Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Gentle domesticity - a life in patterns...

I have to tell you that when I began reading this new chapter on "Patterns" my mind immediately thought of the patterns I regularly write after completing a new design, or the patterns found in fabric, in nature or those drawn by textile artists. 


But Jane begins this chapter by drawing our minds to the rhythms and rituals - 'the patterns' - of every day domestic life. 

"Domesticity requires a measure of patterning and order, structure and routine, for it to function smoothly. Unless we are happy to live in squalor, we accept that we must do certain things to maintain a pleasant domestic environment: cook, clean, wash, tidy, vacuum, shop, decorate, renew and so on..." (page 90)

Jane welcomes the internal rhythms and routines of life within the home, and I find much we agree on.

Reflecting on her thoughts in the opening of this chapter my personal 'patterns', routines and rituals were suddenly made clear and I thought I'd share some of them because I receive many emails asking "how do you achieve so much in your day/week?".

Let me first begin by saying that I genuinely do have a form of OCD and have all my life required order (visual and mental), daily routines, lists and structure. I'm the person who must play by the rules, the one who complains when others horse around during a game of scrabble/monopoly/cards (which always drove my husband and son crazy), the one who crosses off her list throughout the day and then makes a new list for tomorrow of all the things she missed today, the one who is diligent to put all things in their place because all things have a place. 

Now there are many challenges and quirks to my brain's way of coping with life but it seems that in the big scheme of domestic life, having these idiosyncrasies helps enormously when you're running a household and a home-based business.

Monday to Friday my morning pattern never alters. I'm up by 6am, pour a glass of water, read my Bible and generally 'wake up'.

At 6.30 I begin the rituals of making my husband's lunch for work and preparing two refreshing drinks for him to take along (one ginger and one kombucha); cutting up fruit for our breakfast bowls and gathering the cereal and milk; portioning our vitamins; filling the cappuccino machine with water and coffee beans before making coffee; and then serving breakfast out on the back patio at 7am. 
Whilst waiting for my husband to join me I top up the bird feeder and watch as anywhere from one to five cockatoos come down near us to share the first meal of our day.

Once my husband leaves for work things run to a simple pattern of doing the dishes, make the bed, shower and dress, put the washing on, check emails, write a list of need-to-dos for the day and so on.

Having a daily rhythm all week might seem suffocating to some of you, but for me it's fresh air and allows me to avoid that sense of overwhelm which can come about when life tips my schedule over or too many people need more of me than there is to go around.

Other peculiarities which help my day stay on track is something as simple as a regular 1 pm lunch break so that I remember to stop and take time to rest. 
This invariably consists of a curried egg sandwich, grapes and cup of black tea. Having the same lunch every day would not bode well for my husband but I like not having to think about it...

Patterns also flow into certain days of the week - Wash the dog on Monday, change the sheets on Tuesday and Saturday (we live in the tropics), do the groceries on Thursday, vacuum and mop the house on Friday...nearly everything has a routine attached to it so that chores don't pile up. 

By having these domestic living patterns in place time is freed to spend with Blossom and the girls each week and my business work can be attended to as needed. My husband also appreciates the ebb and flow of daily life here at home as this gives him peace of mind and marries well with his own rhythms and habits. 

"The patterns of daily, domestic life can be found mirrored in the gentle arts. All require repeated physical actions and an acceptance that doing things yourself is not always quick and easy. But they also have huge potential for satisfaction, self expression and freedom." (page 90)


Jane loves quilts made from squares. 
When she enlisted the help of her son Tom for the Blue Breeze Quilt he was rather skeptical of her fabric choices - all blue with many touches of yellow or lime green.

"The joy of squares, the one I see in the start of this quilt, is that their simplicity and formality can be exploited to bring together seemingly disparate and chaotic patterns into a pleasing whole." (page 92)

"Patterns with squares appeal enormously. Squares are neat and tidy, each one has exactly the same restrictions of size, angles ands space, yet they have huge potential for the exploration of pattern." (page 92)

Later that day, after baking and icing fairy cake buns for Tom...

"....I realised I was mimicking not only the square pattern of the quilt but also the quilt colours." (page 92)


"I'm still bewildered by gestation patterns...why, for example, does it take me nearly 365 days from the idea, the conception, of a pair of cabled socks to actually knitting them?" (page 94)

Jane also recalled how it took her five years to gestate her first quilt, the pattern purchased in 1999 and yet the quilt not made until 2004.

"The reason for these unpredictable patterns is that I like to turn ideas over in my mind before starting something new. When I was thinking of my first ripple blanket I thought about crochet, bought a book about crochet, tried to teach myself crochet, cried over my inability to crochet, went to a crochet workshop, bought a crochet pattern book, thought a little more about crochet, and then finally went and bought some wool." (page 94)

Everything that makes up a gentle domestic life - the baking, sewing, knitting, crochet, reading, organising, gardening and other pursuits - has a unique organic rhythm and pattern, though you may not have really noticed this in the past.

Over the next week let's observe ourselves to reveal the everyday patterns we follow.

Next week we shall be reading from pages 96-100

*  Is your life patterned with rhythms, routines, rituals? If so, what stands out as those which rarely change.

*  If you have struggled with disorder or dare I say it, chaos, in your home, has anything shared today given you a light bulb moment? What was it?

*  Perhaps you're someone who can wing-it in your domestic life. Are there still patterns within?

*  When it comes to the art of making or learning something different are you a gestator or do you jump right in?

Leave your responses in the comments below so we can all glean and grow from the knowledge and stories shared one to another.


My giveaway winner this month is April Dawn. Congratulations! I've emailed you and can't wait to post your prize.

Every week in the Tuesday book study post I'm encouraging readers and lovers of the gentle domestic life who have a current blog and have blogged about Living the Gentle Domestic Life this year to link their relevant weekly book study post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired. 
 Please do not link to the same post on your blog each week.  Your posts should be new and relevant to the current week's study.
NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 

God bless you all so very much!



Beth said...

You'll laugh when you hear that I've been planning a quilt for 21 years! I started planning it when I was 16. Back then I didn't have money to buy fabric, but I did make a plan of what my quilt would look like. My tastes have changed quite a bit since then, and what was going to be a 9-patch sampler quilt is now something quite different. I've now bought fabric - probably more than enough for 2 quilts - and have a completely different plan. There was a mini applique that my parents gave me of a lighthouse scene which will become the centre-piece of my quilt, then the rest will be a zig-zag quilt, representing the waves of the ocean. Now I just need to lay out my fabrics and start cutting and sewing!

Last year I spent time decluttering and managed, over the course of the year, to declutter my entire living space. Now it's more of a maintain and don't accumulate to much pattern. One helpful thing is the regular pink donation bag that gets popped in our mailbox. I try to have at least a few things in it that I have decided I no longer need, but know will still be useful for someone else. I often find that school holidays are my catch up on things time. Jobs that i just don't have time to devote to during term, I can spend a full day or half day getting done, without starting and only getting part done, leaving a mess during term time. Now one of my holiday jobs is to figure out a home for my copy of the book which I finally got my hands on!

Thank you for sharing, Jenny.

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Patterns, routines! Definitely! "put things back where they belong" tidy as you go, good lessons learned young.
weekdays are patterns, weekends a variation of the 9 patch! and every morning is great!
Some creative projects I jump right in while some do take longer. Which fabrics to use on which projects? One can just come together in a flash while the other sits. When does a pile of fabric and a pattern become a work in progress or an unfinished object if one hasn't cut any fabric?

Allie said...

Oh my goodness so much yes here - I do NOT function in chaos, everything must have a place and be in it. I can't get by without a routine and order. My most energetic time of day is early morning, so household chores like vacuuming really need to get done then, but with Sam sleeping til noon [works afternoons] I can't do the noisy ones, so my house suffers. He may be going on days soon [please Lord] so that will change...for the better. The external patterns in my life are not functioning well with my internal patterns at the moment, lol. Great post!

Deb said...

I love my order and a daily routine though as I have grown older I have learned to relax a bit and still stay the course. When I was raising my now grown son my daily routine was pretty much set in stone so much so that any interruption to my morning (ie. unexpected visitor) the rest of my day would feel a mess. It took thirty years to realize that my world didn't fall apart because of it. I am less rigid now but have a few must do's which include purging on a regular basis which I did out of the early days of apartment living and not having space for everything. My rule of thumb now is if I haven't used it in 6 months I won't so out it goes, this increased from every 3 months once I moved into a house. This rule applies to household items, many crafting items, and seasonal clothing. Everything is donated to various charity shops in my area.

I don't usually jump right into a creative project, I mull things over for weeks deciding on pattern, colors and fabric or yarn or whatever is needed. There are times when I see something and know exactly what I will make and usually it turns out just as I envisioned it.

lejmom said...

Oh My! I have the same OCD as you do, Jenny. I am nearly 72 and have been this way most of my adult life I think. I did not even realize it is a "thing"!! haha. I love being organized, and feel lost when I am interrupted! I have learned to relax more when adult children are here and grandchildren, too---but the minute they leave, I am a whirling dervish getting my home and life "reclaimed" and back in order!!! Love your words....thank you! Jane

Lin said...

I am finding that a daily list helps me to REMEMBER what needs to be done as much as anything, age and memory loss go together lol! I try hard to stick to daily routines for things like cleaning the bathroom and changing the bed but sometimes life gets in the way. I am always happy to be diverted though. Hope Rafaella is making good progress. xx

Anonymous said...

I have 3 young adult children who have all moved back home. My home is clutter ed and chaotic and I am not content. All efforts (cleaning table, setting out pretty placemat and fresh flowers) quickly get undone.
Your blog today has reminded me of a little chart I used to follow when kids were little and homeschooled. You've inspired me to return to it, revamped, to fit my life today. I've already been trying to get chores done before I earn my "sit and knit" time, but I believe a better organized daily routine (thus the chore chart) will help keep me on track. Thank you, Jenny
Love, Shelly B.

Tammy said...

I am both a gestator and a jumper in ...lol..It just depends on what it is. I am definitely a list maker and my life is very organized although my home isn't near as organized as it used to be. And I am gradually working on remedying this situation.Mondays used to be my bed linen changing days which seemed to somehow magically be on Fridays anymore.

DIGBY said...

I wish I could find some order to my life. Since I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2007 (I know that's a long time ago), I lost a big part of myself and I have yet to get it back. Unfortunately, it included my creativity and desire to make quilts, stitcheries, hand&machine embroidery, etc. I have tried over these long years to get some of it back but it has been a long and fruitless journey. Before I go to bed at night, I tell myself I am going to do this and this and this the next day. But come the next day as I struggle to drag myself out of bed, 99.9% of the time, nothing I wanted to accomplish gets done. I have the most wonderful husband who has done the cooking for most of our married life and has now taken over keeping the house vacuumed. With a cocker spaniel running around, that is extremely important. I do the best I can to accomplish little things at a time. But oh how I would love to have your kind of order, Jenny! I was never a wizard at housekeeping but I wasn't always as bad as I am now. I love to hear about your routines and try to get inspired to at least attempt to accomplish even just a small amount of what you do in a day. You are the ideal I strive for! Thanks for being you!

Su said...

I have to 'wing it' at home, I live alone with my dog and I work night shifts (only part time), so I have very little in the way of routine. My shopping is done almost every day, as I don't have a car and can't carry big loads in my backpack. I like to change my bedding so that I come home from work to fresh bedding, I certainly don't have set days where I do specific tasks, it just wouldn't work for me.
Craft wise, I can and do leap in and start something right away, but I also take great pleasure in planning my larger projects and collecting together the things I will need. My current 'in planning' project is a fair isle cardigan for myself, to replace a cardigan that is fast approaching the end of its useful life, it might be months before I cast on but I love this planning stage as much as the knitting.

knitster said...

I am finally to the point where I can catch up. I live by lists and order, flying by the seat of my pants does not work for me. https://wickedknitter1.blogspot.com/

Dee said...

I'm a planner, I have to do things just right on paper and work from there. My days have usually just one thing that must be done only on that day or I'm off. But it is nice to know I'm not the only one. Thanks for being you. Dee

matty said...

I ❤️ jumping in! I’m a feet first, pedal to the metal kind of girl.... which leaves me with a lot of UFOs... but I do finish a lot, too!!

Since I retired I have definite patterns, even though my watch retired too! The birds wake me by 7; dogs out, cats and birds fed by 7:15. Coffee on perking while I feed the dogs and clean the cat box... breakfast by 7:30... once the goats and cows are fed and hens are out, my days have a certain rhythm.... Monday, change beds, laundry, and clean the downstairs. Tuesday, clean upstairs..Wednesday, errands and grocery shopping. Thursday, bake. Friday, catch up. Saturday and Sunday, rest and do whatever is on the list... I work in the gardens nearly daily part of the day and do needlework at night...

We keep a master list of farm projects that we tuck around the dailies such as construction, maintenance, cutting firewood (and it takes a lot here in the NC mts.!), and so forth.

I love the agrarian “calendar” as there is such a flow to the seasons.... it is finally warm enough and the days are getting enough length that I feel buoyant and motivated....

Debby in Kansas, USA said...

I never saw my routine as patterns! As I started reading, I was imagining actual things like the eggs lined up in the carton! I never considered my schedules. My life USED TO BE very patterned and I was very happy that way. I always did things on certain days, at certain times, etc. Much like your schedule. Then life began throwing me some curveballs. My mom was in the hospital for 6 wks. and then we did home hospice. Life literally turned upside down. Without the details, let's just say I had several events right on the heels that left me floundering in chaos. I am still struggling to right myself from that. I so crave a regular routine again, no matter how much my friends tease me..."Oh, Monday is Tuna Melt night, isn't it?" Thanks for posting your routine because just reading it was like a lullaby to my soul! I smiled at your daily lunch and thought, "Ah, a routine soulmate!" Feeling a calming reaction to your daily life flipped a brain switch that told me to just start a routine tomorrow. Start with an hour in the morning, one in the afternoon, & one in the evening. That's only 3 hrs. to start. And do the same things daily in those hours. I suspect that even that much routine will calm my mental chaos & eventually the home chaos. I'm sort of an all or nothing person and feel that if I can't do everything, why bother? How's that for an OCD person?

I loved how she made a gestation connection to planning projects! I'm really all over the place for my projects. I can go crazy and have something planned and done in two days....or two decades!! I would probably always be a *Mouse Mama*, but am sometimes held back because I can't find something I've pictured in my mind or just because I don't have a money tree growin' in my backyard!!

Thanks again! I'm sure you can tell by my long posts that I'm getting a whole lot from these studies and I appreciate that you've done it.

Katie said...

I guess I just assumed that everyone else was like me with their routines, or patterns, for home chores. I'm not as structured as you (some days I struggle to get out of bed earlier than others - depending on what chores await me and what I like to call my hubby's "secret plans" that he springs on me after I've settled in for the day...and what crafty projects are in line for my reward!), but I do tend to settle into routines. The hubby keeps accepting positions on different shifts, which changes things up every few years, but in time I do settle into a new version of the old routine. I took for granted all the household chores my mom kept up with when I was growing up and laughed at myself in my first real apartment (after college, all on my own), when I felt "grown up" to be tidying up after myself - taking out my own trash and cleaning toothpaste spatters off the bathroom mirror - things I'd known were being done in the house I grew up in, but never really had to think about. It's been 20 years since I moved out, but I still grin at myself and that silly thought. Yet it's true, isn't it? It's nice to know I'm not the only one who, despite being able to grocery shop any day I want, still chooses Sunday. And laundry is always Friday so my favorite clothes are clean for the weekend!

Kay said...

I love organisation and lists. Monday is my favourite day of the week when I do my planning for the week and see what needs to be done when, I like to plan my food, my cleaning, my craft time, and everything else too from shopping, Rainbow Guides, my church class. I start the day by looking at my lists and writing a more specific one for the day adding things on to it. Lists keep my happy and I just can't function without them. x

Joyce said...

Like you, I have a daily list of what needs to be accomplished and I do certain things on certain days. Vacuum and dusting on Monday, laundry and mopping on Tuesday, etc. I also plan in a free hour or two to sew, embroider or read every day.

Karen said...

Loved this post. I have muddled some of my routines. I need them back.