As anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, my father has liver cancer. The most recent news was not as good as we’d hoped, but not any more dire than the initial diagnosis. He still feels pretty good right now, so that’s what matters. Basically, it’s a lot more waiting and watching, and not a lot of being able to do anything about it.
Here’s a news flash: I’m not good at any of that. I much prefer an action item. Absent one, I tend to invent them. So today my nephew and I rearranged the basement while my husband ran screaming into the woods. (or to go play D&D, I forget which) Having been married to me for many years, my husband can sense a frustration fueled organizational frenzy from miles away. Like a meerkat, he can pop up from his car, sniff the air, and quickly drive away again. I didn’t marry a fool.
My nephew, I think, may be a bit more like me. I think he appreciated what was happening in the basement. After all, his grandfather is my father, so we’re going through some of the same feelings. I also think he may tend toward control-your-environment coping, because after helping me sort out the basement, he went into the yard and began clearing out stuff and loading yard debris into the back of the truck. It’s a beautiful day, probably the nicest one we’ll have for a while, and pulling vines and breaking up old fencing is probably more than a little therapeutic.
In the midst of all that mess, my nephew found two Japanese maples that had taken root. He disentangled them from some old lattice work, and moved some rotting firewood away from them. After a few hours, they were already starting to straighten up. Silver linings. Take them where you can get them.
The gas company wants to move our meter from the basement of our house to the outside of the house. Why it was ever put in the basement in the first place is a mystery to me, but so are many of the workings of utility companies. Anyway, they are retrofitting the entire neighborhood with new lines and new meters, which affords me an opportunity to install a new set of shelves in my basement. I’m using this opportunity to clean out the basement and also the attic.
It occurred to me recently that, come April, we will have lived in this house for fifteen years, which is almost twice as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere and it’s starting to show in terms of clutter. I’ve decided to clean out the house as if we’re moving, but then not move. I like the feeling of getting things organized and cleaned out. I don’t like doing the work, but I do like it when it’s done. January is one of the two times of year I do this kind of thing. The other time is in the middle of summer. I don’t like being cold or hot, so twice a year I hold up in the house and go through things.
This is probably my husband’s least favorite time of year.
Oh well. We live in a small 1940s, brick, saltbox style house, so if I don’t stay on top of the clutter, entropy sets in, and the next thing you know, we’re on the next episode of hoarders. Okay, that would never happen. My friend Jen once told me I’m probably the least likely person to ever appear on that show, but complacency is what starts you down that path, and then forever will it dominate your destiny. Or something like that.
I’m an organizer. I like things tidy and catalogued. I also love NFL football, so this weekend, during the playoff games I set about doing some housekeeping type organizing of junk drawers and whatnot and I also tidied up my Goodreads account. I listed all the books I’d been hoarding on my Kindle on my To-Read list. I’m really glad I did that, because it reminded me of all the books I’d been collecting on there that I haven’t read yet. So now I’m on a moratorium for book buying until I’ve caught up with what I’ve already purchased. My goal this year is to read twenty books. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m also writing a book and reading and writing aren’t always as compatible as you might think. I read a lot of non-fiction when I’m writing fiction, which is great, I love non-fiction, but I read it much slower than I do fiction, so we’ll see if I can make my twenty this year. Meanwhile, my work in progress is going well. I’m hoping to have all major revisions done before February 12th when I will leave for Maine for a week. In Maine, I plan to rewrite the ending while hanging out at my friend Michele’s house and keeping the fire in the wood stove going all day. This has been a successful plan in the past, and I’m so grateful that she lets me do this every year.