Use Other Exit

I loved the post from Clyde yesterday, along with the conversation that ensued.   I was especially tickled by this comment from Renee in North Dakota.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 4.46.35 PM

That is a beguiling image  – a would-be farmer, forsaking his chores for art.   It got me to thinking about old fiddle tunes, including Stephen Foster’s “Camptown Races”.


Uncle Albert had a barn,
Doo-dah, Doo-dah.
Often he’d relate this yarn,
Oh, do doo-dah day.

All them cows produced for sure,
Doo-dah, Doo-dah
Tons and tons of ripe manure
Oh, de doo-dah day.

Piling up all night.
Piling up all day.
When the cattle tried to leave
Guess what was blocking the way?

Albert got his fiddle strung
Doo dah, doo dah
On a hillock made of dung.
Oh, de doo-dah day.

Never did a bloomin’ chore,
Doo Dah, Doo Dah.
Sat beside a fragrant door,
Oh de doo-dah day.

While he played he never frowned,
Doo Dah, Doo Dah,
Watching bovines turn around
All de doo-dah day.

He would just recline,
Looking at the birds.
Now and then Albert would say,
“Man, what a mountain of turds!”

When have you let something pile up?

62 thoughts on “Use Other Exit”

  1. Good morning. Don’t get me started on thinking about all of the things that have piled up around me. I keep telling myself that I will be able to to get organize by not creating too many new piles and gradually getting the old piles under control. I’m afraid I am just fooling myself.

    I am lucky to get some the high priority things done such as clearing a space in the garage so the car can go in there during the winter. Other things, such as taking care of piles of papers that need filing, only get a little attention. I am doing a little better on avoiding making new piles, but only a little better. I’m afraid I have strong tendencies to be a lot like Renee’s Uncle Albert.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Mostly junk mail and clothes on my dresser. Having a domestic fairy who comes and cleans for us every other week helps keep the clutter down. In order for her to do a good job efficiently, I have to deal with the piles before she arrives, and that’s a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a similar fairy/elf who visits every other week. I find myself tidying up every two weeks so that he knows where to clean, too (and so he doesn’t have to clean around extra stuff).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A few years ago, l took the leap and hired a local woman to clean the cottage once a month (about as often as l do). What l wanted was to avoid the “heavy” stuff; mostly just vacuuming and washing tile floors. lt turned out to be a real disaster, especially since l felt so uncomfortable sitting while someone else earns my money when l’m perfectly capable of doing what someone else is doing.

        The other difficult part of hiring a house cleaner for the first time in my life was that she spent 2 hours in the kitchen ALONE! l can vacuum my whole house in less than 2 hours!! As l sat there watching her meticulously wash tops of lampshades, pull the frig out, and dust cupboard exteriors, mop the ceiling, etc., l grew more and more angry at myself for being so lazy. Worse, as the time ticked past, l sat there feeling as though l was in a taxi cab with the counter adding up every inch of distance. Tick, tick, tick.

        l did casually mention to her that l’d rather have her just vacuum, dust and wash the tile floors than doing “Such a thorough job on one room”. She proceeded to do it her way anyway. We’d gotten off to a bad start when she first arrived and told me the whole job would take at least 10 hours – at $30 and hour – tick,tick,tick goes the counter!

        l grew more impatient, almost begging her to skip the small stuff and “Please just vacuum for me?” This time, she acquiesced but did such a poor job that l had to redo it myself after she finally left. The tile floors looked dirtier
        than before she came with dirty water around the edges.

        Needless to say, my first foray into such an undeserved luxury was my last.


  3. Great poem, Dale. My dad was an avid walleye fisherman and we travelled to Baudette quite often. I saw Aunt Ella, Albert’s wife, milk the cow out in the pasture as it stood perfectly still for her, untethered. Albert had lots of adventures as a young man when he served in the army under General Pershing and chased Pancho Villa around the southwest US. I think he also served in France during the First World War.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. There are everyday piles of things all over my house – though I once had what can only be described as an epic pile of laundry. I hit a stretch where I was working full time, finishing graduate school, and still had my fingers in theater working on a couple of shows. I mostly didn’t have dishes because I wasn’t home enough to eat much, but laundry piled up. A lot. Into a (oh I am embarrassed to admit this) dining room table sized mass. It was faster to stop at Target for fresh undies and socks – I could do that on the fly between work, school and theater. Laundry required actual time at home. This pile was tucked into a back room where I could ignore it…mostly. One day the nice, understanding man who would become Husband decided that a fine date (yes, I was finding time to date in all this, too – not sure how) would be to pile this morass into the back of his car and go to the laundromat. No judgement, no fuss. Just a pile of quarters and a question of how I liked my laundry sorted. If I had been unsure before, I knew then that this guy was a keeper. I think I filled something like 6 or 8 washing machines. Good thing it was a slow night there, I was hogging most of the machines. Husband still does most of the laundry. Bless him.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. This post dovetails nicely with my thoughts on why rushing today feels so much more stressful than I remember it being.

    It’s as if I am constantly having to “refinance” my time.

    I get a workload, it looks reasonable, and so I say, OK.

    School event or something comes up–ok, I can still squeeze that in.

    Then I get work that the previous workload needs to be somehow either compressed or shifted forward, because something else has happened workwise that simply MUST be done RIGHT NOW!–I want to keep clients happy, so I make the shift. Suddenly, there I am, behind the late ball again.


    Grandpa always said, “never complain about having work”. He hired men so desperate for work during the Depression they would accept what they could get for doing farmwork they were clueless about.

    Today, we live in a world where if you can’t do the job, you can always be replaced.

    and you never know when the hammer will fall and your position will be eliminated altogether.

    so you keep the multiple income streams going.

    and your friends with lovely tidy houses assure you that housework can wait.

    no, really, I want to live in a clean house NOW, not at some nebulous later date.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. It appears that all our possessions are piled up in the dining room and living room today, awaiting the painters to come. As soon as they finish the bedrooms I have to clear the dining room and living room so those rooms can get painted. I can’t believe all the stuff we have that was hiding out in the bedroom closets. Husband is a “collecter” of hymnals. How many hymnals does a person need? Certainly not the 20 or so that he has. I must go through my clothes and get rid of everything I haven’t worn for the past two years. Photo albums? Don’t ask!


    1. When I was trying to get rid of Stuff in my house so I could sell it, Renee, I tried to invent rules to help me throw out things I kept for silly reasons. I told myself once “if I haven’t touched a thing in five years, it should go.” Then I was shocked to find out how many things I owned that I hadn’t touched in five, ten or even twenty years. There was always some reason I thought I should keep it . . . but really, how badly do you need clothing you haven’t worn since George Bush was president? And I mean the first George Bush.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So Steve, I don’t know which is worse… if you have clothing you haven’t worn since George the First was president or if you have a piece of clothing you got during his administration and YOU’RE STILL WEARING IT! Sweatshirt from the Westin Maui. A few years ago the Teenager forbade me to wear it out of the house. She said “Seriously, Mom, not even to take the trash out!”

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Your husband only has 20 hymnals? Gosh, that seems pretty lightweight compared to what I fear is lurking at my mother’s house. She has been doing a fair amount of getting rid of extraneous stuff, but as a retired church musician who was married to a man who sold hymnals (and other church music-related things) for the Lutherans…well, I fear we may be finding hymnals in odd places when it comes time to clear out the familial home.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I could try to bluff and claim I don’t let things pile up. I’m pretty good about dishes, for example. But at least one Baboon–Linda–knows the dark truth. I accumulate piles of Important Paper. What is Important Paper? It could be a bill. It could be something from the government. It could be a mailing from an insurance company. It could be a tax statement. It could be the instruction manual or warranty for something I’ve bought. In short, it could be almost anything. And it usually is!

    Things pile up when I get some kind of paper that seems too important to throw out. Or maybe I just can’t decide what to do with it. So it goes on the pile. The pile gets higher and higher until I stick it in a grocery bag to get it out of sight and start a new pile. Sometimes I could almost weep for wanting a secretary to come in and whip all this stuff into shape. It really doesn’t take long to deal with this sort of thing. But if I put it off long enough, pretty soon the cows can’t walk into the barn. And there I sit with just a dish or two needing to be washed but all around the house are these grocery bags bulging with Important Paper. And Linda is 1,263 miles away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Steve, I know I could help with this. Maybe not as good as LInda, but I know some systems that really work. Really work! (I struggled with papers for years and years and years – and now I don’t.) I need a vacation; should I take the train out west?


      1. It helps to have a definite time table for the length of time categories of paper (bills vs torrid love letters) should be kept, and throw when the time limit is reached.


  8. Magazines. For many years I had a good balance: Scientific American, National Geographic, Mental Floss. And the occasional cooking or craft magazine that I couldn’t resist while standing in line at the grocery store. Then about 18 months ago, the Teenager gave me a 2-year subscription to Smithsonian. I adore Smithsonian, but having this additional magazine has completely tipped me over. I now have more magazines arriving each month than I can get through and you know me and reading material – I can’t bring myself to recycle them without reading them. As much as I love Smithsonian, I think I’m going to have to let the subscription lapse next year. I can’t take it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I have the same thing going on with The Sun. First I read the readers’ Letters, so I can see whether I should go back and read the longer articles I’ve skipped from previous issues. It has wonderful stories and essays and quotes, and I don’t want to miss anything really good.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Unfulfilled dreams, ills, resentments, hypocrisies, pain, podcasts, unspoken thank yous, elbow macaroni, badly written and unsent guest blogs, unsorted photographs in my computer, and lots of drawings and paintings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lately it has been babysitting hours, not that it is hard. It is the packing up all the stuff two old people need to spend four days at another house. Off to Evan for fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know how it happens. You go to the store and you can’t rmember if you need it or not, so you buy it and then find you already have a couple of boxes at home, and then the same thing happens again a couple of months later, and you end up with lots of elbow macaroni.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Sandra was shopping where with a friend and got a buy on macaroni. Now when you open a few of our cupboards you have to be ready for a bag or two to fall out.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I wasn’t complaining. It’s just funny. I can only make a limited range of dishes for a woman with a very nervous colon. Tuna is not in that range. We will go through it all.


  10. I have a pile of projects. Each requires what my mom calls a little “ratpile” somewhere on the main floor of the house. In this room alone there are:
    – possible jewelry making supplies and books
    – my mom’s financial stuff that needs attention
    – donation envelopes waiting for their checks and stamps (it’s Give to the Max Day, in case you’re an ostrich and didn’t notice)
    – my mom’s music that needs going through, to make a list of her favorites for the staff at her residence: she’s going to get a (shared) iPod!
    – articles and other info for planning a trip to France next spring (Jacque and whoever else has used air.bnb, we need to talk.)

    And that doesn’t even touch the books: Chris made me think of this – I usually add the most recent “incoming” books to a tiny table in the front room, till the pile becomes too big to ignore. I recently traveled the house looking for all these little piles, brought them to the den, and started to in corporate them onto the bookshelves. Then I had to cull the whole mess in order to fit them on the shelves. That’s my rule – no new bookshelves. (Sort of like “no new hangers in the closet.) Now I have a box of books for… Half Price Books, or anyone else who wants them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There was a farmer in our neighborhood that had the same problem with his barn and the cows.
    I didn’t know him well enough to know what he was doing instead of cleaning the barn. Rumor has it the barn cleaner broke and he just never fixed it.
    But he wasn’t lazy… it takes a lot of effort to work ‘around’ that kinda mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Really, Dale, I think you need to ask something that’s not so depressing. This fall/early winter has been nothing but piled up stuff. The yard has some (frozen) herb plants that I never dug up and brought indoors (farewell, rosemary). There is also a pile of landscape blocks out there that I was going to use to build a raised bed for herbs. And some yard trimmings that I was going to burn. And now there is ice built up on the sidewalk.

    Inside is more stuff (projects, books to read, you name it) that has piled up – and really, who cares? Nobody, not even me (did I say I need a vacation?). Well, actually I do care, but I’m doing a good job of ignoring the feeling. For now.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yesterday I referred to The Song of the Lazy Farmer in the MN Farmer magazine. It actually came out of an Ohio Farmer mag. The author has not been identified. I read a few. Better than I remember. Praises the wife a lot, which Inow remember. Dale’s poem reads much like his.


  14. I can echo a lot of the sentiments expressed above. Paper, books, projects, podcasts, old clothes, magazine, laundry – yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    I seems to have a particular problem with plastic stuff that I strive to keep out of landfills. St. Paul started picking up #1, #2, and #5 plastics in April. I knew in advance that this was coming, so I started accumulating bags of plastics in the basement and garage. Now I keep coming across a bag here or there that I had forgotten about.

    Worse yet, I was told by someone at Eureka, the recycling firm for St. Paul, that they don’t use #5 black plastics. Something about the black stuff not scanning correctly. You can, however, take the #5 black plastics to Whole Foods, where they have a bin for #5 plastics and are not as fussy as Eureka. So the black containers still pile up in the basement and the garage till I get around to taking then to Whole Foods.

    Then there are the plastic plant pots. I used to take them to Linder’s, but it was a rather long trip, so I only got there once or twice a season. Since I plant stuff for clients, I tend to have a lot of plastic pots. I did some research and found out Lowe’s stores will take them. I’m still rounding them up and loading them into the car periodically to get rid of them.

    There was a time when you just put everything into the garbage. It was not a good solution, but I have to admit it was a lot easier. Left you more time to sit around under a tree and play the fiddle. We all have our priorities, after all.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Eureka takes all kinds of plastics, too, and it’s single-sort. But they don’t actually use it all. Anything that doesn’t scan well gets thrown away during the recycling process.


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