THE DOMESTIC REALM from Anne de Marcken on Vimeo. I have nursed a secret desire to be a housewife - or, even better, a live-in housekeeper - for many years. It replaced my earlier fantasy of living in a convent (I imagined austere stone rooms and lots of time to read in enforced silence). I think it all comes from a longing for order and routine. And a desire to hold higher - and deeper - the very smallest acts of caring: sweeping, polishing, dusting, ironing. The care for inanimate things an extension of care for life itself. And an appreciation for the aesthetic experience of ordinary life. There are connections between care, beauty, and meaning. The idea and the reality are not so far apart - at least in the doing: the making of the bed, the folding of the laundry, the cleaning of the grout - but the cumulative experience - at least the intermediate cumulative experience as opposed to the end-of-life retrospective - is very different. At the end of a week or a month or a season of domestic labor, I tend to feel diminished by the invisibility of maintenance. Dishes piled in the sink are noticeable. Dishes put away and always ready are taken for granted. This leads to the grand, domestic gesture, which is antithetical to the basic idea of quotidian pleasure: the over-the-top birthday party, excessive holiday decorations, too many pillows...or too many stuffed bunnies.
Just applied the fifth coat of varnish to the tiller. It is perfect varnishing weather, which, I have to try not to think about, is also pretty much perfect sailing weather. Warm. Light breeze. Not too humid. It was so dry this morning, I was able to mow the lawns before nine o’clock while Daniel was working in the beds on either side of the front steps. The nut came loose from the lawnmower handle again, so I had to stop almost before getting started and run over to Oly Supply. Last time I got nuts and washers that matched the ones that came loose, and bolts the same length as the originals. The tall, quiet guy who showed me where to find the metric fasteners asked me if I wanted to match the length of the bolt from the mower I’d brought in as a guide, or did I want to get longer bolts. Match the length, I said. I wondered why he would ask, but I didn’t follow up. Now I know. This time I got longer bolts and wing nuts instead of the regular ones. I also went straight to the metric fasteners on my own. I like learning this way best of all. Becoming increasingly proficient by accumulating bits of practical knowledge through a combination of advise, help, and trial and error. I finished up the lawn and as I was going around cleaning up the stubborn dandelion stems by hand, I found the missing nut. The washer will turn up eventually.