Friday, 7 September 2018

Did You Know . . . .


that ‘The functions of the Mistress of the House resemble those of the general of an army or the manager of a great business concern.’

I have been dipping into 'The Housekeeping Book' of olden days and all sorts of wonderful information, instructions, prohibitions, advice to young women and new wives can be found within.
I particularly like the capitals for the Mistress of the House and the lower case used for a general and a manager, be they ever so lofty. Mind you, the Vicar of Wakefield had it that : ‘The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queans’. (I looked up ‘queans’ - it means an impudent or badly behaved girl or woman, or a prostitute.) Serviceable to whom, one wonders. Independent minded women have always got short shrift from the mainstream of domestic theorists, so many of them men.

Having had little interest in new clothes for the past two years this interest was rekindled when I had a very close look inside our closets and wardrobes and chests of drawers; Beloved’s stuff has all gone now, apart from his dressing gown, a summer anorak and a couple of his favourite shirts, all items I now wear. Ditto some of his thickest and warmest socks, which will come in very usefully during the winter. However, my own clothes are sadly lacking in shine and rather shabby after years of wear and needed replacing. I get fashion catalogues and emails sent from fashion houses and department stores, all unsolicited (I may possibly have bought items in the past), so I consulted these. I hadn’t purchased new clothes for so long that I was horrified to see the prices. Nevertheless, a few tops, shirts, trousers and leggings (for the gym) arrived in due course and I admit it feels good to be wearing something that isn’t falling to pieces with age. I like the look of myself again, too.

Be that as it may, the activity of purchasing does not please one lady author, who had this to say: ‘This ranging from shop to shop has given origin to a fashionable method of killing time, which is well-known by the term “Shopping” and is literally a mean and unwarrantable amusement. I wonder if she would absolve me from blame, as I did my “Shopping” on the internet. I wish I could amble from shop to shop, all along the High Street, and take my time, browse around a bookshop, have a meal somewhere, linger over a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. I may be fancy-free and independent, but I am still accountable to Millie. Poor dear Millie, she is quite decrepit now, although her steroid medication has given her a renewed lease of a semblance of a doggie life. Her hearing is gone which makes her difficult to organise; I also think she has dementia, she does not want to let me out of her sight. Leaving her alone is a problem, there are just two houses where she knows her way around and feels safe, my friend Jay's, who is dog mad and Millie’s best friend and my other friend Ralph’s, who bosses her around in a nice way. I am having the suspicion of dementia being present because all her routines have changed, whereas before she had regular favourite bedtimes, doggie beds and toilet habits she is now all over the place. And yet, she still has a reasonable quality of life and eats well and happily, is fully continent, and appears to be happy provided I’m close. If I have to leave her alone it’s usually for no more than a couple of hours.

My leg is getting better. The swelling is now confined to the ankle and heel and even there disappearing noticeably, almost by the day. I have had all these weeks of mostly sitting and reading with the odd little Millie walk and a potter in the garden. When the summer was at its hottest I reclined gracefully and read novels, taking sips from cooling drinks. I am glad, that by living long after The Housekeeping Books’s strictures, I escaped its censure of indulging in the much decried pastime of reading novels. Apparently, young ladies were wont to indulge and could therefore not hope to achieve the heights of the housekeeping skills necessary to make a good match and thus become serviceable in life.






22 comments:

  1. I'd never have made it back then. They'd have me drugged or in the nuthouse.

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  2. Times have changed. For which I am glad. (Although I do appreciate the capitalization!)

    So nice to hear from you, especially that your leg is healing. Sorry Millie is failing some but what a wonderful companion and you will never regret a moment you spent with her, even though you may like a bit of a break at times.

    I am hoping you keep some warm and sunnyish weather for me when I hit England in early October. Like you, I'm having some walking issues but I won't let that stop me one bit! I'm so excited!

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    1. Please sign your name when you comment, it’s nicer to have a ‘known quantity’ rather than an unknown one.

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  3. Those antique cooking books are amazing. Most recipes are complicated.

    BUT the books from my mother's era (post WW2) are fun to read. they come after rationing and making do. The recipes are simple and connected to the post WW1 era cooking.

    Yes, do some shopping. Buy things in colors, bright colors.

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  4. Add me to the long list of those who are glad (mostly) that times have changed.
    I am really pleased to hear that your leg is improving too.
    Shopping? Apart from books and plants I have almost total sales resistance. And it shows.

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  5. Shopping for clothes is one of my least favourite things to do because I have a good idea of what I want and can never find it. Paradoxically, I love clothes and try to look up to date, whatever that means. I teach teenagers and they notice what I wear, too.
    I'm glad your leg is improving and that you have the loving company of Millie.

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  6. Good to hear from you and Millie, friend Friko … So glad that your leg is improving … Mine is too … slowly but surely … And about Millie … she reminds me so much of my back lab Piwo, who started failing and then one day … ya ... … Anyway, enjoy her while there is time … Much love, cat.

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    1. "black" … I hate spelling mistakes … smiles … Love, cat.

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    2. I hate failure … period ... cat.

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  7. The Vicar of Wakefield clearly didn't like uppity women. Too bad, the world needs more strong women, not fewer.

    I suspect the one author wasn't talking about purchasing clothes in general but shopping as a past-time - acquiring clothes just for the sake of having new things all the time. No one could argue with you for replacing things that are well past their prime. And good for you for doing it!

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  8. I just can't bring myself to indulge in shopping as recreation, partly because a lack of discretionary income looms large, and partly because it just bores me to tears. On the other hand, a nice new shirt of pair of shoes can work wonders. I'm in need of some newness myself, but I'm not allowing any purchases until I reach my weight goal. Buying a size smaller would be satisfying.

    When I read bits from those older books, I'm always amazed at the way my mother's approach to things resembled their advice. Much of it was quite practical in the 1940s and 1950s. The privations of war were fresh, and the conveniences of the modern age hadn't quite arrived,so the gap between 'then' and 'now' wasn't so great. A kitchen without a microwave, a blender, a convection oven, and so on requires a different approach. Never mind cell phones: when I realize I grew up prior to microwave ovens, it amazes me -- not to mention programmable coffee pots.

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  9. I was brought up to read, not to do housework.....father not being the Vicar of Wakefield.
    Very glad that your leg is improving and that you feel like renewing your wardrobe.
    Millie is happy enough, by the sound of things, as long as she has you or, at a pinch, her friends, so just enjoy her.

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  10. This is so lovely. From the opening words, I feel myself sinking into your writing as if into a deeply comfortable armchair. You are so good at this, my dear U. And I learn, always.

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  11. Maybe that's why I love books and movies from other periods of time. Just fascinating to see how different acceptable behavior was in centuries and cultures past. Makes you wonder if you would have ended up a matron, old maid relative, in service, a mistress, farm wife, or a streetwalker? Hermit in the woods has always appealed to me--LOL!

    Glad your leg is better and that Millie is doing okay. A few new clothes after the wardrobe has become a bit threadbare--can totally relate. Does lift the spirits and make one feel a bit more presentable to the public--LOL! ;) Have a wonderful weekend, Friko.

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  12. Hi Friko - good to read ... I love those old books about housekeeping etc from days gone by - Mrs Beeton always makes fun reading ... and there's another that's in store at home - which I cannot remember ... wouldn't be without either. Love the idea of 'petticoated philosophers' ... what fun as they frump around ruffling their feathers and prattling on happily about their latest idea.

    Yes - I too am glad your leg is improving ... and poor Millie - still she seems happy ... and you'll cope with her needs. Oh old clothes - too many ... but it seems the few new ones are cheerfully cheering you on. Enjoy the softer countdown to Autumn ... it's been a hot summer - take care and enjoy life around you - cheers Hilary

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  13. I love reading books like this one; it is fascinating to read the past's paradigms and protocols. Often I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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  14. I love this post, most of all for its wry tongue in cheek and copious self-awareness. I have been thinking myself I need to “freshen up” what passes for my wardrobe, though I am afraid I am far past the point of becoming stylish. But perhaps, inspired by your post, I will at least buy a new round of Land’s End mesh polos, as the ones I have are for the most part worn and faded. And it is of course good to be properly attired for reading novels!

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  15. Always such a companionable visit when I see you've posted. Thanks... Do treat yourself to an aimless ramble in the high st. I highly recommend it!

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  16. Fascinating book you describe. Reminds me of a book my mother gave me that she was given to read before her marriage to prepare her for the experience. I should read it now as never got beyond the first page before I wed. There must be some very instructive information on those pages with interesting language.

    Glad you're finding some clothes to your liking. I have always preferred clothes shopping, trying on in brick and mortar stores, as internet purchases less satisfactory for me. The problem now is that there are so few such specialty brands, and such stores. Sizing is so inconsistent. I really need to research and find more internet sites carrying styles I like, as internet shopping per se is becoming more attractive to me. Am focusing more on "Thriving in Place" so using strategies to support that approach are becoming increasing attractive and even necessary.

    Keep in mind, as with people, we gain our understanding of our immediate world from our sensory input. For humans that comes primarily from vision and hearing. Smell is especially strong in dogs, but that can become impaired, too. The point is that distorted, decreased or absent input can result in altered behaviors that result in an individual seeming to be having dementia or worse. Maybe that's Millie's problem.

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  17. Dear Friko, I've been away from reading postings for nearly two months, so I missed your early August post about falling in the garden and the resultant foot/leg injury. I'm so sorry that this happened, but I'm hoping that you got some good books read while you recuperated. Do you like books about dogs? I just read one that was a delight. It's called "Jerusalem Gap" and is about a man and the stray he rescued. A lovely story by T. R. Pearson. Peace.

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  18. I can identify with your fashion woes. I have lost all interest in that part of my life and I have a major cleaning and purging week schedule in my closet later this year, when the snow starts to fly here in Michigan, USA. I hope that will encourage me to do some updating.

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  19. Sounds like a fascinating book. I'm glad I was born in the 20th century - so constricting being a woman in earlier centuries. But I suppose there have rebels and strong women throughout the centuries and you have to play the hand you're dealt!
    Around My Kitchen Table
    That's Purrfect

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