mop

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I hate almost everything about this particular household task. Not almost anything as a matter of fact, but absolutely everything.

I hate the way that the mop flops about on the floor. It is too limp to scrub bits of dirt that are stuck to the floor and doesn’t lift the light bits of dirt that the brush couldn’t lift.
I hate the way that you clean the floor and it gets dirty again immediately, not through being messy but because you have just gone outside to the bin and it has been raining outside.
I hate the feel of it in my hand.
I hate the way when you mop in the gloom you can’t see the dirt and then when it is bright you can see the dirt you missed.

the joy of burnt food on oven rings..

carbon

Any joy I ever felt for chemistry disappeared in the lecture halls and laboratories of the Keir Building, Queens University, Belfast ¬†between the years of 1997-1998. It got lost in thermodynamic equations I didn’t understand, extremely boring university lecturers and disappointing chemical yields from fume cupboards.

And any joy I have for cleaning a burnt oven ring or burnt saucepan evaporates with each rub of the sponge and scrub of the pan. I do not enjoy cleaning oven rings.

So I felt a surprising amount of joy reading the following paragraph from John Stewart Collis because the black residue on the burnt oven ring or scraped from early morning toast is a small reminder and sign of the main building block of life, carbon.

It’s part of what makes you you and me me, of what makes life on planet earth life.

The trick will be to remember it next time I’m pissed off cleaning the oven..

‘It seems that carbon is the main staff of life. If we take anything to bits we find that it possesses carbon. The way to way take an organic thing to bits is to apply heat to it so that its more volatile particulars fly off. We all know what happens when we do this to bread or sugar or almost anything – we are left with the residue of carbon. So with plants, animals, or ourselves – we can all be reduced to carbon. It is odd that the stuff itself looks so inglorious, for this black substance which smudges the coal-heaver and the chimney sweep is the insignia of all that is most colourful on earth, responsible for the parade and panoply of the living world no less than for the glittering of the diamond’

John Stewart Collins, The Vision of Glory

reflection on peeling spuds


Our lives are so busy and ambitious that we often look down on the menial tasks such a peeling potatoes. Often peeling spuds is beneath us, something from the soil that doesn’t really engage our brain and creativity, just a dirty ball of carbohydrate that needs work done to make it useful. I don’t have time for this, I’ve places to go and more important things to do than peeling some potatoes on. Will I stick on some pasta instead?

While peeling potato number 4 I was reflecting on how much work would be involved in peeling and preparing potatoes.
I had Wee Gran in mind, a lady of over 80 who would have much of her life preparing potatoes for the 11 children she raised and my grandfather.
Saying gran took 10mins for potato preparation and had potatoes 6 times a week that would be an hour in potato preparation per week.

That would be 52hrs of potato preparation a year. Gran has been peeling spuds for well over 50 years. Someone like my gran could easily have spent a working year of her life just peeling potatoes.

I guess that while I’m peeling these potatoes I’m wondering on whether our generation has undervalued the dignity and work in household chores or if our lives are just too speedy to even consider such things.