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12/05/2006

Winter Cleaning


"The Beautiful is everywhere; perhaps more in the arrangement of your saucepans on the white walls of your kitchen than in your eighteenth-century living room or in the official museums."
-Fernand Leger, painter


I realize Spring Cleaning is the annual, collective effort to clean house, but the bug bit me today and if you know me well, you know I better clean when inspiration strikes. More specifically, clean OUT. John kindly toted three garbage bags and two Whole Foods paper bags full of magazines to the dumpster. They were stacked perilously atop our coffee table and crammed in a magazine rack by the window. I took inventory and decided that I do not need to keep every single Real Simple. It is a lovely publication, but from now on, I will rip out important pages and tuck them in a folder. I decided to keep issues of Domino for decorative inspiration when we move, and also issues of Touchstone - too much wisdom and intellect to toss in the trash. I emptied cat toys out of a perfectly good basket by the fireplace and stacked inside a few old, yellowed Books & Culture papers and every issue of Paste. In doing so I unearthed Paste sampler #26 which I haven't even listened to yet: Beck, Joseph Arthur, Shawn Colvin, Jay Bennett, The Pernice Brothers, Chris Thile, Bright Eyes, and more. I salvaged a few issues of Dwell and made a mental Post-it to subscribe to it, Books & Culture, and Touchstone once again.

I placed current issues of periodicals on the coffee table in a neat, concise stack. The maroon and navy blue tapestry graces our table once again, the wine stain absent. I set a blue glass mosaic platter on the corner of the table, and a book in its circular embrace - Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I covered a stubborn spot of mold on the windowsill with an empty hollyberry candle holder, a fantastic excuse for purchasing an aromatic Yankee candle to offer an introverted greeting to our neighbors who faithfully walk their dogs at night.

During the cleaning out process, I ripped a few pages out of the last Real Simple: a decorating idea (rustic blue wall with Moroccan silver platters as artwork), the above quote (poetic), and a survey. Why, I will share the survey with my answers!

LIFE WOULD BE SIMPLER IF...
We hired a chef and a maid.

I FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL...
During Autumn and Winter.

THE QUALITY I LIKE LEAST ABOUT MYSELF IS...
How easily I worry.

SOMETHING THAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT ME IS...
Some of you know, but I sincerely loathe maraschino cherries.

GUILTIEST PLEASURE?
Dark chocolate.

HIGH ROAD OR LOW ROAD?
High road.

MY FAVORITE POSSESSION IS...
Our books.

WHEN I WAS LITTLE, I WANTED TO BE...
A teacher, then a veterinarian.

WHAT SURPRISES ME MOST ABOUT MY ADULT LIFE IS...
How much I'm like my Mom, though a little calmer. But what a compliment from God.

THE BIG DECISION I'M CURRENTLY WRESTLING WITH IS...
What type of "serious" writing should I work on? See, in all this time since I left the bookstore, I have been a slothful writer. I want to submit work to journals or elsewhere, but I have to write them first. Creative Nonfiction or a short story? Or poetry? I'm thinking the first, but I wrestle in insecurity. As Anne Lamott said (Bird by Bird), I need to write a bunch of "shitty first drafts" and get to it.

MY MOTTO IS...
"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Cleaning out is not only clutter-killing, but beneficial for my psyche. After conquering the living room, I leaned back and prayed thanksgiving. I saw the Beautiful in this old apartment. Blue glass bottle hanging in the window. Wooden Chinese sun (from my long-lost friend Auden) smirking above yet another window. Candlelight. Christian icons on a wall. A cathedral mirror. Tiny silver-framed pictures of our families hanging in order of age. Harley Cat's blue-gray fur. Manic Milo's stripes. Tea light sconces guarding an Indian tapestry on the wall above the useless fireplace. My favorite black and white photograph of me and Johnny. Soft light from a crooked lampshade. Scent of coriander shower gel on my skin. A leaf I found on a walk - crimson enough to be a rose petal (note: go back for the yellow leaves, bits of fallen sunshine). Milk chocolate natural woodgrain. Blue glass tea lights on top of the TV. The label on a bottle of Smoking Loon merlot - is it letterpress? A steaming mug of Vanilla Bean tea. And even snow-like dust on end tables.

Tomorrow: the bedroom and kitchen pantry.

1 comment:

robyn said...

I absolutely love smoking loon! its one of my favorites next to jackaroo... jackaroo is an australian wine that is a mixture of cab, merlot, and shiraz. awesome. email me at missjones77@gmail.com so i can add you as a friend. i think i typed the wrong address.