Thursday, October 27, 2011

BOOK THREE (3) Mrs. Partridge, Mrs. Cunningham,TV mothers, Etsy

Mrs. Partridge was a rockstar--

but still felt compelled to have "Caution: Nervous Mother Driving" painted on the back of her groovy bus.

On Happy Days, Mrs. Cunningham's occasional domestic rebellions confirmed the end of involuntary housewifery, but (like dancing with the Fonz), they were pretty tame.

Alice ("straight to da moon") Kramden,Wilma Flintstone, and Edith Bunker--who put up with Archie's bunk--

"and you know where you were then, goils were goils and men were men..."

were popular for their devotion to cavemen--before giving way to the harmonious sitcom marriages with work/life balance such as that of Claire Huxtable, or the "you've come a long way baby" lives of Mary Tyler Moore, or Anne Romano.

(But it was too many knitted hats and this kind of hair which eventually killed these shows off.)

My point?

You decided to be a housewife...(and thankfully not a TV one, unless you're one of those wildly plastic Real Housewives of Somewhere...) You've got tremendous kids, as well as a killer collection of vintage dishes. Time to let go of feeling like you're missing something! If it's for a 9-5 job with XEROX machines, and bad coffee, well, you'd better pack gum and hand lotion...

If not, then don't pine for the path not taken, like a latter day Erma Bombeck.

One path is homemade jelly, contract work, and Etsy; the other: steady paycheques, and traffic jams.

BOOK THREE (2) heroism, Henry Cavill, hot glue

Therefore, to a housewife sensitive enough to blush (on behalf of those lacking in talent), while she watches auditions for the Christmas Panto from the back of a dark theatre, almost everything:

and even this:

can be pleasurable to contemplate.

Such a woman will view nature warmly as she would view a yummy interpretation of it:

Her insight allows her to recognize mature heroism:

and the tastiness of this imitation hero:

Not every housewife has this understanding. She alone who has burned her finger with the hot glue gun while transforming an umbrella into batwings for her son's Halloween costume will be struck by nature's clever design, worthwhile efforts to imitate it, and degrees of hotness.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BOOK THREE (1) grilled fish, Leonard Cohen, decline

The daily wearing away of the cotton gusset in your panties, and their ever shrinking elastic, is not the only thing we have to consider. For even if a housewife lives long enough for her children to think of grilled fish as a treat instead of gagging material, we must still take into account whether or not she will continue to retain her capacity for speaking without rancour at childless friends who look tremendously rested, and are just back from France.

Alarming as it may seem, the onset of dowdiness may involve no sudden arrival of a bowling jacket on the coatrack, or mannish can sneak up on you in shoes with the wrong kind of heel and a Madame haircut. Therefore be advised: the ability to make full use of your lipstick collection, to assess correctly if the hemline is wrong, to judge if another glass of wine will help you sparkle or spill, or to make any other decisions that require a full brain, are already declining....!

We must press on, then, and be snappy about it; not simply because you're thinking about using moss as a creative centrepiece (dinner's not started yet!) but because every minute brings us nearer to arsenic hour (the pre-dinner tantrum zone)--when even our power to boil emergency frozen ravioli drains away like painted roses from washworn china.

(No painted roses, and not your average vintage china)

Therefore, after we detect what is making that smell in the fridge, let us consider Leonard Cohen's song, Anthem,and the inherent value of deterioration.

(Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.)

The crags and fissures of a cooling bread crust, or a cheesecake's teasing fault line invite inspection with a fork and knife; the "flaws" make you hungrier. Figs and olives are all more gorgeous for their various lines of stress due to ripeness. Pottery's imperfections and crazing are desirable. Similarly, the wrinkled, beloved hands of older relatives, and the uncommon faces and figures in those Dove ads reveal the consquences of time passing, yet simultaneously reward us by reminding us of its constant beauty.

Monday, August 15, 2011

BOOK TWO (17) knitted dogs, Jamie Oliver, Perrier

In the life of a housewife, her time is but a wash and spin cycle, her waistline in occasional flux (if preggers), her senses tuned to the arrival of the school bus, her body not what it was when she was 17, her soul often unquiet as she still feels 17, her fortune dependant upon the even kilter of the household, and her fame doubtful (with the exception of her status in her knitting circle in which she is a Star).

Now that's knitting!

In short, all that is of the body will last as long as a pan of brownies put before a group of little boys; all that is of the soul is as permanent as a resolution to cut sugar and fat from your diet.... Life is a series of full (then emptied) shopping carts, a brief time of bathing your child in the kitchen sink; and after letting the kids have pets you were dubious about and knew you'd be changing the litter for, and after no "ring around the colllar"?...nothing.

Where then, can a housewife find the power to guide and protect her steps?

In one thing and one alone: Philosophy.

To be a philosopher (albeit rubber gloved) is to keep un-harassed-for-sleepovers the woman within you, so that you may transcend equally Jamie Oliver's sticky fingers lobster which makes you weak in the knees, and any grubby Barbies dressed in sparkly track suits which your daughter loves (and you love to stuff behind the sofa). Philosophy will remind you that you are human before being mummy; to not donate too much baking to the sale; nor try to fake enjoyment in emptying a damp bag of hockey equipment. You will not depend on a return invitation for the dinner party you threw, but accept each return of the day as a chance to rub tung oil into the teak--and lastly: accept your eventual death as no more than the dissolution of the many agenda entries, appointments, coupons for Perrier, and kitchen tips of which each housewife is composed. If those elements themselves don't notice whether they are redeemed or not, why look with mistrust on being personally struck from the ledger? It is but Nature's way; and in the ways of Nature there is no evil, nor sparkly track suit, to be found.

Monday, June 13, 2011

BOOK TWO (16) Kate Middleton, gelling

For a housewife's soul, the greatest of personal mess ups is to be toughly attached to the domestic--and as unfeeling as a fibroid. For nattering heartlessly to your exhausted hubby about one part of the home, for example: a floor which needs refinishing, wears on the polish and calm of the entire household.

Another wrong is to reject other housewives, or claw them up with catty posts, (as has happened to a small degree to the radiant Kate Middleton, by people who lack her poise and destiny).

A third wrong is to overindulge in the pleasure of serving eggs for dinner --or the pain of buying your son a toy gun because it's what he really wants (and has been constructing out of tinker toys, lego, sticks, and bread crusts since the beginning.)

A fourth self-imposed wrong is to cheerfully offer to bring an appetizer, and then run out of prep time...leading to mushroom caps stuffed with ricotta, lemon, and crabbiness.

A fifth wrong is for the housewife to direct her care and domestic talent to pointless projects (alphabetizing the spice drawer is right on the edge), or to no direction at all... for even the least of our jam recipes ought to have "gelling" as a goal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

BOOK TWO (15) schoolyard rhyme, gummy bearskin rug

There are obvious objections to hearing your child recite the schoolyard rhyme (including appropriate body gestures):

Milk, Milk, Lemonade.
Round the corner, fudge is made!

But the value of the rhyme is equally obvious, if we admit to the fun of detecting double entendres and lighten the eff up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BOOK TWO (14) socks, sundrunk berries, Betty White

If you have three thousand freshly-washed socks to pair together over the course of a lifetime, or even 10 times that, remember: you can have neither more than the one life you live at the moment (calloused heels and all), nor slide into a different (barefoot on the beach?) life than you currently inhabit, and which is constantly sifting away.

If you plant (and tend) a rambling garden full of perennials and fruit trees or if you gulp your mojito in a single throw--it amounts to the same thing--a passing moment, which is every housewife's equal possession. We can no more hold onto the past than berries can hang onto their branches once they've drunk their fill of sunlight.

Our loss therefore, is actually a series of fleeting instants: nuzzling baby chub, coupling socks, listening to piano practice... No housewife can lose what's already past-nor what's yet to come. Neither are in our possession.

So, two things should be kept in mind (besides your son's dental appointment today at 3pm). First, that the big cycle of creation, operating since way before...

...has always been the same, and always will be. You can watch it for a hundred years or indefinitely; it will recur in the same pattern...(though if you go this route, you may need to 'order in' dinner).

Secondly: That when both the most ancient among housewives and the most youthful permanently hang up their rubber gloves, their loss is precisely equal. For the only thing any housewife can be deprived of is the present. This is all she owns.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BOOK TWO (13) stars, Cinderella, googly eyes

Nothing is more depressing than to peer curiously though a telescope into space--and consider a distant planet's wee blinking light "negligible"...only to discover, upon coming back inside, a sink full of dishes, which reflect back nothing at all.

Saving the coral reefs, or having a beehive or chickens in our back yards, (as we love our ecobuddies for promoting), or chatting with the elderly bikeriders who tuck their pants into their socks, are all fine, as long as your first commitment is to understand (and hold fast to) the divinity within you, and serve it like you would your mother in-law. (For whom your love, fear and respect are knit together with especially tiny needles--kind of like a fine washable).

Such care involves not tossing out the citrus plant you've been nursing along all winter just because it's now shedding leaves; nor wandering through Winners contemplating bad klunky jewelry which is only almost cool. Nor should you suffer from the tooth gnashing that comes from attending the school musical, thinking you should have volunteered more, because then it would have been better and your child (the Prince!) would have had a better role than "Footman" in Cinderella's court. For the divine night sky (vast beyond imagining) deserves our awe because it's not a sink full of dishes. And for your housewifely divinity --not to mention baking cinnamon buns at some ungodly hour--you deserve every wonky kid-made craft involving paper doilies, styrofoam balls, and googly eyes you've ever been the recipient of, along with a large dose of compassion. For we are also wonky, frequently unable to tell good from bad; as terrible a blindness as if we were looking through googly eyes, ourselves.

Monday, April 25, 2011

BOOK TWO (12) candles, acid wash jeans

We don't exactly need our advanced degrees to realize how quickly all things disappear over time...

...not only the perkiness of our "girls" caused by gravity and breastfeeding, but eventually even our memory of the feedings, themselves.

We should reflect on the nature of stuff that appeals to our senses. Particularly those items that seduce us as pleasures to come:

a) intriguing shops

...give us the willies,

a). clowns

...or cause us to brag:

skiied here

baked these

--they're all relatively contemptible if you think about it... and may fade more quickly than the popularity of "acid wash" jeans.

We should keep in perspective the degree to which someone "liking" your comment on Facebook means something.

And think about the day we will finally fold up our ironing board for good. By "think about it", I mean concentrate on it with a mother's "look me in the eyes" kind of steely steadiness, draining away the useless aspects from the simple truth (as you might do with green beans and salted water). You'll soon agree it's a natural and inevitable process...(like getting wrinkles, which only children and that-woman-with-the-Audi fears), and that the awareness of the "end of ironing" in fact enriches all of the ironing which should pass before it.

Finally, consider Oprah's advice and "remember your spirit". Consider the degree to which lighting a (Diptyque?) candle beside the bath (after a huge day of raking) will help you do so, or not. Perhaps the raking itself was spiritual. Just think about it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BOOK TWO (11) Mr. Clean, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Every time you mop, or stress over dinner, or dream of planting a larger garden...remember: you could just scrap it all, and head for the big chaise longue in the sky.

If the domestic gods exist, you have nothing to fear in taking leave of your household. For these gods will step in. Aunt Jemima will cradle your kids in her slightly sticky gingham apron of love before sorting out breakfast...

Mr. Clean will wash up afterwards,

and the Energizer Bunny will walk them to school.

But if there are no actual Tetley Tea Folk...or if these gods aren't interested in letting you permanently put up your feet...then, well, it's not worth considering! What a terrible magic-less world!

Fortunately, they DO exist (according to TV), and will happily scrub your soapscum,

or weed the garden...

and achieve everything a housewife needs done so that she doesn't feel swamped. Their presence empowers housewives and keeps them from the absolute no-nos of staying in pjs all day or resorting to eating a whole row of packaged cookies. And if there were real evil lurking (like ring around the collar) in life outside the house, the domestic gods would have packed Oxi Clean so that you could easily avoid being stained by it. (If your character remains unstained, how could your reputation for baking the best muffins be damaged?)

The gods cannot have been so distracted by "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" ads as to overlook domestic pitfalls of these kinds, nor leave a housewife without any clean stockings on Meet the Teacher night. These gods are powerful and skilled! They don't just let loose 'good' and 'evil' willy nilly on the virtuous (you with your clean tiles) and the skanky (you know who they are) in the same way.

All that being said: going back to school to finish your degree or retreating into your shell; your child winning the science fair or being picked up by the police; cutting your fingertip while chopping tomatoes or having a toe-curling shag; paycheques which get you googling Tiffany& Co. or days where you fit right in at Walmart, and so forth, are equally the lot of good housewives and bad. Things like these neither make you better nor worse, and therefore they are no more good than they are evil.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BOOK TWO (10) tulips, "sins", the inner she-demon

When Lila compares domestic "sins"--if they're comparable --she figures that splurging on hundreds of tulip bulbs because she really really wanted them (ignoring that her kids' summer camp registration was past due) stacks up pretty unfavourably against writing excessively hostile notes in her child's agenda.

Think about it: An angry housewife throws her "Maria" aspirations under the bus, if she's compelled to respond insultingly to a teacher's remarks (even to those teachers who wear ugly sweaters.)

While the housewife driven to goosebumps by 30% off at the nursery, seems rather more self-indulgent, and less motherly in her error.

Yet Lila might have a point, when she says that the mistake of being motivated by wanting to improve the view from the kitchen (cost be damned) deserves a harsher rebuke than the clawed written response of a mama bear.

After all, the housewife who writes a zinger of a note is a victim of her own inner she-demon, provoked by feeling pain on behalf of her child. While the other housewife, who rushes out in Birkenstock clogs to plant, will probably wind up with her kids underfoot this summer, since she spent on the bulbs, and missed the registration.

Friday, April 8, 2011

BOOK TWO (9) soccer, Greek Mountain tea

Always remember the way these soccer tournaments are. And how you can nurse your rebellion from being a total soccer mom by sipping from a thermos of Greek mountain tea & honey, instead of having a coke. And that you are but one speck of ironic plaid pink and brown in an expanse of grass, jerseys, sweat and popsicle options. No one can hinder you from being here at the game, because you carried your own folding chair to the pitch (just like me) so we could both cheer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BOOK TWO (8) Kinder Surprise, meltdowns, daytime TV

If a woman's 2 year-old starts to have a meltdown over being denied a chocolatey Kinder Surprise at the checkout counter, you will not easily find a decent housewife who'd regret supporting that mother by either momentarily distracting the 2 year-old, or giving the mother a "been there-- ignored that" wink.

But the kind of housewife who sneers at such a meltdown, and the possibility of her own (perhaps triggered by many issues, including discovering she's spent a day with baby snot on her sleeve)....should be stuck with daytime TV for company as a "reward".