28 December 2008


A guest post, a poem written by my friend David.

A Few Such Nights

Before the moon, a quarter, a smiling Cheshire quarter, rises in the sky to kiss the lower limb of the hickory on the side hill, we are out after dinner. Mid-to-late February, they call it; finally a snap in the cold spell; a foot or more melts at dusk in the high thirties.

We climb the hill, the one under the hickory, shovels put aside for a moment; velvety indigo blue darkening in the west, giving way to the lights around the back porch.

Our sleds sit hard on the sun compressed snow, snow made into balls easily just past the crispy outer shell. He refused gloves as we left the garage, not expecting play.

He grabs my hand to steady himself on the climb. I think of his small, chilled bare hands against my chilled, leather-palmed work glove. I excuse my hand for a moment, remove the glove and take his hand again. I feel my hand warm his, and think I hear an unconscious lift in his voice.

© David J Marsh, 2007

25 December 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope your holiday festivies were memorable -- and nobody made you wear funny sequeined vests.

08 December 2008

Housekeeping A-Z

I find this meme, which I first came across at Emily's (see also Ms. Musings, and Dorothy), hysterical. I know that there are people who take this seriously – and I don’t mean to be offensive to those who do – but I am so far removed from the life of Suzi Homemaker that I can’t really find much common ground. It’s not that I think people don’t do these sorts of activities, as much as it is realizing that someone might care enough to think about them seriously as something other than a necessary part of life, pure drudgery at that. (I think utilitarian cooking -- that which you do to fix a meal so you or your family doesn't starve -- as falling into that drudgery category. When I have time, and am so inspired, I like to cook. Sort of like the difference between writing catalog copy because you need a paycheck and writing a novel.)

I would love to be more organized and I would love to have a really clean house as long as it was still livable, but I’ll never be the type of person who cares so much about it that I would worry about a few cobwebs or dust or things that haven’t made their way into their proper spots. I’d like to live somewhere between CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome as the FlyLady says) and white-glove dust-test perfect. I guess that is what you call good enough for those with busy lives outside of the home. At least, for me.

Here are my responses to the A-Z meme, along with what I was really thinking...

A is for Aprons - yes/no? If yes, what’s your favourite?
When I was a child, my mother, grandmother and aunt had these aprons that they wore every holiday. They were frilly things, ones that you wouldn't want to cover with flour or gravy or baby formula, rather than something that you would wear to protect your cloths. These aprons had sequins, appliques, and lace trimmings. My favorite was one that had an applique that could be changed for each holiday: a turkey for Thanksgiving, a tree for Christmas, a champagne glass for New Years'. A few years ago one of my sisters found all of my mother's aprons, laundered and ironed them, and handed each of us one to wear when we gathered at Christmas. That was the last time I wore an apron.

A is for apoplexy – what my mother would have if she saw my closets.

B is for Baking - favourite thing to bake?
Baking is chemistry. I'm not a chemist. I can make bread in my automatic bread machine, though. In my family I can't escape the brownies I made when I was 12 years old. The closest thing to man-made shale, my brother claimed. We tried to throw them into a pond for the ducks. They sank before the ducks could get to them. Subsequent attempts weren't much better.

B is for books. Dang it! Already used by others. B is for bubble bath – much more fun than using scrubbing bubbles to clean the shower and tub.

C is for Clothesline - do you have one?
I don't think so. See W for Wash.

C is for clutter – unfortunately it abounds in my house. A perfect gift for me would be a personal organizer.

D is for Donuts - have you ever made them?
My mother used to let us make donuts by taking instant biscuits, cutting out the center with a turkey baster (perfect size for a donut hole), and dropping them into deep fat fryer. When they were cooked, we tossed them in a bag with powdered sugar or cinnamon. I don't buy premade biscuits, don't know if I have a turkey baster, and have never owned a deep fat fryer. There are donuts at my office every Friday morning. I never go near them.

D is for Dustbunnies – they sound so much nicer than they are.

E is for Every Day - one homemaking task you do every day.
Eh? Set the alarm when I leave the house, maybe?

E is for energy – I don’t have enough at the end of the day to really keep up a clean house.

F is for Freezer - do you have a separate deep freeze?

F is for forgotten food that has been pushed back to the far corners of the fridge. Ewww!

G is for Garbage Disposal Unit - do you have one?
Yep! How does one live without one? Think of all the nasty stuff you'd have to fish out of the drain.

G is for grocery shopping – I have my picture posted in some stores with the caption: Have you seen this customer?We want her back.

H is for Handbook - what’s your favourite homemaking resource?
I own about 120 cookbooks. I like to read them, but don' always use them. My favorite ones to read are historical cookbooks that contain tidbits about the locale or a historical time period. I try to pick up cookbooks when I visit places. This may seem a strange souvenir for someone who doesn't cook much. I am a better cook than baker, though.

H is for HELP! I need to a housekeeper on speed dial!

I is for Ironing - love or hate it?
I firmly believe one may be lacking in some sort of mental grounding if one feels strong emotions for one's iron. Or vacuum. Or washing machine.

I is for Ignoring the mess.

J is for Junk Drawer - yes/no? If yes, where is it?
I'd like to know the name for the drawer that doesn't have junk in it. I think we don't have such a word because it is an non-existent thing. I'm not even sure my Safe Deposit Box would qualify as a no-junk zone.

J is for Just Clean Enough – if I can get there, I’d be happy.

K is for Kitchen - colour and decorating scheme?
Dark oak boards on walls (as in other parts of the house), white tiled floor, white tiled backsplashes with hand painted wild flowers found throughout the woods surrounding the house. I posted pictures of them here last July.

K is for klutz, domestic variety. I can’t bake or sew. I once sewed the dress I was making to the dress I was wearing. No wonder I hated 8th grade Home Ec class!

L is for Love - what’s your favourite part of homemaking?
Are you serious? Worse than having strong emotional attachments to a household appliance, would be having a favorite part of homemaking. Was this taken from a 1950’s home-ec book?

L is for leaving dust be. There’s always something more important to do – kiss your babies, hug your spouse, sing a song (well, I don’t sing much either, but metaphorically….)

M is for Mop - do you have one?
Yes. What else would you use when the commode overflows? Couldn’t tell you what type, color, model, etc. it is though.

M is for martinis. I will rinse the dust off the martini glasses and shaker if I need to get them out of the cabinet. Dust would ruin a good martini. Does that count as a favorite household task?

N is for Nylons - machine or hand wash?
Wear them as infrequently as possible. When I do wear them, I sometimes forget how to take them off, so I snag them; therefore, I have no need to wash them.

N is for (K)nick(k)nacks. I call them dust collectors. The fewer you have, the less there is to dust.

O is for Oven - do you use a window or open the oven door to check?
I have a window, but I usually open the door. This may have more to do with habits instilled when I didn’t have a self-cleaning oven, than anything else.

O is for obnoxious ads showing smiling housekeepers happy over toilet bowl cleaner and air freshener. Noxious chemicals should never make anyone happy.

P is for Pizza - what do you put on yours?
Eat from the box. When being fancy, use a plate!

P is for perfection: it’s unachievable. I can’t bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan. Case closed.

Q is for quiet - what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
I certainly don’t think about housework! I can use almost anything as a procrastination technique for avoiding housework.

Q is for quilty. Oh wait, wrong spelling. For GUILTY. I confess: I’m a rotten housekeeper, but I don’t feel guilty about it.

R is for Recipe Card Box - yes/no? If yes, what does it look like?
I have lots of print outs from Internet downloads, recipes stuck inside other cookbooks, and a collection of loosely piled recipes cut from magazines on the cookbook shelf. Sometimes they get filed in notebooks.

R is for restaurant reservations – much better to make for dinner than Hamburger Rescue after a long day of work.

S is Style of House - what style is your house?
Typical 50’s style American ranch, although since my house is cantilevered over a ravine, it has a basement, unlike many ranches. Most of the basement isn’t really basement at all since it is above grade. It is way too big for me to clean. Anything more than a maybe 500 square feet might be too big for me to clean.

S is for showoffs – those who can actually come up with appropriate, non-sarcastic answers to this meme, and have perfect kids and terrific jobs! I am so jealous. What's your secret?

T is for Tablecloths - do you use them?

T is for table – if you’re by yourself, do you need to set the table for dinner?

U is for Under The Kitchen Sink - organised or toxic wasteland?
Remember Love Canal or the Cuyahoga River when it burned? If this were the 1980’s, I might qualify to apply for SuperFund cleanup funds. When I look under the sink, I think of GhostBusters and EPA agent Peck threatening to shut them down.

U is for understanding – I do understand how people can obsess over things like perfectly clean houses. There is plenty that I obsess over – owning House Beautiful isn’t one of them.

V is for Vacuum - how many times a week?
A week? You’re suppose to do this weekly? Is that why the vacuum store suggested I get my vacuum cleaned when it was one year old? Didn't seem like it needed it yet.

V is for visiting vacation fairies – I really want them to visit my home when I’m on vacation next time, get rid of all the junk, repaint the kitchen ceiling, organize my household papers, clean and rehang the draperies. Is that too long of a list for a week?

W is for Wash - how many loads of washing do you do each week?
Zero! Someone else in this house does the laundry. I am very spoiled.

W is for wash – I’m so lucky that I have my own personal laundry guy. And he never, ever ruins the clothes by mixing colored stuff with whites. I am very, very spoiled.

X’s - Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
I go through obsessive bouts of doing this at work, but rarely do I do this for home.

X’s and O’s: my family still loves me even though I am a miserably unsuccessful housekeeper.

Y is for Yard - who does what?
My yard is a natural habitat of dense deciduous trees. The only yard work we have is to get rid of the leaves from the gutters, driveways and porches, which we usually hire out. While that may sound like a luxury, the gutters are >30 feet off the ground and I don’t like heights. The leaves on the driveway come as a packaged deal with the gutters.

Y is for Yeah! When the house is clean (by my standards) it does make me a teeny bit happy.

Zzz’s - what’s the last homemaking task you do before bed in the evening?
Turn out the light and fluff my pillow!

Z is for zippedity-do-dah. I have nothing more to say!