Dedicated to Jackie, and enlisting the wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Domestic Life.
My flat is always clean; some marvel at the sterility of its condition (not to be mistaken with its appearance; more later); however, I diverge from Gethyn’s perception: that it is a museum; nor do I concur with he and others who regard it germless (an impossibility outside of a select few settings, where this is a necessity); and with certainty, I aver that my…asepsis (!) is neither for show; nor the benefit of would-be and expected visitors. Should I cease this activity?
“With these ends housekeeping is not beautiful; it cheers and raises neither the husband,- the wife, nor the child; neither the host nor the guest; it oppresses women. A house kept to the end of prudence is laborious without joy; a house kept to the end of display is impossible to all but a few women, and their success is dearly bought.”
Ooh, one may think, “perhaps.” For every step taken to maintain our homes, something else must deteriorate in equal measure: fine dining at the expense of an orderly home; well-cared-for children at the cost of hospitality, and so on.
“Beyond its primary ends of the conjugal, parental, and amicable relations, the household should cherish the beautiful arts and the sentiment of veneration.”
There exists a fine line between housekeeping and means. Our homes, and the articles within them, should reflect the character of the inhabitants; and the dilemma regarding domesticity at some levels is that its perseverance demands wealth. Emerson reminds us, “we are artists ourselves, and competitors each one, with Phidias and Raphael in the production of what is graceful or grand.” And further asks why we should afford vases and paintings the power of enticing friends? A Raphael is beyond my means financially; however, I am advantageous in that I possess the artistic capacity to recreate works I favour. In this manner, those items in my home are reflections of me: my character, my spirit, my heart and my life’s calling. Virtue and character, warmth and truth, love and magnanimity achieve this effortlessly. Good friends are the grandest treasures bestowed upon any house.
“The ornament of the house is the friends who frequent it.” My home, its contents and cleanliness shall hold me sacred; rather than chasing validation in the same from outside. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced by the same as “Bouquet”) may not be pleased; however, I am self-assured in my actions and motivations; for those who visit my home and benefit from my affability are testaments to my veracity, forbearance and warmth.
The very second I read your impeccably written words a lovely song played continuously in my mind the entire day. “A House is Not a Home” composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David echoed throughout my childhood home in the early 1970’s. As young as I was, I belted out some of the high notes with Dionne Warwick. Now as an adult, Luther Vandross has won me over with his version of this timeless classic. Within the first several lines of the song, the words validate what you so beautifully articulated:
“A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss good night…”
Regardless how well kept the house is, the trinkets that line the shelves, the art that hangs on the walls, although indicative of one’s singularity, it is the love of family of friends that make a house a home. May peace, good health, love, laughter, and light always reign and enter your home my friend…xxx
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Always inspiring my friend
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