Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Accommodating the mess

A mess is only a mess to the person who is bothered by it. If another person is not bothered by it, then it is very likely that to them it is not a mess. Therein lies the difference between mothers and daughters and their attitudes towards the daughters' bedrooms.

If you think this is a mess you are a mother. Or have mothering tendencies.

Heaps of books! Heaps!!!!!! Books are for stacking on shelves or reading

And as for older girls - what is it with them and bags? Bags that contain so little - an empty water bottle; the labels taken off new clothes; a crumpled magazine and only ever one sock.These bags are never binned. They're a scented reminder of the shopping experience, scattered in flocks across the bedroom floor.

I moved into Littlest's room with my own bags to gather rubbish and paper. And rubbish and paper. And rubbish and ... several hours later, had filled the boot of the car. Just in time for the recycling centre to close. Grrr!

Anyway ... not too much 'Grrr!' as tidying is pretty therapeutic. Especially the finding-of-forgotten-treasures-bit of tidying. Like the missing number block from the learning clock, the blackberry charger so nearly replaced, the hole-punch, many, many odd socks, and all the animals for the Noah's ark. And the dump will be open tomorrow.

Now, if you think this is an improvement, you are either of a mothering disposition

or a delighted Littlest!

Of course, it is also true that perhaps the biggest attraction of tidying a room, that has long been a mess, is that it is an activity so engrossing that there is no time left for anything else. All those more urgent jobs get bumped down the ladder. Tidying is, in fact, a form of procrastination. Maybe, if I didn't find the mess 'bothering' in the first place, I wouldn't procrastinate/tidy later.Which leads me to the unsettling theory that an untidy person may be far better at getting things done because they don't allow themselves to be distracted by the mess around them and therefore don't waste time tidying up.

Sigh. Is this a manifesto for messiness?

Do I tidy my other daughter's room tomorrow? Or do I respect her busy life and accommodate her mess?

Sigh again.

Think I am now procrastinating about procrastination.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

An escapologist, friends and Happy Sundays

Escapology is the art of freeing oneself from confinement and an escapologist is one who practices this skill. In Bertie Baggins's case, the skill was practised four times yesterday. We were alerted to the first, when a neighbour phoned to say that he had been contacted about a yellow lab loose in the village and wondered if it was one of ours. It was, and a rather timid, 'I'm-a-bit-lost' and 'Golly!-I'm-so-pleased-to-see-you' Bertie Baggins was led home. Bravado returned on reaching the garden and he promptly showed us how he had escaped under the gate: commando style - belly scraping the ground, as he squeezed beneath the wire.

So we repaired the gate. And he appeared on the drive. Outside the gate.

So Littlest and I walked round the garden and found two holes in the fence. Which we repaired with chicken wire and bamboo poles - yes! it was a bit of a botch, but the light was fading.

We went to pick the last of the apples from a tree near the gate. And Bertie Baggins appeared on the drive. If dogs can smile, he was grinning. He was winning this game!

But not for long. Humans can be very bad losers, particularly dog-owning-humans at risk of losing their dogs. Tricked with a lump of bread, Bertie Baggins spent a stint in 'chokey,' while we went out with torches, in search of holes.

Another hole, another repair and a rather disgruntled Bertie Baggins. His career as an escapologist has been halted. So far ...

From chasing dogs to chasing memories. I haven't been back to any of my schools. I haven't really kept in touch with any school friends. I haven't seen any teachers. But I do read the newsletters that arrive annually and remind me that I once was young. Was school as intense an experience for us as it appears to be for our children? When they're not physically at school, they are in second-to-second, blanket connection with all of their friends - they tap away 'chatting' in the car, over breakfast, while they do their homework and in bed. Every detail of their life is captured in fleeting photographs and miniscule comments. They are masters of linguistic brevity, indignant ululation and gibberish. Theirs is a powerful community made strong by the relative technological illiteracy of their elders. I look at them and the bonds they have made with their friends and I struggle to imagine anything breaking them. Even if they move away, which I did, I suspect social networking will maintain relationships in a way that letters and wired telephones could never do. Or maybe I was just a very bad friend ...

Last night, after far too may decades, I had dinner with an old school friend. And it was great. In appearance, we had both changed (well, you would after that many years! And humiliatingly, I briefly didn't recognise him when he unexpectedly opened the door to us ... I really hope the delay in my eye-to-brain-to-aaah!-recognition reaction was of sufficient brevity for him not to notice). But what hadn't changed was the easy camaraderie of a shared past and common values born of common experience. We talked into the wee small hours and time passed effortlessly.

Another thing that is ffortless is the sharing of food with good friends

- wonderful purple carrots and red pepper to roast

- caramelised onion and goats cheese 'tart' or 'flan' prior to baking

and fruit for a pear, bramble and gooseberry crumble, before ...

and after pictures

"Effortless" because feeding friends doesn't feel like a hassle, I keep recipes simple and I cheat where possible (the flan/tart pastry was from a packet).

And also because Bertie Baggins and Four-legged-friend woke me at 6.10 a.m., so I had plenty of time.

Time and friends made for a very Happy Sunday.