Cleaning Up For the Guests
I don't know about y'all,
But for the last 10 years or so
The main times we would really
Clean house was when we have
Had company coming.
A sad way to live, I know,
But I suspect we're not alone.
Not to make excuses, though.
It always starts with good intentions,
The house gets straightened up
For the company and for a while
Everything looks pretty good.
Then the slow decline begins
To set in...straying from the wonderful mantra:
A place for everything and everything
In its place—
I leave a book out that I haven't
Finished looking at,
Then I'll put a recipe I cut out of
The paper on top of that...
The next day a couple of letters I delay
Answering go on top of that...
The new issues of National Geographic,
Smithsonian, Off-Beat, Mother Earth,
Mother Jones, Yoga Journal, Natural Home,
Rolling Stone and The Week, which all
Arrive on the same day, go on top of that,
As do rejection letters from the Georgia
And Sewanee Reviews that come the next day,
The stack gets so big I have to spread it around
The room(s) to keep it from crashing to the floor.
Then there's a sale at the library and the last hour
Everything you can stuff in a large box is $5 per,
So I come home with 130 lps, 51 78s and 28 books
That I don't need, but at $5 a pop, you can't say
No, can you. These lps, 78s and books need to go
Somewhere so I put the boxes on the floor so
I can go through them slowly—sometime.
Then Bo-Jo's Antique Mall goes out of business
And the guy is selling 45s for a dime a piece! And
Over a few weeks' time you end up with around
One thousand of them sitting on your dining
Room table, 'cause for sure a sale like this will
Never come around again, and you want to listen
To 'em one by one, the A and B sides both, as
You wash and dry the dishes, because if you
Plunk 'em down in your back bedroom
They'll never see the light of day again.
Then spring comes and it's planting time
So you get out the boxes of seed packets
That have been sitting in the storage room
Over winter, plus the other seeds and bulbs
You have collected yourselves and spread
All that out on the kitchen table.
In the middle of all this, we're still doing
Our regular stuff like refreshing sourdough
Starter, making a new batch of miso paste,
Mixing this year's plum liqueur with the new
Green plums just picked, making a batch of
"Nocino" liqueur with green walnuts picked
On June 24th, plus drying the mature
Greek, Turkish, Sicilian and Syrian oreganos
For bottling, not to mention the rose petals,
Lavender flowers and lemon grass.
All of these things require jars, bottles, jugs
And various other esoteric gizmos to aid
In the endeavors...they spread out everywhere.
Eventually, there are so many things covering
Every table, counter or other flat space that
It gets to the point where you are eating all
Meals out of bowls held while sitting in a chair
And you can't get to some things because it
Is so cluttered. If you had to call 911 you
Wouldn't let them in it looks so bad.
Just as you are considering finding the nearest
Meeting of Hoarders Anonymous your wife
Informs you it is her turn to host the Ladies Tea
Luncheon at our house in two weeks.
Good God, woman, tell me you're joking!
But she isn't...
You start putting things in little piles and
Stacking them in the back bedrooms on top
Of previous piles, kind of like a reverse
Archeological dig, and it happens so many
Times that you don't know where things
Are anymore there are so many piles and
Stacks and boxes, but you keep working,
Stay up till 2am a couple of nights,
And when the Ladies Tea Saturday finally
Comes you have no shame when they arrive
And they can move about without thinking
They are in a very unorganized flea market.
So, we've kept the order for 5 days now
And it feels like born again feels.
But how long will it last?
Till the next "All you can cram in a box for $5"
Sale comes along and shows temptation's ugly
Face to me once again, I suspect.
Pitiful, ain't it.