Thursday, March 6, 2014

Telling Time

My daughter came home from school the other afternoon with a folder full of completed and not completed papers covered in tally marks, paste, cut-outs, and empty clock faces needing to be adorned, blank like a packed up Mr. Potato head waiting to have his nose plugged in.  After a shuffling of coat, backpack, gloves and pencils we cleared a corner of the table to get started on those blank clock faces so as to get on with the more fun aspects of afterschool relaxation (the iPad).

Pleae write your name at the top of your paper.  N-a-m-e.  So far so good.  Please write the numbers on your blank clock (she like's to play school during homework time.  Works for me.) Then the first question came.  

"Mommy.  What are clocks for?"  

"To tell time, sweetie."

I answered that one like a champ.

"Mommy?  What is time?"

"Uh...  A series of moments?"

"What's a moment?"

"A snippet of time?  Here.  Have a juice box.  Mommy needs to think."

I don't know what time is.  I know lots of people have very grand notions that involve space and energy, distance, matter, things that are linear and non-linear and stuff like that, measuring of change, maybe?  Most people, I imagine, are happy to merely (not that it's a bad thing) think of it as distinct measurable and constant units that come one after another like the ticking of a second hand on a meticulous Swiss watch or maybe the predictable passing of the seasons.  Of course, I can't even put that into a simple sentence.

What is time to a kid?  It's certainly different for them than it is me.  Christmas takes eons to make its return visit in their little kid worlds.  I, on the other hand, feel like it's been nothing less than a hot second since vaccuming up the last ornament hook before it's time to drag the boxes of decorations out yet again.  Birthdays, appointments, annual events, final Fridays, second Sundays feel like they are falling all around like a waterfall of moments that drain away before I've had a chance to catch my breath, whereas for her, Halloween beckons from a distant shore seemingly unreachable-- a future Disney princess costume taunting her from so far away.

I read a study once (or maybe it was NPR) that said when you're in you're in your 20's, 30's or somewhere aroung that time, you can most accurately judge a true second (1 Mississippi).  When you're younger, you count them more quickly (I thought an hour went by!  Nope.  20 minutes).  And when you get older, you count them more slowly (Didn't we just have the Winter Olympics the year before last?  Guess again.).  

But even that's not constant.  I know that I can savor an instant.  I can stretch out those delicious little moments that seemingly exist outside the ticking of the clock-- watching your daughter sleep before it's time to rouse her from slumber where you watch the steady rise and fall of her chest and count the freckles on her nose realizing that next year, the count will be different all the while knowing it's a moment you'll never get back.  But you have it now and roll it around in your mind before it too falls away but you've made it last longer than the same instant that occurred with almost identical similarity the day before.  Some moments, even little ones, are bigger, longer, than others.  

Or what about those little micro-naps that you may have experienced (*cough-guilty-*cough) in an overly warm class room where you suddently are unsure if you've been asleep for 3 seconds or 30 minutes.  While it may not be a winning argument with your boss on why you were late, I think that the perception of time is important to its definition.  

"Mommy!  Please, will you tell me what time is?"

Then my best answer came to me.  

"You can ask daddy when he gets home.  But now it's time for a snack."  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Crack in the Silence

Miscarriage and stillbirth suck.  I know from experience regarding the stillbirth end of things as my son was stillborn at 37 weeks.  I was a broken, shaky, raw-nerved, post-traumatic-stressed mess stumbling through the public sphere like a ghost, perfecting the art of crying while driving as a mundane daily habit, and periodically collapsing on the floor in tears and howls convulsed by sobs. This went on in varying degrees for two years.

When I found out that my baby had died and yet was still in my womb, I didn't even know what that was called.  Was I having a miscarriage?  No.  In the United States, a situation such as mine is considered a stillbirth after 20 weeks.  I had no idea.

I had assumed, like most I imagine, that once I was past 12 weeks it was all smooth sailing and I could confidently shout my announcement from the roof tops.  Sure, I'd have to pass my glucose test (which I did) and jump through a couple of other little hoops, but surely I was golden. Obviously, I was not.  

That happened about 8 1/2 years ago, and my experience opened my eyes up to the huge population of women who have gone through heartbreaking experiences trying to grow and get a healthy baby: not just stillbirth, but miscarriage, and infant loss, one twin lives the other dies, emergency hysterectomies, tenuous preemies...  I had no idea it was so scary out there!

I would ask people, "do you know anyone this has happened to?"  They always said, "no."  I couldn't be the only one.  The internet was proof of that, but what about around me?  The people I was shuffling past at the grocery...  Did they know anyone this had happened to?  I couldn't be the only one.

No one wants to talk about babies dying.  It's horrible of course.  We think that by saying it out loud, we are tempting the fates, drawing a bull's eye on our families, being morbid, or some such thing.  Clearly that is irrational.

While talking about pregnancy/infant loss doesn't make it happen, not talking about it isolates SOOO many moms and dads.  This culture of silence made me feel alone and marked by failure like some sort of scarlet letter.  After all, everyone knew I was pregnant when I lost my son.  There was no hiding it, no safe time to announce my pregnancy-- there was lots of pity and uncomfortable faces that just didn't know what to say.  What do you say?

The onus to break the culture silence surrounding miscarriage and perinatal death is on the parents (particularly but not just mothers) of those who have suffered loss.  I get this.  Clearly we are our own best advocates and we (or I) like to think that our willingness to talk about our experiences helps out others who have gone or will go through something like this feel like they are not alone.

Now, here is where my epiphany comes in.  While this sort of loss is more common than we popularly believe, we (parents of angels, if you will) are still something of a fringe element of the population.  Most women, thankfully, never have a stillbirth, miscarriage (that they are aware of), or have their baby die.  But most women get pregnant, and we are told not to announce our pregnancy before 12 weeks is over as that's when the greatest chance of miscarriage is.

That is the culture of silence!  A major shift in cultural practice like the one I'm suggesting will be most effective coming from the mainstream.  Why are people so offended if you announce your pregnancy early?  Because your baby might die and they don't want to hear about it?  So what!  It's not like keeping your mouth shut prevents bad things from happening.  Aren't you going to want your friends to know why you have no intention of going to that baby shower you were just invited to?  Wouldn't it help to have people know that you are going through something sad and difficult and to treat you accordingly?

Wouldn't you want to know why your friend is withdrawn and doesn't want to babysit your sweet one year old?  You would want to help her, and hug her, and give her space if that's what she needed.  

But no.  We are told not to tell before 12 weeks.  Maybe I'm harsh, but I don't see the need or the benefit in "protecting" those in our lives from possibly becoming aware of our miscarriage.  Sad things happen, and when they do, we need support.  How do you get that support when we have a strong societal rule of keeping it to yourself "just in case."  

Yes, it is very hard to go back and tell people that your baby died or you miscarried or whatever, but these things are hard and there is no getting around it.  But it's better (in my opinion) than cramming all that grief and that whole story into an isolated little pocket in your brain.  And maybe, with this sort of openess, pity changes to empathy, isolation becomes understanding and support, and a greater appreciation for the true miracle that is life can be had by all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Some people hate surprises.  They state it as a fact of themselves, like eye color, and say it as both a truth of their character and a halting command to those entertaing any clandestine party designs.  Others say they like good surprises as life offers so few: the unforseeable center of a tidily made filled doughnut, is new baby a girl or a boy, you won the lottery and had the good sense to stay off the news, etc., etc.

Bad surprises though...  Perhaps they don't receive their just due.  It's kind of hard to overcome a p.r. challenge like that.  "Bad Surprise."  It starts with the word "bad" so turning it 'good' is tricky right out of the gate.  I would argue, however, that sometimes they are awesome.

Example!  Oh, lovely day that today was, I found myself navigating through a pesky swarm of missed details that escaped my earlier planning.  A phone call from the saintly grade school teacher reminded me of a club meeting my kid had afterschool that afternoon.   I had volunteered to do something for the meeting but my missed obligation was noticed in time to signal my complete mental slippage and her phone call saved me.  

But of course, I didn't think to ask exactly what time this club meeting was over.  Was it 4:00?  Or 4:30?  So, at 3:45, just to be safe, I zip up to a prime parking spot.  A side note.  I have come to recognize that when I come to a planned event and happen upon a glut of premium parking spots, I have screwed up either the date or time of the event in question, and I will have ticked off car companions with whom to contend.  Every.  Time.  So yes, my parking spot was ideal and I was 45 minutes early.

This "bad surprise," that this club meeting was today and I'd totally forgotten, that I'd screwed up my juice box obligation or whatever I'd said I'd do, and then I'd shown up a nice full 45 minutes early, in the end worked out really well.  I got out of a trip to the grocery store that would have been otherwise required for said kid beverages, I got a prime parking spot, and several good karma points after the school administrative assistant talked me into going upstairs to help out for the last half of the meeting.  And after seeing how outnumbered that poor lady was, well, my juice box conscience was clean.

Friday, November 15, 2013


There was an episode of Mork and Mindy, a two-parter no less, where Mork takes aspirin for his headache.  An unforeseen side effect of the aspirin, being that he's an alien and all, is that Mork starts to shrink.  Smaller and smaller he grows until he falls between the threads of the table cloth and lands in a microscopic medieval world.  That's a crazy idea.  Horrifying!  Think of all the worlds and civilizations wiped out in the daily goings on of just one person.  What happens when that table cloth gets washed?

Wow-- tIny little worlds everywhere-- and obviously our world is sitting on some giant's table cloth.  That clearly follows, after all.  Sure, it's an extreme thought experiment, but you know, if you can get big ideas from "Star Trek," then why not "Mork and Mindy?"  

I have noticed some startling things in the bug universe around my house and yard.  And, it could be argued, that's kind of like the mini-medieval land.  All those tiny little creatures with their armies and giant citadel things (I've got a couple of large anthills in the yard), and spider houses like you wouldn't believe-- seriously impressive web work.  Recently witnessed in the basement has been both the cave cricket and house centipede.  Those are carnivores, I think, so what are they eating?  Little tiny things I can't see and don't want to think about.  Dust mites?  Baby spiders.

But sometimes there are large external geopolitical bug forces that come sweeping into the realm.  Outsider bugs who come in large numbers looking for rafters for overwintering (this is all conjecture and misremembered facts from some show I saw 18 years ago on the Discovery Channel).  In my experience, these seasonal residents, are usually some sort of invasive Asian beetle.   

The west wall of the house must be so toasty warm for these little guys.  I don't know if they're attracted to the radiant heat or what, but they love that wall.   The sound of hundreds of little fake ladybugs (harmonia axyridis as opposed to "ladybugus regularis") sounds exactly like you'd think it would-- an assault of tiny little thuds as they fly headlong into the exterior wall with their armored little bodies.  Then begins the indoor march where, if they resist the siren call of ceiling mounted light fixtures, they will be rewarded with sheltered hibernation somewhere in my attic space.  

These were there first visitors that came en masse the first year we lived in our home.  I thought this was as it would be till the end, but no.  Then came the stink bugs.  The two forces encountered one another for the first time about three years ago.  The same west wall, shimmering a promise of rest and warmth for the upcoming season, beckoned not just the orange and black but now the stink bombers as well.  

The violence these two parties met one another with was nothing short of horrific (if you're a bug).  I didn't realize the extent of the carnage until the following spring when closets were cleaned, heavy chairs moved, and window casings vacuumed.  The stink bugs had won.  The dead ladybugs were everywhere but fallen stinkies were in high numbers too-- bodies jumbled together.  

After the reign of the stinkbugs, the fake ladybugs made a return, and powers, as to be expected, have shifted back and forth as the years have passed.  We have an agreement.  Regardless of which side your on, if I can catch you with the vacuum, you are mine.  If I catch you with my hand or a papertowel, I'll take you outside.  I won't squish any of them because even the ladybugs smell bad and it's an sos that signals their buddies to come and help out.  No thanks.

It's an uneasy agreement.  But it works.  And most of the time it's out of sight, out of mind.  But just when I thought I'd discovered the new normal, I meet this...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

God Save Us All

In an effort to alienate any remaining readers I may have, be they occasional or otherwise, I have decided to do some writing on religion.  Why not?  It's my blog.  I can do what I want-- an oft repeated if weak defense.

My road to church is a well worn path.  One of private school discounts, a sense of responsibility regarding the transmission of cultural heritage to the squirt, large questions that stir in the mind a longing to know the soul, seeking an understanding of my responsibilities to the world at large, humanity, that sort of thing.  

My Catholic classes (RCIA) are cool.  It's like a small college class; you read a chapter a week and discuss.  The reading is pretty dense, too.  I really like it. 

That's one of the things that draws me to the Catholic Church.  I like its intellectual history.  It is expansive and thick and the result of massive amounts of thoughtful consideration and rigourous ecumenical, philisophical, and academic exploration (and of course, divine revelation!).  There's lots of stuff to think about.

If you don't want to think, you don't have to.  You can sing.  Maybe that's a different kind of thinking but you catch my drift.  The Church is lovely.  The sun streaming in the windows falling on the silvered heads in the front rows kneeling in prayer despite the prickles of age.  A collage of voices, some warbly, some off-key, some superb, but together elevated to the inspired even, if not especially, when puncuated with the occasional shrieking toddler or wailing infant.  Many reasons urging these many different people to gather.

That any communtiy of people comes together to laud the mysteries of existence and reaffirm responsibilities to one's friends, families and fellow man is really really cool.  And to think of how it is an experience that prevades all nooks of the globe.  Really, it's quite amazing.

Take this as either an introduction or a forwarning of content to come.  But, I think for a bit of time, I'm going to use my blog to answer the discussion questions for my RCIA class.  Should you be interested, next week's reading is Chapter 13, "Our Eternal Destiny," from the "United States Catholic Catechism for Adults."  I'm sure you can get a free copy for your Kindle or something like that.  

And please, let me know if I become significantly more obnoxious than usual.  I realize it is sometims a hazard of the religous newbie.   :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Looking Glass

I found "I've Got a Friend in Jesus," running through my head as I clicked on the Frida Kahlo picture (accomplished artist and wife of famed Diego Rivera) that was featured on my facebook stream this morning.  She was a recommended 'like' from fb a couple of weeks ago.  My click took me to her page which led me to scroll through more photographs of her severe beauty finally stumbling upon one where she is cloaked in parrots.  Finally, the old country hymn stopped.

That's Frida from my book!  The parrots, the fierce beautiful eyes of the little Aztec queen (figurative language courtesy of Barbara Kingsolver "The Lacuna"), and her chili pepper physical presence next to her more root-vegetable appearing husband.

"The Lacuna," the novel I reference here, is a Barbara Kingsolver book-- a very good one.  I enjoy her books a great deal, and I'll freely admit it here, even though according to some harsh reviews on "GoodReads," it probably means that I'm a pseudo intellectual high school girl.  Fine.  I don't care-- apparently such girls have very good taste in books.  

I read Kingsolver's novels, and I feel like I know what color the soil is wherever they are, how it crumbles in your hand in the summer, and what it smells like as the autumn leaves start to rot in the fall.  Her characters are fleshy, identifiable and very human.  And I usually learn something, which is cool.  

She is a talented novelist.  Example.  There I was staring at that ferocious little woman with parrots perched a top her small frame in a black and white facebook post, and at first, I registered nothing but flat charm and nostalgia.  I hadn't made the connection that the artist named Frida I was looking at was the dynamic and volatile artist named Frida from my book.  How could I look at that face and think, "oh, what a cute black and white photo of some old dead sweet little lady and how nice that she was an artist."  

Really?  This woman who hung out with revolutionaries and artists of all kinds, politicians, criminals, and Lord only knows who else.  Powerful art and her finger on the pulse of the world and she's covered in parrots; it's not like she's being subtle.  But still, I needed Barbara Kingsolver to make it perfectly clear that Frida was no black and white photo.  

I look around and see all these people walking and talking, not even black and white photos, and I wonder what they do, what they are capable of, who they love and hate, what they think and how much they think and what their internal monologue/dialogue is like.  I obviously don't have a clue since even the flamboyant Frida failed to raise my gaze.  Oh, but I want to know-- I am certain the stories are good or at the very least, interesting.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Return of the Unicorn

One of the reasons both the 'food' and the 'blog' elements of my food blog have been keeping the most tenuous of finger-holds on the "land of the living" is due to the fact that I told myself I want to write a book.  Writing a book seems like such a monumental task--a feat you can hold in your hands (Ha!  Feat?  Hands?!)-- the sort of accomplishment one would be justified in mentioning on one's grave stone.  Like a marathon but more achievable.

In order to write a book, the first thing to do is certainly to neglect the blog.  Check.  But what kind of book to write.  I have read enough M.C Beaton books to dream of tidy murders set in the tourist-idyll of rural England with such competence, I'm sure all I have to do is write it down (#hubris).  But a lifestyle book would be fun, too.  I could fill it with lists of house ware necessities and poetic essays on the virtues of white plates and platters.  Also, if the general population only knew how cheap and easy it is to change your furnace filter-- the lives I could change.  Let's not forget young adult fiction!  That would be fun.  I think the unicorn is due for a MAJOR comeback.  Mark my words.  You wait and see.

So, there you are with the critical moment of having to actually start.  Even the flakey, such as myself, realize that neglecting one's blog can only be step one in the most informal of check-lists when writing a book.  At some point, all that remains, when the toes are wriggled to the full edge of the cliff, is to lean forward and fall.  How about an English murder mystery that features a unicorn with a penchant for formal teas (she calls them formalities).  Let's give it a try...


Jane paused as the small tour group from London rattled the colorful glass pains of St. Martin's with their excited chatter and incessant photography.  She was on her way to bring tea to the Vicar but first wanted to gather some chosen blossoms to liven up the dreary vestibule where the visitors awaited their audience with the local religious relics and relatively modest stained glass offerings.  

Jane gathered her shears and pushed her way through the massive wooden panel that creaked in protest as it had for her entire memory and likely of that of generations before. The ancient door opened up to an efficiently joyous garden that contained politely restrained bunches of mid July blooms straining to break their garden twine restraints. Jane's joints groaned in sympathy with the shutting door as she dropped to her knees into the well worked soil of the vicar's garden to cut the creamy yellow dahlia's off from the base of their stems with the chinoiserie vase already in mind.  

"Curse those deer!" she swore as she made her way toward the tangled and upset nasturtium lattice.  Jane righted the wooden supports and propped the vines back up when she felt a steamy muzzly shove at her elbow nearly pushing her and her dahlias to the ground.  Upon regaining her balance, Jane found herself staring into the eyes of a beast who looked every bit as befuddled as the 30 year old caretaker gazing back.  How did a horse get in here?  And what sort of horse is that, she thought with a slightly ludicrous dash of incredulity.  What self respecting horse has a horn?

The outside world started to grow black and the ground grew close as Jane tried to assemble the swimming images slipping beyond her reach as her consciousness raced away.  But how does one make sense of seeing what could only be a called a unicorn, in the vicar's garden no less, in Cottswald on Avon (a made-up  place), 2013 year of our Lord?

To be continued...


So, of course, I could go on, but at what point is it morally questionable to write a book that is kind of ridiculous-silly?  Does a book have to be 'good' in order to be worth writing?  Or reading?  I don't know, but if I'm ever going to write a book, I think I'll have to borrow a page from the Zen of Nike and Just Do It (registered trademark).

To be continued..

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ooh! Look! Oh. What Was I Saying?

I think ADD gets a bad rap.  I'm pretty sure I am a textbook example of the set of attributes that help define this condition.  I am naturally disorganized, easily distracted, not much of a task-completer (not in one sitting that is-- blog posts excepted).  People are always reminding me where I was in the conversation when I broke it off to show them a cool bird!  Squirrel!  

I've learned some cool tricks to not become a helpless victim of ADD but rather its MASTER.  I highly recommend planners of either the electronic or paper variety.  Take stuff out of your brain and put it on paper.  This is helpful all around.

Enjoy your ADD.  Sure, all these kids who would otherwise be able to maintain focus on a single task for hours at a time might have been turned a bit scattered by the abundance of screen time and media cornucopia they were born into.  But really, it works out quite well for me.  I can read a book while I have the tv on with my phone sitting next to me for the occasional Candy Crush break and my tablet waiting to alert me to any new emails.  It is ADD heaven.  

Really though, I've managed to cultivate a nice role or even lifestyle for myself that capitalizes on my interest in flitting from one task to another.  I am a household manager of a small family whom, living close to school and work, has decided to become a one car family.  I get up, get everybody ready, drive them to their respective locations, come home, drink coffee, put the laundry in the washer, bring up the clothes from the drying rack and dump them on the dining room table (go ahead and judge).  Oh look!  The dishwasher is finished.  I'll open it to warm up the kitchen with hot steamy air.  They need to dry.  Emails.  Phone calls.  Sweep the floor (but don't put away the broom).  Grocery!  Cooking?  Pizza.  Put away the dishes.  Oh.  I forgot to bring in the groceries.  Push laundry to one side of dining room table to make room for groceries.  Put away the groceries (but not the bags).  Put away the broom.  Oh.  The laundry.  Change the laundry.  I'm bored.  I'm going to write a blog post.  Done.  Time to get the kid.  Read in the car while I wait for the progeny.  Finally get the laundry off the table.  Time to get the husband.  Dinner.  Tidy.  Homework.  Bath.  Story.  Ice cream.  TV.  Bed.

It's a nice metered pace and still lots of space for noticing random things to point out to people at random times.  Activity changes from day to day, hour to hour, but it remains brisk and usually pleasant.  School, church, cleaning, shopping (which I don't care for as much as I used to), volunteering, cooking, writing, reading, exercise, family, friends, the occasional party, reorganizing the filing cabinets...  I should do that last one today.

I realize not being able to focus for long stretches on a single subject is troublesome for everyone to varying degrees at different times.  And for some it makes certain settings very difficult to cope with and thrive in.  And if you hear me muttering to myself, I'm probably reminding myself to focus.  But it's not all bad.  Being able to effectively finish assignments while 1/2 watching "Revenge" is no skill to be sneezed at!  But yeah...  Coffee helps, too.  Did you hear that?  Was that a hawk?


Monday, September 23, 2013

First Grade

My daughter is quite fortunate to have a wonderful first grade teacher.  Mrs. W.  She is patient, kind, funny, and just pretty cool.  I like her.  I like the school, too.

I really liked my first grade teacher when I was a kid.  Mrs. P.  I would use some of the above adjectives to describe her, but certainly not all.  For example, she could be kind of mean.  She would staple notes to your clothing.  I think she accidentally (I hope) stapled a kid once.  

If you poked your nose too near the book during story time, she would annoint said nose with a quick polka dot from her ever ready Sharpie (the fine tip variety).  This act of human grafitti, at the spry age of six, I found to be quite hilarious, certainly more entertaining than the worn out adventures of Dick and Jane who were extra tired by the time the 1980s rolled in.    

She was the first of many teachers to be appalled by the state of my desk.  Yet, somehow her criticisms never hurt my feelings, and because I liked her, I even tried to attack my desk-mess occasionally.  For her, I would attempt to uncrumple 100 paper balls and shove them into a folder.  Maybe I'd even luck out and find a pencil (always looking for pencils).  Maybe she'd let me sharpen the pencils with the electric pencil sharpener.  Ah, the fragrance of wood shavings, graphite, and chalk dust comingling with the burning-dust smell from the annual first firing up of the heat-- my memory's signature scent for first grade.

Mrs. P was enthusiastic (!) regardless of which way her flag of temperment sailed.  You felt like a star when you could count by 2s for her.  She would ball up her little hands in fists and cheer you on to try 3s!  She once jumped on a desk like a scaredy-jungle-cat upon sighting a snake.  Who knew middle aged adults were able to accomplish such physical feats!  I couldn't help wonder if she could wallop the whole class in a 'kids v/s her' dodgeball game.  Seeing that we were only six and seven years old, I'm guessing the answer is "yes."

I was fortunate to have Mrs. P.  She taught me to read, and it was pretty much the only time in my life I ever liked math. She wanted you to do a good job and try your best.  And for her, I wanted to--mostly, because I liked her, and also because I respected her, but in no small part for fear that disobedience might affect her aim with the stapler.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Clean Freak

I'm starting to see how a clean freak can be made.  I used to think they were just born.  A strange confluence of events have been swirling around me and in so doing have been floating dust bunnies out of hiding pulling them to trash cans seemingly on their own.  I may have a fun new way to express and explore my severely mild ocd.

It started with renoticing the nearly unopened copy of Martha Stewart's "Homekeeping Handbook" that had been gathering dust on the cookbook bookshelf for years.  In the previous weeks, my husband and I had been working on larger cleaning projects, clearing out closets and the like, so the state of the house was already actively on the radar.  But that book gave it a big shove.

Mike, my husband, is more organized than me.  So, it was him of course, who made copies of the weekly cleaning checklist from the book and found a clipboard to hold them (along with a colored pen system to extend the life of the checklists), and we got to work.  This morphed into cleaning recreationally on weekends, and while I'm pained to admit it, I kind of liked it.  

It was fun to work together.  It was fun to make the house sparkly (I'm becoming obsessed with door glass).  It also made me like the things I've had forever a lot more.  Objects started to sift themselves into natural categories instead of being a tidal wave of stuff.  Books, dolls, bills, tax forms, light sweaters, heavy sweaters, candles: they were finding homes.  And my house was looking newer.  

I knew this was a good trend and one that would be especially helpful with my daughter starting a brick-and-mortar school for the first time this Fall, where I suspect organization is key.  School uniforms found a place in the closet alongside princess gowns with their space so designated.  Even her little desk is ready.  

But then, the cat died.  

The cat.  This cat, who I loved very much, saw no good use for a litter box with all of the rug selections available.  In fact, she was a manufacturer of grossness.  Cat hair, cat barf, cat...  Well, you know.  Everything gross.  So cleaning around here used to be a matter of survival and trying to keep up.  It was a constant and fierce battle.

Now she's gone.  My husband (bless his heart and soul) buried her before work that morning.  I wrote her obituary for facebook and saw Mike off.  Then I got out steam vac and shampooed the rugs and wept until about one in the afternoon.  Then I mopped.  Then I swept and I vacuumed and I dusted and cried a little more.

The more I clean, the more unique little patches of grime reveal themselves-- funny spots like the undercarriage of the rocking horse.  In the olden days, I was worried about drowning in laundry whereas now I'm afraid I might electrocute myself detailing the electric outlet plates.  This a surprise.