Domestic bliss brings to mind images of joyful household harmony. Of living happily with one’s lover. Being best friends. Enjoying each other’s company. Going on dates and holidays. Sharing the washing, cooking, cleaning. Images of aprons (his and hers) behind the kitchen door. Domestic bliss provides an image of happily shared activity.
In our household we share a good amount of domestic bliss. We (mostly) desire the same things and work towards them. Caitlin Moran would approve, I feel sure. (Caitlin Moran is a feminist, author, columnist, and comedian. I’ve only recently discovered her.)
But this afternoon I’m thinking about something different. Today my idea of domestic bliss has been triggered by something more mundane than any idyllic relationship.
Here’s a back-track. Our house has not been properly peaceful or harmonious for almost a year. In that time, it has been painted outside. We’ve lived in chaos. We have new stone benches and splash-backs over the stove and sink in the kitchen. The bathrooms have been gutted and rebuilt. We’ve moved furniture and books and computers in and out of the garage. As well, we’ve had new carpets laid. Now the renovators’ dust has been subdued. Everything looks amazing and we’re very pleased with the result.
In all of this, we’ve tried to please the Commonwealth Department of Aged Care.They want people to ‘age in place’. They want everyone to live safely where they choose, for as long as possible. That way we won’t take up beds in aged care facilities unnecessarily. Who’d want to upset a plan like that?
We need to be able to get under the shower without stepping up or down. Or over. We need to have safe smooth surfaces. But not slippery ones. Without loose rugs or mats. We need everything at the right height, so we don’t over-stretch.
In the middle of the renovation turmoil, I hurt my calf muscle. Badly. Then I contracted shingles. Also badly. And then I hurt my neck. The planned, but not extensive, kitchen renovations were put on hold .
A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to us that the kitchen works just fine. And it fits unobtrusively into its corner of the living room. Thinking we would renovate, I’d ‘postponed’ the thorough cleaning it required. I put it off. Again and again. Until I was thinking about what would make me really happy.
A thoroughly clean kitchen would have that effect!
We went to the chain stores for pantry storage bins and boxes. And to IKEA, for good measure. Picture the two of us. We’d found a short cut. And then spent an hour pushing a trolley against the flow of traffic on a weekend-sale day.
And now, days later, the kitchen and pantry gleam. It has been a slow, meditative process. Every utensil has been removed and evaluated. Even the door of the oven has been removed and reassembled, shiny-bright. Domestic bliss has taken the form of different from our usual conversations.
‘I will make bread again. This week. The bread-maker stays. And the tin I bake the loaves in. Oh, and of course I’ll make ice-cream. The machine needs to be where I can see it.”
‘I don’t think we’ll use muffin pans to make three dozen muffins at one time. If we ever need to make that many, we can borrow tins from the rellies.’
‘Chuck out those old jars, but keep the picnic plastic plates. The babies can play with them when they visit.’
All the articles and books I’ve read, and the pins on Pinterest, are right. De-cluttering and cleaning a home are creative acts. They do wonders for one’s soul. Objects thrown out make space for new ideas, hopes and creativity. For growth. For sharing.
Don’t tell me domestic bliss is about relationships! I’ve discovered the kitchen is at the centre of my domestic bliss.
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