But last night I had An Idea (these are always dangerous, altho sometimes in a good way). Today, I implemented. Not only are the minibag and backpack gone from the island, so is the plastic bin which corralled the pile of kids paperwork, the PECS binder that lived underneath it, the desktop sorter that lived between the two. Also, the Halloween candy which had taken over the Le Creuset bowl was transferred to a very nice metal and bamboo basket and then into the snack drawer, along with some other loose candy, and one of the blue ceramic bowls (not the garlic and ginger one) was emptied and sorted out.
Some things went into the trash. The plastic bin had served as a place for paperwork to age while we ignored it. I extracted some of the more attractive crafty things that come home from the preschool and T.'s first grade class and put them up on the mantel and taped them to the playset in the dining-room-currently-playroom. The rest of the aged paperwork went into recycling (except the phone lists, which joined the paper phone books in the drawer). All that is left on that 3 or 4 square feet of island counter top is an acrylic box which holds pens, styli, and a few paper clips. The backpack hangs on a peg in the entry. The minibag has joined the basket that is my portable processing box and now lives on or next to the hutch. The desktop sorter went to a bookshelf in the hutch. We're still planning on getting a drawer organizer, but it will now be almost entirely for R.'s use (which is good, he needs it and it will make getting the oatmeal out much easier).
R. is not tremendously excited; he is realistic, and expects something to colonize this corner of the world. I am all manic and happy and have high hopes that I can keep it clear. After all, there _used_ to be an unprocessed stack of mail living there and that has completely ceased to exist as a result of some changes I made in how I deal with incoming mail.
I'm also happy, because I've been able to dredge out of my past an old habit I had of decluttering/cleaning when on the phone with people. It's awesome. I know it has the potential to annoy whoever I am talking to, so I'll have to monitor how they feel about it, but my condo kitchen used to be pristine as a result of a lot of long phone calls. That'd be fantastic to get that back.
ETA: Yesterday, I went through the sideboard and unwrapped some things that have been wrapped since they moved across country, probably two years ago now (possibly longer). It turned out to be a relatively complete set of Global knives. This feels so insane (partly because there are _three_ sets of carving knife-and-fork -- one still in the box), even tho I remember how it happened and it wasn't really anyone's fault. (Let's just say: early bugs in online gift registries and then draw a curtain over that event.) We _think_ we've identified someone who might actually like to have them. Now to effect a transfer ...