January 23: Clean and simple

On average, once a month, my neighbour asks me to clean her house when she’s really busy. I’m happy to do this because she and her husband are very good to Leo and me. Like tonight, for example. We were invited for an amazing fondue dinner (which I enjoyed so much, I forgot to take photographs) and we spoke German and Swiss German for hours.

I’m always appreciative when my Swiss German friends speak High German with me, because, really, it’s a foreign language for them. Yes, they read it on a daily basis, but they don’t speak it. It’s kind of like requesting a Spanish person to speak Portuguese when you live in Spain. A neighbourly language, sure, but not really the same thing.

Today, I cleaned my neighbours’ house for four hours. I repeat. Four Hours. My back is broken but I feel like I’ve done something good for people who mean a lot to me. We have neighbourly dinners quite often, and they’re always a good giggle … with conversations such as how do you annoy a Swiss person, and how big is Australia in comparison with Europe.

I haven’t done my fitfor15in15 “15 minutes today” because, hell, I’ve done four hours. Cleaning a house where two people and a dog live takes time. I’m meticulous. I don’t even clean my own house as well as I clean the neighbours’. For me, it’s a labour of love. Tomorrow, it might be hard to touch the toes, but it’s worth it for the camaraderie and ongoing friendship. I like helping out when I can.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

The love of a good woman by Alice Monro


A collection of short stories

Maybe I was distracted while reading this collection of short stories by Canadian author Alice Monro, but I just couldn’t get my teeth into it. Possibly that is part of the short story genre?

Monro writes beautifully, and some of the stories will stay with me for a while, but her style is such that the end isn’t really the end. There’s a lot left to the imagination, some guessing going on, and you’re left with more to think about. Preferably, I like a story to have an absolute ending, a resolution, but maybe that’s something I need to work on, as opposed to saying it’s a fault in her style, because she’s a very popular writer.

Something sinister lies behind almost every story in the collection. Something happens, or is hinted at happening, that is unsettling. The title story is about a death that for years goes unexplained, and it slowly comes to light that some of the nice people of the town are not all that nice after all. For the main character to still love, and want to be involved with, the murderer was a mystery to me. It takes all kinds in this world, I know.

Of all the stories, I enjoyed “The Children Stay” the most. It was beautifully told, about a woman’s life going in a direction no one expected, not even her. The ending left a melancholy, but satisfied, feeling.

Maybe towards the end of the year, I’ll try reading another collection of Monro’s works. The love of a good woman has definitely contributed to my mental fitness, as the outcomes were challenging. But for now, I’m going to search out stories that have a beginning, a middle, and a definite end.