When it’s good not to be good

People tell you that to succeed in life you need to work hard. People tell you that to succeed in life you need to strive for improvement, to develop skills. Work hard. Do your best.

There is some truth in that.

But you know me, I don’t always believe what people tell me. And honestly, sometimes it’s good not to be good at things. Sometimes it’s worth not worrying and just seeing what life brings you. Sometimes not striving is the thing to do . Because sometimes life brings you Accidental Potatoes.


Sometimes not trying brings good results

“What are Accidental Potatoes?” you might be wondering?

They aren’t some fancy new breed of potatoes.

(When I was a kid we went to a church sale, and after the cakes and jam, there was an auction. At the auction, my Dad bought a box of records. I got all excited because I thought it was a box of musical albums to listen to (me being old enough that my childhood listening came from black vinyl records and not CDS or iPods.) It turned out the records weren’t the musical kind, but potatoes. I was very disappointed. So it’s an ironic turn of events that potatoes got me excited today.)

Oh, yes. Accidental Potatoes.

We have a compost bin in our garden. We’ve never learned how to use it properly – we just put our vegetable waste in it. It turns into compost. We spread the compost on the garden. We forget to get around to planting flowers, and the herbs that we planted years ago keep growing up again by themselves. I am possibly the world’s second-worst gardener, though I have a feeling many other people would claim that title. So I’ll say I’m the world’s second= worst gardener. And ssh, don’t tell him I said this, but guess who is (probably) the Number 1 worst gardener? Okay, he’s better at mowing the lawn than I am though, I admit it. (I have a sore shoulder.)

So anyway, that’s how you get Accidental Potatoes. I am thankful for them. I am thankful for the lesson they teach me, for how they show me that perhaps I don’t need to spend too much time fretting about life and just allow nature to weave its magic. Life gets along fine whether I try to be in charge of it or not. That thing Jesus said all those years ago comes to mind. The thing about lilies.

Here it is: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

I didn’t understand that when I was a kid. But even if this is about clothes rather than food, the message is the same. Don’t worry, just relax, and the sun will come up in the morning again.

We humans sometimes think that we need to be in control. If we don’t look after the world, who will? Yet, we haven’t made much of a job of looking after it have we? As James Kenny explains, in Chernobyl: Life After Death, even when we humans make a total mess of things, animals and plant life adapt and carry on just fine.

I’m thankful for that. It takes some of the guilt off my shoulders. Sure, I didn’t cause Chernobyl, so I don’t feel personally responsible for it – but we all contribute to this human over-consumption, this lack of care. Even if I compost and recycle, and reuse, and walk to the supermarket and take my groceries home in a backpack instead of a carrier bag, I still sit here hitting keys made of plastic and metal, which are not renewal materials. And who suffered so that I could do this typing? I’ve read that computer manufacturers and silicon production companies aren’t always kind to their workers. But I still buy and use computers. One man tried to find an ethical smart phone, and discovered it didn’t exist. I still use a smart phone. (Though mine is a way out of date hand-me-down from my husband.)

I am thankful for the people who work in the silicon and computer components industries. Without their willingness, I could not write this, and you could not read it.

I’ve drifted a long way from this post’s flippant beginning, and the truth is there is room both for flippancy and consideration in life. Sometimes in the saddest moments of life, laughter also exists – I noticed this in the days after my lovely father’s death a year ago.

So  I’ll finish now by saying that I’m thankful my older daughter got back safely and happy after 3 days of wild camping and canoeing down a river. (Part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which also includes voluntary work, learning skills and doing exercise. So a good thing all round.)

Finally, after I’d been digging up Accidental Potatoes I made a cup of tea and set it on my  desk. Then I got distracted by weeds and cats (as you do.) I came back for a drink, and I’m thankful that I before I took a gulp of my tea, I had a look in my mug.


It was quite a good swimmer.

This has (sort of) been a Ten Things of Thankful post. If you would like to read more posts, or join in with your own, click the button below:

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  1. When we first bought the house we’re in now 15 years ago there were beautiful gardens all over the place. The woman that owned the house previously obviously had a very green thumb and loved to garden. I wish I’d have taken pictures of what it used to look like because now it is a total disaster. I planted a vegetable garden one year that didn’t do too badly but then we got the dogs and the yard went to the dogs 🙂
    I think it’s great that you got potatoes even if your compost isn’t the best.

    1. Author

      Susan, I’m glad to see I’m not the only hopeless gardener. Our garden was just as bad, if not worse when we got the house, so maybe it’s not me, it’s the garden! Every now and then we get it looking okay, but that now or then hasn’t happened this year…
      Thanks for sharing your gardening story – good to know we’re not alone!

  2. Is that a wasp? Ohhhh they’re ASSHOLES! I really *really* don’t like wasps.

    I find that I like the idea of having a garden much more than I like the reality. I don’t compost, but I try not to waste. That said, here I sit, plugged into all my unethical technologies…

    Sadly, I think life would grind to a halt if everyone stopped buying unethically sourced products.

    Thinky is good, though.

    1. Author

      Yup, it was a wasp! I’m not a fan either. We had an infestation last year, but that’s the second I’ve seen this year.

      I also like the idea of a garden more than the reality. Our compost now gets taken away by the council so the accidental potatoes will probably come to an end.
      And I think you are right that, at the moment at least, things would grind to a halt without these unethical technologies. But perhaps the day will come. Thanks for your thoughts¡

  3. Can you be a horrible gardener if you refuse to garden at all?
    I had a friend who had accidental tomatoes from her compost pile. She later learned that you’re not supposed to put tomatoes in the compost pile just for that reason.
    One of my favorite books is an autobiography of Betty MacDonald, set on an island in Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle. They planted a garden and had spectacular results, only to find out they had planted them where the former septic tank had been, so they were afraid to eat anything.

    1. Author

      Dyanne, refusing to garden makes you a brilliant gardener! (I think.) Someone else mentioned accidental tomatoes. I’ve also seen an accidental courgette (zucchini.)
      That book sounds really interesting. I will add it to my (long) reading list!

  4. I so enjoyed your post. My husband and I aren’t the worst gardeners, but we are certainly on the list. We get accidental produce all the time. Pumpkins in the front yard and our apple tree, tomatoes and potatoes in the compost pile, sunflowers from the plants we planted 3 or 4 years ago. They are all wonderful surprises. It’s a great thing that nature takes such good care of itself. We wouldn’t have half the food from our property that we do if we were in control of it. (We never water anything, for example.)
    What a fun experience for your daughter. Glad she’s home safe and sound.

    1. Author

      I noticed you also had some potatoes in your post this weekend! I had you down as a brilliant gardener so it’s great to see you are also on the list, and have accidental produce! They are wonderful surprises, you’re right.
      And yes the Duke of Edinburgh is a great experience – if somewhat tiring!
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. How fortunate that you looked before you sipped!

    Accidental gardening is one of the joys of gardening, I think.

  6. LOL!! We have killed a few plants! We do love gardening, so maybe that raises our rank in the gardening world?!!

    1. Author

      Roshni, you can come visit any time if you love gardening! Definitely raises your rank in my world.

  7. I had my brilliant comment all planned out but then got distracted by the comment and um, wait. Lizzi doesn’t like wasps??? Um, aren’t they almost just like disgusting spiders? They both bite, are crazy, ugly, icky and GROSS. Anyway, sorry. I had something to say… um… hang on… OH, yay for your older daughter getting home safely from camping and yay for accidental potatoes. Seriously, I’d probably not have even trusted they are real potatoes but I’m really gross that way. LOVE this so much, Yvonne!!!

    1. Author

      Kristi, actually quite like spiders, but then we don’t have bitey ones here. Wasn’t so keen on them when we were in Australia a few years ago. Wasps – no. I’ve been stung twice so I do not like them!
      I’ve been digging up potatoes since I was a kid, so I trust them! (You’d think I’d be good at gardening since I grew up on a small farm…)

  8. Oh how I LOVE LOVE LOVE this Yvonne!! well, not the bee in your tea cup- but THE REST!!! You are such a gift. I mean it. I’m so grateful I know you. I’m so thankful we have connected. I am blessed by you…

    One of my favorite verses ever. 🙂

    “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.“

    1. Author

      Chris, I love that verse too, it is a great reminder to just be.
      And that sentence was not intentional, but I realised what I’d written when I was about to say it wasn’t actually a bee in my tea-cup but a wasp. I love bees so I’d have been too busy saving it to take a photo! 🙂
      And your comment is so sweet! I hope you are fully recovered now and enjoying some belated birthday fun.

  9. Thank you for popping by my blog and leaving such encouraging words. I picked this post at random to see what you are up to and it’s fed me just what I needed as I am trying to navigate teenage motivation whilst agreeing the need for balance!

    He loves metaphor and the accidental potatoes will work very nicely. Thank you!

    Lisa xx

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