Thursday, May 27, 2010

The good life

One of Joni MItchell's relatively early songs begins like this:
Papa's faith is people
Mama she believes in cleaning
Papa's faith is in people
Mama she's always cleaning
When I first heard this (opening lines of 'Let the Wind Carry Me' on For the Roses), I related to it at once, but on further reflection I think my own version would go
Papa's faith was Mama
Mama she believed in people (also cleaning)
Not only have I not inherited my mother's genius for good housekeeping, which she combined with a firm belief that everyone was Christopher Robin till proven guilty and which provided a husband and three children with clean, quiet, orderly comfort, good meals, clean clothes and good health on a daily basis for quarter of a century, but I have reacted the other way and tend to live in squalor. I haven't yet been dug out from under a pile of garbage like those people in the news yesterday, and care is taken in bathroom and kitchen, but I live a paper life and most of its detritus is in tall, dusty piles around the house. Ma really did believe that cleanliness is next to godliness and I fear that by her standards I am far from being a good person.

The very entertaining Robert Dessaix was talking at Adelaide Writers' Week earlier this year about the way that writers he's written books about -- Turgenev, André Gide -- thought it was important to live a good life. Not the good life, as in wine, women and song, nor yet the 'goodness' of church on Sunday and no sexual irregularities please, but what Robert called a beautiful life, one with depth and content and meaning.

Here at Chez Cat Hair today, a good life would consist of the following:

1) Get weekly copy written and filed ASAP and vow to catch up and stay caught up with proper deadlines.

2) Visit father.

3) Plant tulips.

Finishing and filing the copy is vital. No excuses, no shortcuts, do it now.

If I don't actually visit my father, I will at least be calling him for a long chat as per our weekly routine, which I think suits him more and more as he gets older.

Perhaps I'll put the tulips in the fridge to get properly cold before they go into the temperate Adelaide earth.

Note no mention of vacuuming.

I really want to do the vacuuming. It's just that I think the deadline, the father and the tulips all matter more.

12 comments:

Mindy said...

Three posts this morning! Are you procrastinating Dr Cat, or just letting your thoughts marinade? I hope the weekly phonecall finds Papa Cat hale and hearty.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Procrastinating, of course, but also finding a lot of things to think about. Tx for good wishes to Papa Cat!

Lucy Sussex said...

I planted my tulips yesterday after a month in the fridge.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yeah, yeah. Some of us are organised, and some of us are not.

The Adelaide ground is still a bit too warm. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

elsewhere said...

I've inherited the squallor gene directly, unfortunately (tho it is kind of alphabetised squallor at times).

Mitzi G Burger said...

Vacuuming sucks.

fred said...

Thoughts on cleanliness
If a cluttered desk shows a cluttered mind, what's an empty desk show?

Anthony said...

"I planted my tulips yesterday after a month in the fridge"

I bet you were glad to get out of that fridge and into the garden.

"Vacuuming sucks"

Tish-boom!

Elisabeth said...

What do you want to have written on your grave stone?

'She kept a neat house', or 'she wrote good books'.

I'm with you in the squalor. Let's enjoy it while we may.

Anonymous said...

Yr cat hair is less disgusting than the dog hair that adorns my hacienda, Dr Cat, and I never even ordered the tulips to replace the ones the dogs dug up and ate last year, so can only rely on the ones that survived (thanks to attractive chicken wire decoration) and the cold earth here for whatever 'display' I am likely to get. I'm not vacuuming either.
Tyaakina
wv "boxes" - how weird is that?

JahTeh said...

I would vacuum but the floor has things on it that need to be picked up.
I would iron but the cat is sleeping on the clean washing and I'm a great believer in leaving sleeping cats alone because they're not eating or wanting the door open.
I am seriously thinking of changing the bed linen but it's a serious thought and needs time to ripen into action.

David Irving (no relation) said...

You haven't seen squalor 'til you've seen my joint, Dr Cat. I take after my father ...