they’re out!

On-deck is Storage Room. “Basement” knows you’ll have a hard time because you have a long history with this stuff. What about all of that camping gear? You say, “Back in the day, I enjoyed hunting with my brother.” “Basement” hits a zinger, reminding you that “it is full of a lot of memories.” Don’t get run down. If you don’t go camping anymore, tag those outdoor supplies. The kids and grandkids might love them. So might the Scouts. It is time to let someone else create new memories with that stuff. Your second room is out.

You give your dad’s duck call an intentional walk. You want to hold onto that memory.

Your final at bat is Workroom. Here is your real nemesis. You look it in the eye. You try to pitch the table saw. “Foul ball,” your brain screams.  Strike one. You used to make all kinds of things with it, but you haven’t touched it for a long time. Then you remember that your grandson likes to build things, so you summon extra strength from within, and mark it to go. Strike two.

You are getting tired. Put on your rally cap. You can do this!

You eye up the jars of screws, nuts and bolts. “Someday, I might need them,” you say. You need an assist, so you call up Habitat Restore. “Sure, we’ll be happy to pick up the tools you don’t use anymore,” they tell you. Relief.  Strike three, they’re out!

Join the exclusive 40-40 Club. That’s 40 things donated and 40 things gifted. Reward yourself. Go watch some baseball!

By Jean Long Manteufel

Sponsored by Willow Valley Communities

If you’re interested in reading more stories by Jean Long Manteufel, consider purchasing her book.

Jean Long Manteufel, senior move manager and CEO of Long’s Senior Transitions in Appleton, WI writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging.   She can be reached at

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