April 20, 2010

How to Eat an Elephant

So ya want to eat an elephant? Me, neither. Somehow, though, it seems there are tasks and things I simply do not want to take on that must be done, and that seem insurmountable in one way or another- size, scope, smell (for real), whatever. I suppose there are folks who would enjoy the literal culinary experience of eating an elephant  -some parts probably taste like chicken, after all - but I think I'll pass on that. It's an old proverbial question that offers its own answer- How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. For our purposes today I will apply this adage to home-keeping. 

I can be a messy person. I am sometimes a (drawing in of breath here) STACKER. Let me give you a moment to gasp in shock and dismay.              Ok; moment's over. There are days when I simply do not feel like sorting through and putting things in their proper places. Instead, I STACK. My friends, I am here to tell you that there should be a support group for stacking; it is addicting, destructive, and dare I say it? Hideous and repulsive! There, I said it. Stacking can also take on other forms of maliciousness- it can be piling, cramming, stuffing, hiding, or spreading out, but for our purposes I shall use the all-encompassing term STACKING. Let us consider the aesthetic ramifications of STACKING. For the purposes of this particular discussion I shall use images of books and the like to demonstrate. Proper arrangement of bookCASES is a topic for another day; for now we shall stick to ORDER.


and finally...

All of that being said, there IS a proper way to stack. Consider the exhibit below:

Why is this method acceptable and the black and white one is not? It should be noted that most folks do not live in a home in which a ladder should be necessary to put a book or piece of paper in its place. Remember our key phrase for today... THE EYE IS ATTRACTED TO ORDER. We can see that the stack on the wall has many things going for it. We know that order can be achieved by remembering a few simple lessons. First, get it up OFF the floor and NOT on the surface of a table, dresser, or cabinet top. That alone lends itself to looking more orderly. Second, the stack itself should be of similar-sized objects, which brings me to another catch phrase for today... GROUP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER. Had the stacker thrown books or things that had varying horizontal lengths, the arrangement would be less visually pleasing because it would be less orderly. Third, it should be pointed out that books of varying horizontal (or vertical length if placed on a bookshelf) CAN be successfully arranged together as long as they are arranged in an orderly fashion. Put the tallest first (or last) and graduate the sizes to the end. Like this:

You can see that in neither of these pictures the books are PERFECTLY aligned according to height. But they are generally either the same height or are arranged so that overall your eye comfortably skims the height of the line and doesn't jump up and down as though in a seizure. 

If we wish our homes to be a refuge, we do not want it to become a place of chaos, disorder, or ugliness. We do this by maintaining ORDER. Order is achieved two ways; either by methodical and consistent organization (a place for everything and everything in its place) OR if you have neglected your methodical and consistent organization, by eating elephants (one bite at a time). If you are currently in an elephant-eating situation, make a pact with yourself to take care of ONE bite (aka one STACK or one small AREA) at a time. Get that bite (or even nibble, if you must) done, step back, admire your success, and it just might spur you on to take the next bite. Before you know it, order shall be restored (or created) and you will have your elephant-free sanctuary! Let's face it, we all might like elephants, we may have even had stuffed animal elephants when we were kids, but when one thinks of orderly, aesthetically pleasing interiors, elephants don't exactly come to mind.

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