Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tedium in homemaking....

Tedium is the granddaughter of despondency, and the daughter of slothfulness. In order to drive it away, labor at your work, and do not be slothful in prayer. The tedium will pass, and zeal will come. And if to this you add patience and humility, then you will be rid of all misfortunes and evils.
~St. Ambrose of Optina

Thanks to Gladsome Lights for the quote. 

Normally,  I'm not easily bored at home.  I love being at home and I would rather be home than a thousand different places, but today was one of those days when Tedium and Sloth Sisters showed up.  I have a list of things that I need to do all written out and stuck to the frig with a magnet, but today all I could do was to look at it, grab a cookie, and walk on by.  I didn't feel like cleaning, but since when do we only have to do what we feel like doing?  Did my Lord command me to love others if I feel like it or show hospitality only when I feel like being nice?  

I decided to ignore my feelings of tedium and tackle the living room.  I set 4:00 as my quitting time and then I would reward myself with coffee and cookies.  I washed walls, shined the picture glass, pulled out the furniture and vacuumed.  I washed the windows inside and out,  and let me tell you it was a chilly 30 degree day standing outside on the step stool with wet rags in my hands!  The more I did, the more I wanted to do.  I accomplished everything except shampooing the carpets which I intended to finish tomorrow anyway.  My afternoon  coffee was extra-delicious and I felt so much better having knocked off another thing from that To Do List.  Old St. Ambrose was right.  Labor at your work and zeal will come!

While sitting with my cuppa Joe, I began reading a book that my daughter-in-love brought by called Country Living Simple Country Wisdom.  Now this book does not really have anything "new" in it that we haven't heard about before in the realms of homemaking, but still, I enjoyed paging through it and gathering a few new-to-me tips.  And you know what?  I was further inspired to do a couple more things in my home that had been neglected.  I descaled the coffee pot and the tea kettle and dumped the boiled water down my kitchen sink along with some baking soda to freshen it.  I took the screens off the window over my kitchen sink and washed the glass.  It's that time of year when I won't put the screens back up since the cold temperatures keep the bugs down and I can enjoy looking through clear glass with no screen obstruction.  There is something wonderful about looking out through clear, clean glass that makes me feel more connected to the outdoors and less confined.

I really appreciated this quote from the book on cleanliness:
The world makes a lot of demands on us.  There's always something that needs to be done, someone we need to make time for, an item to pick up here and another to drop off there....and often, at the end of the day, any number of to-dos and should-dos are already casting their shadow over tomorrow.
Your home should be a refuge from all that.  The "shelter" in the food, clothing and shelter equation means more than mere protection from wind and rain or a place to stow one's belongings.  It also means shelter from the stresses of the greater world, a little oasis where we can relax, pursue our own interests, and share time with those we love.
 I don't know about you, but it is really difficult for me to pursue my interests or start a new project when my home is really out of order or if I'm not tending to the main business that I need to be doing .  I'm not talking about simple "signs of life" messes, but rather things that really need to be done like sweeping a filthy mud room floor, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, picking up the accumulation of stuff that seems to pile up on the counter by the phone or putting away the last load of folded laundry. Just a wee bit of tidying up can set my mind at ease to focus on other things or the people in my life.  Does that mean I can't do anything unless my house is spotless?  Absolutely not.  I'd never sew a stitch if I had to live that way.  But for me, if there is a reasonable orderliness in the home, it sets my mind at ease to enjoy things like embroidery, doing handicrafts, baking, or reading a book.

Today as I was looking at two boxes of apples that a hunter brought to me as a "thank you gift," I began to wonder what my homemaking responsibility was concerning them -- the apples, I mean.  They were nice apples, but the majority of them were the size of a golf ball.   I was truly delighted to receive the apples and I have cooked with them and shared them and frozen them, but now I am ready to throw them to the chickens and be done with it all.  I did peel and slice a lot more apples for the freezer this afternoon, but I began to wonder:   when is enough enough?  I hated to waste.  I hate to throw away, and I wished for  a Bible verse that said, "Once you've peeled and sliced and made all the apple sauce and apple butter you can possibly want for an entire winter, it's just fine to toss the remaining apples to the chickens."  I know it's not in there because I've read The Book, but while I was pondering the dilemma of too many apples, I was reminded of this particular verse from Ecclesiastes 3.
There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven......(v.6)  A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
THANK YOU GOD!  There IS a time to throw away!  Well, today is not the time to throw the apples away, but instead, it is the time to put them in the garage until they rot  to eat fresh while they last or to use in an apple centerpiece or to throw at the deer when they come traipsing through my yard.  Surely those little apples have more uses before they are thrown away, but at least I have given myself permission to do so at the appointed time.  

Homemaking is not all about cleaning or making the bed with hospital corners (although I know of no other way to make the bed) nor is it about how many jars of applesauce is needed before the lady of the house decides to throw out the apples.  But I have found that homemaking is about learning to balance life realistically between clean and dirty, between making do and doing without, between good and good enough, and mostly it is about making Home a peaceful refuge for the weary soul and the place where somebody is waiting for you and will be glad you've come.

Just try to be angry with someone who fed you something delicious.
~Judge Dunwoody 


  1. You've motivated me to take a different look; thanks.

  2. I enjoyed this Jody, and you even gave us the motivation we need--home as an orderly refuge from the endless to-dos.

    And I love that you found justification for throwing away the apples in the Bible!

  3. I was given a friend's part of a CSA when she moved. I couldn't use all of it before it started to spoil and I found it SO hard to put in the compost pile.

    What was a gift actually brought guilt but I soon came to realize it was okay to "throw away" some of it. I'm sure the compost pile will appreciate it. :)

    I had a little more appreciation for packrats.

  4. You just fed me something delicious. I loved your musings, a perfect blend of the kind of encouragement and coming-alongside I can use from time to time. And I like the part about throwing the apples to the deer or the chickens, which is not wasting anything at all. I often wish I still had chickens just for that reason.
    Thanks, Jody!

  5. This is a post I needed to read this morning. Thank you!

  6. I'm sitting here reading and nodding in agreement. I really enjoyed this post and the quotes and thoughts you have. It is so true that getting up and tackling the task has a way of inspiring you to keep going. Love that last quote!!

  7. My home-making heart loves posts like this - I just wish you could come over and inspire me to clean my living room like that. We could do it together - it's much more fun to work and visit at the same time.

    I've found it to be true - just getting at it, whether we feel like it or not, is really half the battle - whether it is housework or music practice or homework or a project we're dreading.

    I do my very best cleaning when I'm a little (or a lot) mad about something - oh my the floor really shines :) Unfortunately, or fortunately, I rarely get mad about things these days :)

  8. Wonderful, wonderful post and something I need to hear. I always think of my MIL who keeps an immaculate home. She told me she was sorry and wish she had played with her children more. This always help keep homemaking in a good perspective for me xoxox Clarice

  9. Full of wisdom, Jody!! I've got some apples that need throwing away too and I even picked them!! I just don't have a place nor room in the fridge to keep them crisp. I am going to make one more pie though with 1/4 cup flour!! ;)

  10. Mary,
    Sometimes it helps to look at things from a different angel doesn't it?

    I'm glad I found justification for those apples too!

    I guess when we feed our tired produce to the chickens or the compost pile, it isn't wasting.

    Gretchen Joanna,
    My husband asked me just last night what would I do with my scrap bucket if I didn't have chickens? I don't know how I'd manage without chickens to eat my overflow and my scraps. I'm glad you got a tasty feeding today!

    I'm glad this was "just" what you needed. I needed to write it.

    Ellen B.,
    The last quote was my favorite too.

    Island Sparrow,
    I'd love to come clean "with" you. It seems to be more fun and the time goes much faster when there's someone to talk to as you accomplish a task.

    Storybook Woods,
    I had a mom who cleaned ALL the time and I had it in my head that I was not going to be that kind of homemaker. I like my kids too much to miss out.

    One more pie! Yes! And I'm glad you discovered that a little more flour makes the pie less runny. Now go throw out those apples when you're done! (I'll feel better)


  11. What an inspirational post! I often have days where I just don't feel motivated to do my housework, but once I force myself to get started, I'm so glad I did. This morning I have so much to do, but I'm resisting. Having read your post, I'm ready to get going--thanks!


  12. Glad I am not the only one. We had our first freeze last night and I have green tomatoes that I would love to let rot...but I guess I won't. Ha

    Off the subject...where did you get your tea towels for your embroidery project? I picked some up at Wallie, but they are cheap and pretty thin.


  13. Enjoyed your thoughts eXpressed so beautifully here. The quote from Judge D. is priceless! I loved Mrs. Dunwoody's book (library copy) and have it on my wishlist.

  14. Bravo, Jody! This is just beautiful, and so down-to-earth real and inspiring!

    Thank you,

  15. Frances,
    I'm glad I could inspire you a little.

    I buy excellent quality flour sack dish towels from They're about the same price as Walmart, but SO much nicer. They last.

    I loved the Judge Dunwoody. comment too. Mrs. Dunwoody's is another fun homemaking book I love to dabble in.

    Glad you stopped by. Real life can sometimes be inspiring, can't it?


  16. I found your blog by doing a search on the Country Living Book Simple Country Wisdom. I've been wanting to purchase this book but I wanted to see what others were saying before doing so. Another book on my wish list is the Mrs. Dunwoody's book that you also mentioned in this post. You found both of these books useful?

  17. Amber,
    I've been a homemaker for 28 years so the Country Living book would not be one that I would buy at this stage in my life. My DIL is 25 and even she thought it was "homemaking lite" if you know what I mean. The Mrs. Dunwoody book is great fun to read and shows homemaking at the turn of the 19th century. Old-fashioned hospitality and courtesy abounds in this book.

    One book that I have found helpful with the science of homemaking is Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. I continually refer to it even after all my years as a homemaker. I have given it as a gift to young brides. It's excellent.

    I hope this helps you with your decision.


  18. Hi Jody! Great post--I could very much relate to it and was inspired by it as well.


  19. Jody, I can't see that American Chair has dishtowels any longer. Do you know of another source for good ones?


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