Cleaning Up

Hello, dear readers! Greetings on this near-summer evening. June has fired up here, my orange butterfly weed has burst into bloom and is serving up treats for a fresh flight of Great Spangled Fritillaries. Frits are big beautiful orange and brown butterflies with white-speckled underwings – I love them.

FritI wouldn’t be able to see them nectaring if I hadn’t gone out and done some serious cleaning up in the garden. A tall local weed was threatening to take over my pollinator garden and I needed to cut it back so that my flowers could grow freely. I got out there with my favorite pruners and went to town! Within minutes of coming back in, there were butterflies at the buffet. That’s a good feeling.

That wasn’t the only cleaning up I’ve been doing this weekend. I had friends coming over today, so I’ve spent a couple days cleaning up inside, too. If you’ve been following a while, you know this presents its own challenges. There aren’t four foot-tall plants growing inside, but sometimes it feels like it because the indoor weeds arrive in the form of clutter. C L U T T E R. (Well – and pet hair. Always pet hair. My vacuum cleaner is on a high fiber diet.)

Like a garden overwhelmed by weeds, a room full of too much stuff challenges me because I just don’t know where to start. The advice I’ve learned to follow is “Just start somewhere” and “Keep going”. Small gains feel so good, and then it’s easier to see how much there is to gain from spending more energy now. When I see my dining room table clear of the week’s crop of magazines, and my little flock sparrow candle holders are finally roaming free in the living room, the house feels so expansive.

Small gains. Bigger ones to follow. How do I know? I got a book. (OK – work with me here … I’m an academic and there’s ALWAYS a book.) In fact, I’ve read at least half a dozen books about organizing and cleaning. They’ve become their own special class of clutter. But I found a new one! And it’s a good one – simple, easy to follow, and it WORKS. This one is “30 Days to a Clean and Organized House” by Katie Berry. When I read the first few pages that I had an “OH. DUH.” moment. It has directions. REALLY specific directions. What to do first, what rooms to do it in, what needs to be done each day, how to amp up the routine for monthly cleaning.

For a few moments my relief at finding the directions for all this sparred with the thought that it is ridiculous to need directions for cleaning the house. I mean, who doesn’t know? And then I thought, “Wait – What? Why is this crazy?” It’s not like humans co-evolved with cleaner wipes and scrubbing brushes. Early societies over the world didn’t even use the same kinds of domiciles. Where was this instinctual knowledge supposed to come from? I certainly wasn’t born knowing how to clean a house. I am tons of grateful that someone has taken the time to figure it out and write a manual I can follow. Cheers to you, Ms. Berry – me and my house are fans!

In addition to her books, Katie Berry also has a blog at On it you can find her posts and ideas and she also shares some great checklists for cleaning routines.

Stay tuned for more on the Here’s a Quarter blog next week! As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome – they are moderated (I know – adulting again), so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here. Thank you!

My new story collection is now available: Dog Days . I’d love to hear your thoughts if you check it out!


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