Small Joys

A couple of days ago, I pulled out all the boxes and such to pack away my Christmas decorations. I’d gradually been putting things away, but suddenly today, I could not stand the disarray any longer and set to with a vengeance. Now my living room is clean and put back the way it was.

And it makes me feel good.

This need for no clutter is a new one for me. I never minded a mess, mostly because I lived in my head. I’d get involved in doing things and simply not notice my surroundings. But I have become something of a neatnik. The first thing every morning, I have to make my bed. The last thing before bed, I have to make sure the kitchen is clean and the counters empty. Except for the past couple of days with the Christmas clutter, the living room was always neat and company ready. It’s unnecessary from the company aspect, of course, because with The Bob, people seldom stop by, but still, it’s necessary for me.

The only room with a bit of clutter is my office. Papers tend to pile up on my desk, and because I am always doing something in that room, I tend not to let it bother me.

It does make me wonder, though, where this tendency toward non-clutter, neatness, and cleanliness comes from. Maybe being a house-proud home-owner (and proud of it!). Maybe having plenty of room — I’ve never had so many rooms, plus enough storage to keep temporarily unneeded items out of sight. Or maybe it’s habit from so many years of living in other people’s houses. Or maybe it’s the nearing of that “elderly” birthday. It’s easier to keep track of my errant thoughts when everything around me is in place.

Whatever the reason, I do find it amusing that I’ve turned into someone I never thought to be. This tendency toward neatness is convenient, that’s for sure! I don’t need to panic if/when the doorbell rings. When I was young, I’d have to peak out to see who was there, and then depending on the visitor, scurry around and scoop up my stray belongings. I think I was neat enough when Jeff and I were together, but since we were in business for ourselves, the storage tended to creep beyond the designated room.

But what once was is no longer important. Today, I put away the Christmas stuff and cleaned the living room.

Such a small thing, but a true joy!


“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

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.