“Girl Sweeping,” by William McGregor Paxton, 1912. (Sadly, many of the painters seemed to have lacked any imagination whatsoever when naming their work. I would suggest, “Was it wrong to put mouse droppings in Gerald’s shoes? It was he fifty fourth time they weren’t put away this month, but maybe he’s trying I can’t see it. Maybe I’ll tell him where I keep the cookies . . . but it’s awfully hard to keep up if he knows where they are. Dear me.” to be a much more interesting title.)
Yesterdays sorrows and triumphs were small. With all the farm work recently, the house has been sorely neglected. A missing book loaned by a friend (who had herself borrowed it from a library), tipped the scales to desperation and I hit the sorting and cleaning with a will. Everywhere I turned things needed doing. Some discoveries were too terrifying to detail. – Let’s just say that the night I was sure I smelled toilet like items originating from a cat and then decided it was all in my head, well, I was right the first time. – I vacuumed, mopped, cleaned bathrooms, culled bookshelves and went through almost endless piles of papers.
For other small triumphs, all twelve lambs are doing great. The bottle guys are down to three feedings a day, soon to be two. All of them are energetic and growing like weeds. Speaking of which, the lowly pricker bush is our big winner this year, bested in number by the dandelion, but hated so much more deeply that it wins for worst weed thus far.
In poultry, the meat chicks are also doing well. Three more weeks before their life insurance plans run out. Unfortunately, we have a wounded chicken from the layers. I haven’t figured out what happened yet. The skin underneath her was torn by something. Recovery does not seem possible. Madam is on the porch in a blue tub where the other chickens won’t bother her and we are keeping her hydrated. Sprouts from the desert wildflower seeds are hopefully providing a bit of ambiance on the table beside her. As well, we have the candles and a cross on the doughboy by the couch for when the porch serves as our makeshift family chapel, so really, Madam should have everything she needs for this life and the next.
But back to house sorting . . . after seven hours of taking things from where they were and putting them where they go, the book was found! I had already given up, deciding that a donation to the library was preferable to further fruitless searching, when lo and behold, it’s little green cover appeared. An inordinate amount of satisfaction rose up in me and smugly remained. I laughed at myself but the laughter did not diminish contentment even slightly. Some days the simple things suffice.
Helen Keller described my life at present pretty well.
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.–
Thank you, Ms. Keller.
I vaguely remember in the lead up to Christmas feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about unfinished lists. Blissfully fuzzy now are all such silly things. I remember the gifts, too many to count. In the telling I am happy all over again.
This year we got three days of an odd snow and freezing rain combination right before Christmas. Holidays can’t be ruined by weather, but it can make them sing a little more. I watched the rain come down and felt a little melancholy about the inevitable destruction of good skating ice on the pond.
Christmas Eve (twas the time for cleaning madly) I opened the outside door to see my daughter’s boots thrown on the snowy ground. Irritated, I commanded into the cold for her to come and explain. She didn’t answer. Her brothers smiled and pointed.
Girl one was skating. All over the yard, around the house, and out into the pasture. Instead of melting the snow or leaving divots all over the place, the freezing rain had hardened six inches of snow into a very hard and smooth surface. Christmas day kids were sledding, skating, and Cross Country skiing, all on the same hills and fields, sometimes side by side.
My favourite gift was a song. Boy one on the piano, girl one on the violin, boy and girl two singing. The First Noel. A surprise performance for me.
The day after Christmas, we went to see my brother and his family. We didn’t fight moving from beds to car. For most of nine hours travelling, we were kind to each other. We have no idea how it happened. I feel asleep that night with gratitude (and wonder). Two families of six (who see each other twice a year) were in a three bedroom house for days. The joy inside me was so loud, I hardly heard the kids.
I love my sister-in-law to death. I also find her organization inspiring. I started sorting and organizing the night we got home and for almost the entire next day. More order and hope are already flooding the place as I head into another day of home improvements.
In closing, the commentary department:
I am in the laundry room. Boy one puts his arms around me from behind.
“Thanks. What’s that for?”
“I feel like I’ve been a jerk today. I just wanted to say that.”
Mid morning on the first, So what if I can’t marry a Dutch girl (like my brother did) at least I can learn from one cleaning day. The girls had cleaning rags in hand. I was arranging shoes. “We’re like Cinderella,” said Girl one. “We work all the time, but we’re really happy.”
During our anniversary celebration, discussion of marriage commenced.
“You guys fight a lot,” said one cheery voice.
I wasn’t sure how to take the appraisal. It surprised me. I was deciding how depressed to feel when boy two interjected, sincere and insistent.
“Mom and Dad don’t fight a lot, Mom’s just right a lot.”
Ah, my young shining knight . . .
I think you need to have a real life musical evening…where everyone sings what they have to say. Sing through dinner….etc. If you yell at the kids, you have to sing it. heehee . . . .
(This was from Abby’s comment to my “Singing in the Snow,” post.)
Have you ever tried this yourself? This is a seriously great idea. You have now officially planned the first musicals kick-off night of the upcoming family musicals tour. . . date still to be determined. I’ll post back the results, but really you are killing me. I wasn’t going to start the tour until school was out . . . Dec. 19th? 20th? But if you think I can wait that long to sing my grievances at my children, you are wrong. I have already begun working on possible lyrics. So far, I have a short number on the state of their rooms set to the tune of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” I am still playing with the words to my impending mental breakdown serenade, but am using the tune of Amazing Grace to contrast nicely with my thoughts on uncivil sibling bickering and how it is affecting my peace of mind.
Many thanks for the brilliant suggestion. As soon as I can pull it off, we’re going for it.
Singing to sanity, or not, but having fun, on County Road 21
I’m going to clean
I’m getting up
I’m just figuring out what to do first
Me getting the kids out the door in the morning . . .
Your hair looks fine, but nobody’s going anywhere
until those teeth are brushed
and sucking on the toothpaste
I’ll be standing here waiting with your backpacks.