Sunday, August 31, 2008

Anything, But Cleaning

Yeah, I'm not sure I have anything significant to say here, and it occurs to me that I may very well feel compelled to blog, because anything has got to be better than cleaning. My day away was stimulating and good, but back home a certain amount of chaos ensued. Now, Maria is eating her cereal with the last clean spoon. I looked around for 1 uncluttered surface... something redeeming, and alas there are none.

The culprit? Not the 4 children. Not the husband and father, the man of the castle. No, the one I blame is the new computer, Wall-E. "Computer Wife," our dearly departed computer, the one the boys assembled with their dad, has been dearly departed for a long time and we have finally replaced her. Now the boys will have a 3-D Studio Max, homework, Maya machine so they can practice their sweet skills. It took all day to install software and network cards. It took all day to make 3 trips to Fry's (sorry Al) and to find the right spot in the house to make wireless connections work. It took all day to do the things Geoff knows how to do to make a computer sit up straight and fly right.

By the time I came home everything else was pretty much in disarray, and Geoff asked me if he could use an old school workbook to stand under the monitor. I hesitated, then agreed it would be fine. He detected reluctance and offered to use a magazine instead. I said, "Sure, whatever." This morning when I saw Martha's publications propping up the new monitor... well, it was almost offensive. Just kidding. Sure, I save all the back issues, and I love some of the fantasy that woman can weave, but seeing her magazines under the monitor made me realize that nothing she does or promotes is ever going to come true in my house.

Our formal living room is a rambling school house, computer hub, and playroom with horrific stains on the carpet. Our master bed room is a nursery too. The kitchen is not small, but it is not efficient either and if the ants don't carry away the whole operation it will be a miracle. I cannot bring myself to explain the bathroom situation(s.)

Today is the day. Kick my butt. Rattle my cage. Knock some sense in to me. But please sympathize too, because it is debilitating not knowing what comes next, to believe that in 2 months, or 3 months or soon, very soon, you will be moving, and we have been living this way for 5 years. I did not move in to this house with the frame of mind that this would be our home for 2 years. We are not unpacked. We are not settled. And even now, I cannot decide whether to resign myself to 1 more year and actually move-in to Garage Mahal. Or if I should clean by packing more of our stuff; put things in boxes and be prepared for either a home of our own or our inevitable eviction (no actual threats, but after all, this not our house.)

The enormity of my stress and fears is soothed and eased by this drawing of Maria's dog. Art heals.

So, should I look for dining chairs, since we have only 5, and 1 more is about to fall apart? Or should I wait until we can buy the right set for our own home? Should we clean the carpets, even though they look good for 1 week and then worse than ever afterwards? Or should we actually replace the carpeting? Should I give up on being a gardening, farming, crafting, sewing, cooking, artist type of homemaker; purge all excess and accept a pared down, suburban-chauffeur kind of lifestyle? Should I make Geoff save my fantasy magazines, or should I finally make good use of them and let them hold up the new monitor?

Now he is a curly dog.

I really do not know what to do. I could sit here and write about how happy Maria is when she wakes in the morning. She is sunshine. I could tell you about Alex's plans to build a flying chair, so he can get to school on time. We still haven't got any eggs from the chicas. I've finished about half of the quilting for the special quilt I am working on. The nice people at Costco were able to save my glasses, which I was still wearing even though they were ridiculously mangled... they're pretty now. Adding flax seed meal to the pumpkin pies worked.

Good and bad things are happening all the time, but I have to stop avoiding the issue: What to do, and how to do it. Cleaning, the normal business of maintenance, feels futile enough, but without a solid plan, a vision for our destiny, I know I will never succeed.

This quilt was made in about 6 months time, by hand. Just consider those hundreds of points to match and curves to ease. I don't suppose she knew how long it would take. She probably just began and kept going until she was done, and she did finish. Having tried my hand at this kind of quilt square, I am in awe of what this quilter accomplished. One step at a time... something to learn in this, I think. Lesley and I both were impressed with it. I wonder if the secret of avoiding madness is to not look too far ahead, to not worry so much about the enormity of the journey, but to go step by step.


Janece said...

"I wonder if the secret of avoiding madness is to not look too far ahead, to not worry so much about the enormity of the journey, but to go step by step."

You do know the answers, Natalie! :) I read this a while back in his book on was able to find it online:

You just said in one sentence what he took a couple of paragraphs to say. ;)

You are amazing Natalie - be gracious with yourself. Treat yourself as you might imagine me and your other lucky friends who found themselves in this place.

Janece said...

PS - I hope you can read through my typos and scrambled wording above and get what I was intending to say. :p

Mama Spark said...

Oh are doing a great job and I think you should do whatever makes you the happiest.

I hope you and the family are managing to find something fun to do together on this holiday weekend.

prairieknitter01 said...

If your heart is in the Upper Midwest, please come home! It sounds like California is so HARD right now, and you can only force yourself to "bloom where you're planted" for so long...housing here is getting so much cheaper - I just bought a house in Minnesota on a single woman's not-great salary. BEWARE the winter heating bills, of course, but even so - home is home. I will keep my fingers crossed that whatever you decide, it will work out for you...

Tracy said...

That quilt is amazing...I'm in awe of it's beauty...and how long it took, the dedication and love into it :o) Anything but cleaning--I like that--LOL! I was cleaning a bit today...We leave for the USA for 10 days this week--hooray! But I did tidy up today--had to as DH's parents were coming over--LOL! ;o) But Janece has the right step at a time, one day at a time...There's so much to do all the time. But might was well enjoy each moment along the way as much as possible! Hope all of you have been having a fun long weekend. We'll have our laptop pc along with us, so hope post photos while away! Until soon...((BIG HUGS))

Joan said...

I can sympathize so much with what you are going through. Real life vs magazine life, drives me crazy sometimes.
The commute that you have added to your schedule is a huge change. Arranging everything around it is not easy, so don't be too hard on yourself. Keep writing, I'll keep listening.

Chris said...


Here's a quote I love: "Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life."
-Burton Hills

I am trying very hard to live by these words. It isn't always easy, that's for sure...

Love your blog. You are an very talented writer!