In my last post I wrote about the virtues of an orderly life. I neglected to point out that it is not possible unless one is the sole resident of his/her teepee. As long as there are two minds at work in the same household, there will be two ways to achieve a sense of order.
I become obsessed with the necessity of correct time. Dr. Advice and I began collecting antique clocks many years ago. Offhand I don’t know how many we gathered into the fold from various places. My favorite, which I would defend with my honor, is a wonderfully heavy, ornate Ansonia mantel clock which once belonged to the parents of my great-uncle Phil. It is probably not of great value except to me, as the most important things in our lives are important. From my infancy, and through my high school years, I lived often with Auntie and Uncle Phil, and in a state of perpetual homesick insomnia, I counted the chimes of this old clock. It became a symbol of never-changing stability. Life would go on as long as the venerable timepiece let us know what time it was. It has lived proudly on the mantel in my living room since I inherited it. How clever of someone to sense my attachment. Though others are more beautiful, valuable or unique, the old Ansonia are the chimes I listen for in the night.
I set all the clocks by what the computer assures us is the correct time and adjust them each to the minute. It is a veritable symphony in the middle of the night listening to the time being pealed out. If one is off by a minute or two, I scramble around in the morning trying to find which one has forsaken me. I am joyous beyond belief when they all announce the hour at the same time. Fortunately this is my only ridiculous mania, and I am fairly normal in all other respects.
I think most people go through stages of being Mr/Mrs Clean. After the preliminary Spring clean-up, we relax, watch a few ball games, read the seed catalogues in hope of planting a few bulbs and flowers, and suddenly, when we need to entertain a few friends, we find the house is a mess again. I have always felt that if a spoon, vase or pen were placed in a certain spot, that is where it should be replaced after use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
During and after my most recent period of being unwell, Dr. Advice became housekeeper, cook and care-giver. I have to say that between one and ten, and beginning on the low end, he has gone way up the scale. However, now that I have reintroduced myself to my kitchen, I spend a good deal of time looking for things which have been moved to unlikely spots. What is logical for him today, may be another place tomorrow. But what joy to suddenly come upon something which has gone missing for a month or two! It does bring excitement into a mundane but necessary part of the house.
I went out to Dr. Advice’s workshop and saw that all his garden tools were lined up like soldiers on the wall and his workbench was perfectly clear. It was a very pleasant surprise. Before the family came for Christmas dinner, I was prompted to clear out my painting studio. It is in a room where I also do my ironing. Oh I know what you are thinking—who does ironing any more? Well another obsession of mine is cloth napkins, and cloth napkins need starch and ironing. Sadly, the ironing basket is full right now.
As I looked around, I also saw several paintings half-finished, a great jumble of paint brushes, Christmas wrapping paper and ribbons to be disposed of, boxes of various painting media. I forgive myself for the delay in completing these things because it is cold in that room this year, and I DO know where everything is in case I need it. I keep an old sweater of my father’s draped on my chair, but somehow isn’t enough this winter. All good excuses for when Dr. Advice decides he is more organized than I. We are not alike, but neither are apples and oranges, and they are both delicious.