housework. You clean something and it gets used and you clean it again. Even if you do not use the object it seems to attract dirt and needs cleaning all over again. If you put something away then you need it and have to get it out again. Sometimes you can put it away "in a safe place" and then forget where you put it - or even that you have it at all.
Housework is frustration. I do a minimal amount. The house is clean. It is not tidy. There are books and newspapers, woodworking magazines and knitting littering the "family" area where we eat and, occasionally, watch a minimal amount of television. The walls are decorated with bookshelves and, on top, the polystyrene sheets I use as blocking boards.
A former neighbour made a hobby of housework. You took your shoes off at the door before you entered. Her children, when young, were put in clean clothes several times a day. The vacuum cleaner was used every day. The paintwork was wiped down every day. Windows were washed until they gleamed like small rainbows in the sunlight. Her kitchen work surfaces were bare, even the toaster had a place in the cupboard. Her lounge room had a three seater and two matching chairs. There was a coffee table, bare apart from a single photograph of the family, and a glass cabinet with her best crockery displayed in it. The television set was at an exact angle opposite the two chairs.
Our neighbour had very little time to watch television. She was too busy doing housework. There was never a leaf out of place in her garden. No weed dared to spring up between the paving stones. The hedge was kept strictly in line as it crept quietly down their driveway.
I went in one Saturday afternoon when she was not at home. Her husband was watching a football match on the small television set he kept in the shed. He had a bar radiator on. His feet, still in shoes, were up on a box. There was a can of beer at his side but no glass.
"Hi Cat, she won't be back until after six. I'm supposed to be cleaning the car. Don't tell her but I have booked it in at the car wash instead."
I gave him the letter that had accidentally been left in our letter box and went home. Despite the cold weather his shed looked comfortable and homely. It was tidy. His wife would not have allowed it to be otherwise but there was something different about it.
As I went into our house I understood. There was a bookshelf in the shed. There was not a single book in their house. We have books everywhere.