Giving off steam: a random rant



Do you like your kitchen gadgets? Do you see the chefs on TV whisk up a mouthwatering delight with the help of an amazing new electrical device and think ‘That looks useful, I might get one of those’? If so, and you can afford to indulge, then go ahead. I have no problem with your choices so long as you do not suggest that I buy one too. Whilst there are certain housework helpers that I value, I do not find them interesting. I am set in my ways and I am fine with how I am.

So, in case you were ever tempted to suggest that I would find one of these things useful, let me assure you of the following.

  • I do not want a juicer. I am happy to buy the juices that I wish to drink in a carton or bottle. If I wish to be healthier then I will drink water, eat less bread and exercise more.
  • I do not want a slow cooker. I know that plenty of people love these things, good for them. Please stop trying to change the way I cook.
  • I do not want a bread maker. When I make bread from scratch I do it as my mother did and this suits me fine.
  • I do not want a waffle maker, sandwich toaster, popcorn maker, oven that microwaves or microwave that ovens. I can manage to produce food the way I want without any of these devices.
  • I do not want to try out the new whizzy thing that you have just purchased and find amazing. I am somewhat in awe of your ability to store all the whizzy things that you have tried to make me coo over in the past, but I have no interest in filling up my own cupboards in this way.

I own plenty of electrical appliances that I value and would replace if they ceased to work: cooker, hob, fridge, freezer, microwave, kettle, toaster et al. I see no reason to add devices that I am unlikely to use after that first flush of enthusiasm. Believe me, I really wouldn’t use them, even if you think I would.

We live in a consumer society that flourishes because people are willing to try out each new shiny. They believe the hype and enjoy playing with their new toy. When it comes to the latest fad, I am typically curmudgeonly. I have seen too many ‘must have’s come and go, unmissed by those of us who chose not to indulge. If you can afford it, and will derive pleasure from trying these things, then go ahead. All I ask is that you don’t expect me to play along.

I have never understood the appeal of televised cookery programs, perhaps because I don’t enjoy cooking. Mind you, I have never seen the appeal of a large number of televised shows that seem hugely popular: talent shows, reality television, soap operas. I have no interest in antiques, looking inside others homes, tabloid style interview programs or televised sport. This probably explains why I no longer receive broadcast television. The films, dramas and documentaries that I choose to watch can be purchased on DVD.

If I desire background noise then I play music, although more often I enjoy silence. I read, I write, I keep up with current affairs on line.

I was raised in the heart of a stable and loving family who were always trying to turn me into something that I had no wish to be. They wanted me to be happy and believed that this would be achieved if I followed the accepted conventions of the time. It made me resentful, that they couldn’t fully accept me as I was. It made me stubborn, particularly when anyone now tries to tell me what to do.

I do not have a problem with how I am, please don’t try to change me. I do not need a new hobby or a new gadget or to alter the way I cook or clean. I may not be the world’s best housewife, but I get by. Enjoy your new shiny, and let me enjoy my life the way I choose to live it.




Tasks and time

It started off a good week. A visit to the gym, a chat with a friend. I was still feeling poorly though. Turns out I was ill at the end of last week, not just tired and old. Still, I was feeling positive and getting on. It was fine.

I managed a walk with a friend on Tuesday. The sun came out and I was feeling a little better. I allowed myself reading and writing time, a glass of wine in the evening.

I didn’t get to the gym yesterday. My left knee hurts, I have other tasks demanding my attention. It is raining again.

Why does my mood dip in this way? Am I doing anything wrong or is it just how I am? I keep busy, active when I feel up to it. So often these days I do not feel up to it. I wonder if I am just making excuses.

Today I need to cook and clean. The days go so fast. All those hours stretching out in front of me, available for accomplishment and progress. I find myself feeling despair as the clock ticks past 2pm and I realise that I have so little time left before my kids get home from school and my productive day finishes. I love my kids, spending time with them, but why do those hours when I need to be achieving go so fast?

‘What do you do all day?’ my son asks. I explain to him but he doesn’t listen. Same old, same old, nothing worthwhile. I bite back the retort about food and laundry and a pleasant environment in which to live. We have had this conversation too many times already.

It is not that I am madly rushed, nor that any of what I do is so hard. It is the relentlessness of the tasks that can never be completed. There is always more dust, more mess to sort out. A woman’s work is never done. Why is that only said about women?

I know, I know that I am privileged and I would not choose to change my life. Still though, still I want more time just to breathe. I who have so much more time than most, who can choose how I spend my day. I do not do so many of the tasks that I should because I need to open my wings and fly.

‘You should manage your time better’ my son tells me. He is right and I try. I try to set aside days for the house, days for my health, days just for me. But those hours go by so quickly and the day is gone, tasks incomplete, dreams set aside. When did time start moving so fast?

I write lists in an attempt to ensure that what is important gets completed. I have whiteboards on the fridge, a family diary, prompts on my computer. Always I am working towards multiple goals, aren’t we all? Does everyone feel as exhausted by the effort to keep on top of these never ending tasks as I do?

I will get on, keep pushing that boulder towards the top of the mountain. Perhaps progress is slow because I stop too often. The view is amazing.


I am linking up with Perfection Pending.

Perfection Pending

Tired but happy

For a few days at the end of last week and the beginning of this week I have had a carpenter in the house doing the structural work in my remodelled book room. I knew that he had done some good work for a few friends in the village and came recommended. He turned out to be a quiet, tidy and competent worker so no problem to have around. I still found that I couldn’t relax.

My days tend to vary depending on what I need to do that day and what I feel like doing when I wake up. I realise that I am incredibly lucky to have this flexibility. With someone around I started to fall into more of a routine. I would try to get out each day to walk or swim, but when I was at home I would shut myself away for much of the time he was around. A lot of dust was being generated by the work, which was a good enough excuse to limit my attempts at housework. I found myself spending even more time than usual on line.

And then this stage of the work was completed. I am delighted with the result, and suddenly find myself with a vast amount of tasks that need doing all at once. Not only does the entire house need to be cleared of a thick layer of dust, but all the displaced furniture needs to be sorted and moved. The bookshelves that had been in the room that is being worked on were to go in my elder son’s room; my daughter was to get his bookshelf along with their younger brother’s. We are redoing my daughter’s room so space needed to be made for her new bed by dismantling her old one and moving her desk. As each piece of furniture is moved, the dust and cobwebs that lurk behind need to be cleared and cleaned.

I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning the book room and moving furniture back into it. My children have instructed me to start calling this the library, which I find rather pretentious but will acquiesce as it is quite amusing given it’s size. It now contains two comfy armchairs with a cushioned footstool between them and two little tables at the side of each for my coffee or wine glass. The room also contains my desk and our piano, thus providing my perfect environment: books, writing, music. As no shelves have yet been fitted in the structure built to support them it does not yet actually contain any books. Hopefully this will be rectified later this week when the carpenter hopes to deliver the shelves he is currently making to fit.

I have been hassling my daughter to clear out her room so that I can get it sorted ready for the new bed to be delivered at the end of the week. Last night she completed this task so, today, I started to take things apart and move things around. The shifting and cleaning was hard work; no need to visit the gym today. In between pulling large items of furniture around and apart I was carrying armload after armload of books downstairs ready to be sorted and placed on our new shelves when they are delivered. I nearly ran out of rags wiping down walls and skirting boards that had been unseen for years.

Having got my daughter’s room looking pleasingly clean and tidy I moved into my elder son’s room. All I needed to do here was move one tall bookshelf out and two in; these were very heavy to shift. He will need to sort through his own things before the room can be properly cleaned. It would be nice to think that he will do this quickly but we shall see.

My younger son’s room did not take long to sort out as it is small and never seems to get into the same mess as his brother’s, probably because he spends so much of his time on his computer. I was able to move everything out, clean and replace in just over an hour. By then though, I was feeling the effects of my busy day.

I still have the study to sort and the rest of the house to clear of dust. I dislike having jobs hanging over me but realise that there is only so much that can be achieved in one day. When I was younger I would just go at a list of tasks until they were complete, sometimes working into the night. These days my mind is willing but my body cannot cope. I need to prioritise and delegate; the latter is no bad thing.

I can understand that the children do not relish the task of sorting and tidying their rooms, but they do like the finished result. If I can get them to act before things get too out of hand then the results are more likely to be pleasing for all. They know where they have put their belongings so can find them again; I can get in to clean without having to step over random piles of stuff.

I am writing this from my desk in my (a’hem) library. I am going to enjoy having this space. I suspect that it will take me some time to get the books in place once the shelves are in, but what a fabulous room it will be. I must make sure not to become too antisocial. Perhaps I should allow a family member to sit on that second armchair rather than the pleasing collection of old teddy bears who already look so at home.