The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Lists and laundry

Photo: Shirt

Photo: Shirt

I’m not a list kind of woman. Lists horrify me as they have a tendency to go on and on. Some mornings Danny sits down at the kitchen table and makes a list. By the time dusk has fallen several things on his list have been crossed off. Impressive.

I decided to do the same once. Danny was very enthusiastic. I added a handful of jobs that I had already done. I didn’t wait until dusk just crossed them off at lunchtime. He was stunned until he twigged that I hadn’t shifted from my chair.

In the past I’ve bought diaries and notebooks in a vain attempt to organise my time. They have been enthusiastically welcomed, received one or two entries and then forgotten. Leather bound books make great firelighters.

I used to remember all future dates in my head until one disastrous evening about 20 years ago. I was happily making cheese on toast when the phone rang. Bring, bringg, bringgg.

“We are just finishing off our cocktails and wondered if you’d forgotten our invitation…”
My mind whirled. Deep in the darkest shadows of memory the dinner party was lurking.

The problem was that this dinner party was in London and I was grilling supremo cheese on toast seventy miles away. I grovelled.

I was never invited again by this couple.

Forgetting the date was quite scary. My 20/20 mental diary and filing system had finally stalled.

Remembering the expensive diary firelighters, I didn’t rush out to buy another one. I now write very important dates on our calendar.  Danny looks at this most days and has been known to mention pertinent events. My old brain sill remembers the invitations that D has agreed to in an exuberant wave of beer and bonhomie. These are carefully written on the calendar so need not be mentioned.  Every few weeks there is a roar.
“We’re supposed to be dining with X at the weekend. Why?  I don’t want to go. .I’m not sure that I like them. I’m too busy. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I told you last month and you wanted to go. It’s too late now to cancel unless you are ill. As they live 50 yards from here blowing them out means leaving your car in the drive for three consecutive days from today. No driving to the corner shop or even walking.”

D loves the ‘corner shop’ in the village. Gossip and Galaxy dairy milk chocolate.

After an endless pause.
“I think that I’m just fit enough to go, if you iron my shirt.”
Smiles all round.

Thank goodness I invested in a couple of non-iron classy Charles Tyrwhitt cotton shirts for Danny’s Christmas present last year. I don’t need a list to remind me to always have these laundered and hanging on the bedroom door, ready to go.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello KarenO

    I’m always leaving our shopping list in the car too. If I manage to shop with a list I do save money as I concentrate on the list alone.

    Hi Chris

    I envy you. Perhaps with a list/lists I’d be more organised.

  2. Long live lists – I make them all the time, for everything – jobs, shopping, christmas, holidays-stuff to take. The list goes on and on!!

  3. I love lists – put it on paper and my poor brain can forget all about it. I also cross off as I go – very satisfying! The one I am laughed at for though is my shopping list. I write it, forget to take it, if I take it, I leave it in the car and if by some miracle it gets into the supermarket I forget to look at it!! Jobs lists though help organise the brain!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jan

    That’s me all over!

  5. great believer in lists, make them all the time but 9 times out of 10 forget to take them with me!!

  6. Danny Carey

    What an amazing bunch of tips and confessions, although I too admit to a warm glow at crossing things off a list (and, yes, I have added one or two achievements that were not on my previous list and crossed them off immediately – a quick win!).

    Michelle Sheets – that mirror tip sounds good but my shaving mirror is too small and the main wall mounted mirror . . . well, let’s just say it is out of bounds for scribbling. Great idea though. I once knew a guy who stuck his daily affirmations to his bathroom mirror. It only came to light when a gang of us friends ended up at his pad many years ago after a night on the town. The revelation was embarrassing to say the least. That was a very personal thing.

    Reminds me of an old Readers Digest anecdote about a guy who worked hard on memory techniques to memorise long lists. His wife handed him the shopping list one day when he was going to town on another errand. He spent 30 seconds memorising it, closed his eyes and repeated it flawlessly. Tore up the list. Returned 2 hours later having forgotten to do the shopping! I can relate to that guy 🙂

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