The Check List

In chasing dirt, in papering, decorating, tidying we are not governed by anxiety to escape disease, but are positively re-ordering our environment, making it conform to an idea.   Mary Douglas

porch work

In the last few days, a nagging list of tasks and chores has been given dutiful attention. The indecision about this or that, should we or shouldn’t we, is gone. Tasks that have been on the list for years are ready to be crossed off. The back is a bit sore, knees ache when they bend, a bruise or two has been acquired, connective tissue feels stretched throughout the body, and yet I am smiling.  This is so worth the aches and pains.


For Don and me, having a deadline is motivating.  We have several rounds of company coming, plus a summer schedule of art shows that will redirect our time and energy. Things need to happen before June. Another motivator is that celebratory feeling of striking the completed task off the list. Whether a check mark, a line drawn through, or erased from a white board; the sweet reward is that it is gone from the list, gone from the ruminations of the mind. Here is our working list finding check marks in the margins.


Yardwork.  This weekend we planted four new shrubs.  What an amazing difference this made in our view from the side porch. The removal of a large tree a few years ago left such a gap.  The shrubs add interest as well as filling a void. Then it was focused concentration on the tight community of Hosta plants. Oh, so many Hosta. Divided. Replanted. With more space, each one is breathing better.  Flower beds were cleared of their winter coverings.  Now spring shoots are seeing the sun and feeling encouraged to show up.  Cedar mulch is ready and waiting to be added. Leaves were raked off the raised bed garden and replaced with organic soil.  All back breaking work, but such a sense of accomplishment.


Windows. Years of indecision around window treatments finally came to a clear and perfect solution.  We have tried mini blinds, curtains of various kinds and lengths, but nothing has made Simplicity’s windows look happy. Cellular shades are on order and will be installed in a matter of weeks. Once thinking these were too contemporary for an old house, we now see them as a simplifying update that enhances the natural woodwork. Don’s comment, “These will lighten and brighten the house,” is just what Simplicity needs, we need.


Call the Electrician. Knowledgeable experts will change the location of a kitchen outlet. This little bugaboo has been an irritation since we bought the house sixteen years ago. The current outlet causes the stove to stick out an inch or two from the wall.  Soon the stove be in alignment with the kitchen counters.  Quite sure no one else will notice, but for me, all will be right with the world.   Our handy electricians will also install new ceiling fans. Another household update that has been on the list for too many years. One of the current fans only runs on high, another wobbles, and a third drops too far down into the room. Soon we will be feeling the breezes in the best of ways.


Porches. Every so many years the porches need painting.   Daunting to think about with one porch, let alone three.  This is the year. Patching, priming and painting are on the list.  Living in our ‘outdoor rooms’ is one of the things we love about Simplicity. From the earliest of spring to the latest of fall, we enjoy each one of these porches to their fullest. The tools are out, supplies purchased, some work has been started. Now the weather forecast says a week of rain ahead.  Hope our energy doesn’t drip away by the time the sun returns.


Shredding. Paper shredding is finally happening.  This has been Don’s department since it relates to the papers, files, and documents he brought into the marriage almost nineteen years ago. Years of putting this task on the back burner have caught up with him.  Not sure just what moved the switch from pause to full steam ahead, but he has been ruthless and determined.  Bins, boxes, and bags are finally empty as he is taking advantage of the free shredding services being offered on these spring Saturdays.   Already the house is feeling lighter.


In the midst of these house tasks, I snuggled up with the latest Deborah Crombie mystery. Ms. Crombie had left her readers in the lurch at the end of the last book. As my muscles and back took time to relax, my mind entered her complex mystery. By the end, unresolved situations were given closure.  Her characters would be starting a new day in the next mystery.   Much like the recent tasks here at Simplicity, bringing closure is such a satisfying feeling.  We, too, are entering a new day and probably a new check list.

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