“I know no other way out of what is both the maze of the eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.” ~ Lewis H. Lapham

 

 I want to go here: Hotel de l’Europe, Amsterdam

                   

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” ~ Mark Twain

And here: Bakklandet, Norway, by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Saturday afternoon, my house.

The autumn sun is shining brightly through the window of what used to be Eamonn’s room, and dust motes are dancing in the beams. Shakes is asleep on a pillow on the floor near my chair. Corey and Tillie are at the park; Alfie has the big bed all to himself, and Brett is playing XBox. All in all, a rather quiet, peaceful Saturday.

Alexis is busy with a yard sale, some of the proceeds from which will go to Jennifer’s fund for her son Reilly. I spent $10 I didn’t have on two china teapots that belonged to Janet’s mother, Amanda’s grandmother (Amanda is a life-long friend of Alexis). They are beautiful and might make lovely gifts for someone. I also scored a free bread maker, which is great as Corey and I were looking at breadmakers last Christmas but decided against the investment. Scott, Amanda’s father was diagnosed as being Diabetic Type II, so no more homemade bread for them. The bread maker is in great shape, which makes getting it free a great yard-sale deal.

Fresh, hot bread and homemade soups and stews—a winter staple in our house. I know many people who do not like using slow cookers, or crock pots, but I have always used one. When I worked full-time, I would put the soup on in the morning, and when we got home nine hours later, we would have a delicious, hot soup for dinner. Small pleasures.

“So long as a person is capable of self-renewal they are a living being.” ~ Henri-Frederic Amiel

And here: Bruges, Belgium

I began this post on Saturday, and it is now Wednesday evening. Corey asked me this morning if I was going to post soon as I hadn’t added anything since the 19th, which reminded me that I had actually started a post but had never gotten back to it. I had a very good reason, though.

I did something on Saturday and Sunday that I’ve needed to do for a while, but just didn’t feel ready to do: I cleaned my closets, really cleaned, and filled two large black trash bags with clothes, not including the three suits on hangers. I got rid of pretty much anything that I wore to work; I realized that if I ever returned to work, I would want a new wardrobe, that and the fact that none of these clothes would be in style if I do ever resume my career.

So someone at the thrift store will get a great deal on two Jones New York suits, and one Chaus suit, one of which had never been worn, not to mention the jackets, blouses, and pants that I tossed.

It felt good, really good, as if I had passed some kind of hurdle, which is actually what I did. I mean, I cleaned out a chunk of my life that doesn’t exist any more. Corey was both surprised and amazed.

Of course when I finished, my body was completely trashed, and it has taken until this afternoon for me not to be in constant, throbbing pain. The price I pay for living.

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering—because you can’t take it in all at once.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

And here: Istanbul, Turkey

While trying to recuperate from my big project, I had to take my mother to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, after which she wanted to do some grocery shopping. No surprise that by the time we were finished, she was complaining bitterly that her leg was hurting. She is doing well, but she has not yet healed completely, something that she does not seem able to reconcile.

After all of her hard work, Alexis only made about $70 at the yard sale. She was a bit down about that, but at least this particular project is over.

In other family news, Eamonn stopped by Monday evening to pick up some of his belongings. I have been pressing him to make some decisions as Corey and I want to change Eamonn’s bedroom into an office, so of course eldest son is thinking about moving back home. I would love to have him move back, but I don’t think that he will; rather, I think that he bothered by the idea of his bedroom being transformed into something not reflective of him, which is to be expected.

Brett finished his astronomy project yesterday, which put him in great shape for Thanksgiving break. He is really doing well in school, and I cannot say enough how happy I am at the change that I see in him.

“Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.” ~ Simone de Beauvoire

And here: Helsinki, Finland by sigkyrre (flckr creative commons)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and in preparation, I have baked sweet potatoes so that I can mash them tomorrow (with a dash of vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cream), and I have made a cranberry salad that I hope turns out okay as it is my first time with this recipe. Tomorrow I’ll make the dressing. just a basic recipe.

Corey has to work from 7 to 3, so we’ll probably eat around 5. I’ll go to my mom’s around noon to put the turkey in the oven as it is quite large and heavy. Mom has already made pecan pies and is cooking the green beans, and I’ll make the gravy and heat the rolls after the turkey comes out of the oven.

After last year’s fiasco in which Alexis got up in the afternoon and didn’t put the turkey into the oven until 2 p.m., she is responsible for the mashed potatoes and corn this year, two things that do not require a great deal of time. I do have to say, though, that since she started her new medicine, she does seem to have more energy and hasn’t been sleeping for 24 hours at a time—a positive sign that perhaps she is moving in the right direction.

So if everything goes as planned—which never, ever happens with this family—all details of our Thanksgiving feast should be covered. Eamonn is eating with us, which means that the whole family will be together. I just have to try not to get hyper and anxious, something always happens whenever the whole family is together. I love it, but it makes me very fretful as the perfectionist thing kicks into overdrive.

“If I see the outer world differently from how others see it, it’s because I inadvertently incorporate, into what I see, the things from my dreams that have stuck to my eyes and ears.” ~ Fernandoa Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

And also here: Locronan, Brittany, France

                   

I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another winter in this house without natural gas for heat and cooking, so I took money out of my retirement to pay the back balance to Virginia Natural Gas. In addition to the balance, we have to pay a deposit, which they will spread over three months.

It’s a major expenditure, but a necessary one.  I mean, let’s face it; the cold wreaks havoc with my back, not to mention my knees, which is why it’s so odd that I would love to relocate to a place that has mountains and snow. But ask me on another day, and I would love to relocate to the tropics. As with most things, I don’t really know what I want, but what I want is anywhere but here.

Brett has been talking about New Zealand, a country that I have wanted to visit since I was a child. I told him that unfortunately, the reality is that I cannot even think of moving far away as long as my mother is still around. Her recent accident only reinforced the reality that I have been trying to avoid: As an only child, there is no one else to step in, and there never will be.

Life has an odd way of unfolding, of spilling seemingly insignificant pebbles across the path, only for the pebbles to morph into giant boulders when no one is paying attention. And boulders, well they don’t move at all and cannot be easily pushed to the side, which means that the only way forward is around, making the path longer than anticipated.

As a fellow once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Too right, that.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cyndi Lauper, “Fearless”

                   

Fearless

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go
Sometimes I’m afraid when you come home
Underneath it all . . .
I think I’m afraid when there’s nothing wrong.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

There’s something that I never told
When I find myself slipping off of my pedestal
I’m a fierce believer afraid to fall.

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your reckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could you be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark
I can’t find the light in my heart
I can see my hand pushing away from you
Hard as I can

But if I was fearless . . .
Could I be your wreckless friend
And if I was helpless . . .
Could be the one comes rushing in.

Sometimes I’m afraid when you go . . .

Spring Cleaning in December

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Something

I’ll Take The Eight Maids-a-Milking, Alex

eight-maids-a-milking
Eight Maids-a-Milking

I take back what I said about some of the gifts from the Twelve Days of Christmas the other day. If someone gave me eight maids-a-milking right now, I’d grab them in a heartbeat, take aways their milking pails, and quickly install them in my home to help with the purging of my living room and dining room of years of clutter and foreign objects.

This weekend, we finally decided to tackle the self-made art nouveau statue that had taken on a life of its own in the dining room, which led to a massive cleaning effort. We began in a two-foot circumference and started spreading outward. The motivation must have been catchy because soon my youngest son had moved into his bedroom and begun to dust and clean, really clean—egads! He filled, at last count, four garbage bags (I’m not sure of the contents). He finished his bedroom, and it looks really good.

We have yet to finish the big project that we are working on, so I am trying not to be too envious of him and to remind myself that he had much less square footage. I’m taking a break in my cleaning to write my blog, which at this point is turning out to be a less than literary post anyway. I think that my mind has turned to mush, that or the dust is beginning to absorb the little bit of grey matter that is still functioning.

Moving on, I tackled the living room closet, which is every bit as scary as you might imagine. I found at least one plastic storage tub’s worth of books to put in storage and another box of books for giveaway. I worked my way from the front door towards the dining room, and Corey started to pack everything on top of the buffet in preparation of moving that gargantuan piece of furniture to my mother’s garage (our perpetual storage place) for Alexis, and believe it or not, we agreed on a plan to set up the new dining room set that has been in boxes in the storage shed for at least a year. How do you spell h-a-l-l-e-l-u-j=a=h? We might actually be able to sit down as a family for a meal on a weeknight. I haven’t experienced such a thing in years . . .

We discovered several DVD’s and video games (discovered as in unearthed), found some missing tools. I came upon some kind of volt regulator thingy that Corey claims he had been looking for and why didn’t I tell him that it was in the closet and he had looked in the closet several times and never found it there and if I knew it was there why didn’t I tell him it was there . . . hell, I didn’t even know what the damned thing was.

Now that You Have it, What Do You Do With It?

 stack-of-books

We’ve managed to put together a nice pile of stuff to donate, and another small pile of electronics and games that we may be able to take to the pawn shop and make a small profit on because every bit helps. I like to donate my old books that I know that I won’t read again and that have already been through the exchange system between my mother-in-law and myself or whoever else wants to borrow or trade. I don’t think that books should ever be thrown out unless they have dry rot or meal worms or they have that old moldy smell. Books should be recycled whenever possible. I would donate these books to someplace that wouldn’t sell them if I knew of such a place, perhaps a women’s shelter. Maybe I’ll look into that. That would be better than a thrift store.

One year we had a huge yard sale, and I had saved up all of my old books, thinking that they would sell quickly. I only sold two books, both by Stephen King from my much earlier Stephen King phase, and I gave away a few more. We ended up packing up several boxes of books and taking them to the thrift store and donating them. I really wish that people would read more. Ah me. We made a total of $22 on the yard sale, and I have concluded that yard sales are much more trouble than they are ever worth.

But I digress . . . After two days, the cleaning is down to the nitty gritty. I still need to pack my china, which I am saving for tomorrow morning when I am fresh. I think that if I tried to do it tonight being this bodily tired and emotionally weary, there is too great of a risk of breakage (mine and the china’s), and we’re talking the good china here, the stuff I really like. Corey has one more pile of miscellaneous junk to go through and shred, and then we are done. After we move out the buffet and set up the furniture, then the fun really begins: Christmas tree and decorations!

Haul Out the Holly . . . and the spackle and the paint

Well, I’m running late this year, but definitely earlier than last year, and the best part is that once the decorations come down in January, I’ll have a decluttered dining room. Granted, it still won’t be painted, and the new floor won’t be down, but hey, we’ll be one step closer. I think that getting over this major hump of decluttering will help both Corey and me to get over some kind of mental block that we’ve had as far as the house is concerned. Do you know how when you let something go, and then it starts to bother you, it begins to loom over everything? It starts to grow and grow, becoming insurmountable, so you put if off longer because it seems undoable, and the longer you put it off, the more it seems impossible to do. A classic Catch 22 situation—that’s what our living room/dining room clutter had become.

I’m hoping that now that we have almost conquered it, and once we decorate for the holidays, it will become a work-in-progress once more, the one that just needs to be primed and painted, the one that just needs to have the rest of the old carpeting pulled up, the one that needs to have the new molding installed, the one that needs the new flooring installed. Not that much really, huh? I won’t even mention the bedroom furniture that is still in the boxes in the living room along with the paint that we had mixed back in the spring to paint the master bedroom and how that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe we can do that for Mother’s Day 2009?

I really have learned how to lower my expectations. It makes it so much easier that way. It’s also more rewarding once something finally does get done, such a sense of achievement! Whoo hoo! Look at me! I cleaned my dining room.

So, my anticipated timeline is that by Tuesday, we’ll have the tree up, and by the end of the week, I should have my shopping done and the presents wrapped. Oh, and somewhere in there, I’ll do my Christmas cards, and keep my daily blogs written. All righty then. We’ll check back in a few days and see how far I’ve gotten on that delusion, shall we?xmas-tree-ornament

A little update, my daughter came by, and she and my eldest son rummaged through the total of six bags that Brett ended up amassing. Together they scavanged two Game Boys and a couple of games, some Sharpies, a mini etch-a-sketch, a hat, pajama pants, a baseball cap, and lord knows what else. (I would have snatched up the Sharpies first if I had seen them. He wasn’t actually throwing them out; his sister actually just pointed to them and said, “you don’t need those, do you?”)

So I’m calling it a night. I actually slept last night, and I kind of liked it. I’m going to try to repeat it again tonight. I’m hoping that it’s habit forming. More later. Peace.