There’s a slight perversity in breaking off from something I am enjoying so much to tell you how much I am enjoying it. Today’s topic is domestic bliss. Complete with actual domesticity and actual bliss.
Most people probably only ever use the term ‘domestic bliss’ glibly or, more often, sarcastically. Today, however, is different.
I was about to message my husband to let him know what a delightful day I am having (share the joy). As I thought about how I would qualify this statement, I realised that it didn’t really sound like a normal person’s normal definition of delight.
Firstly, I found a leak. I was at the bottom of the washing basket – already an achievement! – and the final two items were soaking. Of course, I gave them a quick sniff: just water. I popped them straight in the wash and took the laundry basket outside, tipping it upside down to dry out (thanks, Sydney winter). Then went back in to investigate.
I found the source (washing machine hose connection, but better that we don’t go into this as a) it’s boring and b) oh, let’s not go into it) and mopped up the water. Okay, I stuck a sponge beneath it. It’s a tiny leak and the space between machine and sink doesn’t leave much room for mopping.
Anyway, I had the washing basket under control! Funny how something as simple (and meaningless) as washing all the clothes in the house can feel so extraordinarily noteworthy. I was still cheering internally as I walked into the bedroom and almost tripped over all the bedclothes I had stripped from the bed just moments earlier. Oh. Weirdly, however, this still made me happy! My achievement of approximately thirty seconds ago had just been demonstrably disproved and I liked it!
So the things that had made my day included a utility room under water and an outstanding pile of washing. It gets better/worse.
The point at which I thought to share the day’s euphoria with my favourite housemate came as I was stacking the dishwasher, having just finished emptying it. I was looking around the kitchen to see if anything else could go in. Actually, could is not the correct expression. Lots more could have gone in, but I choose to handwash an unnecessary amount of kitchen items, just because I love them and want them to last forever, as though the dishwasher might use a final rinse of acid or fire. So the dishwasherproof pans, handpainted mugs (I let the plates go in – I’m not that weird) and anything used for baking stay well away from the washing box and get lovingly soaped by me instead.
And it was thinking about handwashing all the remaining pots and pans (loads of them) that induced the feeling of bliss.
Maybe I am that weird after all.
But there could be a rational explanation for the prima facie weirdness.
Pots and pans everywhere mean that, at some point, we ate. A bonus in itself. And this particular body of evidence brought back memories of the previous night’s gastronomic excellence: stew and cake.
I made my first beef stew yesterday. I also knocked out a coconut and cardamom cake with a cherry filling. This feast had to be prepared in record time as I had someone coming round that afternoon and the stew required 3.5-4hrs’ cooking time: no margin for error. I also set myself the target of not leaving the oven empty for more than the time it took for the temperature to drop from cake-baking heat to stew-simmering warmth.
The results were pleasing to me, whilst my husband thought both courses were the best things in the world. Well, it’s stew and cake, isn’t it?
So the previous night’s culinary triumph may have lingered in my mind as I gazed round at the aftermath.
Then there’s the potential. Cleaning the kitchen means that, eventually, I’ll, er, have a clean kitchen. This happens every day, give or take, but it always, always results in supreme satisfaction. You never look at your newly-sparkling kitchen and think, well, that’s awful, do you? Of course not. You may think it’s a thankless task; you may think it’s only going to be messy again within hours/minutes, but there’s always that glance at the end of a clean-up when you think, Ahhh. Look at this. This is nice. I did this. (Sometimes followed by, ‘I wish it always looked like this.’)
Maybe it isn’t cleaning itself that is enjoyable, but what it represents. The mess says we’re living and we have stuff to make a mess with. The tidiness is a gateway to being able to cook up a new storm and make people (including ourselves) happy.
Ah, what an ostensibly mundane subject about which to write! But you never know: next time you’re cleaning up and wondering why the hell you bother, you might think of that weird blogger who found strange positives in domestic mundanities and maybe, just maybe, oh, who am I kidding. We all want a cleaner.
P.S. On a completely unrelated but important note, Saturday is National Bookshop Day in Australia. Be part of it, wherever you live in the world; real books, real shops! It’s better than cleaning! x