Dear Miss Ophelia,
I’m a thirty-something-ish mother of five. My children and I seem to be suffering from a severe case of shiftlessness. Our house is a great mess and we often struggle to get all our work done. I realize that this inability to accomplish what we set our hands to places us as objects of your entire contempt, yet I write to you today not so that you may take on a stony grimness towards us, but because your forte lies in doing.
We hope your level of action can help us find our path of duty. If you could just tell us what we ought to do, I’m sure that we will be able to restore order. It has come to my attention that conscientiousness is key to your shiftfull, (may I call it that?), way of life, and I believe it is something that lacks in ours.
In an effort to abide by your principles, I’ve already taken up the habit of knitting to pass those times when my hands seem idle. I like to carry a little project in my purse to fill the inconveniently still moments in line at the grocery store, or while I wait for a traffic light to turn green. Yet, sometimes my brain finds forms of work, like folding laundry and doing dishes, to be idle and so before I know it my hands are reaching for the knitting. Have you experienced this problem? How do you overcome it?
I hear you also have a great deal of expertise in cleaning out junk drawers. We have a nasty one in our kitchen. And another on my desk. There might be a drawer in my bathroom that could use some attention as well. And, well, pretty much the entire basement could be viewed as a drawer if looked at in the right light. I am a bit worried though, your work with Dinah leads me to believe that you don’t approve of old shoes and hymnals in with pantry items. I just want to warn you up front – this might be a difficult obstacle for me to overcome.
On the other hand, we all look forward to your lessons on bed-making for the children. This morning my youngest threw out every blanket in his crib, including the fitted sheet and mattress cover. It’s fair to say that he’s ready, and excited.
My husband anxiously awaits your reply. If we haven’t heard anything soon he’ll be boarding a slow boat to Vermont to fetch you, that is, if I can get his suitcase closed.
Shiftless in Michigan