Thursday, May 08, 2008

Doable Doses

I do like to think small, breaking bigger things down into chewable pieces, or when tasks and events mount, "doable doses" might be a better phrase. If I look at a list of book covers that need to be designed, and the list extends onto three pages, I can easily feel buried and over my head. But if I look at one title at a time, and check it off as I go, then my job becomes manageable, and work gets done.

If I look at my giant, smelly cat who is so big he can't reach his hind parts with his washcloth tongue, then I shake my head with frustration over what a monster he has become, and why can't he wash himself, and why does he have to be such a neurotic eater, and why does he turn into Anti-Christ Cat when he sees another cat in the yard. gggggrrrrrrrrrrrr But if I look at Mike's cute, pink nose and his pretty, green eyes as he rolls over to show me his fluffy, white tummy, he is suddenly more pettable and loving, and his stinky back end is something I can tolerate until I figure out how to give the big guy a bath without throwing my back out.

There is a tree of some sort in my front yard that has bloomed with lovely white flowers this year. Of course, it blooms with lovely white flowers every year, but this year they seem to be startlingly pretty. When I drive up the hill on my way home, I see the blossoms contrasting against the green of the other trees and the red of the brick on the house, and I wish it would stay like this year round. You want to know what's even lovelier, though? Looking at the blossoms up close. The detail of each flower is perfect, with the texture of velvet and the color of cream, and you want to climb up in the tree and let them brush your cheek as you take a deep breath and exhale.

So, here is what the month of May holds:

• Mother's Day
• An orchestra concert next Saturday with three rehearsals
• Daughter No. 2's 18th birthday the next day
• Dear friend is moving away the day after that
• Daughter No. 2's graduation from high school on the 23rd
• Managing a meal for 40 at the homeless shelter on the 24th
• Two summer band concerts on Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend as commencement
• A good friend's wedding reception on the 25th
• Daughter No. 2's graduation party which up to 75 people may attend—that means house cleaning, patio decorating, food preparation. The cake baker has closed her shop, so I'm hunting her down at her house in hopes she'll come through anyway.
• Sister and mother are visiting, which will be a great help for the graduation party. They'll have work to do, I'm telling you right now.

If I look at this to-d0 list all at once, I'm likely to pour myself a glass of wine, shut my eyes, and lean back on the big, comfy sofa. But I keep telling myself to just take one thing at a time and be as organized as I can be. I have planned the party menu and put the recipes in one folder so I don't have to run around rifling through cookbooks. I've printed out the sign-up sheet for the homeless shelter meal and have a plan for recruiting volunteers. I have begun practicing at least Beethoven's 6th for next week's concert, along with Patsy Cline's "Crazy" to be sung by a guest from Nashville. I can't buy potted plants for the patio yet because we're still not out of the woods for frost, so I can ignore that job for the moment—but I have a table full of disposable plates, napkins, forks, table cloths, balloons, bits of confetti,...ARRGGH!

I am on the verge of becoming overwhelmed, and I'm afraid I'll forget something important. In days like these, it's easy to think you have so much to do that you do nothing at all. So, I'm just trying to take one project at a time—cutting up the month of May into doable doses and rationing my tears and sighs. I'm thinking the real trick is not going to be just finishing everything, but finishing everything well and enjoying it at the same time. Like getting a closer look at the white blossoms on the tree and admiring every single one for what it's worth. Click on this picture for a larger view, and climb on in. I'll be on one of the inside branches breathing deep.


Pianist friend said...

The blossoms are indeed spectacular. Thank you so much for the wonderful close up, Robyn. I drive my family crazy this time of year calling their attention to every beautiful tree or shrub or flower!
Don't forget graduation parties that you are going to...and the motorcycle ride on the 18th...
it'll be FUN!
Now, back down to earth...I feel your pain! Being overwhelmed is something that comes easily to me, especially when there is a piece of music (or 2 or 3) that I don't think I can conquer successfully. grrr.

dive said...

Wow! What a busy month you have, Robyn.

Mike is way too cute to ever be called a monster, though I don;t have to live with his back end so I'll accept your judgement on that.

Isn't that some kind of Japanese dogwood? Whatever it is, it is beautiful.
And thanks for putting "Crazy" in my head. I hope it stays there all day.

savannah said...

smart move, sugar (but you know that already), to look at everything in "doable doses" makes it so much easier. i think i spent wednesday just contemplating everything and today was an action day. we just keep on truckin, mama!

Shan said...

Sorry about the stress Robyn. If it helps I'd go straight to panic mode and just start sniffing on your pretty kitty's rumplestilkin while slowly drooling.
YOU can do this though...and drop something if you have to.
I'd totally offer my services if we were closer but really all I'm good at is a slow soothing voice and the ability to hand you dental instruments.
You do book covers! I'd love to see those on show and tell day. My husband does these sometimes as freelance and he thinks it's one of the best gigs. Websites on the other hand seem to take more man hours than he enjoys.
Oh, and dogwood was my thought on the tree as well but your yard looks like a beaut. ;)

Alifan said...

Robyn what a great post...... Love it all...

As you know I am like you with the close up blossom...

And my to do list seems to grow everyday... but we get through it and as long as we enjoy life we will be fine....

As for the cat mmmmmm where is that ginger one hiding??

Now where is my copy of Crazy!!!!!!!

MmeBenaut said...

Oh Robyn, what a busy life you lead. I'd be writing lists too and panicking over all the organising. When in doubt, do nought; when you don't know where to start, do something, anything ...

Those flowers looks stunning. Reminds me of a Japanese windflower. When you find out the name or if you know it, can you tell us what it is?

Happy Birthday to Daughter No. 2, too.

MmeBenaut said...

I forgot to mention how beautiful your cat is. I wonder why he doesn't pay more attention to his grooming though. Felix spends half the day licking his tail and other bits!