Saturday, February 2, 2013

Looking Well to the Ways of Your Household

Dear John,
Winter's back. Today's high was somewhere between 8 and 10, and there's system snow on the way. We're hunkered down and ready for it. 
I got the window quilts out and put up a few weeks ago. Remember when I made the first ones in Springfield? It was a 100-year-old house with original windows and very little insulation, so in the winter you could see the curtains move when the wind blew. Somehow - I have no idea how - I got the idea of making quilts that were just the size of the inner dimension of the windows and would fit right against the glass. I had to hand-quilt those first ones because nobody sold quilted fabric then. I bound them, with a couple of extra inches at the top for a rod pocket, and hung them up on tension rods that fit the inside of the window framing. And they made so much difference!
I kept those when we moved, but we didn't need to keep the cold out when we lived in Durham. We did in northern Indiana, though, so after we moved into this house I made window quilts again. When it gets dark I close the drapes and put up the quilts, and leave them up until the sun is up the next morning. There have been a few days this winter than I haven't taken them down at all - it's a function of temperature, wind speed and direction, and UV index.
You appreciated those quilts. You always encouraged all of my homemaking work and creativity. And you know that's all I ever really wanted to be - a mother, wife, and homemaker. The mother thing didn't work out, not until we got Jen when she was 18. But I loved being your wife and making a home for you. I loved the cleaning and laundry, cooking, canning, decorating, painting, repairing, gardening, and all the hundreds of little things that make a home. And bless you, you appreciated all that I did way too much. There was great satisfaction for me in looking well to the ways of the household. It was a good fit after my 1950s Southern upbringing and my earth-mother hippie years.
I still feel like my homemaking is for you. Maybe it's because this house is still yours. Or maybe it's me that's still yours. Letting my standards slip would be letting you down. Tomorrow I'll dust and sweep and do laundry, and probably somewhere during the day it will flit through my mind that I'm glad it will look nice for you when you get home. Old habits of thought hang on. And childhood training usually holds true. I wouldn't dream of leaving my bed unmade or the kitchen sink dirty. And unless I break another collar bone, I'll get the canner out this summer and put up vegetables and jams and relishes. I'll freeze blueberries and plant shrubs around the shed. And when fall comes and I have to keep the windows closed, I'll get those quilts out again. And it will still be for you.
Still keeping house for you,


  1. This post is a quintessential snapshot of something ordinary made extraordinary. It's obvious that you find a joy and peace in doing the simple things, the perhaps even "dull" things and that changes them into something rather magical.

    This is one of my favorite posts thus far.

  2. It seems to me that most of life is made up of small things that are repeated over and over. And they become sacramental when done lovingly. And when they are repetitive, that means we can enter more deeply into them every time we do them. I've always been grateful to have these tasks to do, and John to do them for.

  3. Exactly! And that is the way Brian explained tradition in Orthodoxy: each time we can enter more deeply into them. My four self loves that.

    This post really resonated with me. I hate housework, but since reading this I've looked at it as a way to love my kids and there is such a joy in that. Thank you. :)