Houseplants and Housewifery: Wk 13 – Day One

Even if S and I survive this process….and sometimes we both wonder if we will or if instead we’ll throw in the towel and move to somewhere warm and finished. But even if we do get through this….I’m pretty certain our house plants won’t.

Our palm, an Ikea buy a number of years ago which was thriving Triffidly in our last flat is now looking spindly and ill, its fronds crispy from lack of light, lack of water and an abundance of oxygen-stifling dust. Our peace lily is looking anything but peaceful….its leaves withered and lank left to fend for itself somewhere in a room we euphemistically call an office but which is actually just a glorified junk room within which a wire-entangled computer and unwieldy piles of paperwork messily reside. Our cactus I remember seeing about week seven, suffocating from sawdust in the snug. Ive not seen it since so can guiltily assume it perished ….unlike a bark bowl I have been persistently throwing into the skip but which seems to reappear Rasputin-like to haunt me with its ugly impracticalness. And our spider plant and its baby, replanted lovingly and neglected ever since, are both looking far less healthy than the actual spider we have in residence, last seen scuttling along one of our new utility doors but hailing from, I have no doubt, the mammoth web I spotted under the pink bath tub, it’s sticky strands thickened to an opaque white by the dust.

Despite its ominous size…a web that big surely has a fairly substantial inhabitant I concluded…the web wasn’t destroyed by a feather duster …correction…the loo brush…we lack even the most basic housewifery equipment such as tea towels, much to S’s severe annoyance, so glamorous objects like feather dusters and their coordinating feather topped mules remain on wish lists but most definitely not in cupboards…….but I digress. The web wasn’t destroyed until the spider and I met face to face a day or two later. My pleas to S to truncate its adventurous roamings around our utility cupboard fell on deaf, or rather placating, ears. I heard the “Yes darling. I will. I promise” but I did not hear the sound of the door and the ‘ouch!’ as the spider was booted unceremoniously onto its furry behind on our doorstep. So, determined to stop him in his tracks and squeamishly unable to deal with the living creature myself I cowardly opted to brush away his home. I am well aware, however, that the destruction of his web will not prevent him from relocating elsewhere..a spiders’ resilience to continuously remodel and rebuild his house acutely enviable at a time when our own energy to do the same is running at an all-time low. Right now even the cleaning…..dusting, hoovering and laundry….. are all jobs pushed into a corner of our lives to be conducted only when they threaten to burst the banks of our tolerance.

The current temporary kitchen, as I have oft documented, is in desperate need of another deep clean but the task feels so pointless….so utterly thankless….that it doesn’t get done and instead a superficial operation of sporadic washing up and a wipe down of the table is more regularly carried out. Tumbling boxes filled with paraphernalia clutter one corner, the baby’s formula, a fruit bowl and an Easter egg residing upon the bread bin meaning that each needs to be relocated when access to bread, a daily occurrence, is needed. This operation is sometimes done smoothly and calmly but more often than not is done with a curse and a thump, maybe even a throw. Fruit bowl finds itself on the floor, O finds the fruit bowl, O attempts to eat each and every one of the tangerines, peel on, in the nanosecond our backs are turned and the storage problem resulting in the whole sorry scenario is escalated to nerve jangling (dis)proportions. Adding insult to injury, O’s brief period sat on the floor illustrates clearly its desperate need of a hoover and mop by the apple shaped dustmark left on his behind …. if only those two pieces of apparatus could be located.

We have spent the long Easter weekend tantalisingly close and yet still so very far away from having a calm, functional home. We still enter the house and head automatically upstairs, away from what emotionally feels like a building site even if physically it doesn’t now look like one. This weekend we promised each other that would change.
We are going downstairs.

Whilst the reloaction to our new light filled kitchen promises space, storage and sunshine….it also offers, alluringly, the potential for me to go a bit ‘fifties housewife’ in keeping with the feather duster and mules look. So, on a gant chart style list of Things To Do To Get Us And the Houseplants To A Safe Haven By Friday – nestled amongst a serious list of practical tasks which include painting the ceiling, doors and shelves, booking the foreman to return for the final snagging and getting C on board for his essential role in the masterplan which involves fitting the drawers and doors and completing the plumbing – is the somewhat less essential task of purchasing ebayed rolls of overrated Cath Kidston florals and wallpapering the laundry cupboard. S has agreed, but only, he says, as it then means that from here on in I’ll be the one responsible for laundry. Be careful what you wish for….indeed.





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