6/08/2009

Huswifery, or How I Spend my Summer Vacation


There is a famous poem, from the earliest years of American literature, by the Puritan poet Edward Taylor that goes something like this :



Huswifery
Make me, O Lord, thy Spinning Wheele compleat;
Thy Holy Worde my Distaff make for mee.
Make mine Affections thy Swift Flyers neate,
And make my Soule thy holy Spoole to bee.
My Conversation make to be thy Reele,
And reele the yarn thereon spun of thy Wheele.
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Make me thy Loome then, knit therein this Twine:
And make thy Holy Spirit, Lord, winde quills:
Then weave the Web thyselfe. The yarn is fine.
Thine Ordinances make my Fulling Mills.
Then dy the same in Heavenly Colours Choice,
All pinkt with Varnish't Flowers of Paradise.
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Then cloath therewith mine Understanding, Will,
Affections, Judgment, Conscience, Memory;
My Words and Actions, that their shine may fill
My wayes with glory and thee glorify.
Then mine apparell shall display before yee
That I am Cloathd in Holy robes for glory.

While I don't necessarily share the religious sentiments of this poem, I do appreciate the notion that simple tasks of a domestic nature can provide one with a meditation on more divine things. I also know that my life runs more smoothly when my home is in order. During the school year, things are too chaotic - always dashing here and there, with nary a moment to think - and my house reflects it : piles of clothing (clean and dirty), shoes, umbrellas, backpacks, books, papers, everywhere. It is hideous, and not tranquil at all. We reached a new personal low on Saturday night, when some friends wanted to pop in unexpectedly to see us, and son #1 was packing to go away for 3 weeks, his stuff all over the den; and neither hubster nor I had been home all day - son #2 had been roving with gangs of 13 year olds, eating junk food and leaving wrappers everywhere. I think our domestic scene frightened our visitors, a young couple about to be married, into never, ever having children at all. I hope they didn't call off the wedding....it scared even me.
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Sure, I have Ina, who comes on Wednesdays and scrubs the kitchen and bathrooms, vacuums, makes beds, straightens the everlasting pile of crap on the den coffee table ( where to put it, really ? all that stuff is important: permission slips for kid events, bills to be paid, receipts, rubber bands, coupons, a few of hubster's important work papers, a calculator, some pens, the phone, the phone book, all swirled around together- all the "junk"drawers are too full!). Bless her, Ina even dusts the book cases ( in every room ) in rotation. But for a really deep cleaning, what some call a "spring" cleaning, I rely on summer vacation. It is traditionally the first activity I do as summer begins.
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I generally, start off, a room (or closet) at a time, sorting and culling ( collecting trash bags of stuff for Good Will, the trash, garage sales, etc), washing, cleaning, folding, organizing. I don't really enjoy this, but I enjoy the end result. Tell myself, one room a day.....and in a month, I'll be done (16 rooms plus 8 walk in closets and a pantry) .I drag a tool kit with me, and repair things as I find them.... and I keep a pad and pencil with me as I go, making lists of stuff to buy (giant storage bins ! new ironing board cover, large zip bags, shelf paper, more pillow cases, cleaning supplies, new photo frames for den) or do ( replace blinds in kitchen, paint master bathroom, replace throw rug in hallway, etc).
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Once started, I am good to go...and often work all night long. It is difficult for me to get started, however.....this morning I putzed around in my garden for awhile. Now I am taking a break to write this......gotta .....get back......to work.......

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