Saturday 7 November 2009


I emailed a friend the other day, and mentioned that November 5th had been my retirement anniversary, adding that it was about time I found something useful to do (no, not paid work, sillies!) as I had been dossing about for two years.

And in reply came this indignant ticking-off:

Two years??? it doesn't seem that long, and yet it seems forever that you have not had to drag yourself into the civic. Don't be too hard on yourself, you have not spent the time dossing around. You have been recovering from a serious illness. And thinking about your future, making major improvements in the house, helping your friends and ex relatives, entertaining visitors, nursing sick cats (and one dog) taking in four legged waifs, battling with the allotment... I could go on but I hope the point is made.

I was touched and a bit comforted. And I added the cakes, the reduced ironing mountain and the rather improved tidiness to her list. Then I read Kitty B's post in Village Fate, the one in which she described the hundred and one things she was involved in doing, and felt that perhaps dossing was indeed the better term to describe my daily life.

Her customer's theory that busy young people became busy old people doesn't seem to hold true in my case; I was hectically, ridiculously busy for many years, and now seem to have completely lost the taste for it. I am a chronically unbusy middle-aged woman now, easily given to staring into the middle distance, thinking about nothing very much,
taking a casual approach to the proper time to get dressed each day, and a blank calendar is a cause to rejoice. A day with one appointment is a reasonably full day; two appointments are a busy day, and three (o horror!) make for an early night and a day off the next day to recover.

Note: by appointments I mean really important and challenging things like walking the dog round to Posh Pups for her expensive haircut, waiting for the Virgin Media engineer (yay! one came today, sorted the modem, and as a former tiler, complimented me on my bathroom tiles), and knocking up some scones and tea for a visitor.
I have lost all tact and diplomacy in turning down invitations; I can now say in a tone that brooks no argument: "No thank you. That would mean going out!" And it feels utterly liberating.

But I wonder what I'll be like when I'm an unbusy old woman. I just can't imagine....


Anonymous said...

Marvelous! I think you've got it all just about right. 'Cos I'm into reading all sorts of stuff at present about balance, being grounded etc... I can say that I think it's what's called living 'creatively'. Apparently even staring into the distance and doing sod all can come under that banner. (Word verification is 'mycat') Really.

Linda said...

Your life is hectic compared to mine (apart from builders, especially when they put a leaky plastic sheet over utility room before heavy rain!!!!!). And I only have Rupert, who is little work, and no dog (she sighs) to walk.
When you get around to showing us your knitting, any chance of including links to the lovely wool you mentioned? After you've had enough tea and cake, of course!

Anonymous said...

Envy...just envy.You seem to have achieved the balance I'm longing for.


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

There's no law that says one has to chase around like a blue tailed fly . Anyway in the last few weeks you've baked for rope-swinging Tarzans , cooked for vehement non-vegetarians , made friends with a nice Indian woman and tamed a ( v. small ) Big Cat .
How much more busy did you have in mind ?

rachel said...

Yes, I must say, after a lifetime of must-do-better/faster/more, it's a very nice life to be having now, mostly not doing, just being.

The Japanese yarn is by Noro, by the way.

Sweet Virginia Breeze said...

I think I qualify as an unbusy old woman (if 62 is old). As such, I spend my days doing what I want, when I want, and how I want. No deadlines, no phones ringing constantly, no clients in my face, no goals to meet, no meetings to attend, and most important - no stress. It is simply wonderful!

We've earned the right to enjoy life guilt free.

Pam said...

Sounds fantastic. Though I hope you might manage another visit to Berwick or further, one day?

Making Space said...

I love it! I have an invitation I need to turn down and I can't wait to try out your tone of horror about going out. Your life sounds like it has taken a turn for the peaceful, and that is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

...loved,loved,loved this post.I'm the same with the three things on the diary page. I think "that means an early night", and I'm more than comfortable with that.I really like the fact that life seems to get so much simpler and easier the more the demands fall away.When there are lots of stressful demands, it takes an eternity to recover!You always appear busy to me by the way, in the nicest way...friends, animals, and receiving compliments, even if they are about your bathroom tiles...(with osteoporosis I feel like my grouting's crumbling!!).

Bee said...

I really don't have a taste for busyness at all . . . as much as I do admire people who beaver away non-stop.

I've been annoyed because I've had to go to the doctor and the dentist and a field hockey match in the past two days!

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