Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Housework rules, okay

I quite like housework. I was thinking this today when I was breaking a mild sweat hand-sweeping my swimming pool. I now include swimming-pool maintenance in my housework regime because I had a Kreepy Krauly that was more temperamental than my teenagers and finally, in sheer frustration, I yanked it out the water and threw it down the garden. (Which is something I think about doing with my teenagers from time to time but most often don’t because I have been socially conditioned otherwise. And also I don’t want to be arrested.)

Kreepy Krauly consigned to the shrubbery, I was compelled to get out there and clean the pool myself. And do you know, there’s a kind of Zen rhythm to it that I really rather enjoy. I suppose it’s all that mindless up-down-across, the swish of the water, the kiss of the sun on my back. And it works my upper arms, and if I’m really in the moment I might even remember to pull in my pelvic floor and do a few Kegels. (If you haven’t had a baby and inadvertently wet your pants when you laughed, you won’t know what those are. Lucky you.)

And so into the house. I don’t concern myself with my kids’ rooms or my housemate’s, because it’s up to them if they want to live like snakes in a pit. Which doesn’t stop me making snarky remarks about the state of their quarters, but that’s part of the charm that makes me who I am.

I like making my bed. I like it especially because I have very nasty memories of making my bed when I was a kid, which was a Very Long Time Ago, before the word ‘duvet’ meant anything other than something unintelligibly French and ‘fitted’ was what happened to people with epilepsy.

Does anyone else remember the days of two flat sheets – one to sleep on and one to shield your skin from blankets (in winter, two or even three) that were invariably horribly heavy, scratchy wool? (Bless acrylic-polycotton, bless it.) And bedspreads – unwieldy things that our grandmothers had usually crocheted (from, I assume from the weight of mine, iron filings) and which had to be draped just so?

The communal areas – the living room and back verandah – are easy: mainly, it’s transferring dishes to the kitchen and straightening up soft furnishings, which are enormously rewarding jobs because they deliver instant, observable results in just a few simple steps.

And so to the kitchen. Here, in the hub of my house, my machines reign supreme. One quick sweep of the surfaces, and all trace of comestible preparation and consumption disappears: and that is the magic of the dishwasher (when it works). I can’t understand any modern middle-class household that doesn’t have one: why wouldn’t you want a cabinet in which you can stow all the slutty evidence of the day’s (or night’s) leavings, then, with the press of a switch, have them all meticulously cleaned for you?

While the dishwasher does its dirty work, I load the washing machine: I get genuine pleasure out of sorting whites from colours (and I can’t tell you how weird that makes me feel as a South African). The whites – which include soiled dishtowels, underwear, bedlinen, towels and the like – get washed on a long (eco) cycle at a high temperature; colours get gentler treatment: a shorter run and no microbe-blitzing heat. (See? I really enjoy this stuff.)

I like hanging out the washing, too. We don’t iron anything (ever), so it’s a satisfyingly exacting process. Cuffs need to be pinched, bedlinen pegged just so, underwear unravelled and smoothed. While I’m doing this, the pigeons are cooing in the trees above, the wind is blowing my hair about, the sounds of an industrious little country neighbourhood are engaging me, and the Monster Baby is biting my ankles: I’m in heaven. And taking the washing in and folding it is an art all its own. (My daughter is so infected by this that she won’t allow me to fold her washing: I don’t do it ‘properly’. I just love that.)

Not much left to do now. I give my study a quick once-over (empty ashtrays, remove coffee cups and wine glasses, clean cockroach nests out of my keyboard – the usual stuff) and I’m ready for the day.

(Heavy-duty things like cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, dusting and vacuuming – the really hard stuff – I leave for my angel-char, Rhonelle, who comes for a terrifyingly energetic morning once a week.)

This daily mop-up of general household dishevelledness (as opposed to actual dirt, I suppose) takes about, oh, an hour. I usually do it while I’m waking up, which for me is a troublesome and disagreeably lengthy process. For me, housework usefully employs a taxing time when I might otherwise be sitting, still sleep-stunned, on the verandah, drinking coffee in an attempt to kickstart my brain, or shouting at my kids and kicking the cats (I am, I admit, worrisomely irrational for the first few hours of each day).

Yeah, housework rules, okay.

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ali g said...

Usually find when the Kreepy Crawly spits the dummy that the problem is the rubber diaphram inside the plumbing of the head. Maybe just need a replacement.
This is of course if the pump and filters are working OK.
Love your stuff. Never thought doing housework could be so funny and such fun.
Will approach our next clean up after guests leave with a new perspective now.
Love your puppy.. is that you holding him in the pic?

Muriel said...

Thanks for your kind comments! Ja, that's me with my pup (except the 2nd one - that's my daughter's back). Don't you think I look very like Brad Pitt? (Hahaha! See Juno's post below this one.)

The whole Kreepy really needs replacing (I've replaced the diaphgram a few times - it gets little holes in it then doesn't suck properly) but I've also found that the water quality isn't so good when the Kreepy is in all the time. I've always battled keep keep the pH level (the water in this area is quite acidic) but now, without the Kreepy in, it's much better. Odd.

ali g said...

Brad Pitt you don't look like. More like Angelina Jolie except better.
Know what you mean about the Kreepy Crawly. I have a love/hate relationship with mine also.

Muriel said...

You flatterer you. Where should I send the cheque?