It’s been a quiet week here at Lake Wobegon…
Kidding. But it has been a quiet weekend (during which I have also been listening to Public Radio a lot). My nesting instincts tend to come out stronger when the outside world gets really chaotic, and I hole up, doing domestic tasks and not talking to people for a few days. I tend to take on cleaning projects as massive endeavors, and usually temporarily make bigger messes as I go – I don’t just tidy the pantry, I take everything out and put it on the counter and analyze it. I don’t just vacuum, I drag furniture away from walls and get behind them. It’s a kind of all-or-nothing approach that it feels weird doing when anyone else is around. But A is out of the country for the next three weeks, and between that and my roller-coaster of a vacation, I’ve been diving in at home.
So far this weekend I have:
* Super-mopped the living room floor. I discovered by accident that Oxi-clean can be used in mop water, to great effect; and based on the amount of yuck that came off the floor I think it was lifting dirt that hadn’t even come into the apartment yet. My living room floor is visibly a different color now.
* Made three quarts of soup stock out of aging produce in the fridge, and the trimmings of overthrowing herb plants.
* Immediately used one quart of soup stock in a soup that used up yet more produce. (Sweet corn, yellow summer squash, carrots and sweet potatoes; extremely bright yellow and delicious.)
* Made a batch of sausage-and-egg sandwiches which will be stuffed into the freezer for quick breakfasting.
* Stocked up on random paper products, cleaners, and such that we always seem to run out of.
* Stocked up on beverages, which I always seem to forget exist.
* Made an apple-and-pear compote which has also been stuffed into the fridge for quick breakfasting of a different sort.
Today I have three things I’m going to bake, and maybe I’ll mop the rest of the apartment, clean the bathroom and tidy my bedroom more. Now that the weather has finally started to cool it’s also the perfect opportunity to have a pot of chili going on the stove throughout the afternoon as well.
The thing is – this is all so that as it starts to fade towards dusk, I can stop, take a deep breath, light a candle and read something while listening to something soothing. The album Astral Weeks, maybe. I will have beaten back the chaos around me for a while and created a space of deep peace where I can rest a while before leaping back into the world. And that’s why I do this – not to have the super-clean apartment or the well-stocked fridge, but to create space for breathing.
There’s a sort-of-meme that was circulated a lot in the 80’s called “Grandma’s Wash Day”. I actually think I saw it in a collection of 70’s feminist poetry, but it has been since attributed to a Kansas grandmother who was giving her new-bride granddaughter instructions for how to do laundry. Most of it is written in a faux-illiterate vocabulary – “warsh” instead of “wash”, “rench” instead of “rinse” – and lays out the labor-intensive steps taken for washday for someone who didn’t have a washing machine – building the fire under the wash tubs, how hard to rub the stains on the washboard, etc. But the thing that always struck me was the very end – the last step in the task is to “put on a clean dress, brew cup of tea and set on the porch a while and rest and rock and count your blessings”.