Friday, May 23, 2008

Busy at Home...

"It is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant-- and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side... Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space." ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I was up at 4:30 this morning because that's when Melissa got up to prepare to leave the house at 5:15 for work. I actually like waking and rising as early as 4:30, but I wouldn't want to do this every day. 5:30 is about my ideal get-up time.

I stripped the sheets from my bed, put some Bach on the Bose, set the kettle on to boil for coffee, and started laundry. The I sat down at the table with my mug of coffee, my journal, my Bible, and my devotional reading (still Alexander Schmemann's journals). This is definitely not one of those lovely mornings for being outside, as it was still, hours later, 33 degrees and drizzly.

After my quiet time, I mentally went over the list of things I plan to do today, and then I began to clean house. I haven't finished my decluttering tasks, but I'm pleased with my progress so far. I've been making a large pile of things to share with my children or to donate to Goodwill. Most of this is nice stuff. I really like a lot of what is leaving the house, but I don't need it or use it, and it has no meaningful place in my life, so why keep it?

This includes some antiques and collectibles, along with gadgets and things I'll never use. A few of the antique/vintage stuff in the pile includes: a vintage wooden, pig-shaped cutting board; an old glass candy jar (still with the label) from an English candy shop; an Italian Mamma Ro wood kitchen storage box with four drawers made from Mamma Ro pottery; an antique scale; a cool hat box from the early 1930's (still with the receipt and tissue paper inside); a vintage glass cake plate with a shiny metal lid; and more. And there are things that are not so old, but are mostly nice: lots of dishes and glassware; small kitchen appliances; different creamer and sugar sets; cake carriers; old books; sports stuff; and various and sundry things.

One nice surprise is that I've accumulated less than I thought over the last year. Most of what is going out the door are things I've owned for a long time. I've never been a cluttery person, but I still want to have less in my home to deal with. Less to think about, less that I have to clean, less to care for. I don't want to make it seem, though, that my house is Shaker-like in its simplicity. I am still surrounded by what I love, what I use, and what has special meaning. I simply want to have more space around these things.

Everyone has their own tolerance level for clutter and mess. Mine is low. If I can't put something away easily because I have to juggle things around to make room for it, then something needs to go. Everything should have a place. I do not like things piled and crowded. If I'm spending too much time cleaning and caring for "things," then I consider how much of this I want to keep. If something has been sitting, stored or unused, for months or even years, then, no matter how much I like it, it goes.

If things aren't truly useful, beautiful (to us), or meaningful, or why would we want them? It's very freeing to be rid of excess!

And mixed in with my decluttering today, is getting the house ready for company. That means, doing routine house cleaning, readying beds, making things fresh and nice, cleaning and stocking the fridge with the food we'll eat, and thinking ahead far enough that I will have very little work to do while company is here. I don't think of this as "entertaining," but, simply as making a welcoming home for friends and family.

As I've been busy today, I keep thinking of a little laminated card I made years ago and put on the refrigator. It has a picture of a simple, clean kitchen and these words by Evelyn Underhill: "On every level of life from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure signs of the amateur." I don't want to rush. I want to move deliberately, with a happy spirit. And if there is anything (or many things) I don't get done before people stop by or come for a weekend, well, mostly likely no one will ever notice or know. :-)


Is anyone else in the process of doing major cleaning or decluttering? I know
Laurel mentioned (in comments, at least) doing this recently. And Andrea has talked about living with less and having a place for everything.

Willa is decluttering and cleaning, too. I like what she wrote about working more deliberately and thoughtfully in this post from her House and Hold blog. Be sure to check out the link she posted to the Pleasant View Schoolhouse post, Lessons from Vintage Fiction. At the end of every day, I visit Pleasant View Schoolhouse because Anna almost always, like clockwork, has a new post up then. It's one of my favorite blogs to visit.

And while I'm posting links, I don't think I've yet mentioned my friend,
Laura A's blog. Laura is a very good friend in real life, and she writes interesting, thoughtful posts. I like reading about her life in Manhattan, her thoughts on homeschooling, and her commentary on the books she reads. Today Laura posted some really nice food photos (she's an artist, and it shows). Have a look.