FUDDY-DUDDYS UNITE – IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!
Are you “set in your ways?” Do you have rituals you just have to perform at certain times of the day?
A novelist wrote of a character that “she sought the consolation of underwear.” As for me, I find my consolation in pink flannel pajamas with hearts printed all over them..
I cherish the cozy feel of the soft fabric, but getting into them is just one of several steps in a bedtime ritual I choreograph as carefully as I used to for my children.
My back exercises.
Two minutes of tooth brushing.
Popping into bed (that delicious moment). Pillow under knees, just so.
Radio tuned to my cheerful local station.
My crossword (with a certain pencil).
No wonder going to bed leaves me totally exhausted!
What are the things that you just have to do in a certain way?
When you are not only quirky but quirky alone, you can act as oddly as you want (at least within the walls of your own house). I love to talk to myself.
When I used to goof up around the house (trip over a rug because I’m reading a book, pour the orange juice in the coffee mug) I would chide myself – “You idiot! What a klutz!” Nowadays, I have knocked that yammering self-critic off my shoulder and reassure myself: “That’s what I love about you — you are so funny!” When life deals another random blow I say “There, there, sweetheart, of course you are upset; let’s sit down and talk it over.”
Sometimes I conduct whole conversations.
“I’m so embarrassed.”
“If I were you, I’d be embarrassed too”
“But you are me.”
I stick to rules for these things. When a snatch of song comes to my head, I have to sing it out loud, as much as I can remember. This works well with short ditties, like
Makes you feel ambitious!
A giant of a cereal
Is Quaker Oats.
It gets stickier when it’s a ballad with lots of verses, like “The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night,” leaving me frustrated when I can’t remember it all the way to “and the little ones chewed on the bones, O!”
Poet Marie Howe says that the rituals of ordinary time, like the water glass you’ve just rinsed and held up to the light, are to be cherished. “Life is so daily,” Virginia Woolf once exclaimed. I find myself clinging more and more to the particulars of daily life. My pink pajamas, my bedtime quirks, my need to stand under the flowering crabapple tree to gaze and gaze, are ways of slowing things down as life streams by, faster and faster. Our fuddy duddy habits seem so solid when, after all, we are passengers on the Titantic in dire need of something to cling to as the deck tilts under our feet.
Fuddy-duddies, unite! Send me some of your habits.
Although she grew up in New York City, Annis Pratt makes her home in the Midwest, where she taught English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for many years. In 1990 she threw her full professorship out the window to move to Michigan, where she is engaged in community activism and novel writing
Passionate about the environment and an enthusiastic sailor, canoeist and kayaker, she chose a genre where she could create compelling fiction about ecological degradation.
At 75 years old, she feels like she is in the second out of her ninth inning, having published the first volume of her historical fantasy trilogy when she was 73.
Blub: The Marshlanders and Fly Out of the Darkness are the first two volumes of The Marshlanders Trilogy, historical fantasies about the conflict between self-sustaining Marshland communities and Merchant Adventurers trying to drain their lands. These are page-turners about the conflict between people who respect their environment and developers who see it as a source of income.