Sweet Spot

No one would look at the inside of my house (garage/basement), or outside for that matter, and say “Here lives a women who prizes order and cleanliness.” At least, not with a straight face. Take the front porch, for instance: badly in need of a coat of paint (the landlord’s responsibility; I simply don’t have time/inclination); the floor is littered with gradou from spilled plants, leaves, spider camps; a dirty extension cord; box fan (picked up off the street)–don’t know if it works yet because the electrical outlet has a metal prong from that dirty extension cord stuck inside); director’s chair with step stool for propping my feet; cinder blocks holding potted plants; rusty narrow shelf (plants); various other pedestals for plants; empty pots for plants; a ginormous pine knot (some 30+ years ago a man in Tylertown, MS gave it to me saying he thought it was about 200 years old); ratty desk holding a small wicker laundry box for mail; more spider camps with leaves; metal citronella candle holder sans candle; small “bedside” table holding a plant; two other citronella candles in buckets, etc. Just a short list. All I need is a couple of rusty old appliances–wringer washer, ice box–a big yellow dog scratching her fleas, a grizzled old-timer smoking a pipe and fanning himself with a “Stiff and Sons Funeral Parlor” fan, and a tinny radio playing “I Don’t Know Whether to Kill Myself or Go Bowling,” to truly qualify for one of those politically incorrect epithets bandied about so readily in the south. You know the ones.

Making fun of it helps. Keeps me from running that endless whining tape of “I can never catch up! I want a house that’s clean and orderly, that’s filled with art. I want Lucy and Honeycat to be clean and sweet-smelling. I want to be able to focus intently on one thing, and not feel guilty because ten others are calling me with equal pleas for attention. I want . . . . ”

Wasn’t it nice back in the day when one could just light up a joint and silence all those nagging voices?  Until the paranoia set in, of course. I want the sweet spot where opposites at cross-purposes meet in the center, where the amount of energy/time I have connects peacefully with the long list of demands and desires. Without the drugs. (She says wistfully.)

My grandmother chased dirt her entire life and never caught up with the son-of-a-bitch. She always had six pots boiling on a four-burner stove, as it were. I’m just like her in that respect: a dizzying array of chores (the usual to keep a house running, with summer’s added demands of garden/yard) and creative projects (trying to get the novel published, researching black Madonnas for a commissioned shrine). And then there are all those projects that never get done: clean and organize the basement and garage, wash the car, repair that necklace, shirt, sweater, etc. (Windows, don’t you dare look at me with your cobwebbed and filthy panes! It just ain’t gonna happen.)

As I write this, my laundry is dry and ready to be taken down; the sun is waning, which means I can stand outside for an hour hand-watering the garden; Lucy will be demanding her walk soon; and it will then be time to cook supper. In fact, Lucy just rose from her nap and is walking back and forth, giving me the 45″ warning.

Now that I think about it, I guess I attained a bit of that sweet spot just now, didn’t I?






1 Comment

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One response to “Sweet Spot

  1. Alda Talley

    Darlene, I’ve just now read your post, just after Hurricane Isaac passed our way. I was already laughing halfway through the first ‘graph, thinking of how quickly your porch belongings would be edited here on the coast. Have you been away so long? I, too, had filled my large porch with a funky mix of artifacts, plants, furniture, and accessories, even a TV and phone. In addition, my porch wraps around on one side — the kitchen porch, with brooms, mops, and a #3 washtub — and around the other side, where my garden stuff resided. All this proudly in place in ’04 not long after our move. Since then, I’ve had to totally clear the damned porch near-on a dozen times, hauling it all inside where it came slap up against all the evacuees and their stuff, leaving our home a dangerous maze of tripping hazards in the dark. Oh, no more! Now, I’m into the “less is more” aesthetic, contrary to my NOLA nature, but more befitting my geography and ability. On landfall-minus-one day, I pulled out my “Clear the Porch” checklist, a choreography of sorts, and had that sucker down to the screens and concrete in 90 minutes flat! It also is handy to hand to the early-arriving evacuee who asks, “What can I do to help?” That’s my sweet spot!!

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