The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Elbow grease

Rachael Conlin Levy

Elbow grease

My house and my head
are alike in their need for
a good spring cleaning


A DIY brew by Raleigh Briggs, author of  “Make Your Own Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills,” I have been mixing since the fall:

1 teaspoon liquid castile soap
2 tablespoons white vinegar
14/ teaspoon each of eucalyptus and lavender essential oil
3 drops tea tree oil
1 teaspoon borax
2 cups hot water

Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle. You can use this on everything but glass. Spray it on, scrub and rinse off with a clean, damp cloth.


A reason provided by Brenda Ueland, author of “If You Want to Write: A book about art, independence and spirit,” for not making it:

If you are always doing something for others, like a servant or a nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate, or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important.


Two questions wrung from a dishcloth pattern: Is there a part of you that is collecting dust? What are you going to do about it?


And finally, something beautiful:

Charles Bukowski’s “The Blue Bird,” which begins:

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

The poem was adapted by Cambridge School of Art student Monika Umba.

4 responses to “Elbow grease”

  1. kyndale says:

    I’m right there with you. ♥

  2. Uncle A says:

    Way cool

    Makes me want to say Zipity do da.

  3. anno says:

    Around here, it’s toss-up which needs more work: the house or the garden. Regardless, odds are I’m reading a book instead of doing what needs to be done.

    Love this structure: haiku, recipe, literary quote, knitting, another beautiful poem to close. Looks like you’ve invented a new form…

  4. I keep returning to this post. You’ve touched on several things that have me thinking, and I am so taken with Monika Umba’s animation. Thank you, Rachael. I shall return.

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