6.08.2012

Home Comforts

RetroRenovation.com

A Prayer for a Little Home

God, send us a little home 
to come back to when we roam.
Wooden floors and fluted tiles,
wide windows, a view for miles.

Red firelight and deep chairs, small white beds upstairs.
Great talk in little nooks, soft colors, rows of books.
One picture on each wall, not so many things at all.

God, send us a little ground, tall trees stand ’round.
Homely flowers in fertile sod, overhead, thy stars, O God.

God bless thee when winds blow, Our home and all we know.    ~Florence Bone

I moved into a cluttered home (and brought lots with me) which I wrote about here: http://keeping-house.blogspot.com/2011/04/learning-to-love-small-house.html.  I’ve been moving the clutter out for 9 years now.  Now the layer that is being removed is the baby-stage equipment, toys and clothes.  But I still need encouragement and know-how, and Cheryl Mendelson has helped me run my home better.

Inspiring Quotes from
Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House

Cheryl Mendelson, in Home Comforts, states: “…people are led into the error of playing house instead of keeping house by a genuine desire for a home and its comforts. Nostalgia means, literally, homesickness.  

What really does work to increase the feeling of having a home and its comforts is housekeeping.  Housekeeping creates cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety, and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home.   …it is your housekeeping that makes your home alive…a vital place…where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else.

Despite these rewards, American housekeeping and home life are in a state of decline. Comfort and engagement at home have diminished to the point that even simple cleanliness and decent meals – let alone any deeper satisfactions – are no longer taken for granted. Dirt, dust and disorder are more common…

Bedding decreases in refinement, freshness, and comfort, even as sales of linens, pillows, and comforters increase.  It is not in goods that the contemporary household is poor, but in comfort and care.

Many people lead deprived lives in houses filled with material luxury.

As people turn more to outside institutions to have their needs met (for food, comfort, clean laundry, relaxation, entertainment, society, rest), domestic skills …further diminish, in turn decreasing the chance that people’s homes can satisfy their needs. 

The result is far too many people who long for home even though they seem to have one."

Her Solution

"…What a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry… Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home… Her affection was in the soft sofa cushions, clean linens, and good meals; her memory in well-stocked storeroom cabinets and the pantry; her intelligence in the order and healthfulness of her home; her good humor in its light and air…

You can enjoy keeping house. No one is too superior or intelligent to care for hearth and home… Each of its regular routines brings satisfaction when it is completed. These routines echo the rhythm of life, and the rhythm of the body. You get satisfaction not only from the sense of order, cleanliness, freshness, peace, and plenty restored, but from knowing you and those you care about are going to enjoy these benefits.

Warmhearted, reasonably organized people…tend to keep well-functioning, cheerful, and welcoming homes, while people who live from one crisis to the next have homes filled with crises and chaos.

All of us who really do enjoy living in a well-kept home can come to enjoy the rituals of its care.  The act of taking care of our homes brings comfort and consolation…”

I quoted just a few paragraphs of the first chapter “My Secret Life” and the second chapter “Routines” of an almost 900 page book.  Ms. Mendelson has help regarding Beginnings, Food, Cloth, Cleanliness, Daily Life, Sleep, Safe Shelter, and Formalities.  Frankly, the first 3 chapters alone justified my buying the book!  This is a book for the serious homemaker.