As I loaded the dryer with a bunch of clean laundry, I sighed because I wore a shirt last week that I would now have to iron before wearing again. I kicked myself for getting a shirt that isn’t wash and wear. What was I thinking? Because taking ten minutes to heat up the iron and press a shirt is so laborious.
Then I thought about my grandmother, who not only ironed clothes, a lot of them, but she also made donuts from scratch, got down on her hands and knees to mop her floors, sewed her own clothes and those of her children, wrung chickens’ necks in order to cook them, oh–and back to the laundry–she had to put all of the laundry through the wringer and hang it up to dry on the clothesline. She “put up” vegetables for the winter and made the best pickles and sauerkraut in the world. She was an actual “housewife,” who “kept house.” Keeping a house back then required day-long effort.
I keep my house. It takes about ten minutes a day. I make the bed. I straighten up. I have a vacuum cleaner. Swiffing. A dishwasher. It is ridiculously easy.
I wonder what my grandmother would have done if she had more free time. She sat down in the evenings for a couple of hours before she went up to bed, and during that time she crocheted doilies which adorned the tops and arms of all of her furniture. Even while resting, she was productive. But what if she had every afternoon to herself? Would she have read books? Probably not. Kept a diary? No way. Taken long baths? Laughable.
No. If my grandmother had leisure time, she most likely would have baked cakes and strudel to sell for extra money. She might become a part-time seamstress. She would probably learn how to refinish furniture. I can picture her making quilts. Nothing that would require sitting down for long stretches.
I get bored. My grandmother, I am sure, was never bored for even five minutes in her entire life. She passed that on to my mother, whose favorite expression for tough times was “Just keep busy.”
My day? I wake up at eight, but don’t get up until ten. I get dressed, make the bed, and go downstairs. I spend about ten minutes unloading the dishwasher and straightening up the kitchen. Then I fill the bird feeders. I may run the palm of my hand over some table tops to remove dust. If I am really ambitious, I use a Swiffer cloth. Then I go on Twitter to read the latest outrage committed by our POTUS.
The rest of the day I muse.Read books. Work on my latest novel. Draw a few pictures. Walk the dog. Figure out what to make for dinner. Listen to a podcast. Nap.
My grandmother would have been ashamed of me.