I accomplished much this week. Somewhere between the rhythm of work and leisure I was able to make things happen, and I mean that in a purely housewife-y sense. As far as housekeeping is concerned, I find that it is better to just make a go of something — anything — as soon as the desire is felt. Better than putting it off for another day or a later hour, it is better to just attack as soon as you can. So when I randomly opened a cabinet under the buffet table as I walked by the dining room that one afternoon after I had picked up Juliana from school and saw my pretty tableware in happy disarray, I just dropped whatever it was I had set out to do just before that (finish the last few chapters of the book I was reading), got down on my knees and, with the help of two house girls, emptied out the two deep cabinets of all that they contained. I had taught the girls how I wanted it arranged in the past but the eyesore before me made me realize that each time something had been used, it was rarely returned to the exact same place after it was washed and dried. Though they had done a good job of keeping everything sparkling clean, items that belonged to one and the same set were not all together as they should be.
The work did not stop there because I saw dozens of cups and little plates that rightfully belonged to two other cabinets in the kitchen among the ones I had taken out from the cabinets under the buffet table, so I had to fix that as well. All in all we rearranged and organized the contents of four cabinets and 12 shelves and by the time we finished a couple of hours later, I was tired but happy.
Now, my plates and bowls and cups and saucers are organized in neat little piles and clusters, and it looks easier on the eyes. It always feels good when you know that things are where they should be, in your house as well as in your life.
Two days before that I had also emptied out the basement and walk-in pantry, ruthlessly weeding out stuff that I knew would be put to better use by someone else. That is something I learned from Richard who hardly gets attached to any one tangible thing while I get attached to almost everything, especially if it was a wedding gift. It is not always easy for me to let go and I get attached even to the punch bowl so ostentatiously ornate and gaudy that we have never used it and probably never will, because of its sentimental value. I found unused traveling bags and brand-new shoes, more plates and cutlery, three coffeemakers, strollers, blankets and frames, kitchen gadgets that I bought early in our marriage thinking it would make me a better cook (not!), pillows and the whole gamut of other odds and ends. I just decided to be ruthless about it all, giving most of it away, and our basement is all the better for it. There is space to move in there now and beginning this week I have high hopes it will cease to ever be the tambakan that it has been for a long time running. Adjacent to the basement is a smaller room that I still have to deal with, although that task is not as daunting as the bigger room. Maybe I will do that over the weekend.
The slabs of cement in our garden have almost been completely removed and we have already planted Bermuda grass. The rain is making it grow fast and well.
Our Meralco bill is getting more exorbitant by the month, and I have made it my personal mission to lower it as much as I possibly can. We have installed ceiling fans in most of the rooms in the house and most recently our bedroom. When the days are cool and turning on the air conditioner is not necessary, I love staying under the ceiling fan while reading a book or checking my mail. I love the rhythmic whirring sound that reminds me so much of afternoon siestas back in the province. But at night when we sleep, until we all wake up and leave the house, it really has to be on.
For many years I also did not realize we were using halogen lights or that this was detrimental to the environment, so now we are switching to fluorescent. We had an aversion to fluorescent lighting before because it did not create a very nice ambience (I remember how Lola Carmen would always say that on a date every woman looks more lovely when illuminated by candlelight or any warm yellow light as opposed to the unforgiving fluorescent light that will make even the tiniest pore obvious); but even the more energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs now come in what they call a “warm white” luminescence. The electrician has promised me that when all the changes have been done we will still get the same effect, the same ambience, but for much less. And we will be doing the environment a favor as well. So yes, I’m excited to see how much lower our bill will be in time.
Speaking of our electrician, he has turned out to be such a blessing. Compared to The-Electrician-Who-Never-Showed-Up or The-Electrician-Who-Was-Always-Late, he is very reliable and always does what he says he will do. He also does plumbing and is a walking human resource of painters, carpenters, even gardeners. Housekeeping becomes so much more the joy it was meant to be when there are efficient, reliable people always at the ready.
Also, about a month ago when I shot the Belo Essentials commercial together with Zsa Zsa Padilla and Regine Velasquez Cristalle Henares, Doc Vicki’s daughter, who is also O.C. about cleaning and organization, shared with me this cleaning solution called Goo Gone. I am so loving it because it just gets rid of every stubborn little thing! I use it to remove price stickers on all the books that come in from Amazon or the ones I get from Fully Booked, for stubborn dirt on metal doors, remote controls and just about anything. Between that, the LCD cleaning solution for laptops and computer screens, Lysol and Domex, Dyptique and Alice Blue candles, this housewife is a happy, less-stressed one.