Photo courtesy Flickr
There’s a deep and rich tradition of black humor in housekeeping. As far as I know, Seattle’s own Betty MacDonald wrote the first book in that vein, The Egg and I, about a Twenties move from a privileged neighborhood in the North End to a chicken ranch on the Olympic Peninsula. MacDonald's social views were as limited as most from that period, and Peninsula natives took exception to her characters. One couple sued, but the story was strong enough to generate the Ma and Pa Kettle series of films.
MacDonald went on to write The Plague and I, about her experience with TB before penicillin, and her sister Mary Bard wrote her own series. Portland’s Peg Bracken added the I Hate to Housekeep series, and Irma Bombeck came along after college reading lists claimed all my attention.
The wife of the Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C. received founding Catholic Worker Dorothy Day into a Sixties parsonage roiling with children and visitors. Listening to a remark about how hard it was to keep up, Day put the solution in a nutshell: “Lower your standards.”
I’ll have to think about that, but while I do, I’ll be grateful to the neighbors who never once complained about the yard when I was over my head with children and restoration. I will always be grateful to my best friend from first grade, who said, “After three, I just sit on the floor and play with them.”
-30- More after the jump.