Righteous Exhaustion

With all the work I’ve been doing to landscape my yard, as well as tracking in dirt into the house via my shoes (even though I leave them at the door, the dirt seems to spread throughout the house), I’d pretty much given up housework as a lost cause. Well, today, that cause ceased to be lost and instead became found. And ai yai yai, what a task!

I hadn’t actually planned to clean the house, but I have been in the habit of doing something physical in the mornings. It was too cold to go outside and sitting down to read so early in the day smacked of wanton idleness, so I decided to get rid of the worst of the dust. Well, one thing led to another, and two hours later, I was still working.

This is a small house, and I have various modern cleaning tools at my disposal, so it shouldn’t have taken me very long, but the place needed a thorough cleaning. Apparently, I stopped seeing the dust on the flat surfaces and building up in the corners. Or more to the point, I didn’t want to see because there was nothing I could do (or wanted to do) about it since I was exhausted from my outside activities.

And now I’m exhausted from inside activities.

To be honest, I think all the digging and planting I’ve been doing were easier than cleaning house. Admittedly, everything is brighter now without dust dulling floors and furniture, but still, it was hard work. Now that most of the outside chores are done — only watering my newly sodded lawn and eventually sowing wildflower seeds remain — I should be able to go back to playing house more frequently rather than working at it as I did today.

Wait . . . I just thought of another outside chore I will have to begin doing as soon as the leaves on the neighbors’ trees are gone — blowing leaves off the ornamental rock around my house and garage. I’m not real anxious to attack that job because I have a feeling not all the leaves will blow off since they didn’t on a trial run, but all I can do is the best I (and my tools) can do. The leaf blower blows hard, so that’s not the problem. In fact, on the high setting, it’s enough to blow the rocks around, but some twigs and leaves still remain.

But that’s not a problem for today. Today I just want to bask in righteous exhaustion and the thought of a job well done.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

To Shirk or Not to Shirk

I was on my way out the door to take my car in to get the brakes fixed when I got a call from the mechanic cancelling the appointment. Even though he’d ordered the part in plenty of time, it turns out the company he ordered it from, which generally has next day service, had to special order it. So it won’t get here for a few more days. That’s the joy of owning a classic car! Luckily, I can still drive. The brakes work fine, but the warning light keeps coming on, so I never drive anywhere I would need to slam on the brakes in an emergency. Mostly I do what I’ve done for the past year and a half — drive the car slowly through town then head out on the four-lane highway until the end of the divided highway, then I come back and do whatever errands I need to do.

Because I can still drive, it’s not that big of a deal that he cancelled, but it did leave me feeling a bit lost as often happens when plans go awry. So I decided to clean house. There’s been a musty smell in here lately, though I’m not sure where it comes from — perhaps the dust I drag in from outside on my apparel, or maybe because I have to sleep with the windows closed due to the continual bad air quality alerts, or possibly because of the stale smoke blowing in from the fires on the west coast. I’ve let the dust build up more than I like lately since I’ve been spending so much time on my garden, and I thought this was the perfect time to get everything cleaned up.

Now the house smells like Murphy’s Oil and furniture polish. (I add the furniture oil to the diluted Murphy’s oil in the hope that it will help hydrate my 93-year-old unfinished wood floors, and so far it seems to work.)

Then I had to go check on the house I’m looking after for absent friends and take photos of some work that’s being done. And on the way back I picked up a few groceries.

I still have a few more things to do today (payback for yesterday, where I did nothing but lounge around and read), including going to work. My next planless day won’t come until the weekend, but that’s okay. It will be even more enjoyable since all my chores should be done and I won’t have any reason to feel guilty for being indolent. To be honest, I don’t feel guilty even if I do have reason to feel guilty — after all, there’s no fun in shirking one’s duties if there are no duties to shirk.

On the other hand, as I discovered today after all my work, there is fun — or at least a feeling of smugness — in not having shirked the day’s duties.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

A Morning in the Sunshine

I pulled more weeds today and I discovered that the problem with weeds is not so much that they grow back, but that it’s a never-ending job. All I was going to do was pull the most unsightly. I figured that once I did that, the others wouldn’t look so bad. Well, that’s not the case. I cleared away a large patch of weeds, then stretched and looked around, thinking to congratulate myself for a job well done, but the place looked just as bad as before I started to work. Apparently, once the highest weeds are gone, the second highest, which seemed rather benign, now stand out, so the yard looks like I never touched it.

Isn’t that always the way? You think the house is clean, so you decide just to pick up the worst of the clutter. Then, with the clutter gone, you notice dust, so you have to dust the furniture and fixtures. Then, with the dust gone, you notice that the floors look a bit dingy in comparison. So then you have to clean the floors. Next thing you know, a job you thought would take a few minutes has taken all day. Even worse, you now notice every speck of dust, so you spend all your time from then on, spot cleaning because although you know your house is clean, you are so focused on the dust motes that you can’t see the truth.

That seems like a parable more suited to some mystical or psychological or sociological problem rather than weeds, but I’m so exhausted from all the time outside that I don’t feel up to finding the wisdom in this blog post. It’s enough for today that I spent time in my yard.

And I saw a parade. Today was supposed to be the annual town festival with booths, entertainment, and a parade, but it had to be canceled because from what I understand, a lot of kids in the high school tested positive for The Bob. Someone decided enough was enough and so privately sponsored the parade, which I think is cool, sort of a celebration and a protest all in one. There weren’t many entries, and most of those were police cars, pickup trucks, and farm vehicles. Not many people watched either, but it’s the effort that counts.

So, some weeds gone, a parade, and a morning in the sunshine. Sounds like a good day to me!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

House Proud and Proud of It

I used to be the sort of person who would clean well before company came and do a deep clean when I moved, but the rest of the time I lived in . . . not squalor, but not perfect cleanliness, either. Somewhere along the line, this struck me as wrong, and now I’ve reversed the trend.

A friend and her sister recently came to visit, and I cleaned house, but nothing extreme — mostly just dusted and dry mopped. I keep the house clean anyway, so there wasn’t much to do besides normal maintenance. Besides, I knew they would be walking around in shoes, so I saw no reason to wet mop the floors.

After they left, however, I cleaned. Really cleaned. Disinfected the bathroom, scrubbed the kitchen, washed doorknobs, dusted, dry mopped and wet mopped the floors, washed all the bedding, including the comforter I used for their bedspread. This cleaning bout wasn’t prompted by the current viral situation because obviously, if there was a problem, it had already been put into effect. It was more about reclaiming my space.

Because the garage is not built and the basement work not finished, I still have things stored in my second bedroom and my back room. And the second bedroom, which I use for an office, is generally cluttered with books and notes and various writing supplies, but otherwise, the house is guest-ready. There has never been a time since I moved here when I felt embarrassed to have drop-in visitors, though that had often been the case in my younger years.

I especially never wanted anyone to see my bedroom. Clutter was the norm and making my bed a futile gesture since I more or less lived in the bedroom. It was the most comfortable place for reading and pre-computer writing, but now it is simply that — a bedroom. A place for sleeping. (Which is why I have a daybed in my office — the life-long habit of reading in bed is strong and unbreakable.)

When did I get to be such a neatnik? I don’t know — but it pleases me to wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen and living room. It pleases me to see a lovely bedroom with the bed made and any clutter kept out of sight. (The things I might need at night, such as lip balm, flashlight, tissues or lotions, I keep in a basket to make them easily removed from the bedside table.)

I’ve never been particularly house proud (never owned a house to be house proud about), but now I am. And I’m proud of it.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.