Thursday, 16 January 2014

When does a virtue become a vice?

Ronald Blythe asks this question in his wonderful book "Borderland" .   Readers of my blog will know that I am a great fan of all his books, and in particular of the Wormingford Trilogy= a book to pick up and put down when you have just a couple of minutes reading time.   Not just one book actually, but as the name suggests a collection of three books, all articles reprinted from the back page of The Church Times to which he has been a contributor for many years.

So when does a virtue become a vice?   The instance he gives is when does being sensible and careful with money become being stingy?   He speaks of an old lady who still uses a conventional typewriter to write her letters - the tape is so old that the print is barely legible = and all for the price of a new reel.   Even when he gives her beautiful notepaper and envelopes as a present she doesn't use them, preferring to keep them for something special and still using scraps of paper to send notes.

I suppose another virtue/vice example is that of cleanliness.   Many folk like to keep their homes clean and tidy but there is a limit and going beyond it does tend to dissuade folk from calling.   Also where children are concerned it can be particularly damaging.   I remember going regularly on business to one house where there were children - three of just about school age - and there was never a toy or a toy box or any evidence of children about anywhere.   It never seemed natural to me.

Trying to keep clean and tidy is always a problem on the farm.   At any time of the year there will be something set to drive you crazy.
At haymaking it will be hayseeds, which get into the tiniest crevices in clothing, only to pop out as soon as the wearer steps indoors.   The same is true of straw and chaff at harvest.    And this time of the year it is mud.

The farm is very wet at the moment.   The grass has never stopped growing and the farmer moves the sheep around to keep it down.   Yesterday the sheep got out (as sheep do) and the neighbouring farmer rang to tell him.   That meant moving all the sheep to a new set of fields - give them plenty of grass to go at, says the farmer, and they might not stray for a day or two.

Now, this afternoon, the fog has come down and the farmer is staying in and finishing off one of his Christmas jig saw puzzles.  When I expressed surprise that he was in he said that it was so wet underfoot that there was nothing to do that wouldn't make the farm or the fields worse than they already were, so he was best off them and indoors.   Can't say I blame him.

So there is no chance of my being too super clean and tidy here at the moment - dogs and farmers both combine to make a muddy floor.   As for the virtue/vice of carefulness with money and stinginess - never enters my head I'm afraid.   What is money for if not to spend - save a bit for a rainy day by all means but don't go without one or two of life's little luxuries.

My first step in my campaign to update my image and make myself feel less of an old fogey began today with a new hairstyle - watch this space.

Incidentally, on the subject of farming, if you want to read an enthralling account of lambing go to Homestead Hill Farm on my side bar - they are in the throes of lambing and each post is absolutely fascinating.   How poor Barbara finds time to blog beats me.


Sue in Suffolk said...

Don't get me on the subject of men and mud! They just go together so well!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

Mud Mud Glorious (not!) mud. I think we will keep hippos and grow rice if this continues.
Good job I am not house proud or I would have had a nervous breakdown by now!

MorningAJ said...

You don't need a farm to get muddy. Three cats seem to manage quite well. :)

Heather said...

I can echo all those comments on mud. My husband doesn't know what doormats are for! As for being virtuous or stingey - I suppose it is down to that old adage 'All things in moderation'. Keep warm and don't put the floor mop away!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

One's virtuous tendency towards cleanliness is in no danger of becoming a vice when one lives with two furry dogs. They are so much more fun than continuously sparkling floors!

angryparsnip said...

For me it is dust. Tucson is dusty, some months more than others.
When reading the Herriot books it always amazed me that laming was in the coldest worst weather.

cheers, parsnip

Bovey Belle said...

I've seen the first lambs in a local field here. Bet they're not enjoying this wet weather too much. I enjoyed the Homestead Hill Farm blog very much and am SO glad it's not me having to do that!

I am not houseproud, but if people are coming then I get in a panic and go flat out to have everything respectable. Living next door to a dairy farm though, it is very hard to avoid the mud . . .

Oh, and I hate stingey people - such a meanness of spirit I feel.

Cloudia said...

What a pleasure to visit such a different sort of place and find such an agreeable friend waiting!

Now let's talk about sanitation and basic cleanliness on a boat! Never again LOL

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >
=^..^= <3

Cro Magnon said...

Plenty of lambs here. Like P T & E, with two permanently moulting and muddy dogs in the house, cleanliness is attempted but not always achieved!

Rachel Phillips said...

Is Dominic getting to you? New hairstyle. It will be an Xbox next and throw away the vest. Rachel

Mary said...

No mud here, no snow either - in fact quite pleasant though chilly weather. Signs of Spring popping up in the garden even though we will definitely have more severe weather before April looms I'm certain!

I no longer keep the perfectly clean house - tidy and relatively dust free, but not spotless, just lived-in and loved. Too many other things in life to address as the years fly by so quickly - on this day last year I stepped ashore on the Falkland Islands! First 'local' I met was the coach driver and he was originally from Somerset - went with wife for a visit and never left!! Not a whole slew of neighbors there to come visiting to check out ones housekeeping skills, but lots of sheep..........and I have the beautiful yarn to prove it! Muddy boots go with the territory I guess, and I know your farm life is hard to beat Pat.

Stinginess is debilitating and must make life miserable - when we have worked a lifetime we do deserve some of the good things in life that our hard-earned money can buy, in moderation of course. That said, today I may shop for new carpet for the stairs and bedrooms, and paint for some walls - Springtime will bring fixing up time as always, but I'll not be stingy and will get someone else to do the hard work now, sigh!

Look forward to seeing the 'new you'.
Happy weekend - hope it dries up some.
Hugs - Mary

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for calling and commenting. After reading your comments I don't feel half so bad about various mud blobs around the utility room floor!