Tag Archives: cleaning

Spring Cleaning

My house needs sprucing up.  I missed spring cleaning, and I need some motivation to declutter, organize, and deep-clean.

I know!  I’ll invite two literary characters over for tea.  They will have lots of advice that will inspire me in my tasks.

Who’s coming to my “Tidy-up Tea”?  Why Mrs. Peniston from The House of Mirth and Miss Ophelia  from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, of course!   Between Mrs. Peniston’s enthusiasm for going through every closet and cabinet in chapter 9  of her book and Miss Ophelia’s ideas for Dinah’s kitchen organization in her book, I’ll be set.

Can you think of anyone else I should invite?  Because I think Peniston and Ophelia could easily have a cleaning/organizing television show on TLC.


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Strategy Games

We had a snow/ice day earlier this week.  I always view these bonus days as the perfect opportunity to take on a “project.”  You know, projects like Dinah’s kitchen drawer, things that would make Miss Ophelia proud.

The disaster area of choice this time was our game and puzzle closet, and I was going to need some sort of fortification or mental stimulation to take on this task.  My weapon of choice:

Portrait of an Audio Book

Surprising, right?  I have done pretty much nothing but complain about Henry James since the beginning of this month, and yet I chose him as my companion while facing this horrendously mundane sorting nightmare.  What was I thinking?  I’ll tell you:  I was thinking that it couldn’t get any worse.

Also, if I could knock off some pages by means of audiobook, that would improve the dismal chapter-a-day average I was barely managing to eek out.  So, I put on the lovely voice of Wanda McCaddon and started separating Uno Attack from Cars Uno and plain ol’ Uno.

As the stacks of cards, dice, and meeples grew, I found time flying.  I even began to regularly smile.  It turns out that The Portrait of a Lady makes a fairly decent read-aloud.

I suppose there are a couple of factors at play here.  The first is that the sweet sound of words replaces the text stretching endlessly for pages without the slightest hint of white space.  I don’t know why paragraphs are so important to me, but they are.

The second, is that when read by a skilled orator, the somewhat laborious descriptions of people and places come off as interesting details delivered with clever and witty poignancy.

So, although never-played games and puzzles missing more than 75% of their pieces are no longer present in our home, I think I may look for some more opportunities to throw down the needle on the old Henry James album.  Who knows, I might survive this novel, yet.


Posted by on February 2, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


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Ask Miss Ophelia

Dear Miss Ophelia,

I’m a thirty-something-ish mother of five.  My children and I seem to be suffering from a severe case of shiftlessness.  Our house is a great mess and we often struggle to get all our work done.  I realize that this inability to accomplish what we set our hands to places us as objects of your entire contempt, yet I write to you today not so that you may take on a stony grimness towards us, but because your forte lies in doing.

We hope your level of action can help us find our path of duty.  If you could just tell us what we ought to do, I’m sure that we will be able to restore order.  It has come to my attention that conscientiousness is key to your shiftfull, (may I call it that?), way of life, and I believe it is something that lacks in ours.

In an effort to abide by your principles, I’ve already taken up the habit of knitting to pass those times when my hands seem idle.  I like to carry a little project in my purse to fill the inconveniently still moments in line at the grocery store, or while I wait for a traffic light to turn green.  Yet, sometimes my brain finds forms of work, like folding laundry and doing dishes, to be idle and so before I know it my hands are reaching for the knitting.  Have you experienced this problem?  How do you overcome it?

I hear you also have a great deal of expertise in cleaning out junk drawers.  We have a nasty one in our kitchen.  And another on my desk.  There might be a drawer in my bathroom that could use some attention as well.  And, well, pretty much the entire basement could be viewed as a drawer if looked at in the right light.  I am a bit worried though, your work with Dinah leads me to believe that you don’t approve of old shoes and hymnals in with pantry items.  I just want to warn you up front – this might be a difficult obstacle for me to overcome.

On the other hand, we all look forward to your lessons on bed-making for the children.  This morning my youngest threw out every blanket in his crib, including the fitted sheet and mattress cover.  It’s fair to say that he’s ready, and excited.

My husband anxiously awaits your reply.  If we haven’t heard anything soon he’ll be boarding a slow boat to Vermont to fetch you, that is, if I can get his suitcase closed.


Shiftless in Michigan


Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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