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Monday, October 31, 2011

Housekeeping

I mentioned before that I'd far rather have a robot to do what I
command in housecleaning than have to do it myself. Short of that, there's another solution. Do what needs to be done by letting the spirit move me. Since a schedule seems arbitrary I don't have one. I have a tendency to let housework go and only keep things visually tolerable instead of pleasingly perfect. I like the adage someone quoted to me that says the way to be enlightened is to "eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty, sleep when you're sleepy and work when you feel like it." Surprisingly, I do feel like cleaning house once in a while, and when I do, it gives me such a feeling of pleasure afterwards that I wonder why I don't feel like it more often. I suspect that my habit of keeping up in little ways lets me avoid deep down work.

An added perk in responding to the impulse to clean house is when I pick up the phone and hear that company is coming and I don't have to do a thing to get ready for them. It makes me believe that the angels who try to guide me must be happy too. But, better yet is the feeling I get when I've been out somewhere and come home. I open the front door and at first glance get a jolt of pleasure. Oh, my! Robatta has been here! No, she's waiting in the wings of the future. I did it myself!

My mother was talented in many ways but she always gave her house first priority. She lived in those days when marriage meant staying at home, keeping house, taking care of the children and cooking a tasty dinner for her husband to enjoy after coming home from work. Her personal pleasures such as taking a hike through the woods in back of our country home, playing the piano, reading and sewing, were given priority only when housekeeping was done. She'd come back from her hikes with a small bouquet of wildflowers for an added touch. I wouldn't have been surprised if she even stopped to swing on that swing Daddy hung for us on the old oak tree down there. Of course, she never left us alone, so if we weren't in school we went along. But these things came after the housework had left our home immaculate. They were her way of placing highest priority things last.

I have picked up just a smidgen of her delight in maintaining an orderly house, but I am not the perfectionist she was. I dust with a feather duster. She polished. Still, she didn't work slavishly. She worked as if to show she had authority over the house. She gave certain chores to me and expected  me do them well, rewarding me with a happy look on her face when inspecting my work. I could take a rug beater out to the clothes line and beat the dust out of a rug with a vengeance. That was even fun. And washing dishes and drying them to see them sparkle brought hugs of appreciation. Now-a-days I even frown when I find clean dishes in the dishwasher. It means I can't put dirty ones in until the clean ones are put away. And there's not much to be proud of there.

Working when I feel like it makes me feel like it more often. But here I am at 9:30 a.m. and still in my robe! I don't feel like it yet, but after I get dressed I think I'll get to work on the house. Just enough to put Mother's smile on my face!

Pleasures

I believe in pleasure. I mean the kind of pleasure that has no stingy side-effects. Religionists often catagorize certain pleasures as sinful. I’d prefer to say that these are like detours that make the journey to real pleasures take longer and they offer more pain.  Physicists will tell you that pleasure is a function of the brain. We all have our own ideas of pleasure and  we choose them in nearly every waking hour.

Whether we are rich or poor, handsome or homely, more gifted or less gifted, even well or sick, we can choose pleasure rather than displeasure. It’s a pleasure to have things right and to make them right in a pleasing way.  It’s also a pleasure to surmount adversity rather than submit to it. It’s a pleasure to do what you love to do, but also to know that what you’ve chosen to do is right and worthy to be pleasurable.

Many put off pleasures as if they were end of the road things instead of enjoying them during the whole trip. People complain of ugliness in getting older instead of recognizing that there can be beauty at any age, when you know how to define it.

There is no doubt that circumstances affect pleasure. The key point we often miss is that genuine honest pleasure within also produces circumstances of pleasure without. Pleasure in small and large things is a form of gratitude. When I make it a point to enjoy small pleasures all day long  it's no wonder that this leads to great pleasure in the long run.

So, what more can I say? Just this: Giving pleasure and taking it, taking pleasure and giving it, make a cycle that is more fun than a merry-go-round and what’s more, it goes places.

Enjoying The Back Seat

At my age people are apt to take a back seat to many things. They become spectators instead of players. I don't begrudge anyone of advanced years who is continuing to demonstrate his or her abilities in physical ways such as running, playing tennis, swimming. That must be their choice and more power to them. For myself, I see these years as a time to enjoy a quieter, more mental form of exercise. I can picture enjoying a game of golf now and then, and I could still wield a tennis racket if I cared to. It's just that there are other pursuits I enjoy more. I find this a more thoughtful time of life, a sort of sitting back and going along for the ride kind of life.

"Taking the back seat" can also be taken literally. "Mom, you sit here," the kids always say after I've given one of them the keys to my car. They hold open the door on the passenger side for me but I decline, "No, Honey, I love to sit in the back seat. I feel like Miss Daisy." If no one else is sitting there I often choose the center spot which gives me a better view between the headrests of the front seats. Then I really feel special, almost queenly. I tuck myself in, fasten the seat belt, and settle down for the picture show of humanity on the go. I soak in the countryside, or pass pleasing judgment on the landscaping along broad streets in our neighborhood. I help to find parking places in shopping center parking lots, or, if we're traveling a-far and happen into a small town it is fun to see old houses where sidewalks serve shade trees and screened-in front porches.

In the back seat I listen to the front seaters work out family affairs and try to remember the name of some song of the 40's playing softly on the satellite radio. No more am I the mother figure in the family, hosting holiday dinners, packing school lunches, wiping away tears or laughing at my husband's oft-told jokes in company. The stories from school days have all passed me by now that my grandchildren are out of school. Instead I take loving hugs from their little ones who call me "GG Joy" (Great Grandma Joy). It seems most everyone calls me Grandma, even my own children sometimes. I used to mind that. I don't anymore.

They say older people need less sleep and I think it's true. I get up around five-thirty a.m. and even earlier some days. I sneak quietly into a dim-lit kitchen (my canary and finch are still asleep) to fix myself a bowl of dry cereal with sliced banana, berries, a Medjool date, a few chopped nuts, fresh berries and whole milk. (Not the chalky 2% or skim.) I brew a cup of coffee and open the patio door to hear the burbling creek next to my condo while it's still too dark to see it. Sitting in my Lazy Boy chair, I savor each bite and sip. Then I take in the morning paper but lay it aside for my journal and a talk with Muse. Muse and I go back a long way. We reminisce about our yesterdays and talk about todays too. If we look toward tomorrows it's not for long. I accept no reason to doubt that they are like good gift packages awaiting their time to be opened. Muse and I open to the next blank page and the pen begins to write. Write what? We never know ahead of time. An idea pops up and here we go on a pen and paper ride! This time we share the front seat.