So my Lenten project is to become a better housekeeper, to justify my purchase of this wonderful book, Home Comforts. Unfortunately, the book (though excellent) is American, so some of the terminology is strange to me. And it tempts me to desire such expensive but amazing luxuries as this bad boy.
This year Lent coincides with Britain's early spring, so I am doing a leisurely if thorough spring cleaning. So far the guest room is done--a very good thing as there is now a guest in it, reaping the benefits of my afternoon search for lavender scented drawer liners.
What I did not expect from doing more housework is how absorbing it can be and how cheering it is. I have a friend who gets rid of her stress by scrubbing kitchen and bathroom, and gets so absorbed, she is surprised to discover hours have flown by. I am not like this yet--though I wish I were. (I loathe any household task that risks gets my hands wet.) No, what I like to do is empty drawers and cupboards, chucking out useless objects and organizing the survivors after wiping down the surfaces and introducing lavender scented stuff. Now my guest room is really, really pretty, although B.A. drew the line at me reblacking the early 19th century hearth.
The other cure for doldrums is to have a Young Thing in the house. I love having Young Things in the house. Those of you under thirty or so probably do not know this, but you exude a youthful energy, like kittens or puppies or early crocuses, that cheers up all but the crankiest of folks over 40.
There should be a program to match up poor, homeless and Single Young Things with richer, home-owning and Single Middle-Aged or Elderly Ladies, for their mutual comfort and betterment. The Middle-Aged or Elderly Ladies would happily provide the Young Things with a pretty bedroom, clean sheets (and lavender scented drawer liners) and the Young Things could invigorate the Middle-Aged or Elderly Ladies with their amusing Young Thing interests, like veganism and eBay. Should I ever be an elderly widow with a house, I will most definitely become an Edinburgh landlady, like my Edinburgh great-great-grandmother, only better behaved. (She was a young widow though; one must not throw stones.)
Next up: the dining room.
Oh, and a third cure for doldrums is that bad old Western female obsession: slimming. This is only a cure for doldrums if it works, and unsurprisingly the Fast Diet (i.e. only 500 calories on Wednesdays and Fridays) is working for me. (The Fast Diet plus anti-sugarism.) So now I have a proper waist again, which even doctors will agree is a good thing.
The fourth might work only if you eat almost no sugar most of the time. On Thursday I had such a bad day that when I arrived at Edinburgh's Peter Yard to meet with my tutor, I threw anti-sugarism to the wind and ordered a hot chocolate with cardamom and a caramel-almond tartlet. Sugar madness. But I felt SO GOOD afterwards, that it makes no scientific sense. Maybe the cardamom served as an antidote for the badness of the sugar.