Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tidy versus Untidy - Is there a happy medium?

I am afraid I am a tidy person. You see - in the first sentence I have to make a veiled apology for being tidy. I like a place for everything and everything in its place and however hard I try to be otherwise I find that if things begin to get untidy I have to tidy up. That doesn't mean I can always find things because sometimes I put things away in places I forget about. But it does mean they are not on show.

I have some friends who are untidy; whose houses are a jumble, the sink full of washing up still to be done, a pile of ironing on the sideboard, a clutter of things around. These seem to me to be the happiest of my friends and sometimes I wish I could be like them.

Others strike the happy medium where some things are put away but others are left out; where the book finished the week before last is still on the side table and has not been put on the bookshelf. This is the personality I envy the most.

This same feeling spills over into the garden. I would love to have a really wild garden and I do try to let things seed themselves. In fact my age has been a help here to some extent because there are a lot of jobs in the garden that I can no longer do and have to be left to the farmer. He is a good, straight-forward chap in the garden but doesn't do the fancy stuff.

People throw rubbish out of their cars as they drive down the lane and I am always taking a carrier bag with me on my afternoon walk so that I can pick up beer bottles, pepsi bottles, crisp packets and the like. This is the rubbish that no-one in their right mind likes.

But what about village greens and village churchyards? When I was a child I don't think our churchyard was mown. Everyone kept their grave tidy and well cared-for - my aunt used to come down every Sunday to tend the graves of her grandparents - cutting the grass, changing the flowers. But the periphery of the churchyard was left to grow its snowdrops, its daffodils, its cow parsley - all in their season.

Our village green is cut every week or so by a contractor in the Summer and I must say it looks very smart. I don't really think I would like it any other way. But what about the roadside verges? Our lane is a froth of cowparsley a bit later in the year and in a few weeks time it will be golden with dandelions. For about a week it will be 'gasp' beautiful

And what about untidy farms. The farmer is a tidy farmer and our yard is always neat. But I could name farms where the view of the farm yard is disgusting - old silage bags, old wooden pallets, heaps of manure, mud all over.

Does tidiness matter or is it just me with my tidy mind wanting to have everything up to scratch?


MorningAJ said...

Well - I'm not a tidy person and in spite of trying I suspect I never will be. I'd like to be a bit neater by nature - just because I realise you have to tidy up sometimes and I hate it. Every time I do, I think it would be much easier if I put things away when I finish with them. But I never change.

I wouldn't want to be over-tidy though. My ex mother-in-law was what I call a 'cushion straightener'. She always had the cushions on her sofa corner-up and every time she walked behind it she would gently pull at each one to make sure it stood up proudly.

I could never relax there.

Pondside said...

I like a little untidiness - but only in some places. An untidy kitchen is okay at certain times of day. An untidy bathroom is not. The living room can be untidy all the time, as long as it is clean underneath the newspapers and books. The garden is often untidy, and I love the volunteers that show up if I don't weed them out. I don't think an untidy farm would work very well!

Doohie said...

I have a place for everything, but nothing is ever in it's place. I'm happy with that until the unexpected caller descends upon us. Then it's panic stations.

angryparsnip said...

I think what ever makes you comfortable in your life. But I can not live in a chaotic home.

My studio can get messy when I am working, lots of paper, pencils and paints out. I do clean up as I go because it can get out of control fast. But I like and possible need the rest of my home neat and clean. Especially the kitchen and bathrooms !
I think a neat home is restful to the mind, for me a chaotic home leads to frustrations.
Now as for the garden... I have a small neat yard near the house important for snake, scorpion, critter control but left wild and natural every where else. After all I am living with all the wild animals who lived here first.

Elizabeth said...

Tidy is definitely good.
I aspire to it madly. I fail horribly. I admire you for being organized.
Yet I hate a grungy, sloppy house. I feel horribly sad for the poor mentally ill people they put on TV and call 'hoarders'. They really shouldn't be allowed to do it.
Just a pet peeve! (Put them on TV I mean)
You really seem to be on a spring cleaning tear what with all the closet organizing.
Out with the old......there's nothing so valuable as space...
then one can long for something new!

ps I'd much rather weed a flower bed than do anything indoors!

Rachel said...

You once showed an untidy bookshelf. So you are human just like the rest of us.

Toffeeapple said...

I am mostly tidy there is just one corner that is allowed to be a little messy. OH though - his entire house is a jumble, one reason why I live here.

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

I think I'm the kind of person in the happy middle...though when I'm expecting guests I like everything to be tidy with a capital T!

Nature herself works through cleanliness but also with what we'd call wildness, or untidiness. So I'd say there's a big difference between untidy and just plain filthy.

John Gray said...

I am so with you Pat.....I have a touch of the obsessive about me!
not good when you have a bulldog with bladder problems!

Heather said...

I try to be tidy as I think it makes life easier, but you should see (or maybe not see) my workroom! I had a neighbour years ago whose cupboards and drawers were immaculate but the rooms were untidy. I was the opposite - tidy rooms with things stuffed into cupboards and drawers. When we have visitors I never mind how untidy things get as long as the house looks clean and neat when they arrive.
A tidy kitchen is more functional than a messy one, and tidy bath and bedrooms are more pleasant and relaxing than untidy ones.
If I adopted a minimalist style instead of homely clutter, life would be so much easier!
I hate to see litter in the hedges and road sides, and in towns too - there is no excuse for that.
I like the garden to look pleasant and relaxing but not immaculate, as I try to encourage as much wildlife as possible but I think a farm needs to be tidy to work properly.
In the end I suppose it comes down to 'each to his/her own'.

Dominic Rivron said...

I, as you know, am obsessively tidy. I find mess very annoying.

I do have a book I recently finished lying about (by Fred Vargas). You've reminded me I better tidy it away.

H said...

I prefer tidy to untidy, but I am not obsessive about it. My lads may disagree with the latter part of that statement, but my opinion is that that says more about them than about me!

Titus said...

I thought of myself as 'medium-tidy' until I read this. Now I fear I may be untidy.
Cannot forgive people throwing things out of car windows though. And I don't like dirt.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I think it does matter, but in the case of tidying the natural world, too much is a mistake...We have a summer cottage by a lake and very few people have left the natural flowers remain. They mow grass up to the water's edge. And it is not good for the health of the lake to eliminate these transitional places.

I like to be tidy, but am not naturally and have to struggle with this, with putting things away in the right place when I finish with them. It's amazing how quickly it becomes undone if I don't work at it every day! I don't like a very untidy house.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'm probably a happy medium, I try to be quite tify but i don't fret too much about it. I love untidy roadside verges full of colourful flowers, that's the best kind of untidy!

Crafty Green Poet said...

it also depends, one person's slightly untidy house is another's appalling mess.

Dartford Warbler said...

I`m probably a happy medium too. Some areas have to be tidy but there is nothing wrong with a bit of "creative muddle" when life has got too busy!

ArtPropelled said...

I'm a middle of the road person in my home but I would rather my vistors saw everything spick and span so it's a mad rush if I know they are coming. My art things, on the other hand, can get into an awful mess because I don't want to stop and tidy when I'm in the middle of something..... and then the mess gets so daunting and I pretend it's not there.

thousandflower said...

I am an untidy person, a VERY untidy person. For years I kept telling myself that if I would just get organized I could get the house cleaned, etc. Then one day I realized that I am also a VERY organized person. I am self employed, always get the bills paid on time, organized trips with the kids, etc., etc. Tidyness and being organized are really different things. Now it might well be nice to be both, but I'm not and I finally decided to rest on my laurels. To appreciate my well organized self and forgive my untidyness. I also am the sort of artist who works with everything right out in front of me. That's the way I design. If I put things away I forget where they are and what in the heck I was trying to do with them my husband is also untidy so we don't grate on each others nerves in that respect.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting replies - thank you for joining in. You all sound to be very honest about your degree of tidiness!
Rachel makes a good point when she says my book case looked untidy - so I am not quite as tidy as I think I am - and that is a bit of a relief.

As for Dominic's comment - absolute lies!!

thousandflower said...

I have to add to my comments on my own personal untidyness that we do manage to keep our acre of market garden vegetables tidy. We often say that if the urge to tidy something comes over us we tend to go weed something instead of sweep the floor. So when people come to visit we run them through the garden first. Then when they get to the house instead of thinking we are just slobs they tend to think we're overworked. (But we're not because we know when to stop - do the garden and ignore the house).

Golden West said...

My house is in a constant state of organized disarray, as I work from home and sell over 2,000 different (small,thankfully) items. Boxes of goods arrive almost daily (much to my delight) and the living room is where stock is counted in and sorted, so it is an ever changing happy jumble.

thousandflower said...

Golden West I often tell people that I don't work in my house we live in my studio.