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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

It’s the end of another weekend and I’m wondering… wait, weren’t we just doing that whole wine vending machine thing? After most of a whirlwind, I was left pondering what on earth to write about tonight. As I pondered, I felt a bit cranky that the weekend was over and Saturday didn’t even have the decency to show up this week.

While I reflected on this nefarious plot on the part of my calendar, I realized that there was only one thing to do: think of three good things to say about today.

Three things. Not two. Not four. Not six and a half. Three. Because when you’re having a bad day or you’re feeling cranky it’s what you do.

Kevin and I have been doing it lately. My mother and I have been doing it. Not every day, but when we find ourselves complaining a tad more than usual, or talking about our first world problems as if the tiny print on the measuring spoons that you can’t read is really the thing that’s going to make or break the universe, we pause to come up with three good things.

It isn’t particularly about gratitude. It’s about skipping ahead past the part where you just dropped an entire bowl of sugar on the floor and think about something good instead.

The only rule is that the absence of a negative is not a positive. For example, you can’t say, well, I’m not starving in a ditch in Africa.

It’s in that spirit that today is brought to you by the number three. It’s quite a magical number and deserves a bit of recognition anyway.

Did you know that three is the only number that is the sum of the other numbers below it?

The first thing that was good today is that I cleaned. This may not sound so good but it was quite productive and satisfying. Ever since I took that productivity course recently, I’ve been listifying my entire life. Just last week I turned housekeeping into a weekly project with to-dos like “dust the TV” and “wipe down the kitchen counters”.

I even have a task in threes related to sheets: wash them, dry them, put them back on the bed.

Now, do I technically need a checklist to remind me to put the sheets back on the bed? Would I, perhaps, get in bed at night and stare at the ceiling trying to discern what didn’t feel quite right?

(Don’t answer that.)

But there is something infinitely satisfying about checking something off a list and saying DONE after each one.

After two weeks I have yet to fully get through my weekly list. But that’s because I’m doing a full-on spring-cleaning type of event. So it’s taking a lot longer. But I expect by next weekend – third time’s a charm – I will be done and from there I can whip through it an hour or two each week.

That assumes I clean up the spilled sugar as I go, and don’t wait three days until Ralph finally walks into the corner of the kitchen and says, “What’s that?”

Not saying that happened. I’m saying it could have.

Three is quite a useful concept in writing. A tricolon is a series of three words or phrases of similar structure, length or rhythm.

Cleaning felt good. Thorough cleaning felt better. Checking twenty things off my list felt best.

That was a good thing and a grammar lesson in one. You’re welcome.

In storytelling, three allows for the possibility of a gray area, another option beyond the torture of choosing between this and that. Two choices is a dilemma. Three is possibility.

The second good thing today was strawberry muffins. I finally baked them, after weeks of wanting to and either not having time or not having strawberries. They are made with oat flour and applesauce, a little bit of sugar and a lot of strawberries.

They are both relatively healthy and delightfully delicious. I ate three.

The number three gets a lot of credit as a magic and lucky number. You get three wishes. A trifecta gives you three wins. The rule of thirds results in better photography.

You get three strikes before you’re out. When you misbehave, your mother counts to three before Doing Something Serious About It.

You’ll be happy to know that nothing ended up on the floor in the making of the muffins. I did, unfortunately, end up with oil all over the wall but that was not my fault. I bought a spray can of canola oil and it turned out to be defective, so when I pushed the spray nozzle to grease my muffin tins it spurted out in all directions, including onto the wall, into my eyeballs and all over my clothes.

Three has a long and storied history in everything from pop culture to fairytales. You can’t have the three bears without it. Or the three little pigs.

Even the Big Bag Wolf has his own tricolon. He huffs, and puffs, and blows your house down.

There are three billy goats gruff, and the princess had three guesses to get Rumpelstiltskin’s name.

Three has a certain ring to it, an ability to capture our imagination.

It’s why there are Three Musketeers. Two or four just doesn’t have the same impact, does it? It’s why you have Mo, Larry and Curly, and not Moe, Larry, Curly and Bart. It’s why Charlie has three angels.

It’s why when you want to buy a house or open a business, it’s all about location, location, location. Two locations is not nearly enough locations.

Think about all the snippets you remember from your childhood. Stop, drop, and roll. Stop, look, and listen.

You say red light green light one-two-three, not one-two-three-four. It’s just wrong.

Even the Rosetta Stone has the same text inscribed in three languages – Demotic, hieroglyphic and Greek.

And I just learned, because you know I had to, that in 1973 the first ever Schoolhouse Rock episode aired – called Three Is a Magic Number.

The third good thing about today is the water-bottle-turned-vase full of dried hydrangea from the bushes in Brigantine. My father went out and cut them for me the last time we visited and they dried out and have been sitting on my table ever since.

While they are not unique to today, they did make me happy. As I sat down to write this at the table I didn’t get around to cleaning, I shoved aside [all the junk] and parked myself with a cup of tea. And there in front of me was the vase of hydrangeas, lightly pink and poufed as ever, reminding me of fun days in Brigantine, that there are many beautiful things in the world, and that I have parents who love me.

Three things it’s good to remember on any day.

Photo: the hydrangeas gracing my table, accompanied by this year’s Valentine bear from my father. They quite enjoy their place of honor.