Sequestered neighbors turn to housework

| April 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

KAY BALUE uses her time in isolation to wash every window, inside and out.

There’s a joke going around the internet attesting that, by the end of COVID-19 isolation, we shall all emerge as either gourmet cooks or have a drinking problem. A third option might be the most relevant: we’ll all become COVID-cleaners. Not just the required sanitizing of every surface, every roll of toilet paper, every can of chicken broth we bring into our homes, but the creative attack of the organizer within us to help fill our suddenly empty days.

JOYCE DAVIDSON on a mission to remove posters papering her daughter’s old room.

Some residents focus on a single project, such as redoing a grown child’s former bedroom, as Joyce Davidson is attempting now that she’s in her Hancock Park home 24/7. “I’m retaking my daughter’s room!” she declares.

Armed with a staple remover, Davidson is slowly, painstakingly detaching each poster, ad, postcard, musical group publicity photo and magazine page that Melena had affixed to every available surface, including the ceiling. Can things ever be the same without that poster of the swimming goggles-wearing, super-hero costume-clad band, the Aquabats?



SUZANNE WILTON, resplendent in turquoise, with matching jewelry and pottery.

Others take a completely different approach to spring cleaning in the coronavirus age. Robin Jameson, who lives with her husband and 98 year-old mother, did most of her cleaning before COVID hit. Now, she’s using puppy power to finish the job. Her young Doberman pokes his nose into out-of-the-way places where lost socks and forgotten clothes tend to hide. Whenever he unearths something, Jameson assesses it. When he pulled out shoes the other day, she realized that “I haven’t worn these in a long time.” So they went into the give-away pile.

Kay Balue also had finished her yearly cleaning, and she’s been searching for other home projects to keep her busy. “I washed all the windows inside and out and then it rained. I’ll have to do it again.” There’s one task she continues to put off. “I haven’t done the cobwebbing and sweeping of the basement,” she admits. “Eventually, when I get desperate for something to do, I will.”


KATHLEEN LOSEY polished silver and repaired cashmere while practicing Safe at Home.

Other COVID-captives take a more rigorous approach. Windsor Blvd. resident Suzanne Wilton is an avid jewelry lover. She organized her turquoise pieces in fishing tackle boxes and then tackled her home’s period-perfect pottery collections. Wilton explains that her 1915 Craftsman “was moved from Wilshire Blvd. to its current location in the 1920s when Bullocks Wilshire was built on its former site.” She continues, “Being an architect, I was very interested in having furniture and decorations appropriate to the era of our home.” She organized her Frankoma Pottery, a stunning celadon- and turquoise-tinted collection from Oklahoma ceramicist John Frank.

Wilton also arranged her anthropomorphic pottery, noting, “This was fun to put together because there are so many cheerful faces gathered together. … I think that my grandkids will enjoy it when they are able to come and visit again.”

The ever-together Geraldine Hurley has raised the bar on organization during this time. “I reorganized all my closets, all my dresser drawers. I even changed all the batteries in my clocks and fire alarms.” She stocks up on batteries all year long and stores them in her freezer, so she’s always ready to keep things ticking. It’s daunting to face isolation and household tasks all alone, as Hurley explains, “My husband’s been dead for five years and I think, ‘Where are you when I need you?’”

GERALDINE HURLEY’S closet organization includes labeling shoe boxes with photos of her footwear inside.

But she presses on. “I just reorganized my blouses and skirts. When you’re working — and I was working part time — you organize the closet differently from when you aren’t working.” Since she only buys clothes in a particular color scheme so that everything matches everything else, Hurley doesn’t arrange her clothes by color. “I do them in fabric order. Cottons together. Silk blouses together. What I consider dressy blouses together. I divide my tennis clothes from my yoga clothes.” She’s ruthless when assessing her clothing, tossing anything she hasn’t worn in a year — except shoes. “I am a real shoe horse,” she admits. Hurley keeps footwear dustfree by storing them in their boxes, then she takes a photo of each and affixes it to the appropriate shoe box for ease of identification.


Things are gleaming over in Kathleen Losey’s house. “I’ve just polished a bunch of silver!” she exclaims. “Some silver trays. A lot of silver picture frames.” The Windsor Square resident also decided to take stock of her two-dozen cashmere sweaters. “I took them all out. I mended them — lots of moth holes. I washed them all by hand, and steamed them.” Losey turned to eBay to help clean out extraneous items from her closet. “I sold a really great 1940s dress.”


MELYNDA BISSMEYER surrounded by boxes and boxes of her mother’s Christmas decorations.

eBay is also helping in the Miracle Mile, where Melynda Bissmeyer is cataloguing things she no longer wants and putting them up on different online sales forums. “I collected a bunch of seat belt purses over the years and I’ve sold a ton of them. I sold an octopus candelabra for $60!”

Bissmeyer thinks people are seeking activities and things that bring them comfort. After all, she reminds us, “In WWII, lipstick sales went through the roof.” Her mom recently settled in Mid-Wilshire, having left a huge home in Kentucky, and Bissmeyer is helping sort through storage boxes in her garage. “She [her mom] has 60 boxes of Christmas decorations, most for outside,” Bissmeyer recounts. “And I’m not sure she’s even allowed to put things up outside where she lives now.” For both of them, she follows the rule of three, dividing possessions into “Definitely Keep,” “Sell” and “Toss.” Bissmeyer summarizes the zeitgeist of the times, “A trend I’ve noticed amongst people is we’re taking stock of what we truly need and what we don’t. There are a few things that really bring us joy. … During this time you need those little things in life that help you de-stress. Quick things that spark joy.”


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Category: Real Estate

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