The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Photo: Bookshelves in need of a tidy

Photo: Bookshelves in need of a tidy

I’m not one of those people who were born to clean and tidy. When I was asked to clear up my bedroom as a child I would pretend that I was the maid of the spoilt princess who lived there. By turning things around this way, the task became much more fun and I would ohh and ahh over her slovenly ways.

Today it is raining and I have decided that Princess Fiona needs to employ her maid once again. The kitchen is in an uproar and the larder needs a good spring clean. In fact if anyone dropped by I’d be too embarrassed to let them in. Wellington boots jostle with bags of dried rose petals, books, letters, crates of diabetic dog food, freshly laundered towels and bowls of drying pomanders.

Both Danny and I excel at the art of creating a pile. These can be huge rather dangerous affairs that make eating supper on a tiny square of the kitchen table quite exciting. In fact Danny remarked yesterday that we could declare the cottage was an installation celebrating untidiness and then even the tidiest of visitors would be impressed with our skills.

The only time that I enjoy sorting out mess is when I’m feeling really down. Once I lost my job and returned to the cottage in despair. The first thing that I did was to reach for the vacuum cleaner, which after a few satisfying swishes promptly blew up. Even I had to laugh through my tears.

Another time Danny and I briefly split up. I instantly searched for my rubber gloves (still in an unopened packet under the sink) and cleaned and tidied for two whole days. A friend dropped by and goggled at the glistening surfaces.
“So Danny was the messy one!” He said as he gingerly sat down on the freshly plumped cushions.
“Well not quite. To be fair.”

I do know where most things are in the mess and like a blind dog I am fine until something is moved. But eventually the rare day dawns when I can’t cope with living in a jungle anymore and I tackle the swathes of clothes and books and discover things that have been lost for weeks. At the moment I’m desperate to find our carving knife – even I was surprised that we could manage to lose that.

The Min Pins do not like me in cleaning mode. They are frightened of the vacuum cleaner and hate their beds being washed. But once I’ve caught the cleaning bug I fire on all cylinders and for a while we bask in an uncluttered world.
“We must try and keep this up. Just do a little everyday.” Danny beams.
But we never do.

I do like things to be clean (I’m a Virgo after all) but the tidy fairy didn’t attend my christening and by all accounts avoided Danny’s too. Perhaps in the 1950’s these fairies noted that Virgos were just too squeaky clean and decided to release a few untidy ones into the world to mess things up a bit.

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  1. Im a virgo that works full time whose stay at home (male) partner is a Libran that doesnt see mess or even dirt.. it makes me nearly homicidal.. I did say nearly..

  2. MaryHS in Central CT

    I’ll second Natasha on flylady. I have to mentally “turn down the volume” a bit because I’m not as relentlessly cheery (to say the least), but I have found her ideas useful.

    The website’s a bit …busy… so I tend to surf over here when I have less time:


    Try flylady for keeping your house better – it sounds mad but it really works, and I only follow bits of it, just don’t have time for rest – but shine my sink, do daily bathroom swish and swipe, have before bed routine and do 15 mins housework a day. It has changed my life with no extra work. Tip: get the emails in digest form.

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