A friend of mine complimented me the other day on being quite domesticated and I had to be truthful in that yes, I do enjoy being in my own space and being domesticated but only up to a point and that I sometimes find myself a project (such as creating a new flower bed where previously there was just paving or making our own biltong) rather than clean the house. These projects are always for the benefit of the family – it’s not like I go on a read-as-many-books-as-I can-in-a-day project or something like that – but it usually takes up more time than the task I was putting off doing would have taken, which I eventually have to do anyway, I’ve just delayed the inevitable and created more work for myself so I end up running around like a road runner bird. Hygiene is paramount to me though, and the essential areas such as kitchen and bathrooms are cleaned regularly, the house gets vacuumed and so on and I do love it when the house is clean and tidy, sometimes I just struggle with some motivational issues in this area.
Take doing the laundry for instance. This is actually one department that I don’t have a problem staying on top of and with a family of five there is always washing to be done. Add some exercise clothes to that and at least one daily load is required to stay ahead. Which brings me to another point – our laundry hamper is labelled “65l Laundry Hamper” – how do you measure your laundry or washing in litres? It’s either empty, full, or somewhere in between and hopefully not overflowing but what would be the point in the kids ever saying to me that “The laundry hamper has 20l capacity left” if they need me to wash their school sport uniform for instance? I admit to over-thinking and over-analysing things sometimes but that’s just me and while I’m at it, the part that really gets me is folding and putting away the clean, dry washing. Up to that point I feel like I’ve added value to the process (got it clean, got it dry) but from there on it just feels like I’m moving it from one place to another which feels like such a waste of valuable time.
Sewing is another department that I’m seriously lacking in. One of my grandmothers used to be a seamstress, my mum is good at sewing, knitting, crotchet and all things related, my sister is good at it and so are her daughters but I’ve never had any interest whatsoever. I’ve never had the patience or perseverance required to work on something for hours on end and only have my imagination (or even a pattern) of the promised finished product to motivate me to keep going. I’d much rather do a jigsaw puzzle where my progress is more visual and my chances of success are better. Or plant something in the garden. In year 8 I had to knit a toilet roll holder as part of the compulsory home economics course and I procrastinated until the day before it was due to be handed in because I couldn’t face doing it but then I had to stay up most of the night to finish it. And the wool was yellow. A yellow amateur looking toilet roll holder knitted with a bad attitude. It was torture and enough to put me off knitting for life. When I saw some funky, colourful crotched cushions in a magazine a few years ago I decided that I’d love to be able to do that, they looked so gorgeous. But when I tried to crotchet it felt like I had five thumbs on each hand. This was not going to work. I would still like to be able to do it but I’ll need a Mount Everest load of patience and by that time the house will need cleaning again.
Baking cakes is something else I’ve never been confident doing, but when we bought a bread machine about 10 years ago and I discovered that our local bread mix shop sells the most amazing range of pre-mixes that are fool proof and even I could do it, I branched out and started baking all sorts of interesting breads. My family loves home baked Turkish bread and fresh, warm Lebanese flat breads go so well with Lamb Souvlaki or other dishes that you eat in a wrap and the kids will come home today to freshly baked hot cross buns. I enjoy cooking as well, given that I have the time not to just put a quick rushed meal on the table.
My garden is my haven and I spend hours keeping it trimmed, watered, fed, fertilised and weeded. With my husband usually training for an endurance event of some sorts he quite often doesn’t have time to mow the lawn and I’ll happily do it rather than scrub the shower. I planted some Kalamata olive trees a few years ago and the crop has been such in the past that we had enough bottled olives to last us more than a year, and I love being able to pick fresh herbs from my garden. I’ve recently launched project “Expand And Plant More Edible Crops” and added some berry bushes and it’s great going outside, picking a fresh gooseberry and eating it right there.
I’ve taken on some other “projects” as well, such as making our own Dukkah (to eat with the Turkish bread) and biltong, both of which aren’t hard to do but take up a bit of time and as it is I’m already planning to make the next batch of biltong on my next day off work. Our house will never look like it’s from a photo in a home décor magazine, it looks too well lived in and it’s impossible to keep it perfectly tidy all the time unless I keep moving around and picking things up and putting them away when they’d been left by others as some in the family aren’t very good at putting things away. I would love it to always be tidy but time is limited and one has to make choices about where best to spend it and then I usually remember that our Dukkah is nearly finished and I need to make some more or a swim with the kids sounds like a better idea. As I sit here I know the filing needs to be done but I’ve just remembered I noticed yesterday that some of the new season’s olives looked ripe. I’d better go check on them before the birds get to them. They might need to be picked, and then the preparation process starts soaking them in water for a couple of weeks, rinsing them daily and then bottling them…