Thursday, March 22, 2007

Home ec

Awww, Pretty Lady thinks y'all are so cute, bringing up contentious topics, paying attention to each other, hashing out theories and conceding one another's points. She just wishes she could have all of you over for a nice cozy dinner party. She thinks, at this point, that most of you are properly housebroken. As her friend k notes:

I love to cook. But I absolutely DETESTED Home Ec. Most of it revolved around teaching us to be servile and submissive to some future husband, rather than truly running a household. Running a household is a very important skill for every one of us.
Well, but of course! Pretty Lady has never understood why the concept of Keeping House is equated, in so many people's minds, with the concept of Thankless, Unending Drudgery. It seems to her that plowing, as a general rule, is much more suited to this description, and she is eternally grateful to her female forbears for suggesting that the gentlemen take it on. Along with hunting, chopping wood, digging ditches, building barns, and fighting hostile invaders.

No, compared with such onerous tasks, it is a positive delight to be allowed to stay home and experiment with recipes. Moreover, when a person is creatively Stuck for one reason or another, there is nothing more calming than putting things in neat, homogenous piles, whether they be books or paint rags, running around with a vacuum and a couple of sponges, and filling the essential oil burner with a combination of ylang-ylang, lavender, and vetiver. It Clears the Mind and Soul.

(BTW, it is a very good thing that vetiver oil is so dense that it takes about forty seconds for a single drop to detach itself from the bottle. One drop of vetiver oil will provide clarity and grounding in your home for the next four days, minimum. It is important to balance it with something lighter and sweeter, such as rose or ylang-ylang, and to make sure you like it before buying a bottle. It is not so easily undone.)

No, Pretty Lady finds this sort of activity infinitely preferable to Living in Squalor, which appears to be the choice of persons who refuse to be spiritually debased by the act of Doing Housework.

However, she finds it tragic that most humans did not appear to have been raised by anyone resembling Pretty Lady's Mommy. It profoundly shocked her, the day she realized that most of her friends had no idea that you cannot cook broccoli for one-tenth of the amount of time you can cook a tomato--let alone any specialized knowledge about proofing yeast, kneading, or how to get stains off the teapot. In fact, these poor ignorant souls didn't even know how to make tea.

So the fact that Pretty Lady's Best Friend has given her, as a most generous gift, the book Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House is like bringing coals to Newcastle, to put it mildly. Pretty Lady is using it for occasional reference, only, since it basically sets out the information that Pretty Lady had assumed was common knowledge, passed on from one Mommy to the next. A word to the wise.

A common misconception that Pretty Lady notes, in housework-averse individuals, is that this sort of thing takes up all of one's time, if one gets involved with it at all. This is a load of nonsense. It takes infinitely more time to resolve the distress, inconvenience and, sometimes, debilitating injuries and illness that arise from living in chaos and squalor than it does to do something about it. We pick up piles of laundry, shoes and half-finished manuscripts, not because we are anal retentive, but because tripping on these things every time we turn around slows us down immensely. We cook healthy meals because restaurants and cancer care are expensive, and thus require a large number of man-hours to pay for. We take out the garbage and do our laundry because nobody wants to hire a person who smells.

Any notion that a person cannot be Creatively Fulfilled if he or she lifts a finger to take out the garbage is four-year-old reasoning, and Pretty Lady wishes to hear no more about it.


Desert Cat said...

I used to use essential oil nebulizers, but I finally got disgusted with the heavier oils gumming up the works and the difficult task of cleaning the tar out of the tiny orifices to make it work for the next batch.

When you say 'essential oil burner' what kind of device is that exactly?


Right now my citrus trees have just come into bloom, so my back yard (and the back half of my house when the windows are open) is in the midst of a narcotic cloud of naturally-occuring 'neroli essential oil*'. And if the hard frost didn't damage them too badly, the jasminum grandiflorum will follow shortly. Oh!

It's just too bad this season only lasts 3-4 weeks.

*close anyway. Neroli is made from the blossoms of bitter orange. I have in bloom right now a sweet orange, a tangerine and a grapefruit.

Pretty Lady said...

When you say 'essential oil burner' what kind of device is that exactly?

Thing with a tea light on the bottom and a little cup with water and essential oil in it on top, like they've been selling in every Body Shop and Whole Foods and random New Age shop for the last 10-15 years. Where are you living, Arizona or something?

I used to have a little ceramic ring that went around a light bulb and diffused the oil that way, but it broke. Was so encrusted with dried oil residue that this was probably a good thing.

Don't talk to me about gardens blooming and stuff, I'm in withdrawal. Garden. Garden. Garden. No, no, no. Stop. The torture.

Anonymous said...

"It takes infinitely more time to resolve the distress, inconvenience and, sometimes, debilitating injuries and illness that arise from living in chaos and squalor than it does to do something about it."

Ha! Yep, being a bachelor, I had to learn that the hard way when I was much younger and sillier. :P

Desert Cat said...

Ah, so it isn't a burner so much as an essential oil steamer, except of course that the candle burns. I have one of those. I just never knew it was called that.

Then again I never knew you were supposed to put water in it either. I put essential oil directly in the cup and ended up with something more like an incense smoker.

Right above my desk in fact...yes, and it still has the charred remains of the last oil I "smoked" in it. I believe I'll try it with a bit of water now.

Pretty Lady said...

DC, you are a little goofball. :-) And I love you for it.

Anonymous said...

Our back acre is a sea of green sprinkled throughout by a mass of beautiful little yellow wildflowers.

I never mow the green until the flowers have come and gone. It would probably be an criminal act to do so.

Anonymous said...

I had mice in my home, recently. The little bastards came in through the garage, and got into my attic, and then finally announced themselves late one night as they meringued, and did the cha-cha in the ceiling above my bed.

Traps only netted a handful of them. Fearing that they would chew on the wiring and burn down my house I poisoned the apple and now they are all dead.

As a result, I had to go into the headshop near work (the clerks there were decidedly suspicious of me) and bought frankincense to kill the funkadelic odor in my study. It worked - and the smell of the dead is gone but the smell of the incense remains, weeks later. Any ideas on how to de-funk my study? I have left the window open, but that has not worked to get out the sweet-sickly smell of the incense.

k said...

Oh boy.

I'm allergic to scents of all kinds. Massively. Whether I like them or not has no bearing on this.

The life complications arising from this one condition alone are amazing. It's totally debilitating.

Can't use public restrooms. Can't go inside many stores at all. Even the 24-hour drive-through window at my local Walgreens' pharmacy emitted such a potent funk of so-called *air fresheners* that I had to keep my own car window rolled up almost every second I was there. And then, rid myself of the scent-saturated paper that contained my rx asap.

Once I get home from shopping trips, I often must throw my now-scented clothes outside to de-scent before I can handle them enough to wash them. Then I wash myself from head to toe immediately, before I can crash and sleep off the soporific effects of breathing those allergens.

It's also the primary reason I can't go into other people's houses for cozy dinners. Assuming I can handle the fatigue of spending a few hours around more than one human at a time - and that really overpowers me too - I simply can't breathe.

Even without an asthma attack, it ramps up the allergic fatigue so potently I may pass out on my hostess' sofa. And have done so, at rather embarrassing moments.

Oh, I could go on for DAYS on this topic alone! But I won't.

The Clutter and Cleanliness Issue has been an...important topic, and one of contention, in my relationship with Walter for some time, sorry to say. I think we're finally coming to a true resolution though.

It's been one step forward, two steps back in many ways over the years. Now...well, I'll be putting up a Happy Post about it pretty soon, I hope.

It's highly complicated in my own case because of the health issues. But it still boils down to that simple truth: Tidy house, peaceful house, and peace in your life. It really does matter.

And unless one subscribes to the myth of the Suffering Artist - at least, to the concept that an artist requires suffering from gross household living conditions in order to Be Creative - surely, common sense tells us that a peaceful house is MORE conducive to creativity, not less.

Anonymous said...

I look at these TV ads for things like "Christians Childrens Fund" where the guy is holding some little wide-eyed kid smeared with dirt and wearing filthy clothes, both of them wandering around on a street of hovels and shacks.

Don't jump the gun here... Things like the CCF are very good organizations that do very good things all around the world. And I fully understand the strategy behind using a wide-eyed, dirt-smeared little kid.

But its the streets in the background that always grabs my attention. They're always a filthy and garbage-filled dungheap.

So where are the adults? The ones who should get of their "po' us" asses and clean the place up? What the hell is wrong with those people that they don't even try to keep their enviornment cleaner?

No wonder the kids are always filthy and sick.

mitzibel said...

k---my mother suffered for years from exactly what you described. I used to have to keep a plastic bag and a spare shirt in the entryway--so that when I came in from a date, I could change shirts and put the cologne-tainted one in the bag and therefore hug my mom goodnight without putting her down with a four-day migraine. When I moved out and went to college, I went a bit batshit with the scent purchases--perfumes and lotions and powders and incense and potpourri and room sprays and light bulb rings and more perfume. . .now, though, I can't stand the scent of any perfume I can afford---they're all so fake and flowery. I stick with a custom-blended oil from a shop downtown, my own secret formula of vanilla, clove, and cinnamon. I like it when people say I smell delicious :)

k said...

Mitzibel, it's so good to hear from someone who's had personal experience with this.

Your poor mom! And poor YOU, having to deal with it! Being around people like us is NOT easy. I'm sincerely grateful for your patience and understanding.

Many perfume-sensitive people get headaches as their only symptom, and some don't even realize for years what's been causing them. At least I usually recover within 24 hours or so. And the headaches aren't that bad either; mostly it's the dizziness and fatigue that throws me. I'll stumble and fall, even pass out. Once I fell backwards down an entire flight of stairs from perfume exposure. Well, it was a bad pollen time too. But you get the picture.

Very few people are ever allowed inside my house because I'm so allergic to most other humans. Some take it personally. Most, by now, at least accept it, even if they still don't quite understand it.

Our former neighbors and employees are perfume freaks, and much worse for my own self, they're also extreme air freshener freaks. When my husband Walter goes to visit them, he's instantly coated with the stuff. All their furniture, the air inside their house, the inside of their cars, everything around them is completely saturated with the stuff.

When Walter comes back from a visit, he goes straight to the back door, strips, throws his clothes outside to air out for a while, and jumps in the bathtub for a complete head-to-toe scrub. After that? We can finally kiss Hello.

At least you got a chance to move out and indulge for a while. That's great.

There's only been one perfume I ever really loved. Jai Ose, it was called. (This was before the allergy life.) In the early 1980's I used to pay about $80 for a quarter ounce of it. The formula got sold, went off market, got bandied about...I don't know if it's still available any more, anywhere. Something tells me I'm better off not knowing. I'd give a lot to have a bottle of it again.

I was told it wasn't as popular with women because many of the ingredients were more *male*: woodsy, earthy, and - yes! - spicy scents. I loved it to death.

I bet you'd smell delicious to me, too.

I buy vanilla by the pint, ground and whole cloves like they were going off market, and cinnamon in 18 oz containers.


That's one of my special Secret Ingredients. I want to grow it, too.