Don’t worry, Ma, your room is almost ready!

Of course, I’ve turned this into a bigger project than necessary, as usual. To prepare for my mom’s upcoming visit during Thanksgiving week, I could have just changed the sheets and vacuumed the rug in the spare bedroom, put away the mailing supplies for the care packages I’ve been sending to soldiers in Afghanistan, filed the papers that have piled up near the computer desk (or not), and called it good. She would have been perfectly happy with the accommodations. But no. For some reason, I had to make this into the kind of project where I pull all the books off the shelves, empty all the drawers, and drag all the boxes from under the bed and out of the closet in order to “sort things out.”

It started with a small bookshelf just inside the door. I was simply going to remove the books, dust, pull the shelf away from the wall so I could vacuum behind it, and then put the books back where they had been. But as I took a closer look, I noticed that the shelf held few actual books. Mostly, it was loaded with back issues of magazines, old catalogs, manuals for computer programs that probably don’t even work on Windows XP, ring binders of handouts from various workshops I’ve taken over the years (e.g., water quality monitoring, tree keepers), and a notebook of brochures I had picked up when we remodeled our kitchen three years ago. So naturally, I decided I should clear out the clutter this week before my mom arrives.

Well, one thing led to another, and by the time I finished with the bookshelf, I had filled two boxes and one large bag with recycled paper. I filled another box with empty ring binders, and I relocated a collection of books about traditional American dance music to the newly emptied bookshelf. In the process, I went through all the boxes and shelves in the closet.

While digging through the closet, I ran across a box of my old piano music books, which I decided I simply must have out where I can see them—I suppose in case someone stops by the house sometime and asks me to play my old recital pieces again. Not that I have time to play piano, mind you, because I also rediscovered two large bags of wool that I have been meaning to spin into yarn, a table-top loom, and twelve knitted squares that I was planning to sew together into an afghan.  I have a little over a week before mom arrives. I still need to change the sheets on the bed and vacuum the carpet and file those papers that have piled up near the computer.

At least, I didn’t do as my mammaw was known to do when company was coming and decide this would be an absolutely great time to repaint the walls and perhaps replace the carpet, as well (although I must say, the thought did cross my mind). Mom still tells about the year we arrived at mammaw’s house for Christmas to find paint buckets in the guest room and plastic draped over the furniture. Apparently, mammaw had big plans but then abandoned the painting project halfway through, realizing, I suppose, that it was high time to start making pies before company showed up at her doorstep. The remodeling project would have to wait.

I remember that as the year my younger cousin drank turpentine and there was a big discussion about whether to take him to the clinic an hour and a half away or just give him some raw egg. No one actually saw him drink turpentine, but we smelled it on his shirt when he came in to tell someone “that don’t taste good.” But he seemed all right, so no one got too upset. When he later said that the raw egg “don’t taste good, either” and refused to take it, the consensus was that he must not have had that much turpentine, after all, and he would probably be fine. There’s nothing quite like spending time with family for the holidays.


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