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Now, with a rush of old memories, how clearly it stood up before him, in the darkness! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day’s work. And the home had been happy with him, too, evidently, and was missing him, and wanted him back, and was telling him so, through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or anger; only with plaintive reminder that it was there, and wanted him.
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
I get nesty in November. The crazy, carny month of October has been run out of town on the rails. December’s glittering blizzard is still a mere and distant flurry. In a few weeks, it will be howling at the door, and I am savoring every minute of this calm that precedes it.
In spring and summer, all I want to do is run away from home. Fall and winter call me in again. This morning, on the way through the sunroom with a basket of laundry, I stopped at the window to watch a squirrel at work in the yard, his fat tail twitching, little hands digging–the picture of industriousness. I, too, have been digging into earthy things–simple tasks, like sorting closets, knitting presents, baking and cooking. The work of hands. It’s been satisfying and soothing.
My mailbox makeover has been the epicenter of this burst of domestic energy. With the Halloween decorations down, I was able to begin painting our dingy white louvered door turquoise. I managed one coat this weekend before it got cold and rainy. I’m hoping to finish it next weekend.
I think I’m just now really beginning to understand the power of done. When I look at my goals and tasks each day, I’m looking for what I can complete. What’s in reach? What will give me the most energetic payback and clear my way to the bigger stuff? How can I break that big stuff down into smaller chunks of finished things?
The kids were out of school Thursday and Friday of last week. Rather than spend both days frustrated at not getting any writing accomplished, I decided to tackle another of the items on my “stuck” list: laundry. As in, too much of it, it’s never finished, and no one can find anything to wear. The symptom was the baskets and baskets of clothes that had taken up permanent residence in my bedroom, creating a secondary massive infection of clutter. The baskets were in our bedroom because the laundry room was full of seasonal clothes and linens, things needing ironing, mending or dry cleaning, and boxes of hand-me-downs.
In short, it was a mess. I got exhausted just looking at it.
I began by doing what I usually do when I don’t know where else to begin: with a list. I used my beloved Cozi to make a list of what a reasonable fall and winter wardrobe would look like for each boy: 4-6 long sleeve Ts, 4 pairs jeans, one dress up outfit, 4 prs PJs, etc. Then I sorted all the clean clothes by child, without folding, and put a print-out of the checklist on top of each pile. The two older boys were able to do their own inventory with very little curation from me. It helped to give them an incentive — I said I would order the new parkour shoes they’ve been begging for, the minute they had their inventory complete.
It very quickly became evident what was at the root of our laundry logjam. We took two large trash bags’ worth of clothes out of circulation. Clothes that didn’t fit anyone, or weren’t liked very well, that I’ve been picking up, washing, drying and piling for months and months. Next, I uncovered several boxes of stored hand-me-downs and winter clothes in the laundry room, and was able to check a few more boxes on the younger boys’ lists. AND, OH HEY, LAUNDRY TABLE. Long time no see.
By lunchtime, we were ready to shop for the new things that were needed, which was much more fun than I was expecting. I don’t think I’ve had the boys in the mall with me since at least one of them was in a stroller. Another reason to be glad we’re in the middle years.
By afternoon, I had the closets looking like this:
And I could see my bedroom floor again. Which gave rise to a burst of inspiration for a BIG, NEW to-do.
That can wait till next year.