Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's not like I solved world hunger or anything.

I spent last weekend visiting a friend I haven't seen since we were teenagers. It was great to catch up with her, and to get to know her children a bit. She's just learning how to knit, and we spent a lot of time talking yarn and needles as she worked on a pair of striped legwarmers for her little girl.

Her house is nice. It's an old, kind of rambling place with lots of crown mouldings and built-ins, and it's almost spookily tidy. The kitchen - you should see it. Every time she does anything in there, like makes a cup of tea or gets crackers for her kids, she's wiping down the counters and Vimming the stovetop. It was awe-inspiring.

On one evening, while we were discussing her husband's thinly veiled contempt for her new pastime (but he used the word "obsession") she made a remark like this: "It's not like I sit down and knit during the day, or anything - I'd never do that."

And it all became suddenly clear to me. All I'd need to do, to have a clean house like her, is NOT KNIT during the day!!! Breakthrough!!

When I got home, it was as I feared. My place looked like a tornado hit it, per usual, and even more so when compared with my friend's house, haven of peace and rest that it was. That very evening, I started cleaning.

Yesterday was my first full day at home with no obligations, since coming back from the weekend. I spent the entire day standing up, doing stuff. It was nice for a bit - the countertops were, for once, available for use, and the girls' room looked great. Bunkbeds made, and everything.

I felt pretty good about it all, until I got to the end of the day. I was totally exhausted and irritable, with dishpan hands, and I looked around me and realised that the whole thing was WASTED! WASTED! One whole day and not a THING to show for it. I mean sure, the dishes were done, but I could JUST AS EASILY have done those next morning. And really, a clean house, though an immediately measurable outcome, isn't a lasting one. Three other people live here, none of whom pick up after themselves, which means as soon as I'm finished cleaning something, they mess it up. If I had been crafting, though, no one would have noticed the lack of Clean everywhere, and I'd have something to hold in my hands that would be a mark of time well spent.

So I won't make that mistake again. Lesson learned.

And now I'm sitting here amid the disarray (didn't get to the living room, yesterday) with the kettle on and knitting in my lap. And it feels freaking great.

12 comments:

stitchin' girl said...

I am so totally with you sister!!!

stephanie said...

I must have learned something as well. Yesterday I spent ALL morning (yes, in the day time)seaming my completed striped legwarmer. It looks wonderful! The bathroom I planned to clean that day...not so much.

Shan said...

Stephanie: meh. The bathroom can wait. Plus 12-year olds are great at cleaning bathrooms.

Cynthia said...

I'm trying hard to strike a balance -- enough cleaning to give me that feeling of order, enough paperwork to keep our household on an even keel, and enough crafting / reading / focus time to feel like I'm really doing something that matters. It's a hard balance to find, but when it works it feels great.

kate said...

To follow on from what Cynthia said, that balance is different for everyone. Some people need an ordered space to function - clutter makes them panic (my mother is one of those). Others - such as you and I - seem to be able to function in the clutter. Neither is better, just where each finds balance.
And, while I am cluttered in my physical space, my work and money are always orderly :)

Brenda said...

My sister is the type that wipes down her kitchen whenever anyone so much as breaths in there. And every spot has it's place, nothing ever out of place. I hate my house whenever I return home from a visit, and initially I vow that I'm going to be more like her. It never last though. And of course she doesn't knit or craft, so what else is there to do? Oh, she is disciplined about exercise too, but what fun is any of that?

Rona said...

Were oh were is my agree button when I need it? I very much so agree with a bit of what everyone has said here. I have gotten to the point now that if the clothes are tossed into the hamper inside out then that is how they are getting tossed into the machince...I will not be turning them right side out anymore. It's not like any of them would notice anyways. I wouls way ratherbe doing anything but cleaning anytime anyplace just don't ask me to do the cleaning ;)

Bethro said...

dude. DUDE. As someone who would love to knit all day...DUDE

Ames said...

Little Red Hen, baby. Little Red Hen. What would she do?

lizbon said...

Hear hear! I was reading the account of her sparkling house, and her husband's nasty attitude toward knitting, and thinking what a huge waste of time all that obsessive tidyness is. Nothing to show for it, except exhaustion. Cleanliness is transitory, knitted items are forever. Or at least for a while. And anyway, when was the last time a spotless counter kept you warm.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Ah, padawan, you have discovered the true use of the force.

Gwen said...

I'm afraid to say anything at all.