The Daphne Is Blooming And My Christmas Decorations Are Still On The Floor, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:20am


I still hate housecleaning. Just needed to put that out here. Four and a half years of retirement haven’t made me a fan of household chores. Drat.

I know some of you love what some call “the domestics.” I find myself wondering, as I mop the floor, “This? Love?” But I also know that some of you have a housecleaner, which might help. I have not been able to find someone, and don’t plan to pursue it any more because it seems silly for two adults in a small house to have help when one them has free time and needs every possible opportunity to move around. Also the people we tried broke one of my benches and talked a lot on their cellphones and kept changing their schedule.

In any case, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I have been thinking about other joys to staying home. To being the one responsible.

Also by joy I don’t mean the usual warm feeling flooding our hearts. I mean the joy of a small, detailed puzzle, seeing a picture emerge out of patches. A surprise to the mind.

I was cleaning up after Christmas, an unfinished process still, and thought, “Next year I will do this with less fuss.” Now I can see the boxes of decorations, still lined up against my windows; I see the daphne blooming along the lawn. I think of last summer, when the sun shone so hot we bought not one but two sky blue patio umbrellas. We open them right outside these same windows; they shade the sofa and we hide.

What I mean to say is that from here I see the full year, each time weighted in its own value. When I worked time was unbalanced. Vacations and holidays I thought and felt one way, work another. Who could imagine next Christmas, next summer, or the next opening of the daphne?

Something else I thought recently, and put on Twitter this morning as I sidled up to writing.

The culture leads us to believe that one mythical day, when we are 35, or 28, or 42, is our “real life.” The time before then is to get ready, the time after we run in place. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I want every minute of my life to be my life. To live in the self that I am.

I admit I’m still tempted to live in the future. But at 61, why? And I can’t live in the past, it will never return, there’s nothing to envision or wait for, it happened. Already.

In some odd way having enough time to see the year as a series of equal steps places me in the moment. Future spring, let’s say, anchors me in today’s late late winter.

None of which is to say that Buddha mops the floors. Just that new ways of life bring new unpredicted rewards.

Have a wonderful, stupendous, bloom of a weekend.

 

 

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20 Comments

  • 01/27/18
    10:36 am

    Reply

    Loretta said...

    Feeling similarly as I am turn 63 in two weeks or so. Going thru moving boxes of art supplies and catch myself thinking of “when I have time” to use all of this…. If not now at the beginning of retirement, when??

    01/27/18
    10:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Loretta, Yes. Exactly this. It is not a simple change in thinking to make.

  • 01/27/18
    12:23 pm

    Reply

    MaryAnne said...

    House cleaners can be a problem. We had them when I worked, but with three little girls my husband decided it would be more advantageous for me to work part time and do the cleaning myself. It worked for us. I don’t love cleaning, but I don’t mind it either. Plus, I really hate what happens if I don’t clean.

    Living in the present is a wonderful skill and not always easy to do.

    Happy weekend!

    01/27/18
    12:46 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MaryAnne, Definitely not always easy to do. Work in process. I also hate what happens when I don’t clean- I cope by doing small changes in times during the day that I’d otherwise fritter away. Time slices too small to do anything substantive in terms of errands, exercise, or writing, which are my other tasks.

  • 01/27/18
    12:35 pm

    Reply

    Diane said...

    I have to say, it’s unnerving to have you reading my mind, but you’re also much more eloquent than I in expressing my thoughts. Thanks!

    01/27/18
    12:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Diane, Ah no, thanks to you! My pleasure to have the company:).

  • 01/27/18
    12:40 pm

    Reply

    Jean said...

    Well that was just simply a lovely post. I’m going to bookmark it . Thank you.

    01/27/18
    12:49 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jean, You are very welcome. Thank you for the kind words.

  • 01/27/18
    1:20 pm

    Reply

    Jess said...

    Lisa, I’m a long-time subscriber, yet have never commented before — but I just wanted to let you know how much I always enjoy your writing and resonate with this. I’m “only” 34, but I have so many old binders full of writing and ideas, musical instruments including my own voice, textbooks for preparing to return to school… lovingly set aside for that mythical time when “the time” is right — more accurately, when I am right. The time never seems to come because something about me just isn’t ready, good enough, strong enough, brave enough, healthy enough, in the right location, or able to face it somehow. I’ve always been an old soul and am keenly, often despairingly, aware of the time slipping away. I hope to be more like you. I hope you have a lovely day and enjoy it to the fullest. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. You inspire so many people, including me.

    01/27/18
    3:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jess, Thank you so much for reading, and for telling me this today. I wish you all the best and then some.. 34 is very young, which I see that you know. Sometimes just the workings of our bodies when we are that young prevent us from being able to peacefully forward. It’s like we’re moving in a storm of our own creation. So if the time isn’t right, or you aren’t in the right state, don’t lose hope. I was always too afraid to “be a writer.” It gets easier. Much easier.

  • 01/27/18
    1:51 pm

    Reply

    TJ said...

    Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

    01/27/18
    4:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    @TJ, You are very wise. It’s taken me how many years to even glimpse that truth? :)

  • 01/27/18
    2:16 pm

    Reply

    Margaret Robinson said...

    Hi — I’ve had a housekeeper for years literally and for the last 20 or so, it’s been just 2 of us In a relatively small home – 2,700 square feet – 3 beds (ones an office), 3 bathrooms. We’ve 2 dogs as well. Our housekeeper once a week and it really keeps the house neat and tidy (well, more so than it would be).

    You may ask yourself the “why” of having a housekeeper and truly believe you don’t need one, but I have found that with all the normal things I do through-out the day (including riding my horse), I need someone who will give me the free time to do the things I love. It’s so worth it and I’ve got just regular things to do, not sitting on committees, running a business, et al. It’s heaven – ‘course that also means that right now we’ve got a woman who cleans for us who is more than efficient and good at her job, but nice as well. I couldn’t do everything I do without her and it also means that for my spouse, there is a chance that things will remain a little neater as well.

    Honestly, I think that you just need to find someone you can depend on and it sounds as though you haven’t. I say whatever works for you is great, but having someone else pick up/clean every week is a true joy for us!

    01/27/18
    4:03 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Margaret Robinson, I am absolutely sure that finding the right person would make the housekeeper approach wonderful. Best of all worlds. It’s all about the right person, and a relationship between employer and employee that is good for both. You are lucky to have created one, I imagine it took some focus and effort.

  • 01/27/18
    2:26 pm

    Reply

    Terri said...

    Loved your comments and I hate to be practical but I have always hated vacuuming, dusting, you know housework. I work part-time and can no longer justify paying someone so I got better tools; roomba automatic vacuum, wireless vacuum for stairs and furniture and steam mop. Rhonda, the roomba is wonderful and she vacuums while I pick up things and I love my cleaner house!

    01/27/18
    4:17 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Terri, I have thought about the Roomba, but I have so much hardwood, and an open plan, I am not sure how it would work. Glad it’s been so great for you. Steam mop I have – only reason my kitchen floor is passable as much as it is:)

  • 01/27/18
    2:47 pm

    Reply

    Jane said...

    I hear you on the housekeeper problem. The last one I hired ran the vacuum cleaner over an antique oriental carpet and it ate the fringe even though I specifically asked them not to do this. So I am back to doing my own house cleaning. Not too hard since it’s just the two of us and how much of a mess can we make? It gets dusty and when that bothers me, I dust and vacuum – not too religiously I might add. At least we don’t have dust bunnies. As for living in the present, I am working on that. I often ask myself these days. if not now, when? Enjoy your weekend!

    01/28/18
    1:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Sorry about your rug! My bench was new, and probably reparable, I was also so annoyed that they didn’t tell me about it, I had to find it for myself.

  • 01/27/18
    2:49 pm

    Reply

    Linda Pakravan said...

    Beautiful post. I can almost imagine your daphne blossoms!

    I also dislike housework but I am revolted by the state things degenerate into when I don’t do it. I recently had some help. It was a unique experience. She insisted on using vinegar to clean the refrigerator. Ineffective would be a polite assessment of the results. To her credit, she was adamant vinegar was better for the health. My husband adored her singing, kept his office door open as soon as heard the first note. She does have a good voice. But I’m not keen on paying for marginal work by a singing cleaner no matter how happy it makes the Mister. Well, maybe if she sang Edith Piaf! So I’m back to me.

    A while back you recommended the Bissell steam mop. What a game changer. I’m on my 2nd one. Love it! My tile floors have never, ever been cleaner.

    This past year has been a real bitch for me personally. But one thing I’ve finally, ok, mostly, maybe, partly learned the hard way: there’s no going back, only forward.

    Thanks!

    01/28/18
    1:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Linda Pakravan, Glad to hear you love the steam cleaner, I love mine too. Without it I do not know what the state of my kitchen floor would be;). But so sorry to hear this has been a bad year. I hope this one is better, and that forward is good. xox.

  • 01/27/18
    5:02 pm

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    So much to ponder here, but for now I’ll just say that my Daphne, way up the Coast from you, is making some serious (pink) moves toward bloom time! Can’t wait for that fragrance, except that I must try to live in the present, not hurtle two weeks ahead. . . But still. . . ;-)

    01/28/18
    1:51 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Gardens are the ultimate Be Here Now Oh But Wait I Know What’s Coming device, aren’t they:).

  • 01/27/18
    5:33 pm

    Reply

    Leslie K said...

    Thank you, Lisa, for another beautifully written post.

    01/28/18
    1:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Leslie K, You are very welcome – thank you for reading. <3

  • 01/28/18
    12:57 am

    Reply

    Ellebougies said...

    I love this so much, Lisa. It resonates so much with where I am now, & where I’m trying be. Thank you for this.

    01/28/18
    1:53 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Ellebougies, Thank you. xoxo.

  • 01/28/18
    2:31 am

    Reply

    Linda said...

    Very timely post for me as I’ve just moved to the house where we plan to spend the rest of our lives. Now we have to get on with living here and creating a new fabric around us, instead of talking about that time safely in the future ‘when we move’. It’s a different move to all others because we don’t plan to move again, and it’s tricky still to have a sense of forward movement rather than the sense of an ending.
    No cleaners tho. Our lovely au pairs when our children were small also did ferocious cleaning, with interesting variations according to which European country they came from. Before that we had one attempt at having a house cleaner thro an agency and she absconded with many clients’ keys…After the au pair era, tho working full time, we preferred to do our own cleaning. While resoundingly dull, it’s good exercise. Interested that no comments so far refer to house cleaning also being a male responsibility. My view is that just because I have female reproductive organs it doesn’t mean I have a natural affinity with dusters. My husband loves cleaning the cars, therefore he’s physically capable of dusting, hoovering and cleaning the shower. And he does.

    01/31/18
    10:49 am
    Lisa said...

    @Linda, “it’s tricky still to have a sense of forward movement rather than the sense of an ending.” I think this is the task of this time of life. The task.

    And I agree, no reason male humans can’t clean! Mine still has a demanding full-time job though, and since I’m so familiar with that world, I’m very careful of his time.

  • 01/28/18
    5:33 am

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    Beautiful post as usual, thank you Lisa. As for the housecleaning, it’s something that I enjoy quite a bit, the process and the thoughts I have while I’m getting my home to just where I like it. I also own an old house that we use as an office and I clean that too. If I don’t I just don’t feel connected to it, it’s something I need to do for myself.
    That being said if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t hesitate to hire a weekly housekeeper. I did have one when my children were small, even though I was a stay-at-home mom.
    I do get my husband to vacuum the entire house, he has much stronger shoulders and arms than I do so for him it’s nothing. It’s not a chore I mind but with my injured neck I have to take a break from hauling around the Miele.
    Happy weekend Lisa xx

    01/31/18
    10:51 am
    Lisa said...

    @DaniBP, I thought of you, Hostess, and Faux Fuchsia when I wrote this post. Just didn’t want to link to you, since it seemed kind of weird to say “here are the people who are different from me.” But in retrospect, I should have. All of you have skills I admire and respect – I do not look askance at a love of household work. I wish I had that trait but I just don’t. I bet your house is a pleasure.

  • 01/28/18
    6:48 am

    Reply

    DaphneJonquil said...

    Here’s where the phrase ‘good enough’ is useful. Just had house guests to our holiday house. I cleaned their room and the bathroom to the best of my ability, which is average. Elsewhere the dust bunnies roamed, the cobwebs glinted and I noted the dust on higher shelves. But we all had a lovely weekend.

    I use cleaning as a form of Ghandian meditation – he cleaned and swept and wove. But I’m not good at it and have masses of other work.

    But ‘good enough.’

    Like you Lisa.

    01/31/18
    10:54 am
    Lisa said...

    @DaphneJonquil, I guess I’ve finally made it from “abysmal” house cleaning to “average.” Very happy to have your eloquent company, which is more than good enough.

  • 01/28/18
    7:51 am

    Reply

    Joanne Long said...

    Retirement is a strange time because maybe you’ve arrived wherever you thought you were going or maybe the journey continues or maybe you’re just mopping the floor. I’ve had a half-hearted search for a housekeeper to do a few chores but we’re two people in an apartment. What I really need is a ruthless organizer who will help me to simplify a bit. Less fuss is a very good idea.

    01/31/18
    11:02 am
    Lisa said...

    @Joanne Long, “Retirement is a strange time because maybe you’ve arrived wherever you thought you were going or maybe the journey continues or maybe you’re just mopping the floor.”

    Ha!

    I’m choosing all of the above:).

  • 01/29/18
    5:03 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    I have learned to enjoy those domestic chores…I prefer the orderly over the chaotic so it is a conscious decision to make accomplishing them a priority.
    Not for everyone but I find the routines are soothing…I used to detest ironing but now I actually love it!

    I’d love to see your Daphne…we used to have one in our garden and its scent was sweet and intoxicating…it got far too large and I miss it now after reading your post.

    lots to ponder after reading your blog….

    01/31/18
    11:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Yes! I said to Dani above, some of my favorite bloggers LOVE domestic chores. I can tell I just didn’t get the gene, but that gene sure does bring some good stuff with it.

    I can take a picture of my daphne, I only wish it were smellavision:).

  • 01/30/18
    10:44 pm

    Reply

    Hadilly said...

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m in Palo Alto and have a fabulous house cleaner. She and her team are lovely, communicative, and very thorough. Their prices are reasonable too. Please send me an email if you would like their contact info. Happy to answer any questions you might have about them too.

    02/03/18
    9:52 am
    Lisa said...

    @Hadilly, Thank you. I’ll send you an email.

  • 02/01/18
    5:57 pm

    Reply

    Susan D. said...

    I try so hard to live in the moment at age 65 (almost 66) but find it so difficult to truly appreciate the present. I need to work on that.

    I hear you on giving up on finding a housekeeper. It is essential for us as we have three houses to clean (this is a first world issue, I know). But either they change their schedules or they are very hard on my house. I keep thinking that if I was very organized, I could do it all myself.

    And yes, the seasons of the year are amazing. I need to remember that too.

    02/03/18
    10:19 am
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., I think three houses would be above and beyond the call of duty.

    I hope your present, right now, is good. xox

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