Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which I Debate The Merits Of Being A Domestic Goddess

When Rick and I first married, we used to ruefully call our time spent doing any household cleaning "Marital Blissing." Our little one-bedroom apartment didn't have a dishwasher, and as much as I hate to admit it, we'd often go far too long before we finally did the dishes by hand. As a result, we'd stand for more than an hour at the double sink, one of us washing and the other drying and putting away. It was awful.

I still loathe housework. Sometimes I do get "in the mood," but not that often, and I go on a major tear, like I did yesterday. The weather was yucky and humid, so in the hormonal grip of a Cleaning Frenzy, I took advantage of the airconditioned environs of my house and got busy. The kittens did not appreciate it much since it involved more vacuuming than they have heretofore been used to in their now two-week residency, but they did like the dusting aspect.

("Dusting!? You were dusting? Call the doctor immediately!" longtime Dept. readers interject here, knowing my antipathy toward that activity, and that I do it as infrequently as possible, trying only for Christmastime and, perhaps, the odd Easter here and there.)

Back to vacuuming. I have a Problem With Vacuuming, and here it is: once I have begun to vacuum, I have trouble stopping. Is anyone else afflicted with this proclivity? It's just that it's such a bigass thing to haul out and fling around, I feel as if I may as well just vacuum the hell out of every single floor I own. And then I have to worry whatever little crudhunk is somehow able to elude my Dyson. "Why isn't that thingy getting sucked up?" I wonder aloud. So, I do what everyone does: I pick it up, look at it, THEN I FLICK IT BACK UPON THE FLOOR AND RUN IT OVER AGAIN WITH THE VACUUM! Honestly, it's a Sickness.

Oh, and dusting. I am a fan of the Pledge. Especially now when I have discovered that you can use it on leather. We have a nice set of leather furniture, and I spray the Pledge on the rag and wipe it on the leather furniture and voila! Lovely. It also provides satisfying entertainment when the kittens, who are unaware that the furniture has been Pledged, leap onto the ottoman and go sliding off of it. Do not, however, mistakenly assume that this means I will be dusting more in future. Oh, ha ha. It is to laugh.

Many years ago, I was suckered in by the Stainless Steel Appliance Craze. In other words, I was An Idiot. I hate my stove and refrigerator, both stainless steel. That brushed chrome-esque finish is a Royal Pain In My Ass. Those appliances are not for people who really cook and use their kitchens For Real. And you can't clean them with Just Anything. I have used approximately eleventy billion bottles of Windex on both of them, which I have found to be the Only Thing That Really Works and doesn't cost a fortune and isn't Worky To Use. Plus--no magnets. I know that some people really like the uncluttered look of a bare fridge door, but I like to use mine for notes and reminders and a calendar. I have a very small kitchen, and the fridge is still the Number One Place Where Everyone Is Sure To See Something. Magnets, remember Science Wizards, do not stick to stainless.

AND! If you are ever looking at a black cooktop--DO. NOT. BUY. IT. It is also not for anyone who Really Cooks. One would think, "Hey! Black will hide everything!" One would be Dead Wrong. Instead, it shows everything. My cooktop has made my Cooking Life miserable. And the minute I have cleaned it, it seems that the next meal I cook involves mashed potatoes or something else which spatters or boils over and the unrelenting sorrow begins anew.

Must we even discuss cleaning bathrooms? Let me just say this: I have covered this topic here, and little has changed. Sometimes I wish it were possible just to drag the garden hose in through the window, turn that sucker on, blast the place, and let it all...drain out...somehow. Wouldn't that be great?

Housecleaning, like grocery shopping, has very little Return On Investment. It Never Stays Done! Oh sure, when the house is first all clean, you can bask in the glory of a Clean House and that Feeling Of Accomplishment. Then someone takes a shower and someone else has a snack in the living room and someone else craps up the place. Sigh. What we need is the Perfect Solution. Like this:


  1. Anonymous8:25 PM

    oh sooo true. it could be worse, you could be on a corner house like I am, and have dusting be a bi-DAILY event happening. on a side not, how old are your kittens. I am positive I am getting a six week old from a friend, any tips?

  2. I have a black cooktop and it is the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE, being someone who both cooks and dislikes cleaning. But my rent is cheap, so I can't complain too much.

  3. Cleaning is the worst! There are so many things I'd rather be doing, like napping or knitting! I thought I would be better at cleaning up my place since I don't have a full-time job like I've had for the past 3 years, but even with all of the time I spend in my apartment I clean it less than I did when I was really busy.

    I hope you didn't use up all of your cleaning energy; I could really use some if you have extra to spare!

  4. My vacuum & I aren't on speaking terms. Sure, I use it once a month or so, and sure I curse at it the ENTIRE TIME, but we don't really talk. It knows that I'd fling it out the window at the least provocation. Which sounded a LOT more menacing when we lived on the 3rd floor LOL.

  5. What you need, Nance, is a 30 year old, unemployed, professional student. I'll send my daughter up the road to you at no cost next week. I do not guarantee that you will be satisfied with the results, but it will get her out of my hair for a one of us will be happy! Personally, I became a fan of one summer. Some of her routines have stuck and they have made a difference for me.

  6. Karen--A FREE maid? Wow. Does your daughter, by any chance, know of your offer? Does she do windows? Too bad I already did The Dreaded Grocery Shopping....

    The Bug--I have to be nice to the vacuum now that I have cats again.

    Courtney--HI! Sorry, but the cleaning frenzy has definitely passed. It was all I could do just to make the bed today. Urg.

    Tiana--Isn't it horrid? In the words of Michael Scott: It is a hate crime. I hate it a lot.

    Anonymous--Only 6 weeks old? Wow, that is REALLY LITTLE!! The best thing I can say is get it into the vet immediately to be completely checked over for any issues. Poor Piper had a myriad of problems and we almost lost him. He was about 10-11 weeks and the runt, so you really need to take good care of your teeny tiny! Kittens from a shelter or from an outdoor cat, esp. can have tons of complications--this was something I had no experience with. But boy, oh boy, do I now!

  7. Anonymous6:08 PM

    thanks! these kittens are from an outdoor, more-or-less a stray cat that my friend kept feeding. she had the kittens on their porch and so they have been around people giving them great temperaments. thank you for the advice, i will definitely give them to a vet ASAP.

  8. In warm weather the house suffers just because doing crap in the yard sucks up my time and energy. Thank goodness the kids have a slight sense of domestic obligation and run the vacuum when the animal hair gets out of control.

  9. Nancy8:16 PM

    I also despise doing housework so I don't do it at all. I would rather buy my clothes from the Blair catalogue and have the extra money to pay the Merry Maids to come in and clean...

    Once in a while I make something for dinner besides reservations. Do you remember George Burns and Gracie Allen? Well, Gracie taught me how to make the perfect roast beef.I'll share that recipe with you now. You can make it tonight after you put the vacuum away.

    You will need :

    One small roast beef
    One large roast beef

    Take the two roasts and put them in the oven.When the little one burns,the big one is done.

    Tell the truth now, what would you do without me?

  10. Nancy--Oh, I don't consider cooking to be housework. I love to cook. But I think I should put a little "donations" button on my blogs so I could get Merry Maids. LOL. (And I don't want to ponder Life Without You!)

    J.--I have really cut way down on outdoor gardening. My herbs are my main thing now. I stopped doing annuals and lots of little decorative flowerpots. Too much of a Time Sucker. I want to enjoy my yard and garden, so I went for perennials and landscaping that stays year-round. (Hey! I thought my kitten post would draw you out for a comment. No?)

    Anonymous--Piper and Marlowe were from an outdoorsy cat who had 6 kittens. Unfortunately, like 75-90% of outdoor/shelter cats, Piper picked up a virus. Because he was little anyway, he had a ton of trouble shaking it off and has been on meds to combat its complications. It's been pricey and labor-intensive, but he's pretty cute. Except for this morning, when he woke me at 5 to play. Sigh.

  11. Loveya!! Mean it!! Exactly what I needed to read today in my Murphy's Soap stupor.
    PS. word verification..."couth" :>)

  12. For a while we considered remodeling the boys' bathroom with a sunken floor and drain in the middle. Just like the bear cage at the zoo. So much easier.

  13. I hope you won't hate me when I tell you...I kinda like cleaning. It's a new affliction, and perhaps if I lay down for awhile, it will go away. But there are days when my job is so boring (I work from home), and it makes me feel better to take a half hour out of the day and turn on some stupid TV show as background noise, and vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, clean the mirrors, take out the recycling, whatever needs to be done. I suspect it's because my job is always kind of open ended feeling, and it's a sense of accomplishment to have something that feels FINISHED. Even though, as you say, it isn't. Someone will cook or eat or sleep or poop or whatever, and it all starts again. And the laundry. Sigh.

    OK, I've come to my senses now, and I vow to not clean anything tomorrow. Mainly because we had family come visit today, so I did even more cleaning than usual.

  14. Halley2:10 AM


    Have you tried Bar Keepers Friend for your cook top? I swear by it, it works fantastic. I am a cooking fool and I really "use" my cooktop. I would highly recommend it!

  15. Halley--I don't have one of those halogen cooktops; it's a regular gas flame stove, but the whole top is black tempered glass with black recessed burners. Will Bar Keeper's Friend work on that? I am so darn sick of it! And HI THERE! Nice to see you again!!

    J.@JJ--No, never would I hate you. I know some people really find cleaning therapeutic, and sometimes that can be the case with me. I do like the feeling of it being done, however briefly, but my biggest problem sometimes is that I tend to keep widening my scope. Do you ever do that? I start out by doing one thing, then I see that an entire cupboard needs to be organized, then as I carry something to the basement, I start a project there, and it just gets impossibly enormous. Sigh. Oh, and you had to say "laundry." Let's not discuss it.

    apathy lounge--I know! What is it about boys that they just don't give a shit about the bathroom, period? The most horrific moment of my day/week is when I lift the seat. WHY CAN'T THEY JUST SWIPE A PIECE OF TOILET PAPER 'ROUND THERE EACH TIME? IT'S NOT ME THAT SEES/DOES THAT EVERY SINGLE TIME!

    dbso--hey! nice to see you here, too! loveya too. but not for mentioning the Murphy's, which I have to get. my wood floors look awful lately, so i have to get on that. so much for Summer Vacation. (WTF!?) {and so much for my 'couth'}

  16. I'm such a lazy commenter.

    I'm in a new apartment now, and instead of having three housemates, I have only one. And of the three I had before, she's the cleanest (disorganized...but clean). So we can have fewer organized cleanings of the house and still keep it inhabitable.

  17. Mikey--It does not stop me from loving you deeply. Is the new apartment better? Bigger?

  18. My mom did me a great disservice ---after days of telling me to clean my room, she would break down and do it for me. So i learned early on ---don't do it and someone else will.

    My husband has done most (mmm, maybe that's ALL) of the housework. I would sort of pitch in, but unenthusiastically, and mostly after he kind of forced me into it. My major jobs are grocery shopping, laundry and stacking the dishwasher. He does just about everything else, although I'm pretty good at heating up leftovers in the microwave.

    I once read a book called "The busy woman's getting it altogether at home book." It recommended wonderful things like:
    Use 25 watt light bulbs and invite people only at night.

    When we were both working, I opted for a cleaning person, but when she retired, I just couldn't find anyone locally so we ended up with no one ---and that's when hubby stepped in. Now he's a guy who, when I met him, ironed his underwear, but after 25 years of marriage, he has taken on some of my bad habits.

    I have three rooms in the house, my art studio, my dressing room, and my office which he won't touch ---and frankly they haven't seen a vacuum sweeper or a dust rag for years. Cleaning and re-organizing them are on my list of "things to do," but I just never get to them. Maybe my husband ought to hire a hit man to hold a gun to my head until I've done the nasty job.

    My problem is that I am right-brained. If I decide to clean up one room. I will find something in that room that belongs elsewhere. So I take it to that room where I find something there that needs to be taken care of. While doing that, I find a note from a friend which reminds me I need to call her, so I make the call. Then I am thirsty so I go to the kitchen and end up doing something there for 15 minutes. I get back on task, and remember I never got a drink, so I go back to the kitchen. On the way back, I find something else to do. Then the whole process starts over. It will take me a month to clean up one room, because I keep getting distracted.

    I always thought as I got older, I would become more organized, but I am actually worse. I've heard that whatever you were in high school, as you get older, you are the same, only magnified. Yep! That's me.

  19. CJ--The distraction thing is something I know only too well--see my response to J@JJ. I can actually see my train of thought by the unfinished trail of projects/chores sometimes. I press on, though, because I cannot stand clutter and I have a very low Slob Threshhold. I belie your theory of High School Personality Magnification. I was pretty slobby and lax with regard to my room and my things in high school. I've tightened up considerably as I've aged. And my husband would never do what I leave undone; he'd merely wait until I do it or assume I didn't think it needed to be done. Sigh.

  20. When Our Humble High School closes for the summer, Mr. Fairway expects me to become a Domestic Goddess. He's sh*t out of luck again, I guess!

  21. Melissa--EXPECTS?!?! Hmmm...sounds like some retraining is in order...!


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