Friday, January 29, 2010

Monday is Laundry Day

Today is laundry day for this hip housewife. Mondays have been laundry days since I began to run my own house at the age of seventeen. Mondays were laundry days for me back when I was in college, loading up my banged up blue Cavalier with sometimes up to thirteen (!) baskets destined for the laundromat. Did you know a laundromat can actually be a great place to study? Well, then again, not the ideal...but it worked at the time.

Mondays have been laundry days for generations of women long before I came on the scene. All the way back to covered wagons and pioneer times, when wrestling soaking heavy dresses, overalls, and petticoats on a washboard demanded the renewed energy--and faith--gained from a day of worship on Sunday.

It is a curious joy today to step into my narrow washroom, just off the kitchen. The room was definitely built for one. Winter coats and gear on wall-hooks grab me as I go past, and we'll hopefully ignore one corner, where empty moving boxes, bags of potatoes and onions, and a vacuum cleaner all squeeze for space. I can't keep that spot neat no matter how I try.

Sun sparks off the snow on this record snow-fall day, diamond dazzling through my curtainless window over the washing machine. It occurs to me that I like to do my laundry on Mondays for many reasons. First of all because it works. Monday laundry day insures that we have fresh bedding, towels, and clothes for the entire week. But it also ties me to women throughout time, to women with washboards and clotheslines, to women stirring clothes in vats of boiling water and lye, to women pounding clothes on rocks in cold mountain streams. Clothes will always need to be washed, I'm convinced, even when we're flying around like the Jetsons--and who knows, maybe they'll still be done on Monday.

I am so lucky. I pour liquid soap that smells of mandarin oranges into my humming washer, watch as the bubbles begin to form. I adore the strait-laced scent of bleach; it brings to mind images of turn-of-the-century maid servants with their ruffled caps and aprons. Everything comes out dry and soft, and so warm, I just want to wrap it around me. Such a luxury to start the week with everything neat, clean and folded--temporary perfection.
 

(art work is "Abdication from the Sisterhood", c. Cory Jaeger-Kenat, sold at Bottleworks Art Center, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 2000.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Proceed with Caution

My attempt at a costume for a Christmas party; I was being Cousin Eddy's wife from the movie, "Christmas Vacation"
Every ultra-hip housewife knows of activities in her domestic lexicon that should best be avoided, in order to cut back on ovens belching smoke, death by food, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Let's face it, no one is good at everything--and some of us, like myself, are either really good at something...or really, really bad at something else. Here are the things that I genuinely suck at in the world of the happy home.

1. Entertaining. Despite my insane teenage days where a party was happening as soon as the school bell rang, I seem to have lost that ability as soon as I turned twenty. Maybe it's because I sobered up, and a party no longer involves a keg and police sirens. Now, my inner Martha Stewart invites herself along whenever a get-together is arranged, and while she's shrieking in my ear, suddenly I'm obsessing about folding the napkins into swan-like shapes and forgetting that food and enough chairs might be involved. This is torture in some countries.

2. Sewing. I was SO grateful for that D- I got in HomeEc in 7th grade. We made a skirt, and the sewing machine only blew up twice. Although, watch out...I am feeling the yen for seam allowances and needle impaled fingers once again, she said with an evil laugh.

3. Roasting a chicken. This one is weird, because I can roast a turkey like a pro. In fact, this last Thanksgiving, our pipes froze, and I still cooked a majestic Pilgrim bird despite having to boil water for cooking and washing all day long. And yet, the equation of chicken + oven always, always winds up with a truly fowl result that seems done, and yet bleeds all over the plate. So if you're coming over for a PARTY where I am serving roast chicken, you should know that I really don't like you, and you should leave town as fast as possible.

4. Making Christmas divinity. Let me tell you, folks. Divinity is not divine. It is evil, pure, sugary evil. Every year, for twenty plus years, I have made divinity at Christmas time. You would think that with such experience, I would just be able to whip up a batch and that would be it. OH NO! Every time, and I mean EVERY time, I must make one batch that looks oh so pretty and yet mocks me with its refusal to transform from egg white goo into candy. The next batch is just fine. Maybe next year I will have proved my worth to the divinity gods and one batch will be all I'll have to make. One can always dream.

4. Making gravy. This one is slowly being conquered. It took figuring out that automatically dumping cornstarch into meat broth just resulted in meaty corn lumps. Yummy in my tummy! Now I actually follow the directions, and things are much better.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Kitchen

How better to start off a blog about domesticity, than to introduce you to my humble little kitchen?

Sit down, while I fix you a cup of tea. We drink a whole lot of green tea around here, mainly because we don't like coffee. The wine bottles make us look like quite the connoisseurs--or the party animals--but they are actually gifts given by friends. Someday we need to have a wine and cheese party. Yay, warm brie!

My kitchen cupboards are almost all one attached piece, and are made of metal. They come right out of retro-land, anywhere between the '30s and the '50s. They are one of my favorite parts of the house.

The cloth on the table is from my mom's wedding chest--we think it was given by my great-grandmother.

My sons are grown, but my nieces adorn my fridge nicely.




The cabinets in this ad, circa 1950s really remind me of my own. Note the single sink, just like mine, and the grooved counters right next to it. These are my favorite feature, as they really help the washed dishes to drain and dry. It staggers me to imagine how many dishes over the decades have been washed and piled next to my sink, with the water dripping down the grooves.

We are looking for a house, and renting our place temporarily. However, I am determined to either find or create my own June Cleaver kitchen in our own house. If I could transplant our current rental kitchen into our new house, I'd be a happy camper. Our landlord has offered to put in "faux" granite countertops and redo the cabinets probably with oak veneers, and the poor man just shook his head, thinking I was off my rocker, when I begged him to leave it alone.