By Guinn Sweet
“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house,” Proverbs:21:9, KJV
One of my least favorite chores, when I was a kid, was gathering the eggs from the nests in the hen house. As one might imagine, considering my reputation for mischief, and wasting time, this was a lonely activity. When I grabbed the egg basket and started for the barn area, I was prevented from taking a book to read or anything else that would tend to take my mind off my duties. The job was not finished until all the eggs were gathered and placed in the egg crate behind the kitchen door. First, however, I was expected to spend a bit of time in the cleaning process. It was while I was removing the chicken “doo” from each egg, that I often philosophized about a creature who fouled her own production, along with messing up her personal environment. The hen just goes on about her “business,” stepping in it and then leaving a lot for others to step in, too.
It was not until years later however, when I was an adult and a homemaker, that I began to understand, somewhat, the chicken mind-set. As a young mother and keeper of the house, I found myself more interested in reading, eating or entertaining friends, than in carefully attending my home-making duties. Looking back, I can’t remember intentionally fouling my surroundings, or even doing naughty to my nest. I just adopted an attitude over the years that someone else would come along and tidy up the place. I was counting on my own personal “egg gatherer” to help me out!
One notable Sunday afternoon, a couple of deacons and their wives from a nearby Baptist church, paid us a visit to invite us to visit their church the next week. Still wearing my jammies and robe, I invited them in to our newspaper-strewn living room. Colon began flitting around the room, picking up papers and apologizing for the state of disarray (he simply called it a “mess”) to my chagrin. When the visitors shortened their visit a good deal and left, I started to tell him that he would NEVER apologize for my housekeeping again … and he quietly and sternly told me that he surely hoped not. I got the message!
Somewhere along the line, we were able to find a meeting place between “prissy clean” and “post-tornado,” for the living room, only! But I was never fully able to focus on having a house that looked better than it felt. I may have even been the originator of the “lived-in” look in home maintenance and care. I have honed, to a keen edge, the art of closet jamming and I hold the speed record for doing so. The Guiness (Guinn-ness?” Book of Records has yet to recognize it.
I can toss three pairs of shoes, a banana peel, this morning’s coffee cups and a two-day-old plate of macaroni and cheese into a closet and have the door closed while unexpected guests are walking from their car to the front door. I have loaded the dishwasher with dishes from breakfast and lunch, as yet not scraped clean, into one already loaded with last night’s dinner things which may be washed. I am not sure of the time record for that, because the noise of the silverware’s crashing together may have distracted my timing sense. Similar things happen in the bathroom. With clothes hamper running over, a good place to put the surplus laundry is in the dryer. It can always be taken out and washed later. Please understand, I do all of this in the interest of pleasing my husband. I don’t want to upset him.
Back to the hen, I have discovered, over the years, that there is no egg gatherer for me, and that I have to clean up my own messes eventually. Unless my hyper-active daughter shows up and finds the above results of my tidying up and spends most of her time with me, cleaning up and misplacing almost everything she touches. Her intention, she says, is to place everything “in good order and convenient for use”.
In spite of my wanting to be a “brawling woman, living in a wide house”, I have come to be living in a narrow house (manufactured home, they call it). The shortness of a hen’s life is so much simpler than mine …and she can “fowl” it up as much as she likes.