Friday, September 17, 2010

Hearth and Home


Photo courtesy Flickr

I hope this post contains the most obvious things I’ve had to say about housekeeping. Houses aren’t about furniture: houses are about biochemistry. Hearth means focus.

Earlier this week I visited a suburban house that had been built by a man named Balch who developed Seattle’s early suburbs. The house I saw was a split-level from one of his later vintages. I have known several families in various suburbs who live in the same structure.

One family is life-affirming, oriented towards the arts and sports. The atmosphere in the house is sweet and supportive, the furnishings are graceful, the family members courteous and well-spoken toward one another. Another family is stressed, oppressed by old country gender roles, abusive, miserly, and most likely richer than the first. The atmosphere in that house is jittery and disquieting.

In fifty years of keeping house, I have learned only one thing: cleanliness is truly next to godliness, and cleanliness is about behavior as well as things.

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