What DID I do today, anyway?

Hugh came and went. Leo and Evelyn came to visit. There were a few days in between for catching up.

Leo and Evelyn left Friday morning. The day went by where I just put things away and slept a long nap in the afternoon. Mrs. Stepford invited me for dinner so I didn’t even have to cook. There was an exhibition opening at the Fort Gallery and we went. It’s such a happening little gallery that we like to support them.

This afternoon, Saturday, I had a nagging feeling that I hadn’t accomplished anything. What had I done? I remember my older sister Heather bewailing her uselessness one day.

“The trouble is,  it goes on day after day. I never seem to accomplish anything. My husband used to come home and ask me what I had done and I couldn’t tell him. It was all so ordinary and so I just felt stupid and hapless.

“When I was bringing up the kids, it seemed that I had no purpose, no value because I never got anything done. Then I read somewhere that it was a common feeling amongst stay-at-home mothers. They recommended that every time you did something, you write it down.”

“Now when my stalwart husband comes home and asks what I’ve done I just bring out the list. It’s amazing, really.”

Well, I have no kids. I’m not keeping house for a handful of people. I’ve just got me to take care of. Thank goodness! I’ve had my turn; I’ve done enough taking care of others. Now it’s time to take care of me! And yet, here was that nagging feeling. And Mrs. Stepford called at end of day to recount her day, ending with “And what did you do today?” I groped for an answer.

Now that I write it all done, I didn’t do too badly.

First of all there were beds to change as  visitors have left and new linens for the next visitor are de rigeur. I stripped the beds of their sheets. Then I went on a hunt for anything else that needed washing. The laundry was chugging away, sloshing back and forth by the time I had my first coffee.

First coffee was savoured over an inspection of e-mail. There was a missive from Marcia recounting how she had recovered from a broken ankle only to have fallen in a sports accident, breaking her wrist of her best hand. Zut! Life is not fair. Those recovering bones are just too miserable to bear. I spent a while writing a letter back to cheer up her day, then I went to the piano and practiced the latest Prelude of Bach’s that I’m working up plus two of Brahms Waltzes. The piano took up ten minutes.

I was collecting my second cup of coffee of the morning when Mrs. Stepford called.  I reminded her that she was going to give me her opinion on what to put up for the Art Studio Tour. It’s rapidly approaching – just five days away. She came for coffee and made suggestions.  I took down paintings and put others up. Some worked as expected, others  didn’t. We descended into the vaults and brought up a few more paintings.  We got something tolerably interesting and then she left.

I moved the cherry wood table, the one with the barley cane legs,  so that I could put small paintings out on it; covered it with a protective felt so that the paintings wouldn’t scratch the surface; then covered it with a table cloth in a nice cream colour.  It’s perfect for setting off the paintings.

By that time, the laundry had stopped sloshing and was spun mostly dry.  It being a warm spring day, I decided to use the clothes line instead of the dryer, in honour of Mother Earth. I haven’t used it since last October, so I had to wash off the clothes line, mucky dirty thing that it had become.

I actually washed it down three times. The first seemed to just loosen the winter’s accumulation of grime. The second removed most of it. The third cleaned it well enough to hang the clothes. Then I fetched the basket of damp linens and clothing and hung them out, organizing them as I went so that the things that dry easily could be brought in before the terry towels that seem to hold onto their moisture.  Two hours later, everything was bone dry.

I made some lunch and ate it, lounging in front of CBC business news. It’s what was on.  With hundreds of available channels, nothing else seemed interesting, mid day on a Saturday. I lingered over lunch and decided that I was still quite tired. Those visitors just wore me out! So I stretched out on the couch and snoozed a full hour.  It was now mid afternoon and I had plenty to do!

I’d been soaking both broad bean seeds and Golden yellow wax beans for the past three days.  They were shedding the outer skin and the first signs of life were sprouting out.  I fetched the potting soil and filled the twelve four-inch pots, planting them, then putting them in the sun room to let them establish themselves before digging them into the garden.

There were too many beans left over, even though I had planted them three to a pot,  so I took the remainder, some thirty beans, and planted them directly in the garden – the one at the back fence that I cleared up for some food production. Hah! Last year I produced one bean from eight plants that I put in. Some nasty hungry other beast (probably a slug) crunched all the leaves until there were none left and only one plant survived. “Better luck next year!” I could hear chanting in my ears. Next was really now. I was going to give it another go. If other people can garden, I should be able to as well.

While I was out there, I thought I might as well put the marigold seeds in because either they would develop or wouldn’t, but either way, they needed to be started or they would never grow. I couldn’t start them inside. There was no room.

It wasn’t so simple.  I had to get out the hoe to loosen up the soil and pick out the flourishing weeds. While I was at it, I continued to loosen up another area of the garden and move a primula out to the front where I have several others. I found a Lady’s Mantle baby coming up through the earth in the back yard. By one definition, a weed is a plant in the wrong place. There were several other Lady’s Mantle  plants in the front. I moved that one too.

I could hear Mr. Stepford cutting branches in the yard next door. Matthew was cutting the lawn and there was a strong possibility that he would be around to cut mine for the first time of the season. I had to rake up or pick up all the winter debris before he came. I changed tack and got out the red rake – the metal one with the tines spread wide so as not to damage the plants while still being able to bring twigs and branches out of the flower beds. I raked up cedar fronds left by the Western Scissorbill; I raked up cones donated like an unneeded door prize by the cedar and the fir trees during the winter to my back garden. The raking took an hour. The yard is that big. There was that much debris.

I put away the hoe and the rake after piling this rubbish into two piles, ready for bagging to take to the yard waste depot. I still had fennel to plant, but no time to do it.  It would have to wait for another day.  It was time for tea.

The afternoon had disappeared. It was almost five and the Antiques Road show was coming on. I usually miss it but today I didn’t have to. I had just enough time to heat up a beverage and get a snack to stave off hunger for dinner. I poured out a dish full of Kashi cereal. It’s like candy since it’s sweetened, but its good for you. Now there’s a combination!

During the commercials, I prepared a light dinner. There was a ready roasted chicken waiting for me in the fridge. I just had to heat it and do a vegetable.  I watched a poor but fortunate Englishman bring in a little wine taster from Perth, the Antiques man informed him.

Thinking he had something worth about two hundred pounds, he was told that the simple little silver cup was really worth twenty thousand pounds since it was so rare and from the Sixteenth century. He’d been keeping it in the glass curio case along with modern porcelaine bibelots.  I ask you, how does that poor bloke go home with his treasure and live with it. He would have to pay an enormous amount of insurance for it. Everybody knows he’s got it since it’s been shown on TV. What a target for theft he would be, all of a sudden.  I’d be worried about getting home safe and sound. Even if it had been in the family for a thousand years, I think I would pack it off to a museum with a good security system and go visit it when the spirit moved! And pay off the mortgage.

I ate my dinner listening to and watching CBC news. The flooded banks of the Red River occupied half the news time. The pictures were awesome! The town of Morris was still hanging in there like a medieval village with a gigantic moat.  Some farms outside the dikes were swallowed up by water, a tiny tip of a silo sticking up to mark it’s place. Others were like floating model farms – a breached dike, a ring of golden winter grasses still cresting it, the water encroaching on the buildings on higher ground – a barn for animals and one for the major machinery,  mostly sunken fences around pastures and the yard, a house and three elm trees for shade.  All around, grey  water rushed by carrying uprooted debris and massive blocks of broken ice.

“Well that’s dinner,” I said to myself. That gave me an hour and a half to do something until eight o’clock when my favourite program of the week was coming on. So I started to clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes, empty the dishwasher and put them in the china cupboard. I put away the million and one things that were sitting on the counter. Those done, I rang up Lizbet and then Dorothy. Neither of them were home.

I checked my e-mail and had responses back from the latest art post.  There was editing to do; titles to put on the pictures; credits to insert. The insidious Freecell got in my way and I had to play a dozen games before it would go away.

I set out two toppling piles of desk papers to sort through during the eight o’clock program. I never got to sorting them. Hugh beckoned – we Skyped for an hour as he brought me up to date on his brother’s and mother’s news which was disquieting. We chewed upon it, trying to think how best to help in a difficult situation. Hugh was down with a nasty flu bug and needed some mothering. (Is there such a word as auntying?)  When I signed off on the call, the program announced that we had talked for thirty-seven minutes and twenty-three seconds.

When the television program was finished, the mess in the studio room that just has to be away before Friday called rather peremptorily. I dutifully packed up the acrylic paints that I wasn’t going to use before Friday. I put away the watercolour brushes. I took the construction paintings and tried to hang them on the existing nails in the studio.  With that series of paintings up, I had to take down the others. They weren’t a good aesthetic match.  There’s a pile of paintings to go down to the basement before Friday, but that can wait until tomorrow.  I was no longer interested in doing stairs at this late hour.

It was eleven o’clock when Mrs Stepford called.

She recounted her dinner out at the Boathouse in New Westminster and what she had ordered. She commented on conversations and caricatured the personalities of people she had sat beside, all of them Mr. Stepford’s friends and colleagues from work. Then she said,

“And what did you do today?”

“Oh, not much. You know. I put away some stuff. Did household chores. Moved around some paintings. Nothing out of the ordinary.”


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3 Responses to “What DID I do today, anyway?”

  1. What DID I do today, anyway? | Antiques Says:

    […] Read a strange here:  What DID we do today, anyway? […]

  2. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    Great post. We women are taskmasters and don’t even recognize it most of the time because we have a plate full of ordinary and mundane things to do. Oftentimes we feel like we’ve accomplished zero! I’ll tell you what you did – you wrote a smashing post that says it all! (I love Antiques Roadshow too). Got to run as I have a ton of nothing to do today! 🙂

  3. wrjones Says:

    Tuckered my out just listening – I’m going to take a nap.

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