Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Challenge!


Dear Readers,
As many of you know, I am pushing through with my novel 'True'. I'm also doing my work as a therapist and being a householder - man, kids, dog, chickens, garden, dishes and so forth. I suppose Elizabeth George and even Michael Ondaatje have some domestic duties from time to time. I know that one of my favourite authors - Margaret Drabble - wrote all her early novels while caring for young children. Those early novels are steeped in that atmosphere of nappies drying and obligatory casseroles burning. There is not much whiff of that in Ondaatje, I'll admit but still there is some - the little cabin in Devisadero where the lovers meet and certainly in his poetry. Sue Goyette, in her wonderful novel 'Lures' can evoke the day to day of family life illuminating it with a mystical atmosphere. Grace's mother cleans, crochets mindlessly and covers her furniture with plastic against the day that may arrive. In Sue's poetry, like Michael Ondaatje's, she looks at the family life with a divine microscope -from 'Regret and All Her Nightgowns (from the book The True Name of Birds):

Regret is a woman who watches her reflection
in soup spoons and still water. Whose every word
has long stalacite shadows craving desperately
for the ground. Your house, she says to me,

your house has too many empty vases, too many
silent phones She opens my window while I sleep
/

I love paintings of domesticity - the old masters with their laboured gatherings of dead game and apples and goblets on the groaning sideboard. Or studies of fruits and vegetables or the Swedish painter, Carl Larsson's elaborate portrayals of Swedish domestic life.

How can we, as creative humans, bring our domestic acts into intention? How can we know that when we set the table for a simple meal that we are like a priest preparing the host or the art director on a film evoking a mood? How can we elevate the humble to the divine or remember the ordinary magic which may and does infuse all of life?

So, the Friday Challenge, for those who dare to take it up, is to pay attention to something you do daily or often and bring your attention to it as a devotee to the art of householding might do.

12 comments:

Julia Kelly said...

"anonymous was a women" is one of my favorite books, with diary accounts of young women in the the 1700 and 1800 with pictures of their needlework, paintings and such. One entry is a little girl thinking of her fathers waist coat and wondering how many stitches it took to sew it, knowing one day she would be sewing one for her husband- pretty profound.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I will be thinking about that as I clean the house today!

Stacy Post said...

Excellent examples, Jan! Love it! How many times have I looked at my reflection in a spoon? (Not too many, but it intrigues me. I'll probably be spoon gazing later...) The poet, Li Young Lee, once spoke of the art of sweeping the floor. The intentional act of sweeping put him in the present moment and freed his mind of the past. (Or something like that.)

I want you to know that I enjoy your Friday challenges! Thanks for stopping by the blog too! Namaste!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

That poem hit a note with me. Thanks, Jan.

KarenG said...

Jan,

Beautiful blog here. So glad I found it! I love the world householder. Sounds so much better than housewife (ugh). I think I'll be busy householding tomorrow.

KarenG

Faith Pray said...

I'm seeped with strength from this post - the idea that we can lift humble to divine, mundane to masterpiece gives me joy just thinking on it. I shall be on the lookout for opportunities. Thank you Jan!

Jan Morrison said...

Julia - I will look for this book - I love that sort of journalling.
Diane - and I hope that your house sparkles as you do!
Stacy - yes, our reflections in spoons and the zen of being in whatever moment we find ourselves...
Elspeth - you would probably like all of Sue's poems - she's a wonderful writer and a Canadian!
She won the CBC poetry contest last year.
Karen - householder is a good term and it means more than a housewife - we are all householders unless we are students, children or monks...thanks so much for coming by.
Faith - thank you! And you can be sure to find the opportunities...

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love this Friday challenge! I just go through the motions most of the time, so this will help me be more deliberate!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Ann said...

Sorry I missed this one. Loved the poem. Also the new look.

Jan Morrison said...

Elizabeth - it is very much more enjoyable when you relish the process instead of the results! Anything to make housework fly by as quick as other things...
Ann - nothing missed - these go on and on with no time lines and no missed opportunities!

grrl + dog said...

indeed.

Making the mundane sacred. It's all about imtention, isnt it?

The other night I made the effort. Lighting candles over a fresh tablecloth, setting music and mood for a simple meal. One where you could exhale the day before picking up knife and fork.

Jan Morrison said...

Denise - exactly... I think of you moving into winter as we move into summer and how ordered by the natural world we are however separate we may feel. I like thinking of you lighting candles while I'm giving Hoagy his morning walk. And the chooks of course keep me in the now...