Category Archives: housekeeping

apron strings

apronI was thinking about aprons; I wear one most days. Not for cooking and baking like you may think but for painting – for art. I passed by a mirror just now and saw myself in it and I quickly remembered the aprons from my childhood, icons of the 50s housewife. Pockets were filled with small household items picked up along the ways of her day and sorted through before the end of it when it hung on a hook near the kitchen waiting for duty in the morning. – ready to, once again, shield the splatters of her day.

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, had beautiful ones that she made with scrap pieces of fabric and Ric Rac, lace and miscellaneous buttons – they were always there protecting her homemade dress from chicken frying and whirls of all-purpose flour. My mamae, my mom’s mother, wore aprons too. I don’t think she made them but they took her through her days in the kitchen just the same, baking sweet tarts and housekeeping.

My own mother wore an apron on Thanksgiving and Christmas – protecting holiday clothes from cheese sauces and turkey basting. I have a vision of her in her apron, a vision that says “mother”. Sometimes there were clothespins,  maybe a bobby pin or two or something you just might need in the pockets of mom’s apron.

I wear one now for painting and occasionally for cooking. When I do,  I love that it becomes a little toolbox for me – stashing things I need or things I find in the pockets, wiping wet hands with its skirt and just feeling homey in it. I always wonder why I don’t include it in my day more often. But, like so many household icons – the apron is going away with diaper pins and Singer sewing machines.

Elizabeth wears an apron when she bakes – I love that she does and perhaps there will be an apron resurgence.

 I mean aren’t little kids still tied to their mother’s apron strings and don’t big kids still need to cut them?

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things that matter

These days of spring are sudden and oh so sweet. The air is filled with fragrance – I, just this morning, noticed the ligustrum trumping the light fragrance of the mimosa and the gardenia. The birds are flying overhead in glorious formations and are singing sweetly to wake me up on Saturdays and Sundays. The honey bees are busy pollinating my garden and cleaning their little feet in the bird bath. It is truly an awakening and so beautiful, divine. It is difficult for me to stay inside these days – those cobwebs I wrote about a while back are still there. Who cares, I have to herald in this glorious season. I have learned a lot about myself throughout these 57 years and I have to finally admit – I am not really good at keeping up the inside of my house. I have to be amongst the flowers and then I have to have time to paint – so there you go…no time for much dusting. Again, I reference Miss Sue and I think of her house and the way she kept it – it was so authentic and wonderful. It was clean but not fussy. The dishes were washed and stacked neatly on the little rack next to the sink, the bed was made, the bathroom was scrubbed, and the laundry was hung out to dry – enough was done. The focus, however, was the outside beauty that found its way inside. The gardenias were in jars in the kitchen in May and the front room smelled of honeysuckle in June and there was a fresh cut magnolia from the tree in the back making the house smell like summer – these are the things that matter to me. I doubt that my children will ever find comfort in a childhood memory of a meticulously clean house, but if they are like me, they will remember the smells of spring and summer there in the kitchen.

I have been writing a memoir about my days with Miss Sue for years (I hope to finish it this summer) and there is a line in there about just this, “…. It was a fresh cut magnolia that would sit on our kitchen counter and forever define the scent of summer for me;  a bunch of gardenias that would make me remember her front porch and the fragrance in the still May air…” . This is what I think matters. But, today, I shall make a huge effort to stay in for a while and do things necessary in here. It is time to change sheets and hang them out to dry, and I want to harness the laundry room and not leave the kitchen til every dish is washed and put away – lofty goals for a day in May! First, I will head outside with scissors and cut gardenias and one perfect magnolia to “define the scent of summer”.

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