Breaking the 10th Commandment

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Tradition states there are 613 commandments in Mosaic Law.

Somehow, the translators who worked for King James in 1604 decided to pare those laws down into what we refer to as the Ten Commandments.

For many, like me, I suppose that in itself is a blessing. Keeping 10 laws can be a daunting task so I can only imagine if I had to remember and adhere to 603 more.

It’s reminiscent of one of the Lemony Snicket books, The Vile Village, where the Baudelaire children are forever breaking laws because there are so many they cannot remember them.

Number 10 of the Commandments is perhaps the one I struggle with most.

The King James translators used two dozen words to explain the edict but it can be summed up in four words: You shall not covet.

It’s not material things I covet. Honestly.

I’m excited for the person who gets a new car, builds her dream home or wears Louboutin pumps.

My downfall is I covet time.

Yes, time.

After work and volunteering for a couple of local groups, I head home where I work some more.

If I’m not working weekends, Saturday is spent catching up on all the chores I couldn’t get to throughout the week because of my paying job. By the time Sunday rolls around, I am spent.

Even if I’m watching Turner Classic Movies, I’m doing something else: paying bills, folding laundry, cooking a meal, sifting through a week’s worth of junk mail, de-cluttering the kitchen clutter drawer.

It never stops.

Tom asks me every weekend, “What’s on your agenda today?”

After I regale him with a long list of must-dos, I say, “Then I’ll piddle.”

I spend a lot of time piddling.

And if I have warning we’re going to have overnight company, I go into full steam ahead mode to ensure that the guest room is fresh and welcoming and there are no hairballs in the sink or bathtub.

One would think with only two people in the house that there would not be that much to do.


I, of course, blame it on two cats and a dog, but deep down I know the real causes of my work are the two-legged animals living at Ten Broeck Manor.

It’s a never-ending vicious cycle of clean, wash, straighten, sort, discard, put away.

That’s why when I take a coffee break amid all the chores and login to social media, I begin the coveting of time.

I have family and friends who go somewhere every weekend. Every. Single. Weekend.

It could be a bar, a show, a zoo, the river, a professional athletic event. Sometimes, they do two or three things in the same day: zoo by day, ballgame in the afternoon and dancing at a club that night.

How do they do it? Where do they get the energy? The time?

More importantly, who’s doing their chores? Or do they even have chores?

I envy those who have time to enjoy life.

I covet their pick-up-and-go attitudes.

Sometimes I think I am so caught up in earning a living, I forget how to live.

I think my house should be June Beaver-spotless, when it truth it looks more like Lily Munster-dusty.

Does anyone but me mind that my clutter drawer overfloweth?

Who cares that the dining room table is littered with mail and coupons? It’s not like we’d eat in there if it were spotless.

The clothes are clean. So what if it takes a week to put them away?

My late father used to say, “My house is not a showplace. We live in it.”

I’m tending to agree more and more.

You object to a fine layer of cat fur on everything?

You get upset that my granddaughters’ fingerprints are still on the patio door from their last visit?

You cringe when you see a half dozen slobbered up dog toys dotting the floors?

Then you best not come to Ten Broeck Manor.

Because if you do you'll find me busy piddling and trying not to sin over time.