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Miniature gossamer blankets lie across the ground. Woven with patience and skill on points of ivy, atop blades of grass, spread delicately under leafy canopies, where dewdrops glisten in sunlit rays of early dawn.

Lady spiders host picnics, inviting their neighbors—tiny multi-legged critters to join them. She neglected to include, they would be the main course… Shh. Don’t tell.


Some dare to weave nature’s masterpieces inside my home.  I know, they were here first.

The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.  –  Proverbs 30:28

Garden variety serpents slither and other reptiles slip through cracks and crevices of this decades-old house.

The house of my dreams.

With window seat overlooking golden hills…

breakfast table tucked into the cozy kitchen corner, for viewing the world at first arrival of daylight, as this side of the Sierra arouses itself from slumber…

101_3973101_4158old brick-paved patio and bench swing where we watch the sunset…

claw foot tub and pedestal sink and checker-board flooring…


101_3817and the milky ribbon of stars spanning heaven’s vault high overhead.

How was I to know the home of my dreams would be infested with bugs? And nearly impossible to keep clean.

After more than ten years spent fighting nature’s elements, I surrender.

I once kept a spotless house.

But no longer.

Not since we moved to the country, to this home of rustic design, frosted with dust, laced with cobwebs, sprinkled profusely with natural elements—bits of tree bark, dried grass, decomposing insect carcasses.

Rachel Ashwell would be proud.

Martha Stewart would not.

After cleaning the front half of the house—dusting, vacuuming, clearing away cobwebs—disappearing then to clean the back half, later I reenter into the front half to see a very industrious spider hard at work building a new web.

spider-web-387757_640With surrender, though, comes denial.

I have resorted to mumbling, This is not my house… this is not my house, shuffling from room to room on any given day.

This is not my house.

My sincerest apologies to all the country women I met B.C.—

Before. (I moved to the) Country.

A clean house is the sign of a boring woman, a friend once told me, with a wink. At the time, my house was clean. And I operated a day care. And I home schooled and was involved at church.  And worked part-time on the phone. (Her house was not.)

Those were the days.

With the current less-than-clean, no-longer-neat-as-a-pin, cluttered and chaotic self ruling hearth and roost, my alter-ego of messiness is the part of me I prefer to remain incognito. As I am in a constant battle to give in to the urge to let it go, I live in a constant tug-of-war.

But mediocre does not exist in my vocabulary.

If surrendering wholly to my messy side, my family would claim the real wife and mom they’ve come to love (with her odd assortment of quirks) had been abducted by aliens. And this messy clone had been left in her place.

Because I would no longer care, and the house would become uninhabitable. With narrow trails through the piles of stuff stacked and stashed in every room.

Logically, that would be the end result of not caring.

But I do care. And so, the struggle continues.


The cleanliness of a house does not, I have learned the hard way, totally reflect my value as a woman. It merely reveals where my priorities lie.

While my children were young I lived in homes with floor plans only several hundred square feet. My sphere of influence was smaller. Demands on my time were limited to home and church, errands and weekly shopping, keeping the budget afloat, visiting parks and libraries and going on field trips with little people. I had time and reason to clean.

Since then, life has changed. My sphere of influence expands continually. My list of responsibilities increases (almost as we speak). My husband is not a wealthy landowner with servants to do our bidding.

And loving those around me matters more.

To be continued…