Saturday, November 25, 2017


This is the sort of book it's difficult for me to pass up. Karen Maezen Miller's Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life is brief and useful, with a catchy title and an interesting hook, linking life lessons to laundry techniques, kitchen methods, and yard ways.

Of course, these little can't-resist diversions mean that I'm already pretty sure I'm going to blow a couple of challenges this year, but hey, there's always time for a big push at the end, right? Um, maybe. And by maybe, I mean probably not.

Now, as I was saying . . . .

With chapters like "Handle with Care: Some Shrinkage Will Occur" and "The Sun: Attention is Love," Miller explores the daily lessons from her own life and expanding Zen practice, learning to embrace the routine, sometimes monotonous tasks along the way.

I must confess that from my working woman perspective, filled with constant juggling of multiple demands on my time, I had a little trouble relating to Miller's stay-at-home perspective -- but that was more about my own need to stretch than any lack on her part. She tells her story with simplicity, letting it unfold around her chosen theme for each chapter, detouring when necessary for background or additional details.

This wasn't a life-changing book for me, but it was a peaceful read and a timely reminder that what's good in this ordinary life is not something off in the ill-defined future, but what's here now.


This is my practice. It is not anything special you need to learn. It is not some new information you need to get. It is nothing you haven't heard before. It is just a turn you might not yet have made, or made again, and again, and again. A turn toward intimate engagement with the life you already have.

. . . Fulfillment derives not from lofty achievements, but from ordinary feats. It arrives not once in a lifetime, but every moment of the livelong day.

To find it, look in the laundry, the kitchen, and the yard.

Note: This book counts toward the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and the L (Los Angeles) for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

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