Whew, thank heavens I made it through this week. I’m still not sure what happened last Saturday night, but if you ask me to play House M.D. on myself, the combination of chocolate truffle cake and an allergic reaction to a mushroom lasagna gave me a nasty case of gastritis that has now lasted a week. Gastritis, BTW, is inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and it is painful and quite amazingly debilitating. I spent Sunday in a feverish heap on the couch watching Gandhi three times in a row, too sick even to sit up and knit.
Few things can make you appreciate the ordinary like being very sick for several days. By Wednesday when I started to have a real appetite again, even the simplest foods like chicken soup tasted incredibly delicious. (I am now a connoisseur of canned chicken soup and can tell you with authority that the best one on the market — by far — is Progresso chicken noodle, which has real white meat chicken and really does taste a lot like homemade. Add some dried basil and eat with crackers.)
I remember reading about a guy who was hospitalized and ate his first solid food in 24 hours, a spoonful of sugar-free raspberry jello. He said it was like Osama bin Flavor had crashed a planeload of celebration into his mouth.
By Wednesday the house was a mess. I hadn’t done anything for days but lay around. Smelly unwashed dishes, an unpleasant aroma wafting from the garbage that didn’t get taken out, an overflowing stinky cat box, ten days’ accumulation of dust, tracked kitty litter and cat hair gathering on the carpets and in the corners and all over. Nothing to do but Set Things to Rights, a favored activity in my life. But it seemed like an impossibility to catch up in a single day (with plenty of other things to do) with more than a week’s worth of care.
I washed the rotten-smelling sink of dirty dishes. Took out the garbage. Swept up the dust. Cleaned the cat box. And best of all, opened up all the doors and let the fresh cool air in, which seemed not only to blow away the lingering miasma of cat poop and sickness but all my cares. I put on my favorite Napster playlist and in less than an hour felt like a human being again, my house presentable, my stomach full of real food, my world in blessed order.
I am not a control freak. I am the child of a control freak, so no control freaks here. What I am is a lover of order without too much work — dust gathers on my tables but not on my floor, and I try to keep my house feeling welcoming rather than sterile, smelling sweet and clean rather than antiseptic. I like for things to be clean and cozy, and I am a lover of home.
And speaking of sweet smells, here is the best one in the world, which I discovered that same Wednesday. First take a dirty and smelly house and make it clean, which will exude a base note of satisfaction. Open up the doors and windows and let the good world in, which will create the middle note of simply being glad to be alive. Then feel a lovely hunger from your healing stomach. Broil some bread with butter and Parmesan cheese. While your bread is toasting, go to your essential oil diffuser and put in some lavender oil.
You might not think that toasted Parmesan and lavender might smell so good together. But it’s amazing. It’s my new favorite smell.
Today’s Saturday smell is fresh-mown grass smell, blowing in the front door on a warm green afternoon when the past two weekends have held snows, rain, horrible frosts and hurricane-force winds that blew out your power and blew loose your gutter on a night you laid in bed alone and too sick to rise.
I feel more than a little bit reborn.