I have been feeling cranky lately and have ascribed it to the need to make something. However, I promised myself I would get the studio cleaned up before I started something new. It has been quite a while and many projects since I reamed it out and I am feeling depressed by the mess. Although I am hugely fortunate to have the old summer house to use as my studio, it is a hard place to keep clean even with the most diligent work. It is highly porous to animals of all kinds and since we don't live in it anymore they are reasserting ownership. In fact it was kind of amazing how fast nature moved in when we moved out. I usually work there for two to four hours a day, but I avoid it at night when the light is poor and (usually) the air is cold. When I'm in the studio I want to be moving forward with my projects and don't like to stop for tidying. The combination of messy me and homesteading fauna makes cleaning up truly daunting. I have been at it for three weeks and my enthusiasm...always tentative....is waning. I have washed all of the seventy-plus window panes two times each, inside and out, I've swept and wiped away all of the gruesomely dangling spider larders, I have taken every book down and dusted behind it (I tried to apply the joy test to the books, but ended up in tears, so all the books stayed), I have scrubbed out every pot and kettle including the big one that took all afternoon to get clean, etc. etc. ad nauseum and I am still not done. In fact I've already spotted some spider webs in areas that I have cleaned. There is no winning this race.
Plugging away at chores that will need to be done again soon has got me thinking about the nature of housework and homemaking. Making places special is what gives me joy, but the endless repetitive work of keeping them that way is truly a burden sometimes, one that I too often lay down. Then something snaps and I just can't stand it any more. I pull up my socks and get back after it. Part of the problem is this place which may be beyond our capacity to care for by ourselves. Mike's energy level has lessened dramatically since his health problems and I have never been able to sustain high productivity for too long. I can work like a bee for a while, goaded by my own vision or fear of someone else's, but then I find myself lured away into a book and the day is gone. This has always been my pattern even when I am strongly invested in the work that I am doing. It is frustrating when there are so many things that need to be done....that I WANT to be done.
The world seems always to demand an endless struggle against entropy. We are destined to push this rock forever, knowing that if we stop it will roll back and crush us....knowing that stopping is eventually inevitable. Perhaps we try to control too much...in fact I'm sure I do...but making any place for ourselves requires both initial effort and then unending maintenance. We have to take solace in the fleeting satisfaction a beautiful home can give us and hopefully find some pleasure in the tasks of care-taking themselves. Maybe this is one of the ways the world shapes us to itself and keeps us grounded.
Okay, I've pep-talked myself into going back to work.