Yes, I’m re-using images. Apparently I folded all the washing this week!
I was talking to a friend recently about the things people say; about the perception of perfection and the supposed need to be all things to all people. All the time. I’m the first to admit that I like a clean house. I love to cook, bake and re-arrange furniture. If I know people are coming over I usually try to give the house a once over. But sometimes I don’t. Because I am tired, run down, snowed under with work… you get the idea.
I’m wondering what it is that makes us open our front door and almost automatically say ‘excuse the mess!’
What ever happened to just saying hello and putting the kettle on? Did I miss something? Am I being judged for my house keeping skills circa 1950, or on my ability to be there when a friend needs me.
If I arrive at a front door and am greeted with ‘excuse the mess’ I want to see something like this or maybe this. Or even this. If I am asked to excuse the mess, then that is exactly what I will do. I expect the same if I say it to people when they arrive at my front door. And I will only say it if there is a mess. A few dishes in the sink, or a basket of folded washing is not mess. It is a sign that people live in the house.
We do not live in pinterest. Well, I don’t anyway. As much as I love to bake bread, potter about the house making mantlepieces beautiful, arranging flowers or moving furniture I am also a realist.
Do I make pasta from scratch? I sure do. But I also have 2 minute noodles in the cupboard.
Do I enjoy good wine? You bet. But I also know a great budget cask you can buy.
Do I have a beautiful garden? Well, sometimes, and you can tell, because the leaves and pine needles get traipsed into the house, and sometimes they stay on the floor for a week until someone vacuums.
All organic, spelt flour bread has been made in our house for a few years. We also have plastic white bread in the freezer. The loaves that cost 99cents on a good day.
The point is, if your house is always pinterest ready, where is the living?
I love my job. Love. But towards the end of the year I start to get a little exhausted. Working with 23 young children will do that.
It also means the house looks like a lot like a tip. And while it will all be cleaned and polished before Christmas day is here, at the moment it is just piles upon piles of stuff. Once work is finished there will be a concerted all hands on deck effort at sorting and scrubbing, polishing and folding.
While you read this, I am at work. Cleaning. Ah, irony. The sniggering lovechild of Christmas and employment.
Exhibit A. The kitchen table. And yes, you see before you my nutritious lunch. Mmm, chicken chippies. Water counts as nutritious right?
Exhibit B. Washing piled on chair. Not high enough to collapse onto the un-mopped floor, but too high for the dog to sit on.
Exhibit C. Because when you haven’t folded the dry washing, it’s best to abandon all attempts at washing dirty clothes.
Yes, that is a butter knife on the floor. I needed it to drain the washing machine. Which also explains the empty juice bottle. Obviously.
See also a blur of dog as he attempts to make like he wasn’t sleeping on the pile of washing.
Exhibit D. Actually, I have no comment for this. Sometimes a picture says it all.
So there you have it. My pre-Christmas house. So warm, so inviting. So pinterest ready. So full of mess and tired people. And a fast depleting cocktail cabinet. It is the storm before the calm. But please don’t wait for the after photos. I will be far too exhausted from the cleaning and cajoling of teenagers to help clean to take them.
Bring on the holidays. And perhaps a cleaning elf. And a really big bottle of gin.
People who know me know I like a tidy house. It’s never perfect, there is always some stuff hanging around. Like the ever present pile of magazines, school notices, mail, hair clips, pens, nail clippers and so on strewn on the kitchen bench.
The kids’ lounge is a tip by default. Remotes tossed on the floor, homework piled on the desk, school bags and shoes scattered from one side to the other. The ironing pile. Not that anything gets ironed all that much.
We are lucky to be living in a large house at the moment, so I don’t care how much of a cesspit the kid’s lounge is, or their rooms. I am not in there much. Plus the doors can be closed. Out of sight, out of mind. Besides, it is their job, not mine, to tidy these rooms.
I keep the main lounge neat. I like it that way, as well as the sunroom. It’s nice to be able to relax in these spaces without eyeing things that need putting away, folding or sorting.
Then there is the bedroom.
I have a theory that the state of my bedroom mirrors the state of my mind. You should see it in the school term breaks. Bed made, clothes away, surfaces dusted, floor vacuumed. It’s so lovely in there the curtains are even opened.
Next week is the final week of term. The bedroom resembles my tired brain. Needless to say, the curtains are not open.
The house is old and our bedroom has a fire place. The mantle is still there, thought the fireplace itself has been plastered in and makes a great shoe cupboard. Not that any shoes are in there that have been worn in the past week or two.
The mantle itself has a beautiful framed nude Hubby’s grandmother drew. You can almost see it behind the piles of half folded clothes.
The bed has a beautiful handmade quilt. You can kind of see it under a crumpled doona and clothes that were hurled upon it in a rush to get dressed. Clothes that were on the floor or the mantle before their new resting place. Clothes that you can guarantee will be back on the floor come nightfall.
But words are not enough.
So, without further ado…
Behold. The view from atop the bed head.
No instagram filter needed for this fine art photograph.
Inspiring isn’t it? I particularly like the juxtaposition of the lime green scarf on the dust bunny filled carpet.
Note the ironic hanging of a clothes hanger from the mantle support with a hoodie hanging over, but not on the hanger.
Not to be outdone by the irony symbolised in the piles of clothes obstructing clear vision of the nude.
Life is art people. Life is art.
I would like to say there will be an after the holidays post, showing a clean, dust free floor with all clothes in their rightful place. I’d like to. But I won’t. That would just be silly talk.
Today I cleaned the house. Cleaned like a mofo. Things were tossed. Bags of clothes and shoes were bundled ready to be taken away. Mirrors gleam. Dark wood is dust free. Washing washed. Beds made. Floors vacuumed and mopped.
Flowers have been cut and placed in bottles on the huge mantle in the lounge. Furniture had been moved. Trinkets rearranged. Music cranked. Nag Champa burnt.
The house smells all heady, earthy, clean. I walk through the rooms admiring the cleanliness.
You know, don’t you when you clean a house, I mean really, really clean it, its got nothing to do with a clean house. Right? Or is that just me.
All that cleaning. Scrubbing. Wiping. Moving. Rearranging. It’s about everything except a house that would pass the white glove inspection. Isn’t it.
I have a lot on my mind. It whirls and knocks about in my head. And you know that when there’s things to be thought on, shit gets done. Not the shit I need to really do, but all the other stuff. Like cleaning the house. Or getting Hubby to help me rearrange the kid’s lounge to include a study space for homework.
It’s been a week. You know the ones; they seem to go on relentlessly. For no particular reason and a thousand all at once I feel stretched to the limit.
It will pass. As will the neat as a pin house and, no doubt the homework area.
But for now, I console myself with nag champa and earl grey. With scotch fingers and a cleaner than clean house.
The days with their short light and cold still air will wrap me in the comfort of autumnal indoor living.
I have read a few blogs on ritual and comfort this week, like Jane’s and Melissa’s and it got me thinking about my own.
Wellbeing has been playing on my mind lately, as can be seen in my ramblings on roller coasters and the small happy. For me, ritual means a number of things, comfort, familiarity, belonging… a sense that all is right with the world. It can be hard to find that sense somedays. Work, family, house hold tasks can all sometimes pile up, in the case of the washing that needs folding, quite literally.
This, then is a good reason to have a few rituals that help make the mundane less so… for me the washing folding takes place after the kids are home from school. This started before either the Green Eyed Girl or the Blue Eyed Boy were even approaching school age. When they were both down for an afternoon sleep, I would try to make sure I sat with a cup of tea, a book, a cooking magazine, the tv… just some time out for myself. Upon their waking, as they shook the last remnants of sleep and began rummaging for food I’d begin to fold the washing. It stuck. Now days though I am lucky enough to have two people old enough to help with the washing folding, so things go a lot faster.
I have other rituals too, and these are the ones I really want to talk about. Not the ones that have to be done… but the ones I want to do.
Tea is one such ritual. Most afternoons as I come in the door I like to dump my work basket and put the kettle on. While I wait for it to boil I place an earl grey tea bag in my favourite cup, add a spoon of sugar and sit at the kitchen table. Once the kettle has boiled I pour, stir and let it brew. There is something almost meditative about the way I do this. Every part of the process the same, every day, done with a sense of easing calm. Once the tea has brewed I add just a dash of milk and give it a final stir before sitting at the table again. I might browse through a magazine, chat to the kids, read the school newsletter, even tweet on my phone, but it’s still time out, a chance to catch my breath after the day.
Something else I like to do when I’m pottering about the house is light incense. It fills the house with a wonderfully sweet, earthy smell… one that makes me think of my sisters and my mum. When we move to a new home, the first thing I do is light nag champa day and night until the home is ours. I guess it’s my smudging ceremony. On days that I am home, I light one after the other… and when I go into my sisters or my parents homes, they have that same scent welcoming me back.
Rituals like these are small, and although I said they don’t need to be done, I think perhaps they do. It’s the little things like this that can make a day, give you a sense of comfort, of happiness, of lightness and wellbeing. For me, that’s what the ritual is for… so I’m placing mine in the must do pile.
Hi, my name’s Naomi… and I’m a smug-a-holic… it’s been less then 24 hours since I last had that self satisfying feeling of smugness.
You see, yesterday was Sunday… and I had had a fairly productive weekend. It went like this -
Friday night – watch son at cricket, go to bottle shop, get Hubby to drive me to friends… drink wine… laugh, drink more wine, get Hubby to drive me home… daughter be sick in night… manage this with as much soothing, calming words as can… and not once yell ‘can’t you get your own vomit bucket?’ get 2.3 hours sleep.
Saturday – cancel professional Development as child has been sick, and I have had no sleep – spend day thinking about writing reports, and doing washing.
Sunday – clean house like a crazy woman, clean up around garden some more, write some reports, fold washing, cook tea, drink wine, feel smug about great efforts in house cleaning, and washing basket emptying… had I forgotten that one simple rule? SMUGNESS COMES BEFORE A FALL?
Usually on a Monday I am at work, and today I was… for a while. Miss 8 was already home with Hubby, when he got a call from Master 10′s teacher telling him Master 10 was unwell… I had already decided I needed to leave work early to take Miss 8 to Dr – Hubby is on a tight deadline, and while he can cope with having unwell child watching DVD’s all day, is a bit hard having 2 and a Dr appointment AND complete very tricky 3D design art gallery walk through thingy (yes, I know all the technical terms for design work!)
So, I am home even earlier than planned. And yes, I think that was my smug slinking to the floor… along with a ripped up cardboard box the puppy had disemboweled… the washing, so smugly folded, but not put away… the newly created dirty washing pile… seriously, where did that come from? Miss 8′s lunch box and contents strewn over couch… (Hubby had ever so hopefully packed her lunch this morning hoping it’s contents might lure her to school) and a sinking feeling I may not be at work this week… as Hubby is heading interstate, the children seem to actually be sick, not just faking it as hoped.
On the plus, a day or so off work would give me extra time for report writing… I could vacuum every day, and be permanently on top of the washing…
Hi, my name’s Naomi… and I’m a smug-a-holic… it’s been less then 10 minutes since I last had that self satisfying feeling of smugness…
Right. The next thing I am about to say will come as no shock to those who know me. I like things a certain way… yes things can get the better of me… like the washing pile (read about that here) but I like a certain order to life… a place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Which brings me to toilet rolls. People, there is a right way, and a wrong way to place the loo roll on your loo roll holder… really, there is… and if I visit you, and yours is on the wrong way, I may just change it around to the right way. Please don’t be tempted to turn it around just to see me twitch… I have a long memory and will find out your secret OCD behaviour and pay you back.
I will not be swayed on this. I am right. I’ve even joined a group on facebook in support of this! It is very important to have it on the right way, it says a lot about who you are… things like ~ I have an eye for detail, a keen sense of style, and above average OCD tendencies!
And just incase you’re wondering which the correct way is…
I think the washing pile is mocking me. It is getting to an unmanageable size…AGAIN! I try, I really, really do… but sometimes I have far more important things to do than fold washing, you know work, or facebook… and then the pile grows and grows… and the kids have no socks for school… or I can’t find the top I really need to wear… so why don’t I just fold the bloody pile? Why does it grow and fester to a size so large I try not to make eye contact with it?
I tell myself this is because I’m a perfectionist… I like to fold tops like they are in a lovely pile in Myers. I like to make the face washers look like they are in a hotel… all seamless… I like to make separate piles for each family member… with jeans at the bottom, then shorts, then long sleeved tops, then T-shirts, then PJ’s, then undies and socks… ah… OCD anyone?
But, if I was such a perfectionist, wouldn’t I fold the washing every day instead of making an Everest like mound? Or at least on the 2 days I don’t work… or on the weekend? Perhaps it’s the size that is defeating me… perhaps if I go, and tackle it, and place the piles on the kids beds for them to put away, and I have a lovely, empty washing basket the task wont seem so big… and tomorrow when I have more dry washing, and it’s in a little non threatening pile, I can just fold that… and we’ll all have matching socks, and lovely folded clothes, put away in drawers… ready to get out and put on… wouldn’t that be nice?
Right then… off I go to start folding… turn over a new leaf… I can do it, yes I can! (Actually, no I can’t… Hubby has just done it… perfect timing on my part!)