You know how artists are always talking about their “craft”? How people are always asking, “what’s your process?” Let me tell you about my process. It’s maybe a little circuitous. I have a column due. Right. So I open Google Docs to find my journalism file, and I notice that my Google drive is in major need of reorganization. I create seven snappy file names, and sort ALL of my documents into them appropriately.

Next, I get up and take the mint-scented candle a friend gave me for Christmas off of my living room bookshelf, put it in the sink, and run hot water over the outside of the jar because I want to scoop the wax out and wash the jar and re-use the jar. You can do that, if you didn’t know. This is not a gesture of ill-will. It’s just a not-so-great scented candle. In a very nice jar. It’ll make a perfect bud vase. It’s the right shape.

As I’m up to my elbows in suds and slippy-minty softened candle wax, I think about how surprised I am with how clean my house still looks after my prolific family all squeezed in here and had a big and rich time for Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday. Then it occurs to me that actually I still need to vacuum the dust ring thrown onto the popcorn ceiling by the fan in the downstairs sun room of this duplex in which my housemates and I abide on the edge of a 100 acre forest, because the closet-less sun room is my room, and I’m having a house guest all the way from Alaska next week, and I don’t want her to be lying on the tile floor on an air mattress staring up at a dust ring.

A clean house is a form of good manners.

As is being well-dressed.

I slip on shoes that don’t match what I’m wearing and trot next door to ask Elaine, my 75-year-old next door neighbor, if I may borrow her vacuum cleaner with hose and brush attachments. When I am 75, I will own such things. Eliane is not home. So I trot back to our side of the house and dig the broom out of our under-the-stairs closet. I bet I can sweep the dust down.

Sure enough, this works beautifully. But of course I then have to shake out my bedspread and sweep up the dust and tiny crumbs of plaster that have dislodged themselves from the popcorn ceiling along with the dust during my vigorous brushing. It’s 91 degrees outside, but I decide that after this cleaning exertion, I need some hot tea.

I just bought a new kind of herb tea because the canister was pretty. I make a lot of my food shopping decisions that way. It doesn’t usually disappoint. I let the electric kettle grumble till it’s almost boiling but not quite. It’s white tea, so I’m supposed to take care not to scald it. It’s take-care-not-to-scald tea that tastes the way most grocery stores in Carrboro smell. Rather like locally sourced beeswax meets your neighbor just mowed over your whole herb garden. Rather Whole-Foods-ey. I’m skeptical.

I decide halfway through the cup that this tea is tasty, but that it could use some honey. My honey has solidified due to the season change and humidity spike. I turn on the front left eye of the stove, and set the honey jar into my housemate Laura’s smallest Cuisinart saucepan. Laura is the one with all the nice kitchenware. Luckily for the rest of us, we operate on a yours-mine-and-ours kitchenware policy. Once the honey is melted enough, I flick the knob to “off” and pour the honey into a smaller jar. Might as well downsize while we’re at it.

I take the new jar into the living room and set it down on the tea tray. Presto. Then I go back for the old honey jar. I’ll use the dregs in my lawn-mown beeswax tea. I hold the pint sized Mason up to the five-thirty p.m. window light and use a spoon to scrape out the last crystallized smudges. My wrist becomes sticky from grazing the mouth of the jar as I twist my hand back and forth, sliding the spoon along the glass. The curve of the amber color reminds me of the way the light slid down the golden bells into the throats of the tubas in the shop I visited yesterday. Oh right. The Tuba Exchange. My column. I sit down and open the “Writing Projects” folder in my newly organized Google drive…


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