Monday, September 28, 2009

Housekeeping? Moi?

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
Erma Bombeck


After reading Gilead, I had Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping novel somewhere on my books-to-be-read shelf. I didn't await it with glee. The title scared the crap out of me. You see, I'm not the best housekeeper. In fact I can pretty much find everything else to do rather than clean my house, i.e. the books shelves in the study where my youngest son does his homework. (Note the presence of the old encyclopedias. What does one do with a set of those these days?)

Conversely, husband's side of the family are cleaning freaks. I can visit his mom's house and use the garage floor as a plate for my dinner, no thoughts needed. At my house, I push aside a pile of papers on my kitchen table to find a spot for my plate. I dare not think about when it might last have been washed off.

I admit it. I'm a crappy housekeeper. Oh, I have times when I sweep, dust, vacuum, mop, sort, toss, scour, and pile papers into a neat stack. Few and far between occurrences. I am easily distracted by the New Yorker open to a new article on top of the pile on the table, or a handwritten letter to send, a garden to plant, a friend to visit, or a novel to write.

Lest I say, you get my house as is when you come by. Which is why Marilynne's book didn't disappoint. Two young girls, Lucille and Ruthie, have survived their parents and grandmother and are passed off to their aunt, Sylvie, their mother's sister the "tramp". Or transient. She prefers the outdoors, danger, a trance-like atmosphere. Collects tin cans, newspapers. Adverse to housecleaning. When the younger sister, Lucille, decides on a more conventional life and moves in with her teacher, the authorities swoop in to see if Sylvie provides a good home for Ruthie. Sylvie cleans the house, but both decide this is not what they want. They escape over the bridge out of town - the railroad bridge no on else will cross, and enter a nomadic lifestyle. Very happy with it, I might add.

The message? Not everyone conforms. Not everyone is cut out for the cookie cutter life. The definitions of order are different for everyone.

I like that kind of thinking.

Although, all good things must come to an end. There does come a time when one has to break down and clean the damn house. My husband and I did that at the lake this past Saturday. Fall Cleaning, as it were. Supposed to do it last spring, but then the crowds came and, well, so much more fun to loll on the dock with a glass of wine than wash sheets, find out what's really under the beds, and scour showers.

We put our bodies to work non-stop. I must have done 24 loads of laundry. Bed pads, sheets, comforters, pillows, blankets. Took everything off the bookshelves, dusted, washed. All the windows, showers, toilets. Moved the furniture - vacuumed and washed underneath.

It looks mahvelous. Ready for the next round of 100+ visitors. At least the upstairs.

We have to spend next Saturday doing the bunkroom and downstairs windows. The old fashioned horizontal kind you crank. Like Venetian blinds, only glass. Plus the downstairs shower where all the hundreds of kids rinse off. Yeck. (That job is for sale if any takers.)

But that night, after we declared the day done, my husband and I lumbered onto the dock to watch the sunset. Our bodies dropped into our chairs and we wished the entire wine bottle plus another had found its way down with us. Although our wearied limbs tingled with overuse, we did have satisfaction in the order and cleanliness of the cabin behind us. Only a momentary tingle for me, I'm certain.

Now, will someone come shovel out the house in town. The one where all the junk of life lives.

Meanwhile, share the sunset.





45 comments:

  1. Wow stunning sunsets!!! I would much rather be out watching the sun set than doing housework. In fact I would pretty much prefer most things to doing housework!

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  2. Wonderful sunset shots. The trouble with housework, I find, is that no sooner have you done it than it is all ready to be done again.

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  3. I struggle with housekeeping too. Hence the 'lazy' part of my name here. I hate it, hate it, hate it. I'm doing it today, though, so this is a timely post. The sunset was beautiful, by the way.

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  4. What an incredible reward for a hard day's work. I'd love to be standing in front of that bookcase, looking at the titles. I seem to do the most housework when I'm trying to avoid something else - or when company's coming to stay.

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  5. Fantastic photos--thanks for sharing. Since we are not clean freaks either, we can always use that excuse to talk ourselves out of buying a bigger house (who needs more rooms to clean?).

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  6. Breathtaking sunset my friend. I have a wonderful husband from a clean freaking family. Me? Not so much. But he pitches in and helps with all the cleaning and I'm happy that I have caught on to the cleaning thing. It is a wonderful feeling when you have worked so hard!

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  7. Hello! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment *smiling*

    oh, the bunions! Lawdy be! Luckily mine don't hurt...lawd!

    Anyway, I am a fair to middlin' house keeper - my mom was a clean freak and for a while I was too - however, it gets old fast. But, I still have things I am "strict" about ...and if I go out of town, I have to have clean sheets to slide into when I arrive home and I have to come home to a clean house.

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  8. You have a spot to eat at your kitchen table? I'm so jealous!

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  9. I was just talking about this the other day...how I don't feel like I have a meaningful purpose lately, and how this staying at home and having to CLEAN does not motivate me. Actually, I think it does the opposite.
    Sounds like a good read. I will look for that book!

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  10. sunset pics are beautiful. And as for housekeeping - the only people who keep perfect house are the ones who haven't got better things to do :P (That's the excuse I am sticking with)

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  11. Something about that Lone Star State that can really put on the sunset, huh? Great piece, and I like the way you weave in the personal aspect of housekeeping with that of your profound ability to reflect. Marilynne would be proud of you...EFH

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  12. The sunset is gorgeous. What a well deserved evening of repose.

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  13. D'you know, we never say, do we, Wow, look at that ironing, how beautiful it is. But give us a sunset and we are all ooh'ing and ah'ing in unison. Lesson... dont do ironing. Watch sunsets. And may I say, your sunset is a cracker. xx

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  14. Beautiful sunset photos! I'll come out and clean with you sometime for that reward (and the bottle of wine!).
    As far the house in town, my current favorite quote is, "Boring women have immaculate homes." And you are never boring, my dear.

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  15. Oh, man. I'm jealous. The dock, the sunset, the clean house. Mostly the clean house. Living with chitlins again makes for some fancy footwork sometimes, just walking through the front door. :)

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  16. P.S. I'm surprised you could get ANY housework done with those sunsets.

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  17. Guess I am boring.... I'm a clean freak....but when I visit friends I love it when they are relaxed and happy and not the least bit concerned about dirty dishers or dust. I guess we all have things we enjoy and I like my home to be sparkling and polished.....I know I'm pathetic but I'm happy.....love your photo's.....:-) Hugs

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  18. Cleaning is just an annoyance. I feel I spend half my weekend doing so, just to turn around in seven days and do it all over again. But, I must have the peace of mind that a clean environment affords, even if it's at the expense of my reading time. Everything's at the expense of my reading time. In fact, would you like my job? ;) Thanks for visiting me today, it's nice to meet you. And, I surely love cabins under beautiful skies...

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  19. Cleaning never ends. I'm with you, though, when I was younger, I felt soooo guilty. Love your sunsets.

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  20. I feel your pain!
    I would love to have a clean, organized, clutter-free home. Will it ever happen? When I die, will someone go through my home shaking their head, feeling overwhelmed? Or will they forget about Ebay and instead get a dumpster and shove it all in?
    Actually, my house is fairly clean; it's just the dust and stuff. (I don't consider dust as dirt.)
    If you have a few minutes, check out my April 24 post, "Collector or Packrat?"

    Regarding books: I loved Erma Bombeck. And, I have always wanted to read something by Marilyn Robinson. When I suggested "Housekeeping" to my bookclub, a few decided that they wanted some "light" reading instead.

    Congratulations on getting the lake house in order!

    Beautiful Pics as usual!

    Blessings.

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  21. I feel your housekeeping pain. Awesome photos!

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  22. Holy mojo, but that sunset is like karmic payoff for all your scrubbing and sorting. I hope the feeling of getting the house in order is a good one--and that you always remain the lovely person who knows what she'll remember on her deathbed, and it won't be the joys of folding towels.

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  23. I used to be obsessed with cooking and cleaning, now I'm obsessed with cooking and blogging. Incredible sunsets, so beautiful! A reward for your hard work. :)

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  24. Hello Julie

    I see what you mean with the morning glories...yours have the lights on too...

    I know what to do with old encyclopedias...cut them up...I use old books, phone books, old art books, atlases... to make cards and collages from...


    Happy days

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  25. House works could and should wait for these stunning sunsets. Life is so short for perfection..

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  26. Note to You: I will volunteer to come clean your lake house to be able to see those sunsets! And I hate housework, too. I actually have had a housekeeper for several years and the last year or so I probably shouldn't as my business has been slow and it's not like I don't have the time. However, I have said I would get a parttime job rather than clean my own house! BTW the windows you describe are Jalousie windows. I don't see those too often in my business anymore but they are still out there! Love the photos. (Did I say that?)

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  27. Tell me, HOW DO you get your husband to clean with you? Mine just says, 'The house looks alright to me' and carries on peering at his laptop in the kitchen amidst the papers, dirty cups and sauces.

    Great sunset!

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  28. What a gorgeous sunset, the perfect "thank-you" to your busy, productive day!

    My parents are clean freaks... my sis and I were laughing hysterically when we were at mom's last Feb, because we could fold our shirts on her living room carpet. We couldn't even THINK of doing that at our houses (dogs).

    I guess I would have to say I'm a bit of a non-conformist, because I'd rather be living life and enjoying all it has to offer, than spend my whole life keeping my house clean, a never-ending task when one has dogs. Who's going to thank you for keeping the house clean when you die?! LOL

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  29. Did I says sauces? I meant saucers...

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  30. Housekeeping is one of my favorite books EVER! I'm glad you like it too. I hate housecleaning, but I do it more than I should. My house isn't super clean, but it's usually presentable. It's a shame, really. I wish I could write when my house is dirty, but I can't. So I keep cleaning it so I can write. UGH!

    Those are awesome pictures!

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  31. Great pictures! We all have different talents and mine is not cooking.... oh well! :O)

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  32. There's an award for you on my blog!

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  33. I am so tired of cleaning. Thanks for making me feel better about it--and those gorgeous pictures! Wow!

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  34. Lovely sunset. Enjoyed your musings. However, I would really enjoy straightening up those bookshelves. Let me at 'em...

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  35. Such beautiful photos. I actually like housework...at least the part of feeling good when it is fresh and clean. But I agree that it isn't the most important thing in life. Doing what you love and loving the people you are surrounded by is tops! I learned long ago that housework will always be there even after you die. Enjoy!!! Oh and don't forget the wind next time.

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  36. I do not iron...if it wrinkles...it becomes pajamas...that's my motto...I loved your post...I do get distracted too looking out my windows...off I go looking for things to photograph...leaving dishes in the sink!
    I noticed Delwyn called you Julie...and Bernie is here too, both good friends!
    Smiles to you Julie,
    Wanda

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  37. I loved Housekeeping! (the book, not the activity). Are you sure you don't have my in-laws?? Although, if I could have even a portion of a view (much less the sunsets--sigh) like that, I could become a better scrubber.
    Great post, great pictures, great quote. Thanks!

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  38. You exaggerate, my dear. I think you have been seeing too much of your friend the Fragrant Liar. The sunsets are extremely lovely. You are getting to be an amazing photographer.

    And you know I follow the same credo as you when it comes to housekeeping. But I slways scrub my kitchen table where I eat.

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  39. I miss Erma Bombeck! I can't even remember the last time I ironed anything! My mother-in-law would iron my husband's jeans.... give me a break!! Love the sunset pics!

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  40. LOL...can so relate...housework...the bane of my existence!!!! Love the photos!!! You have so much talent!!! Stick to the photography; forget ironing! ;-) ~Janine XO

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  41. HAHAHAHA! Bernie, you crack me up. As if I would EVER exaggerate. I mean . . . seriously.

    You straightened her out, right, Jules? RIGHT???

    :))

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  42. I'm with you on the housekeeping. And the movie, which I'm sure is not nearly as good as the book, has haunted me for years.

    On behalf of Irma Bombeck, I curse the inventor of the bunk bed every time I crack my head on the ceiling. Good times.

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  43. Oh how I miss the days of a 'perfect' house. Everything in it's place, which is still pretty much the case for me, but the dust... oh the dust. Just cannot seem to drag a cloth across all the stuff anymore. And I ask myself, 'is it really important?' Errmm, probably not.

    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

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  44. ALL THAT WORK AND SOMEBODY ELSE WILL BENEFIT? It had to be done, right? Enjoy the sunset; work can wait.

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