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Slow, but good

“Doesn’t ride the same day he saddles” (as the Norwegians say) could describe me. As some folks would say, I had a frog to eat. The idea of eating a frog is repulsive (not talking about legs prepared by some French chef here), so tasks that seem difficult or distasteful are like the idea of eating a frog, and therefore constantly put off.

My frog was a leaky kitchen faucet. For two years I have lived with a drip and these last months also a non-functioning cold-water handle. Several weeks ago, I finally looked up several plumbers in the area, thinking one who is familiar with the now aged plumbing of the apartment building I live in would be a good choice. I had three choices. Yesterday, I e-mailed two of them. One called me back, and we found out today that I have actually attended two parties at his house.

The plumber came today, which was perfect since I happen to have today off. We found a problem with my ancient stop valves so he and his boss (the man I had partied with) will set up a date to change those valves for me (which involve shutting off the water in my part of the building).

It’s weird walking into the kitchen and not hearing a drip. It is a huge joy that, once I got off my butt, things, happened quickly and easily.

I know, it’s just a faucet, a couple of hours’ work. Why the big deal? That brings me to another joy: Discovering what it is like to not live in a panic.

I suffer from CHAOS: Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome. It is an affliction that affects otherwise intelligent and capable people. For some reason, we just can’t figure out how to keep house. I have always been domestically challenged and have, on and off, tried FlyLady‘s recipe for keeping house. After trying to fend off “hot spots”, I decided to go with her method of just shining the kitchen sink. And I discovered that doing a load of dishes doesn’t take much more than five minutes to do. I was in my 40’s when I discovered that.

Seeing a load of dishes no longer panics me. I have discovered a new competency in myself: I can do dishes whenever and I can do them quickly. Dishes Are No Problem.

I then floundered. The kitchen sink is easy to focus on. It involves specific tasks (clean dishes, put away dishes, wipe down sink). And it inspires to tidy and wipe down countertops, etc. So it would be nice for something similar in another room.

I’m expecting guests this summer so the need to declutter has grown. I donated a bunch of stuff to a flea market took and started to see empty spots, to see space. Boxes that had been sitting underneath my coffee table were finally gone, too. I cleared off the coffee table itself, also, and immediately the living room looked nicer. I had found my “kitchen sink”!

Last week I got things done the night before my daytrip to Oslo, knowing I was going out again that same evening. The next morning, I actually had time to spare, waiting for the taxi to take me to the airport. I was not looking for something last minute, nor was I wondering if I had everything I needed. I thought, “So this is how normal people feel.” Very seductive feeling, calm.

I hadn’t cleared out the cupboard in the bathroom where the stop valves are and suddenly, I had to make sure everything was in order to receive a plumber. I procrastinated last night. I went to bed early, promising myself an early start today.

Well, I didn’t get that early a start but by now I knew that I could do anything in 15 minutes increments and that household tasks often take less time than we realize. So, I had everything cleared out in an hour and could sit down with a cup of coffee and a bit of lunch. The place actually looks nice.

That’s when I discovered that I don’t know how to wait. I’m so used to doing everything last minute, with 5 minutes, not 50 to spare before company arrives, that just sitting around started to make me nervous. Heh. Something new to learn how to do: Wait. In peace. So I got down to surfing the internet.

But why the frog now? I have been making progress, I have seen – and felt – what it means to not let clutter rule my life, what it means to have some order and routine in the house. And it bothered me that the heart of it all, where it started – the kitchen sink – no longer ever looked wiped down and empty because a stupid pitcher was constantly standing in it to catch drips and lessen their noise. (Not to mention what crappy feng shui that is.)

So no more pitcher. Just perfect timing and a shiny sink.

By Keera Ann Fox

I am a bi-lingual American who has lived most of my life in Norway.
Jeg er en tospråklig amerikaner som har bodd mesteparten av mitt liv i Norge.

5 replies on “Slow, but good”

Fortunately, I cannot STAND clutter so my house is always cleared out and neat and tidy. well, at least until my husband goes to make a sandwich. somehow a simple little task like him making a sandwich leaves the kitchen looking like a tornado went through it. I need to get some hidden cameras to see exactly what\’s going on in there…LOL

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See, a shortish head line shows an organized person. Heh.Some people do manage to blitz their environment. I\’m not that bad, but bad enough. Anyway, my kitchen sink was downright naked what with everything put away. Only kitchen sink things were on it (soap, bottlebrush). It was almost a religious experience!

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