homekeeping and envy

I was over at Stefanie Japel's blog yesterday, whiling away time when I should have been working or prepping the Valentine's Day repast.

Oops. Did you notice that word, "should"? That guilt-laden, auxilary verb that sends us scurrying around the house and through our email and into the gym and therapist's office? Should be thinner, richer, more accomplished. Should work harder, smarter and faster. Should blog, tweet and FB. Yes, and while, we're at it let's tat some doilies, raise our own hogs and make some blue cheese.

Stefanie's post about The Gentle Art of Domesticity--a book that makes you want to crawl under its covers and tuck yourself in--brought to mind times when I've longed for the green grass on the other side of the fence.

Years ago, a friend of mine began a relationship that ignited like fire starter. Every moment crackled with electricity and portent, fueled by distance and new passion. Her new lover even said to her, "Just being around you is a sexual experience."

Hearing these stories about their incendiary new love made me jealous. At the time, Mitch and I were learning to live together, so the scales had fallen from our eyes. We were embroiled in the messy business of sorting out laundry and money and household chores and I remember looking at Mitch and thinking, "Hmmmmph."

Nine months later, my friend's enthusiastic lover would cancel their wedding, one month in advance of the event, leaving her heartbroken and in possession of a beautiful, expensive wedding dress. (The story did have a happy ending. The couple repaired their relationship and married a year or two later.)

I offer this tale because appearances can be deceiving, and blogs are all about appearances. Jane Brocket's house may be cuteness incarnate, but for all we know, it could be colorful chaos, with quilt quarters and yarn and flour tailings on every surface, and Mr. Gentle Art of Domesticity wishing for a a brown Barcalounger and some good old bangers and mash.

The point is: We don't know. We don't know the reality of Ms. Brocket's life. We don't know her sorrows and her difficulties. Maybe she can't properly coddle an egg or is lax about cleaning up after the cat or hates swabbing out the loo.

Anyway, I wanted to give Ms. Japel a hug and say, "Look at you! With your books and your fresh eye for design and your PhD and your beautiful family. Girl, you got it going on." And, so does Ms. Brocket.

By the way, you all really should make this Caesar Salad. We were licking the plates last night.

Ta!

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