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Day 448: Productive Lazy Sunday

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Oxymoronic, ain't?

pro-cras-ti-nate - v. To put off doing something, especially out of habitual laziness. To postpone or delay needlessly.

I have another dictionary that defines procrastinate as "to put off or defer until a later time; delay." Sounds less harsh than "habitual laziness," to my mind.

Possibly I already have posted something about this - if so, my apologies for the repetition, but it may serve to show how much the idea is running through my thoughts. A week or so ago a fellow Sparkler sent the following to me: "What you do when you're procrastinating is what you should be doing with life."


I castigate myself so often for postponing the inevitable: dusting, cleaning, balancing the checkbook, filing forms and meeting deadlines and running errands. I don't like to think of myself as "habitually lazy" (horrors!) but I am not the most timely of people.

My mother is a lousy housekeeper - oh, it's no secret. We've all known for years, and she'd be the first to admit it. The Department of Health wouldn't condemn her house, but her living quarters are certainly - well, lived in. (Maybe that should be "well-lived-in.")

Almost any level surface has papers, quilting, books, crocheting, magazines, you name it. Her computer monitor (oh yes indeedy, even into her 80s she's au courant) rises above the sea of detritus on her desk, and if it weren't for a shallow pull-out shelf underneath where the keyboard and mouse reside, I suspect they'd be engulfed by ephemera.

Her mother, on the other hand, was neat-as-a-pin tidy. Gram's refrain was "It'll just take a jiffy--" to clean up after supper, to hang some clothes on the line, to dust or vacuum or mow. She wasn't OCD about it, just cheerfully bustling, willing to do what needed to be done in order to earn leisure time.

I used to wonder how my mother ended up so far from her own mother in her approach to the mundane busy-ness of the household. Perhaps this is one of those traits that skips a generation.

During WWII, my grandmother and my great-aunts all worked "on the homefront," leaving early in the morning and not back until suppertime. My mother and her cousins were mostly elementary-school age, and after school or on holidays would gather at their grandparents' house until parents came to collect them. More often than not they'd all end up staying for supper before heading home.

My great-grandmother* always enjoyed having kids dashing in and out, and never minded coming up with a meal to feed the multitudes - likely she was long since used to it. She'd raised six of her own, and it seemed as though there was always one or another (with spouse and sprouts) staying with them, so cooking was no doubt part 'n' parcel.

Dusting wasn't, though. Nor floor-scrubbing. Dishes and clothes were (so they tell me) pretty much washed on an as-needed basis.

Was she lazy? Perhaps I'm biased, but I think not - we're talking 140-head dairy herd, an acre or two of truck gardens each year, ice-cutting and hay-baling and a profitable sugar-bush. Beside all that, housework probably assumed a low priority.

My mother says most of her memories of her grandmother involve activities like playing games, working jigsaw puzzles, sledding and ice-skating and maple snow in winter, picking blackcaps and swimming and homemade ice cream in summer.

And always, there were books - before her children, and subsequently her grandchildren, and eventually her great-grandchildren, could read for themselves, my great-grandmother read aloud to them. It's been over fifty years, but I can still hear her voice reading "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" and nursery rhymes and (especially, her own favorites) Baum's Oz stories.

At some point in her day, Great-Gramma would head off to fix supper - meals, like milking, don't wait. More than one family member has told of coming into the kitchen to find their mother / grandmother / great-grandmother perched on a stool next to the range, a long-handled spoon in one hand and a book in the other, mechanically stirring away but totally engrossed in a story - the consummate reader.

It's for this reason my mother always quotes her grandmother: "Some things are more important than housework."

Mmm hmm... ain't they just?

Procrastinating? Nah, I don't think I am, really. I'm just doing what's more important.

Have a good'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!

*I've written of her before - if you'd like to know something of my great-grandmother's background, this link should take you there:


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wonderful blog! My mom has always been neat-as-a-pin. I was neat to the point of OCD in high school and college but then married a slob and gave birth to 3 slobs. Somehow, they have converted me (along with anti-anxiety meds). There will always be housework--but the kids only have a few more years here at home. Lots to do that make better memories than scrubbing the floors (onto which the dog immediately drags dirt and leaves, snow and rain).

    Thanks for a great blog!
    2857 days ago
  • POPSY190
    I think some things, like housework, are definitely procrastination-worthy!
    2858 days ago
    I was JUST having this conversation with my mother last night. I personally like 1 day of the week where I do only what I choose. It usually means do nothing chorelike except maybe laundry (really the washing machine does the most work) and perhaps dishes (if I don't have any to eat off of!). I love this day except for the nagging guilt I have. I should be doing my taxes, exercising, dusting, vacuuming, something or anything other than enjoying myself. This is a hot topic for me and one I have to work through. Is it so bad to sit and relax and let the wind take you where it may?

    2858 days ago
    I love the friendly, warm tone you have when you write "stories"... I totally agree on what is important, still I have that mental handicap of feeling guilt and shame for procrastinating papterwork, cleaning etc. and as I am really really good at organizing as very practical and quick, it disturbs me that I havenĀ“t got this sorted out in my life. It takes a lot more energy to worry and feel anzxiety over it than to actually do it...
    2858 days ago
    emoticon Thank you for this Blog and for the Background Info on your Great Grandma! I love to read your Stories!!
    2858 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon Thoroughly enjoyed this blog on so many levels.
    2858 days ago
    You're just fun to read !!! Love it !!!
    2859 days ago
  • KENWANNE2013
    I agree with your mum's/gran's quote and subscribe to the idea that 'a tidy house is a sign of a wasted life'...

    Your mother would feel at home at my computer desk (most of the time). The main time it gets tidy is when I have something really urgent to do e.g. a report...THEN I get desperate urge to tidy... emoticon
    2859 days ago
  • SROUS1340
    That's a wonderful story Kaseey, thanks for sharing it on a lazy Sunday morning...
    2859 days ago
    I love this story.It was great.Also the other one
    Housekeeping has never been a top priority for me either. My feeling is that if it doesn't get done today it will still be there tomorrow. emoticon I have gotten to be better but will never like it like some woman. I don't have the shopping gene either.
    2859 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Now if only this generation could learn how to live, survive, prioritize, they will remain ahead,, otherwise, other countries will zip past them, leaving this country in the dust.
    2859 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this story...I enjoyed it. Your great-grandma knew what was important to her and focused on the things she loved...children and books. I agree with your mom "some things ARE more important than housework"...and unfortunately, housework always waits for you. emoticon
    2859 days ago
    I know I don't have this perfect but I love the sign that says They will only be little for a short time, and the housework will always be there----on the same line as your blog. And so true---some things just will pass us by if we don't do them---and no one ever says on their dying bed, "I wish I had cleaned more"
    2859 days ago
    You write beautifully!

    I've been reading lately about how some of us replace activity by food, and I read your description of days gone past. I think of my parents describing their lives - my dad was pulled out of school at 8 years old to work the farm - and it's no wonder we find ourselves bored and looking to replace some unknown "something". Procrastination - not in your great granma's day, but now? I have to admit that I have become a procrastinator over the years. It's one of the things I'm working on!
    2859 days ago
    Procrastinating? Or prioritizing? It's a matter of attitude!
    2859 days ago
    2859 days ago
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