None of it is funny, but there is a sense of amusement at human nature in this situation which is “unnatural” to our species. Because we are watching television and using the internet there is so much more coming across our screens and into our thoughts. One piece of humor said, “I always said I would clean my house when I had time. Now that I have time I discover that wasn’t the reason. I just don’t want to do it!” Visiting with folks via e.mails and texts there is a real sense of boredom at the mundane chores which confront us. Author Kathleen Norris wrote a series of essays once on the Spiritual nature of the quotidian or (everyday) things we have to do. But right now, I don’t think many of us see the “Spiritual” nature of the work before us in this place in which we find ourselves.
I painted my guest room the beginning of this week. I decided it needed to be done and I have nothing but time, so I bought paint and started the process. It is amazing how much larger the room seemed as I stood, paint brush in hand, ladder in front of me. Edging between the ceiling and the wall and between the base boards and the wall were a real challenge. After hip surgery in late November I am still not totally balanced and need something to hang on to when going up and down. My vision is not the greatest for things up close and delicate and getting down on the floor to clean paint spills takes a lot of serious thought. I made it however, and by the time I re-arranged pictures and got rid of a few things, it was quite an achievement. I have a second room to do, but I will approach that further down the road. I see it as another good exercise in down-sizing.
Several of us, as we have talked on the telephone, have chuckled at our vision of The Attic here in town when things do open up again. If every person who has said they were cleaning corners and closets and basements follows up on that mission, the volunteers will have enough sorting to do for months to come. The used furniture room at Zion Lutheran Church will be another place to take household items if cupboards and linen closets were on your list of chores. But for now the bulging plastic bags and overflowing boxes sitting in the basement or garage will sit patiently until all of us are ready to start moving around again.
Being housebound is enough of a challenge when you are alone. I cannot imagine parents and children cooped up in the house these many weeks together, especially if one or both parents are trying to work from home. When we kids were home in the summer time, in the “old days”, mother would tell us to “go outside and play” with the neighborhood kids. Now of course you can’t do that and the library where we spent many wonderful hours is also beyond our reach. Fortunately I have books stockpiled on that shelf where sit all the books I have been going to read, but never get to.
I also do jigsaw puzzles. Several years ago I discovered jigsaw puzzles ‘on-line’. I think it is the greatest invention ever — what are the two greatest frustrations about jigsaw puzzles on a card table in the living room — one is losing pieces and the second is what to do with the masterpiece when you complete it! On line puzzles are every size from 50 pieces to 500; you never lose a piece of the puzzle; you can enlarge the pieces if they get too small; and when you are done you simply push “delete” and its gone. I’ve gotten hooked on the 150 piece puzzles. I can do them in about an hour if all goes well. When I am done, I like to study the puzzles of famous paintings and other vintage pictures.
With the ice and snow gone I have enjoyed more walking and the people going past my house to Makoshika Park is really phenomenal. It is fun to watch the parade each day.
Well, we know we are pretty well going to be social distancing until the end of April. After that, who knows? Any re-entry into the stream of life is going to be painstakingly slow. Life will be different after these months, like 9/11, our lives will be forever changed. Handshakes, hugs, tight crowds, huge affairs or Mardi Gras? But, one day at a time.