Kristin Emery is a meteorologist at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, an O-R columnist, and writer for Total Health magazine and other publications. Kristin is a Washington native and a graduate of Washington High School and West Virginia University.

Have you been busy cleaning out closets and reorganizing your stuff? It seems like one byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic is that people found themselves with plenty of time on their hands, stuck at home either not able to work or not able to go anywhere. I’m reading and hearing about everyone going through their closets with a renewed energy, and it’s always wonderful to donate goods or find someone who either wants or needs things you don’t anymore.

I’ve been going through the process of downsizing and reorganizing for the past eight years. When I moved home to Pennsylvania from Ohio, I got rid of everything I thought I didn’t want or need. Once I was here, I jettisoned more stuff. Then I helped my parents go through their stuff and every closet was completely organized. Now that my parents are gone, I’ve had to downsize even more and that led me to some redecorating projects both inside and outdoors.

Nearly every project is finally complete and everything is in its place. I thought long and hard about keeping my mom’s piano that she played so beautifully and used to teach lessons for years. I used to play when I was young but not very well. Once I realized that I would not actually ever try to play again, I was OK with finding the piano a new home. A very nice professor from Pitt who’s taking lessons again in his adulthood wound up buying it and even hired professional movers. My mom would be happy that it’s being played again.

After the piano movers left, I started tackling my dad’s workshop in the garage. This may take a while. He was a shop teacher/handyman/woodworker, and I have no idea what some of the stuff down there even is. What I did know is that the shelves full of old paint, varnish, brake fluid and other hazardous household chemicals needed to be dealt with. Luckily, the Pennsylvania Resources Council held a household chemical collection nearby last week so I loaded up my trunk and arrived early. For only a $20 fee, the PRC volunteers took all of the old cans and bottles of stuff off my hands to dispose of properly.

Spurred on by that, my next goal was to get rid of the unused cinder blocks stored in the shed. I moved half of them to the curb with a “free” sign and waited and hoped. A few mornings later, I woke up and looked out the window to see that the cinder block fairy had visited my driveway and taken away all of them. Someone else picked up the old card table I put by the curb, and my neighbor took an old garden hoe. That old saying really is true: One man’s (or woman’s) trash truly is someone else’s treasure!

Kristin Emery can be reached at

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