DIDDLING AND PIDDLING MY AFTERNOON AWAY
Two words to describe one of my favorite past times for an afternoon are diddling and piddling.
The dictionary defines the word diddle, as a verb meaning to waste time. Does
wasting one’s time suggest that the time is thrown away? Or that it’s used on
something of unimportance? Is this a subjective definition? What might seem
to be wasting time to one, might seem to be entertaining or restful meditation to
another and it could be a time to create ideas. For me this latter definition suffices.
Sometimes, when I diddle, I doodle. For instance, this afternoon, while I listened on the phone to my daughter’s endless chatter of her detailed problems of the day, I picked up a pen and doodled abstract images on the back of an envelope. Now, to some this picture might not make sense. And they are correct, but to me I began to see an interesting composition for a painting, initiated from my idle doodling.
Shortly, after my conversation with my daughter, my son called. While
listening to his play by play tale of his work day, I picked up a dust cloth and
changed to my portable phone and walked around the room and dusted my favorite knick knacks, while throwing in a few words of advice to him, as I had with my daughter minutes before. When I checked with them both later, to my chagrin, I heard they did not follow my advice. But, they did come up with solutions of their own, which is better.
Do I lament that I wasted my time on the phone? No, I was glad I was able to
listen and accomplish some diddling. My sketch on the envelope was the beginning
idea for a painting. And my dusting made my china bowles and chrystal candle
sticks clean and shiny. And maybe lending my ear for a period of time I was
helpful to my adult children.
Piddling is more difficult to explain. The dictionary defines it as doing anything
In a trifling or ineffective way. To piddle maybe trifling, but it can be amusing
and sometimes relaxing. I often piddle when I’m distracted from a chore I’m
not excited about. After the phone calls with my son and daughter, I passed a large
window on the way to the kitchen to wash the lunch dishes. Suddenly, I spotted my favorite little birds, three or four humming birds fluttering around the feeder and at the same time two doves were pecking at something on the patio floor. I looked for and finally found my binoculars and got a close up look. After watching birds for 30 minutes, I then decided to string some beads on copper wire to extend a mobile on the glass porch wall, in hopes of deterring the fast flying humming birds who feast in my garden. Suddenly, I thought of a laced table cloth to cover the mirrored images of trees reflected in the glass. I began to search for it. My dishes waited.
Next I piddled more by surfing the internet. I checked my email and then googled an author’s name. I saw her interviewed on C-Spann the week-end before. And as I guessed, she wrote spellbinding analyses of the Iraq War. After reading as much as I could about her, I returned to my email where Spam dumped 20 mysterious messages from unknown addresses. Deleting those took awhile and then my legs needed a stretch. Upon arising I noticed the clock showed a time much later than I thought. Where did the time go?
Of course, I remember. I spent an afternoon of diddling and piddling. It may
be wasteful time according to some people to be on the phone so long and to
doodle my drawings. And it may also seem ineffective and trifling to spend time
watching birds and surfing the net. But to me, it was a relaxing and interesting
afternoon. And most of all I enjoyed hearing from my children.