Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Round of Domesticity

The work of keeping a home doesn't change greatly from day to day. Bedrooms must be put to rights first thing, bathrooms need cleaning--I have a 'thing' about the cleanliness of bathrooms.
There are meals to prepare followed by tidying the kitchen; I do laundry as soon as I can justify putting in another load.
Cat hair is a renewable resource in this house, insuring that the vacuum cleaner is trundled about rather frequently.
Summer adds garden chores to the daily list--plants and seedlings to be watered, ever-burgeoning weeds to combat, produce to be dealt with.
Although these tasks demand my attention and call upon my energies, they hardly seem
 worthy of mention. 
If a week passes and I can cite no creative project undertaken or completed I feel a nagging lack of accomplishment, a slightly irritated sense that I have nothing to show for my time.

We have had a spate of guests during the past several weeks; extended family needing a rest stop during their travels, friends from our former neighborhood invited for lunch and an afternoon visit.
I love to make our bedrooms ready for guests, selecting fresh sheets from the stacks in the  linen cupboard, choosing the right quilt for each bed, arranging the simple touches that make each room welcoming and serene. 
Food to prepare and share, hours of talk--catching up.
Then suddenly a quiet house and mounds of sheets and towels to be laundered and 
returned to the shelves.

During the growing season tending the garden ranks high on the list of 'things to do.'

Harvesting green beans becomes more laborious each season.  We planted our spring crops this year in such tight rows that bean picking on my knees hasn't been an option. [My knees don't appreciate such demands!]  I've therefore hung over the bean bushes, picking beans, pinching the yellow larvae of Mexican bean beetles, straightening frequently to ease the kinks in my back.
We had a bumper crop of beans--as well as a heavy infestation of bean beetles.
This evening I put on my wellies and between rain showers uprooted the tattered bushes, noting with dismay the number of yellow 'bugs' that fell from the limp leaves onto the soil.
I have declared that if we grow green beans in the future it will be a variety that can be trained onto a fence for easier harvest.

The cucumbers have out done themselves. We planted early and some of the seeds were slow to germinate.  Jim became impatient, replanted  and bought some starts of cucumbers for good measure.
For about two weeks the cucumbers were a treat. We had extra to share.
A run of mellow weather apparently suited the cucumbers and the plants went into high gear.  We have begged visitors, neighbors--anyone--to take away the cucumbers!  When we find outsize ones that have grown hidden under leaves I slice them and take them to the billy goats down the lane.
A friend's mom wanted to make pickles--we were glad to supply the raw material.
Jim learned today that our Amish neighbors had a late start on their garden and would be happy to relieve us of cucumbers.

I was pleased to find [at Wal Mart] this expandable utensil tray. It took a mere quarter of an hour to turn out the jumble of 'tools' in this drawer and create a tidy space.

Curtains destined for the upstairs double hallway stayed piled on my sewing table for nearly three weeks needing the bottom hems pressed up and stitched.
I started work on them at about 9 o'clock one evening and was finished before 11.
The next morning I washed the relevant windows, hung the curtains and was very pleased with the effect.  This reminded me that every window in the house [there are nearly 30] was in need of washing.  I bundled an armload of dusty curtains down to the laundry, rummaged out windex and paper towels, dragged a kitchen chair from window to window.  Jim showed me how to pop out the lower sash so that the outside of the glass could be cleaned.  In theory the upper sash is meant to slide down and tilt out--my one attempt at that needed Jim to thump the window back in place with considerable force.
Gleaming window glass, curtains line-dried, carefully pressed;  tiring work but a visible reward for the effort.  There are 9 windows with their curtains yet to be done.

I bargined on ebay for indoor/outdoor fabric to make cushions for our new Amish-crafted porch rockers.
The chair-maker offered cushions at $50 per set--thick wedges of foam covered [by his wife] in the ubiquitous bright blue polyester fabric favored by the local Amish.  I announced that I would prefer to make my own. We opted for much flatter cushions. My investment of $60 included a roll of 1 inch foam, the colorful fabric with enough left to recover the cushion on the wicker loveseat. A few hours spent drafting templates from newspaper  and constructing the cushions leaves me satisfied that I have put my own creative touch on the chairs.

We're finding that the chairs lure us to the porch: to take a break from work, iced tea or perhaps dessert on the little table between us.  I sit there with a book, raising my eyes to watch the hummingbirds when they whir in to sip from the feeders hanging a few feet away.

My burst of creative housekeeping--not necessarily the stuff that makes for good reading--has inspired me. After a lull in all but mundane tasks, I think I am rebooted, looking forward to tackling a number of projects which have languished for want of the best use of time and energy. 
It may be that I need to list these domestic accomplishments, simply to assure myself that I can still make things happen!


  1. Written so well but I have to say "I am exhausted after readung this." lol

    1. Deb; Its a good thing I can claim a comfortable rocking chair both indoors and on the porch--my aging self demands fairly frequent respite from my labors!

  2. Your post was interesting and inspiring. I've got my own cleaning and projects to be worked on.

    Happy summer living ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Your garden projects always inspire me to keep weeding away, even though we garden in very different climates.

  3. You wear me out! Summer is so hot and humid that I get little done. Kitchens and bathrooms are always cleaned, but everything else gets a lick and a promise.

    1. Janet; I can deal with hot weather up to about 90 degrees F--humidity knocks me out. "A lick and a promise" describes my way of keeping house most of the time. I am easily distracted!

  4. There is a lot of inspiration there, new porch chairs look lovely.

    1. Thelma; The new porch chairs are a treat, made by an Amish crafter a few miles away.
      I am often inspired or motivated by what others report doing--can only hope that sometimes I provide a helpful nudge to someone.

  5. Oh my-you made me look at my windows and they're looking pretty bad! Guess I'll have to get busy. My husband made a glider/rocker for our front porch and we are enjoying it when it's not too hot.

  6. Jan; I try not to notice streaky windows--washing them is a big project--and in this Amish built house we have so many. A glider-rocker sounds wonderful--especially since your husband made it for you!

  7. Washing windows here is a big project too. With a viewing in the offing I did the ones I could reach, and then the tops of the sash windows inside and out but am only too aware (it was VERY sunny yesterday) of the shortcomings of the bottom halves! Especially in my office. Ah well, we ran out of time.

    I love the fabric you used on those rockers. Nice and cheerful.

    I am also envious of your bean crop - my few plants (in tubs this year) are still at the flower stage.

  8. Jennie; One of the discouraging things with washing windows is clambering down from chair or stepladder and walking away only to come back a few hours later and see sun shining through streaks--on the outside of the glass. The final house in Wyoming was the only one where I've been able to manage the window detail. [Usually undertaken prior to a viewing!]
    I may put in a fall bean crop--the plague of bean beetles has usually ended by late summer.
    I am pleased with the rocker cushions--offered $6 per yd on ebay and the bid was accepted--shipping was $10 as it was on a bolt. Fabric is fairly stiff but my sewing machine handled it well.

  9. Love hearing about your housekeeping - much, much better than mine. Also love the cushions on the rockers.
    Lillian of Lillian's Cupboard.

    1. Lillian; My 'housekeeping' is inconsistent--I get things clean and tidy and it takes such a short time for me to become 'untidy!'
      I'm pleased with the cushions, although I added the ties on the first bottom one as an after-thought instead of incorporating them into the side seams.

  10. It's so nice when you get big jobs like washing the windows done! That reminds me, I have to attend to mine. The curtains turned out so pretty and I love those Amish porch chairs. Well-done on the cushions, too. Your fresh veggies look so delicious. Your house guests must have surely enjoyed their stay. x Karen

    1. Karen; I often think that in whatever 'grand scheme of things' exists, my efforts with curtains and cushions aren't very important. And yet---I find great satisfaction in my little creations.