A machine for living


Our house is normally home to just D and me. Over Xmas it has housed my two sisters and my nephew. My father, who slept elsewhere, also attended daily.

At any time this would be a challenge to the household resources of sleeping accommodation, and for gathering, storing and preparing food and all the other incidents of what might broadly be called the consumption and excretion function of a house. At Christmas it was even more so.

One of my sisters has become a (quite unlikely, in view of what I know about her domestic past) champion of hygiene. As long-disused bed-linen has been pressed (though definitely not ironed) into service, remarks have been made. A towel was described as “manky.” To top it all off, cause was identified for what we hope was early intervention against nepotal nits.

This is the fourth time my sisters and my nephew have stayed with me in this way at this house, and I am grateful that my sisters do not presume on any dignity as guests. They both pitch in. I spot vestigial traits of my mother’s housekeeping. The sister who made the “manky” accusation, for example, has a particular zeal for hanging up towels to dry in the sun which I recognize as coming from our mother, even though it’s a habit I now only intermittently observe. Incidental to their pitching in, they make their own little contributions to domestic order. Some of these have just involved putting in order little often-overlooked spots or aspects; the most spectacular has been the finishing touches required to restore the back yard to its proper role as a living space. This transforms the house, and the extra space helps us cope with the extra numbers.

And of course, all the other functions of the household – laundry, tidying, cooking, had to be ramped up a notch or three. [Can you ramp up in notches? Just wondering, but too lazy to rewrite.]

There were temporary crises: in the picture above you can see the old Atomic coffee machine brought out from retirement when the espresso machine packed up shop. The one new year’s resolution I am prepared to disclose is that I have resolved to attend more regularly to that machine’s maintenance.

The storm has temporarily abated whilst my sisters and nephew travel to Canberra to spend time with father and step-mother. Our house as machine-for-living has coped with the load, but when I contemplate myriad other possible new year’s resolutions I can’t escape the conclusion that the most important machine for living is the one inside your own head.

9 Responses to “A machine for living”

  1. Neil Says:

    Love the last sentence. And the word “manky”. Well, the whole post is good… :)

    Happy New Year, Marcellous.

  2. Jim Belshaw Says:

    I agree with Neil, Marcellous. I really enjoyed the post. I loved the generational resemblances!

  3. ken Says:

    Good stuff, M, but gee, you are brave writing about family like that.
    I would not dare….

  4. Legal Eagle Says:

    My hubby does the towel hanging up in the sun thing. He’s dismissive of my towel scrunching habits. However, I’d say a fair few of our towels are…not precisely manky, but worn…

  5. Victor Says:

    I’ve developed my picture of you from reading your blog and the only thing in that photograph inconsistent with my image of you is the Coke can.

  6. marcellous Says:

    Victor, the Coke is bought for D. Some of the other objects are in fact sisterly but overall that’s quite an acute/accurate observation. Glasses also not mine but there will be some soon. I sometimes have to use D’s for fine print in poor lighting conditions or when I am tired.

  7. What I did in the holidays « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] front. Otherwise, up to last weekend, I have been immersed in the responsibilities of keeping the machine for living going whilst my sisters and nephew have been staying with me, off and on, since before Christmas. […]

  8. Mik Says:

    Could i use the picture of your coffee machine on my Blog? Thanks! http://www.flickr.com/stellabanana

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