'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No Shoes.

I was rummaging through my image library just now (fortunately still intact despite the power surge thingy on Friday) and came across this image that I took down at the marina one time.

Reading the words started me thinking about shoes and rules...

When were were on the farm, as on most farms, there was a rule: No shoes inside.  That was 'outside' shoes, of course.  It made sense.  Dairy farms are rife with smelly, clingy, brown stuff, and you don't want to get that on your carpets, I can tell you. Mostly we wore gumboots, anyway, and changed into slippers at the back porch.
Sometimes, if I had a broody hen, I might have put some eggs under her and there'd be chicks or ducklings around the house.  Poultry poop may come in smaller packages, but it makes up for it in pong.  And then there was the gigantic, aromatic blobs left by the turkeylings which, when grown used to roost on the roof every night ...

When we moved to town, to this house, I just carried on the indoor/ outdoor shoes rule.  It was very convenient, especially as I'm not good at getting out the vacuum cleaner.  The kids would sometimes head off down the bank or over to the park and come back exuberant and muddy.  They'd clean their boots with the hose at the back door and leave them in the porch.  Natalie was just 3, and although not always law-abiding when it came to not putting her fingers into things (sugar, butter, hot soup...), she was very clear about the No Shoes Inside rule.  It's a family story how she gently but in a clear, high-pitched child-voice, pointed out to one visitor who took two steps inside without removing their shoes.  "We take off our shoes when we come into the house."

Of course, it's a bit of an imposition to expect every visitor to remove their shoes, especially if the floor is cold, or the visitor is elderly and doesn't bend down so well any more.  But I notice most people seem to do it when they come here.  Perhaps Natalie got them trained well and it's still stuck even after 18 years.  Or maybe the farmhouse feel is still here, even though this house has not been the centre of a farm for 50 or so years, the town having enveloped it in its urban arms.

I have toyed with the idea of having a set of stretchy knitted slippers at the door - Japanese-style.  Friends of ours had a small tiled entrance patio affair just inside their front door that would be ideal.  They had one carpeted step all around that you could sit on to pop your slippers on, and the outside shoes were left on the terra-cotta tiles, yet inside out of the weather.  An idea for the next house, maybe.


  1. I have knitted slippers!
    made by the famous mrs Hopkins from the village
    They LOOK hideous
    they feel comfortable as toast

  2. I had a pattern once, but I seem to have lost it. They are wonderful to wear, I know John. I had a friend who had five children, and she made them (the slippers) look even more hideous (but last much longer) by coating the bottoms with layers of liquid latex, in effect, giving them durable 'crepe' soles. It's where I got the idea to mend my dug-out canoe when I was on the island.
    I don't suppose Mrs Hopkins would part with the pattern? Are they the ones with the plain knitting at the heel end and the ribbing on the front? Or the fancy one with the fold-down bit and a draw-string?

  3. tickled me this one..... if you've ever heard of the "league of gentlemen" (a BBC dark comedy show)there was this family in it that had rules for everything..... here is a clip of their "towel" rules....
    "Then there’s the towels…
    white for hands,
    brown for feet,
    green for torso, thighs and seat.
    And in the cupboard ‘neath the stair……
    You’ll find the red for pubic hair!"

    I'm quite lucky that my lounge is upstairs and that means most people take their shoes off in the kitchen anyway....

  4. No shoes indoors makes perfect sense, except to me. The kids are well trained and always kick off their shoes as they come through the door, but I always forget.

    1. Perhaps you vacuum the floor occasionally by way of penance SP?

  5. Gulp! Sorry we didn't remove our shoes when we visited the De Chevalle Mansion. My only defence is that we didn't know. I shall not sleep tonight as I toss and turn fretting about how we abused your kind hospitality. You must think we're a pair of pigs.

  6. Oh please do stop YP. Esteemed guests like your good and worthy selves are never, ever expected to remove footwear.