in the annals of psychology, i’m not sure where this would be filed: ordering one’s house as sure cure for inner re-arranging, pacifying, lulling into seasonal harmony.
humming while you work, another way to put it.
what’s on the docket today is no mere flickering of dust rag, no mere spewing this place’s dust over to that locale.
no, today is deep and pure and utterly satisfying.
i’ve yanked itty blue bottles off the window sills, hauled window cushions clear of the vast and dreamy looking-posts that are my window seats, where i’m nearly nestled in the boughs of trees, looking out and down on all that stirs in the lane and yards beyond.
yes, i’ve cleared the way for that once-every-18-months ritual (a saner soul might do it with more regularity, but oh, life got in the way): the washing of every blessed pane of glass in this old light-filled house.
but why stop there when the garden just beyond is calling, too. when the shaggy, floppy stems of summer’s-glory-gone now beg for sharp-edged readjustment. when weary stems can no longer hold up their end of the equation, and beg to be cut to the crown, where they can assume the winter’s lotus wrap and settle into slumber.
it’s inside-outside cleanse and purge today. i’ve been at it all morning, my hands worn raw already.
oh, but my soul is bright and shining. humming, too, because a cleanse is all a girl needs at the end of a long hard summer, at the end of a string of weeks that make your wiry hairs stand on end.
i’ve spent my life claiming to be mostly irish, but fact is i am half german. latent german, indeed. except for this one rare sprout of me, where it all comes spewing forth. and i can clean against the best of ‘em, clean my heartache away, sweep away my worries, scrub my everlasting fears.
oh, i’ve been caught out front, with broom in hand, sweeping off my bluestone stoop like some weathered, babushka-wrapped eastern-european hausfrau. i once (okay, maybe twice or thrice) forgot to eat the whole day long because i’d gotten caught up in the hurricane of cleaning that is a clean-freak set loose on a day without distraction. at night that night i got all woozy, felt my heart thump-thump in a way that made me think my dying act might be squeezing out the squeegee mop.
a friend of mine, one i work with, just last week watched her husband die. and she tells me that she cannot keep from cleaning. has been up half the night all week long, with toothbrush to the grout, trying to rid her house of every last speck of muck and gunk.
the famous family tale, told for years now, is that when my husband went off to college, his father, bereft and adrift, took to endless cleaning of the garage. when he’d rinsed the garbage cans for the umpteenth day in a row, someone who loved him finally pulled him aside, and suggested he might find his solace elsewhere.
someone here had better lock the garbage cans away, for we’re due for a repeat performance by the next generation–that very son who next year will be the bereft father who’s left his firstborn off at college.
i only wish that every friday could be my day-long deep-clean-the-house day. oh, i get spurts and chunks. string my week with short blasts of vacuuming, sponging down the counters. why, even emptying the dishwasher has its medicinal gratifications.
but for the nooks and crannies of the soul there is no such balm as a dawn-till-dusk, sun-soaked, crisp autumn day awash with buckets of soapy water, and piles of garden clippings to haul to the compost bin.
there are rare few corners of our existence that we can polish to a shine, rid of that which mucks it up. and so, to the cleaning rag and the garden clippers, we must bow in fervent gratitude.
amen amen. there’s much left to be done here today, and so this quick meander. still adjusting to this itty bitty screen, now carried to the kitchen table, where i watch the windows glisten, where i sense the garden’s lifted from its end-of-season shearing. it’s been quite a week or three on the workfront, none of it easy to swallow. and so i come back to here, to the table, where it all keeps ticking along.
next week, a serious treat here at the table. i’ll be sitting down to coffee with the barefoot contessa—be still my heart, and here i’ll uncork the back story, and let you in on all the secrets of what it’s like to share a table with the contessa herself.
till then, anyone else find pure emotional repair and contentment in the cleaning bucket, and the garden clippers?
I am cleaning house too today, a lovely blustery sunny day. When 15 yr. old son asked early this morn if he could bring his friends home after practice, of course I said “Yes”! One can’t say no in these instances. So I’ve spent the day cleaning, (as if a 15 yr. old boys will notice?) instead of filling out job applications due today. Oh well, it’s the best trade-off. And many, many of us enjoy the satisfaction of a cleaned room and garden.
i can think of little that i love as much as a house filled with my boys’ friends. it is pure heaven to me. close as i will come to the ginormous family i once dreamed of. and there is something so satisfying about feeding em, being delightful with ’em and then waving goodbye from the front stoop! the house always feel so silent and sane once the madness has headed back out the door, but while it’s here i love. and yes, are we nuts to clean for 15-year-old boys?????? as i type there is a chili party unfolding in front of some football game in the other room. i am trying not to worry about chili splatters all over the red-and-WHITE checked armchair. oh well. i love the shrieks of joy…..and listening in on all the boytalk. even if one of the boys is my 50-something-year-old mate…
Cleaning, clipping, organizing, it’s all good for the soul. Not sure why there’s that connection, but a shiny house and clean environmrnt always makes me calmer. Maybe that is what your friend was trying to find, BAM, some calm in her storm. I am so very sorry to hear of her loss. Can’t wait to hear about the Contessa! So exciting! I’m sure you will wow her wtih your own cooking skiills. Baby is doing well. 🙂 I got to hold her for the first time last weekend. She’s out of the isolette, in a big girl crib, and starting to drink a bit of mommy’s milk from a bottle. All these steps bring her closer to being able to get to her own house, have her mommy and daddy be with her all the time .And this grandma is gong to be there too! Sad baby news is that suddenly she has a fractured arm and leg. No one really knows why, but it’s probably due to the diuretics she’s been on. So, as well as she is doing, she’s now also splinted up.
dear JACK, didn’t see this till this eve, and oh lordy, i am so sorry to read of broken bones on that sweet itty bitty baby. thrilled to know you are holding her, but oh goodness we are beggin’ for no more bumps……