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Tony Grist

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Housework [Jan. 3rd, 2008|10:22 am]
Tony Grist
I had a cold. It went away. Then it came back again. In the brief interval when I didn't have a cold I got all fired up and did some housework. "There you are," said Ailz. " You stirred up all that dust and now you've given yourself rhinitis."

Could be. 

Can I use this as an excuse for never picking up a duster again?

No- because there are little pills to treat the condition. I've just popped one. And actually I'm quite a fastidious person. I don't mind dust and think piles of books and papers enhance a room- but I don't like it when things become sordid and start to smell. 

A house is an expression of the self, a second body, a vehicle for personality- which is why novelists think it worth describing the rooms in which their characters live. A tidy room shows a tidy mind. Francis Bacon, the painter of screaming popes and decaying flesh and men humping one another on rumpled beds, lived in an absolute pigsty- as you can see from pictures of his studio. Well of course he did.

Ailz sometimes mutters darkly about hiring someone to come in and clean. I react with panic. I don't want a stranger handling my things. Everything is just where it ought to be until I choose to rearrange it. Bleaagh, get your mucky hands off!

Ailz, I should hasten to point out, is no tidier than I am. She may in fact be worse. And most of the time she's quite happy to live  in bohemian disorder. It's just that every so often she gets these cravings for the house beautiful- which I dismiss as an atavism.

We keep one room all neat and tidy for receiving guests. It's very nice. And- guess what- we hardly ever use it. I took a book in there yesterday and sat for fifteen minutes or so in a comfy chair- then got up and left.  I missed my clutter. The prettiness made me feel uneasy.

The room we mainly live in looks like this. 

It's home. And as long as there's still a space where I can safely balance my teacup I don't see any need to change it.

[User Picture]From: dadi
2008-01-03 12:36 pm (UTC)
I can only second that. I need my beloved level of clutter, otherwise everything feels..sterile. Since I live with Dan, everything is A LOT cleaner and nicer in here, but my little chaos in my office.. nobody touches THAT!!!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 01:14 pm (UTC)
"Sterile"- yes, that's the word. Our ever-so-tidy receiving room feels sterile.

I sometimes say that I'd like to live in a minimalist environment- all plate glass windows and plain white walls- but I wouldn't really.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-01-03 01:08 pm (UTC)
When my daughter was younger, we used to call her room 'The Cave'. Every 8 - 10 weeks either her father or I would blow a gasket and DEMAND that she clean it up. Then would ensure an all day - usually Saturday - marathon of sweeping, moving, cursing and re-arranging. And when she was finished it did look lovely. However, by the next mornings breakfast she would stomp into the kitchen complaining that 'I can't find anything. It's all too neat!'
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 01:23 pm (UTC)
My niece has a room like that.

And guards it fiercely.

My bro-in-law had to break in a month or two back(when my niece was out of the country) because all the knives and forks in the house were festering under the piles of discarded clothes and stuffed animals.

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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-01-03 03:18 pm (UTC)
Sounds very familiar
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[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2008-01-03 01:48 pm (UTC)
It appears a very bright and cozy home indeed.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 01:53 pm (UTC)

That's what I think too.
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From: sunfell
2008-01-03 01:58 pm (UTC)
My clutter level is about the same as yours. It consists mostly of papers and books and mail, which seem to multiply in my absence. There's also dust and cat-hair, which gets vacuumed.

I have lots of little nic-nacs, too- collected from places I've been. And lots of fiddly little things. Those little things threaten to overtake me, and I have to regularly go around with a shoebox and clean them away lest I get buried in them. They're the Perfectly Good little things that tend to hop into pockets, totes, handbags, and things and come home with me.

I do keep my home at a certain level of order, though. You will never find food or food containers anyplace else but the kitchen or dining room. Same with drinks. Clothing is restricted to the bedroom, as are shoes. I don't like to see clothing or dishes out of place. The floor is kept clean, too- while I have my magazine bins lined up in the living room, the only things permitted on the floor are cat toys. If I toss something on the floor, it's a signal for me to clean it up, so when I sort through paper, I'll create a floor-pile, because I must dispose of it.

The dining room table is the main battleground between pristine emptiness and the paper piles. The paper usually wins. My Dream Home will have a second large table besides the dining room table to spread papers on. It'll be in the office/library.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 03:31 pm (UTC)
We have rabbit hair to contend with- only less than we used to now that the rabbits have decided to move upstairs- where they have a bedroom all to themselves- full of straw and cardboard boxes and other stuff that delights them.

(And yes, it really was their decision. We were quite happy having them downstairs with us, but they up and left us and colonised the spare bedroom and we thought, "well, why not?")

I remember you writing about the perfectly good little things. I have lots of those too. I find it very difficult to get rid of them. "This will come in useful one of these days," I tell myself. Only it never does.

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From: freesprouts
2008-01-03 02:17 pm (UTC)
That room looks quite comfortable.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 03:31 pm (UTC)
It is.

Only right now I could wish it was a little warmer.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-01-03 02:41 pm (UTC)
As I sit here studying your picture all I see is a cheerful , comfortable clutter.

As long as there is nothing growing mould, rotting or dead under things, it's all good. I once told someone I had piles of book teetering precariously throughout the house...and we do!

I like your fireplace.

Edited at 2008-01-03 03:32 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 03:39 pm (UTC)
The fireplace is original.

When I moved into the house it was covered in a thick carapace of gloss paint. I spent a lot of time (and pints of nitromors) stripping it back- and you see the result.

The surround is plum-coloured marble with white veining. I think it's really handsome.

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[User Picture]From: aellia
2008-01-03 05:08 pm (UTC)

I love your room!

Where do people,who live the minimilist lifestyle,put things?
I think the picture of it would make a good jigsaw puzzle. I used to have programme that made them before I got connected to the web. I was easily pleased. What with that and my "Starry Night" programme :-)
I'm rambling....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 10:56 am (UTC)

Re: I love your room!

I think they have secret cupboards where they stash everything.

I see what you mean about the jigsaw- lots of different colours and fiddly little details....
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-01-03 05:23 pm (UTC)
Well that looks nice and cosy. It is the paperwork that runs me ragged, and the empty teacups and the beer glasses and the apple cores, and the CDs that are not in their boxes and and and...

My DH creates Entropy. I fight it. He has the easier job!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 10:59 am (UTC)
I'm the one in our house who puts the CDs back in their boxes. I think albums (like books and movies) should be treated with respect.

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From: athenais
2008-01-03 05:47 pm (UTC)
I do not like nor live in clutter, but this is a tremendously cheerful and cozy-looking room. It seems like just the sort of place to be an artist.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 11:00 am (UTC)
Colour is important. The dominating colours are red and purple and that creates an illusion of warmth- even when the radiators are off.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-01-03 05:55 pm (UTC)
The room we mainly live in looks like this.

And it's beautiful.

I have books in stacks. If anyone ever rearranged them, I wouldn't be able to look up anything I need.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 11:03 am (UTC)

I used to know where every single book was- but there have been several upheavals and now it can be a real adventure to track a title down.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-01-03 06:58 pm (UTC)
Oooh, OUR house! ;)

My DH is prone to piles of stuff of every description, from books and papers to drafting tools. Especially when he's in the research phase for the next book.

I'm prone to stacks of books and heaps of yarn and piles of plastic storage boxes full of crochet hooks and beads.

We're both bibliophiles.

Translation, our whole house pretty much looks like yours. Except the bathroom, which only has piles of towels, but that's because it's too humid for books and papers. Otherwise books and papers would collect there too.

We know pretty much exactly where most things are. We keep anything that might smell bad (dishes, food scraps) under tight control, and let the dust bunnies pile up until my allergies kick in. Then I vacuum and dust, using the vacuum attachment for the latter.

I'd rather live in a home than in a museum!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 11:12 am (UTC)
"I'd rather live in a home than in a museum"


I don't think you can love books and keep a tidy home. Because if you love books you'll always have several "on the go"- plus magazines, of course, and you'll obviously have them lying around where you can pick them up again- and inevitably the piles deepen and.....
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-01-05 05:43 am (UTC)
Yes, of course. On the rare occasions when you decide to clean up and get all the piles put properly away, in the process of putting things properly away you find books you haven't read in ages and really want to reread, so new piles start to spread before the old ones have quite gone away, and...

Every place we've ever lived in, the books have taken over.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-03 10:44 pm (UTC)
Please do. I'd be delighted.

I'm intrigued to find out how you apply them.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2008-01-04 04:29 am (UTC)
That room looks like a place I could feel most comfortable in.

I always feel weird and a bit inferior when I walk into homes that are utterly clean, without dust or clutter or mismatched objects. I wonder if people actually *live* there, and whether they meticulously pick up everything they do the minute they finish. I feel like they judge me when they come into *my* house, and yet--I would not want to live their lives.

And books. Have you ever walked into someone's house and realized there are no books anywhere? What do these people do? Usually they have the latest, biggest TVs available. I feel like an alien in homes with no books, like we have no possible common ground.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-04 11:18 am (UTC)
I don't believe they have books in the house next door and- yes- you go into the room that's the mirror image of our living room and it's minimally furnished and they've got this amazing flat screen TV hanging above the (non-existent) fireplace.

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