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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Tidy Life

When I was a little girl I worked on embroidering a set of dishtowels for my mom. They had little designs on them, and they each had a day of the week with a chore. I think it was the 'Dutch Treat' embroidery pattern days of the week set--but I'm not 100% sure. Its been about 40years, so my memory is a wee tad sketchy. All I know is stitching on those little samplers impressed on me at an early age that certain days were for certain chores.

I was always in awe as a child, of my gramma's little apartments. They were older and lived alone, being widowed, so their homes were simply organized and their routines easily followed. It didn't really 'click' in my then young mind that maybe the reason things were so organized and tidy in thier homes, even the kitchen drawers and closets-- was they didn't have anyone going behind them making messes or any distractions like my mom did-- a full time job, husband, 5 kids,community involvements, bake sales, kids home sick, football practice, ballet class,cars that broke down frequently,running errands last minute etc. One of my grammas NEVER in her entire 90 year life even drove a car-(except from the backseat)- much less ever had to run all over town to get things done. Can you imagine? Yet, being young and having only seen my grammas in their old age, I set a sort of standard up for myself, one that was impossible to reach. I think because of that, although I always worked hard to 'get there' my ends always seemed 'untidy'. Sigh.. I could never say 'This is the rubberband drawer' with any real confidence.

Perhaps in some secret place of my soul I'm a frustrated perfectionist? One thing I do know, I always feel better in my days if I've gotten certain things done. I tend to get up and set things right in my little house, sort of like Miss Suzy the Squirrel in an old favorite picture book of mine. (Miss Suzy by Miriam Young) Miss Suzy would tidy her little tree house every day, sweeping the floor with her little twig broom, clean her little fire fly lamps and wash and put away her 2 little acorn cups. All was well with the world so long as she could do these things each day and then lie down at night and see a million stars out her window. When some rambunctious red squirrels came and upset her house and chased her away--she moved into an old doll house and began to set it to right too, just as she had her little house in the old oak tree. She adopted a little set of toy soldiers, cooking & cleaning for them and reading them bedtime stories. All Miss Suzy needed in life were some folk to care for and a little house to tend. ~smile~

Sometimes I have felt like poor Miss Suzy when the red squirrels came-- nerves undone and at a loss how to respond until I could see my duty more clearly and get my bearings and set things to right again. Thankfully the red squirrels in life generally do not keep the upper hand for long.

In any case I love a tidy little lifestyle. It will never be so tidy as Grammas, I have long ago realized that the ideal of having one day of the week for laundry is simply not realistic. I do not have a whole day to do laundry all day. Also-- these days the 'standard' for personal hygiene is far different than it was in gramma's day. You can't just go around in same stuff every day but Sunday anymore. In our favor, we have better equipment and supplies so laundry can now be squeezed into smaller parts of our days and still get done before it is needed.

I am not a 100% creature of habit like the grammas and Miss Suzy, but I lean heavily that direction.I like to be home for the most part and getting this or that done and enjoying a general pattern in my days. I like visiting with folks over the fence, briefly--and seeing relatives generally for a few days is plenty. I'm perfectly contented to just sit and watch the birds play in the garden.

Life could always be a little tidier I think. Isn't it great that there are folks who prefer to make tidying up their mission in life?

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