Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homemaking, A-Z Meme

This is a great meme for me. You see, when I was a kid, and all the kids were going around comparing who had the best tan, even the palest of the pale would eventually wind up next to me, because, well, “She doesn’t count. Everyone is darker than Emily.” I figured I was put on this earth to help those poor souls who had suffered through countless sun burns finally to achieve a slightly golden hue, by being someone who would make them feel better about their slight tans. Now that all my friends shy away from the sun without slathering on sunscreen with an SPF of 120, reciting horror stories of cousins who died at age 32 from skin cancer, I’ve had to find a new role, another area in which everyone can compare themselves to me and feel good. It hasn’t been hard. That area would be homemaking.

Neither Bob nor I likes to tidy or clean. He has a slightly higher tolerance for some things than I do, and I have a slightly higher tolerance for others, so combined, we manage to keep our home from completely falling down around us. However, we are definitely the sorts who can never have anyone just “drop by,” unannounced. (Or at least I am. He doesn’t seem to care if people have to remove piles of books and papers -- and maybe a cat whose hair will become instantly and permanently attached to their sweaters -- in order to “have a seat.”) Just the mention of such a thing strikes fear in my heart.

You need to come to my house if you want to feel that you could put Martha Stewart to shame. If newspapers, magazines, and books don’t congregate around your living room chairs, sprawling themselves in every direction; if your feet don’t stick to your kitchen floor; if your vacuum cleaner sees the light of day at least once a week; if things don’t fall on your head when you open cupboard doors; if you can actually see a dining room table, rather than what looks like piles of mail and junk levitating on its own; well, then you need to come to my house and start patting yourself on the back for being so tidy and clean. Ignore all those who say to you, “She doesn’t count. Everyone is tidier and cleaner than Emily.”

Still feeling lazy after letting out my breath from NaBloPoMo, I decided to go in search of memes. I was looking for one that wouldn’t take much thought. Given my homemaking skills, something labeled “A to Z of Homemaking” sounded like the perfect thing. I found it at Notes from the Frugal Trenches. Here you go:

A is for Aprons - yes/no? If yes, what’s your favourite?
In theory, yes. I have some wonderful aprons that have been given to me as gifts. In practice, no, until I’ve done something like spilled ¼ cup of catsup down the front of my pastel-colored shirt and think, “I should have put on an apron before doing this.”

B is for Baking - favourite thing to bake?
I’m not much of a baker, but I like to make quick breads. (Again, it’s another one of those “in theory” things. I browse through cookbooks and find all kinds of goodies I’d like to make, but I never find the time to make them.)

C is for Clothesline - do you have one?

We have the posts out back, but the actual lines were broken when we moved into the house. Inspired by our Amish neighbors, I went out and bought line at the hardware store, oh, about seven months ago. Did I string it up? No. Do I know where it is at this point? No. (Good thing I’m not Amish. I’d never survive.)

D is for Donuts - have you ever made them?
Do many people actually do that? Really, I wouldn’t think to put donut-making on a list of typical homemaking tasks. A better question would be “D is for dusting – do you?” I can honestly say I have dusted more than I’ve made donuts.

E is for Every Day - one homemaking task you do every day.
I suppose I do manage to wash at least one dish a day, although there are some days even that doesn’t get done. (Oh, and “D is for Dishes – do you despise them?” would have been another good choice for “D,” to which I would have replied, “Definitely, despise and detest.”)

F is for Freezer - do you have a separate deep freeze?
Only one that was donated to the church and was stuck out in our garage, because the church doesn’t really need it. We asked if we could use it then, and we were told we could. It’s got Girl Scout cookies in it and not much else.

G is for Garbage Disposal Unit - do you have one?
Yes, although I know they are horrible for the environment. It came with the house and kitchen. Most of the time, not being in the habit of having one, I forget to use it, so I’m probably not doing too much environmental damage.

H is for Handbook - what’s your favourite homemaking resource?
My mother. If I don’t know how to do something, I usually call her. All others make me feel horribly guilty merely to look at them, let alone begin to read what’s inside them. They often have pretty pictures, though, that inspire such thoughts as, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have such well-organized, color-coordinated closets?” and “People really do have basements and garages that are more than a mere jumble of boxes unpacked since they moved into the house?”

I is for Ironing - love or hate it?
Despise it. I wear fashionably wrinkled clothes. And please don’t introduce me to anyone who loves to iron. I don’t need any more sick people in my life.

J is for Junk Drawer - yes/no? If yes, where is it?
Ummm…only one? You could probably call every drawer in our house a junk drawer.

K is for Kitchen - colour and decorating scheme?
Come on, decorating scheme? Me? The one who just slaps old furniture down in a room and hopes it looks okay? Our kitchen is yellow and tan (the yellow for the walls chosen by me. The tan was already there when the kitchen was redone before we moved in).

L is for Love - what’s your favourite part of homemaking?
Hiring someone else to do it all for me. Oh, wait a minute, we’re talking about real life here, aren’t we? Cooking then. It’s the only part of homemaking I enjoy.

M is for Mop - do you have one?
Yes. And, as a matter of fact, I just used it yesterday. (And yes, to mop a floor, not as a prop in a play or something. To mop several floors, in fact, which still don’t look all that clean to me, leading me to think, “Why bother?”).

N is for Nylons - machine or hand wash?
I don’t wash anything by hand, so if something has to be hand-washed, I don’t buy it. Nylons, which I rarely wear, go in a bag in the washer.

O is for Oven - do you use a window or open the oven door to check?
I open the door to check, because for a long time, I had an oven that didn’t have a window (come to think of it, I also grew up with ovens that didn’t have windows), and I’ve never gotten used to having one.

P is for Pizza - what do you put on yours?
Again, when I think “homemaking,” I don’t think “pizza.” “Pizza” would be on my list of “Foods to Take Out, A-Z.” I put all kinds of things on pizza, depending on my mood. Let’s make “P” a more suitable topic by saying, “P is for Pantry – is yours organized?” No. Mine is overstuffed and a complete mess. I can never find anything, and when I do, every so often, decide to take everything out to organize it, I inevitably discover I have something like 4 jars of parmesan cheese. They come out laughing at me, so pleased with the clever little hiding places they manage to find (I’m convinced my pantry has a secret door through which they disappear) when I’m searching for them for a recipe.

Q is for quiet - what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
I read. What else would I do? Oh yeah, I guess I blog, too.

R is for Recipe Card Box - yes/no? If yes, what does it look like?
Yes, but I never, ever use it. It’s plastic and full of good intentions.

S is Style of House - what style is your house?
American gothic.

T is for Tablecloths - do you use them?
No, but at a recent Thanksgiving feast, sitting at a beautifully-linened table, I was inspired, and found myself thinking, “I’d like to get some nice linens.” If I do, I’m sure they will go the way of the clothesline. Probably best for me to save my money.

U is for Under The Kitchen Sink - organised or toxic wasteland?
Toxic wasteland (although it isn’t really toxic. I use organic cleaning agents). Gauging from the way the cat likes to sit in front of it all day, I also assume it’s “entryway for mice,” although we don’t see any evidence of mice inside the house (cat must be doing something right).

V is for Vacuum - how many times a week?
Times a week? That’s a joke, right? Times a month might be taken a bit more seriously. Times a year makes the most sense.

W is for Wash - how many loads of washing do you do each week?
Usually, between the two of us, 3-4.

X’s - Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
Yes, both for work and home.

Y is for Yard - who does what?
We have these wonderful things called an outdoor sexton and a Board of Trustees who come with Bob’s job…

Zzzz’s - what’s the last homemaking task you do before bed in the evening?
Clean the cat litter box (I do it in the evening. Bob does it in the morning). Come to think of it, that’s a homemaking task I do every single day (Francis must be very loved).


Susan said...

I know, I've been away for a while, I'm sorry! I think of you often...I'm finally well enough to spend some time on the computer. And what do I find? this lovely, lovely meme, that reminds me how much I like you!! I too, abhor housework and do it only when I have to (which is far too often in my opinion!). Drudgery is right. I really enjoyed your answers. I might have to do this meme myself! One difference is I DO cook, and most of it, and enjoy it. But the rest of it? Pah! *flicks hand* I'd rather be reading!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Emily. I think my house could give you some *serious* competition in the Least Martha-esque sweeps. I had to laugh at your vacuum comment--it's so true. I've known entire calendar months to pass before the beast makes its reappearance from that closet.

Anne Camille said...

Like was this meme suppose to be serious? People actually care about this stuff? Or, are there thousands of responses like this one that made me laugh so! Until I met you, I'd say no, I'm the one of the palest people you'll ever meet. You win that contest, but I bet that I'd win the messiest house. From where I sit typing this I can see a cobweb so old that it has become a permanent fixture. My husband says that if anyone would break into our house, they'd turn around and leave because they would think that it had already been ransacked. I think there is a window on my oven, but I'd have to clean it to see through it. Would one do that with a vacuum cleaner? I'm not sure what they are used for.

Could you please let me know where one can buy PF 120? I think I burn too much wearing SPF85!

Anonymous said...

Loved the outdoor sexton and your laughs of derision over vacuuming etc. Definitely feeling better about my housekeeping now. (But then I do live for the time being with my parents who have a weekly domestic worker!) I think I would be one of those sick people who love dishwashing - the sense of accomplishment, the clean dishes (have to be rinsed mind you) and the inner purr of satisfaction that at least one thing is clean and in its place. The bedroom is still a huge mess of clothes. I agree - reading is far more important than cleaning. Still chuckling at this meme though (and the diligent meme-drawer-upper).

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased other people have piles of books and papers around the house and can't see the dining room table. I dread unexpected visitors. Our kitchen table is the worst as it is always piled high with letters and junk mail plus books and bits and pieces. The stairs have piles of things on their way upstairs where they are then transferred to piles in the bedrooms. I can't understand how people can have tidy houses all the time.

I'm tempted to do this meme myself - in fact I saw it some time ago and did start to write it - now where did I save it?

Anonymous said...

Two colleagues came round to visit me when I was off work. One said to the other: it's good for you to visit houses like this and see a more relaxed attitude to cleaning. I like to think of my piles of books and papers as artistic. Well, that's my excuse. And vacuum cleaners scramble my brainwaves. They are mini instruments of mental torture!

Emily Barton said...

Susan, so glad to hear you're feeling better. I, too, do love to cook. It seems loving books and loving to cook often go hand-in-hand. And what is it about homemaking that it always has to be done?

Hobs, maybe we ought to introduce our vacuum cleaners to each other. I'm sure they're both lonely souls who feel unwanted.

Cam, how wonderful to be finding others who have cobwebs (those poor spiders need homes, you know) and no use for vacuum cleaners. I don't think SPF 120 exists yet, but wait a while, I'm sure it will (I really ought to buy stock in sunscreen as much as I use it).

Pete, Bob likes to do dishes, too (although he waits for them to pile up first). I think clothes are happiest in piles, with lots of freedom from cramped drawers and closets, don't you?

BP, oh yes, piles on the stairs (they usually sit there for quite some time before being transferred to piles upstairs).

Litlove, it seems I don't have a single friend who has a "more relaxed attitude to cleaning." I see, yet again, it would be nice to live in a neighborhood filled with all my blogging friends. I wouldn't mind at all if any of you just dropped by. And "mini instruments of mental torture" is absolutely right!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Emily -- what the heck do pizzas and donuts have to do with homemaking?!

Great meme, might have to do this myself.

knitseashore said...

I'll be the odd blogger out and say that I don't mind cleaning and enjoy decorating. But cooking, washing dishes, and anything kitchen related leaves me cold. I say a hearty amen to your letter P -- pizza is what you get when you don't want to cook! Can't imagine making it from scratch at home. :)

Rebecca H. said...

Well, clearly we all need to have a messy house competition, since we're all convinced ours is the worst.

Emily Barton said...

Amity, would love to read your answers. I can't imagine how anyone with two kids under the age of five manages to do anything around the house that doesn't revolve around childcare.

Ms. Knits, we should have been roommates. I could have done all the cooking, and you could have decorated and kept the house clean. And the dishes? Well, they'd just pile up, I guess.

Dorr, yes, I think we do. (At one point, I actually contemplated creating a blog called "Bad Housekeeping," but then decided I didn't really have time for yet another blog.