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

People keep asking me when I’m going to write another book, and I finally have an answer for them: when I stop being so house proud.

I recently read an article telling authors not to get distracted by housework, which never used to be a problem for me. I didn’t mind clutter. mostly because I was too involved in other things to pay attention to it. I didn’t mind a little dust or even a lot of dust — I figured it was better sitting on the top of tables and such rather than floating in the air.

But now, I like seeing my place clean. I like the clutter-free rooms and the dustless furniture and floors. It tickles me to get up in the morning and see my charming living room.

It even pleases me to mop the floors and dust the furniture. I especially like being able to dust the ceiling fans. (The last place I lived the ceiling fans were so caked with greasy dust that I was never able to get them clean.)

Surprisingly (surprisingly to me, that is), all this housework doesn’t feel like work. It feels like playing house.

Maybe if I’d owned a house when I was younger it wouldn’t be such a joy taking care of this place. I certainly wouldn’t have had the same feeling of connection, and I know I would have worried all the time about things falling apart. (Entropy seems to loom large in my life.) For now, though, it’s been fun doing small repairs around the house, most recently rescreening the windows. (I have vinyl windows, and it’s easy, though time consuming, to replace the old screen fabric with new.)

It’s not just physical time I spent on the house but mental time, time I would normally have used for writing (or more probably, thinking about writing). I think about where I want the fence to go, where to plant the multitude of bulbs I ordered, when to order the small trees I want and where to put them. I think about a container garden I would like to put in a small triangular space between the house and the back-door railing.

Ah, so many things to think about!

Someday, perhaps, I won’t be so enamored of all this house care, and will free up my mind for writing.

Meantime, I’m proud to be house proud.


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.