Tuesday, April 01, 2014

And So It Continues

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Yesterday I chortled in my Joy as the temperature reached a perfectly Springlike 55 and, one by one, I opened wide one window in each room for a good Airing Out. Once the sun reached its noon acme in a Crayola cornflower sky, I was already feeling its warmth radiating underneath my skin and effervescing in my veins. Soon, the Urge came upon me, primitive and tribal, an instinct so deeply inborn that it could not be shaken off or ignored. I was dressed, I was made up and tressed, I was energized by the glorious weather. Like all the women in my family, I was driven now to do One Thing, and One Thing Only.

I was going to clean my house.

How ridiculous, I know. But we simply Cannot Help It. All of us are doomed to behave in this way, and I have no idea why. I can absolutely guarantee you that, had I called either of my sisters yesterday and, if they had the day off work, they were cleaning their houses. It's a sickness. (We also wait until the hottest and most humid day of the summer occurs and then we get down on our hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor. We call each other, too. I call Patti, and I say, "Hi, what are you doing?" "Oh, I'm down here scrubbing this awful floor," she says. "ME TOO!" I yell into the phone. "What's wrong with us?" Patti asks. "Call Susan and ask her," I say.)

My particular routine is to start in the kitchen and work from there. The stove always slows me down because, unlike many people who own a black and stainless (HA!) steel stove, I actually use mine. I had been ignoring it since Christmas, just giving it a cursory swipe now and again. There it stood, a hulking mess of meal-making memories and olive oil freckles. If only stoves were as affordable as microwaves, I'd get rid of this...this thing and buy a new one. I hate it like I hate my uncooperative can opener. It's still usable and useful, but I want desperately to get rid of it and get a new one. Junking this one is wasteful and dumb, however, so I have to soldier on, silently resenting it all the while.

My spirits remained lifted, however, by continuing to open windows as I moved along. Small challenges were no match for me and my dustrag and Pledge. My leather furniture gleamed, my tables glowed with a soft sheen like moonlight in the forest. The velvety cabernet sauvignon we had last weekend will never be forgotten, thanks to me saving the lovely bottle and adding it to our display. Pictures look brighter and sharper now. Our Vermeer reproduction is relieved of its mantle of dust. I smile a little as I clean up the fireplace area, hoping against hope that we have seen our last fire for the season.

The Season, by the way, meaning Winter, has lasted six months here in NEO. We had our first snowstorm in mid-October, and we had one a few days ago on March 29th. This had better be It. (Or what? What am I prepared to Do About It? Sigh. I don't know, but it won't be Pleasant.)

Here's a Thing, though. A Thing I thought would get way better once the boys moved out, but it hasn't gotten better, really, not by much. Cleaning the bathroom is still a shitfully thankless job, there I said it, and it had to be said. First of all, my bathroom is about as big as a closet. Cleaning the toilet, therefore, is a very intimate experience, and it is not made any better by the fact that A Male Person uses it. Why is it that men cannot--at some point in their Business--grab a wad of toilet paper and wipe the rim of the toilet? Because holy crap! You know? Or is it just me/us?

And boy, did I get sucked in to using this product. The ScrubbyBubble brush thingy. I like the idea that I don't have some icky toilet brush hanging around, but these paperwad brushy doodads are getting ridiculous. They don't really scrub, they fall apart when you wrench them off the big row they come in, and now, they have a new "heavy duty" one that, when you try to wrestle one away from its compatriots, it's almost impossible, thanks to the plasticky scrubby insert that makes it heavy duty. I almost sprained my wrist! Then I bought one of those industrial looking solid cakes that hangs in the toilet to constantly clean the bowl. I put that baby right in the flow of the water so that each time there is a flush, the clean can swirl all over the place. But Marlowe wanders in and likes to chew on it and moves it around.

Marlowe is what my students would have called "a hater."

Speaking of the cats, my mother doesn't read this blog unless she is visiting my aunt in Gettysburg, and she isn't right now, so let me just say this: C A T   H A I R. It is ruining my life. My mother would say, "Well, Nance, you signed up for it when you got those cats." So. What. Did I sign up for burping and farting contests when I had two kids? Anyway.

The cat hair would not be Such An Issue if they were not so patently stupid about being brushed. Let me ask you this: if you lay down and someone came over, spoke softly and lovingly to you, and then proceeded to rub your back and brush your hair for half an hour, would you act like IT WAS A HUGE IMPOSITION AND GET UP AND WALK ALL OVER THE PLACE AND HIDE UNDER CHAIRS AND TABLES AND MAKE THAT SOMEONE FOLLOW YOU ALL BENT OVER UNTIL IT BECAME SOMETHING LIKE A SCENE IN A MOVIE ABOUT INSANE PEOPLE? Just asking. Because I have to vacuum my bed. Did you read that incredulously?   I HAVE TO VACUUM.    MY BED.

It took me all day to clean my house. I did not sit down. Rick came home, took off his work boots, came into the living room, sat down and said--this is a direct quote--"Wow. The kitchen looks nice. You cleaned it today."

Today's forecast is for 64 degrees and partly cloudy. I think I will take a little drive and enjoy my day. After all, my house is clean.


  1. It's the sun's fault.

    This is the time of year when the sun first gets high enough in the sky to shine through windows at an exact angle to perfectly, magically illuminate every speck of dirt in one's house.

    And of course, you can't curse the sun, because then you're REALLY asking for it.

  2. The depressing thing about house cleaning, using the dishwasher, vacuuming up cat hair, etc, is that when you've done it, you know you're going to have to do it again, and again after that, etc.

    There's really no solution to the above depression-making except to just accept it or die. What a choice!

  3. Anonymous4:26 PM

    You inspire me. I need to buckle down and do a thorough spring cleaning around here. Do you hire out, by chance? Your work ethic sounds fabulous.

  4. Roxanna9:59 AM

    The boys and I are on Spring Break this week (Husband has to work) and some serious house cleaning is happening around here. Son #1 - who is almost 15yrs- cleaned his room yesterday and re-arranged the furniture. Son #2 - at almost 13 - fights the urge to tidy quite successfully. I'm going to be washing slip covers today, and getting into the nooks and crannies of the kitchen. My cutlery tray embarrasses me....

    With regard to the toilet... you aren't alone. It amazes me that people who have such excellent hand/eye co-ordination when it come to Xbox games are unable to maintain "aim".

    Enjoy your day and the lovely temps!I'm hanging on for Friday when we just may hit 7C (45F)!

    Come on Spring!!

  5. Oh the toilet - ugh. I even keep those Lysol wipes on the floor next to the toilet & neither of us will bother with them. Frankly I don't even look at the thing when I go in there. Which is why I have a reminder on my computer to Clean the Toilet once a week :)

    I'm a terrible housekeeper and we rarely have company so I don't have a lot of incentive.

  6. We've had the never ending Autumn here, followed by a week of freezing cold Winter, and then the never ending Spring. I know, that sounds like heaven to anyone, and except for the DROUGHT that is going to make everyone's almonds unaffordable, it has been nice. Maya is on spring break this week, and I have taken the week off from work. Some cleaning may get done. But we had guests for dinner 3 weeks ago, and then more guests for dinner 2 weeks ago, and then a birthday party for Maya 1 week ago. I always clean before we have people over, so the place is pretty clean.

    I feel for you on the stove. We have one of those glass top thingys, and it's beige (bisque is the official color). The advantage, I guess, is that it does HAVE to be cleaned every single day, as spilled water burns black on the top. I so wish we had gotten a gas stove back in the day. Oh well.

  7. J@jj--Bless your heart! All those guests, and for a meal, too! I do love being with people I like, and I love chatting, but I hate the worry about what to serve and cleaning my house for them. Especially because of the cat hair.

    My stove is a gas stove, but because it is black, it shows everything. And the paint on it is just awful, all bubbled up, flaking, and hideous. The stove top is glass all around the burners, but at this point I don't care. I use whatever cleaner will clean up those burners.

    Bug--Oh, I have those too. And I'll bet Rick doesn't even know that I do. They're good for a quickie wipe-down when things are looking a bit soapy, or for that rim, but other than that, I have to get more serious. I hate cleaning, too, but I love a clean house. Actually, I need a clean house. I just have to do it.

    Roxanna--My boys were the same way at that age. My oldest would tackle it and get it over with, but the youngest would avoid it and use all kinds of passive aggressive tactics. I fight my own battle with how easily I get distracted these days! Don't make cleaning your entire break. Find some fun stuff to do with those boys. And thanks for helping me nag Spring.

    Ally Bean--Thank you. Don't be too admiring, however; this happens a few times a year only. The rest of the time, I am begrudgingly employed in housecleaning. If I ever did hire out, no one could afford me. I would charge an outrageous amount in order to make me want to do it.

    phoebes--It is irritating, that's for sure. Like grocery shopping. Simply no ROI whatsoever for the long term. Only today I looked at the back of the toilet, that small part between the seat and the tank, and it was already icky and had hair and some other stuff on it. I just stared in disbelief. ONE DAY. That's all it lasted. Sigh.

    rockygrace--Windows. That is one thing I will NOT do, at least not by myself. For a tiny house, we have a crapload of windows, and that is where I draw the line.

  8. We've had such yo-yo temperatures the last few weeks (35, 75, 40, 80...), it hasn't officially felt like spring until just recently.

    Must be something instinctive about the spring cleaning, though. Or the fact that the grouting between the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom floors in my house was officially black, which inspired me to get on all fours and scrub the living daylights out of those tiles. And the most disgusting area, of course, was the one around the toilet. Personally, I have given up on Mr. O., and if I lived in a house with a yard, I think I would have an outhouse constructed there for him and visiting male toilet users. Maybe let 'em use the indoor toilet on really, really cold days, lol.

    Cat hair sucks. You wouldn't think they would shed that much considering how many hours they spend licking themselves. I used to have a cat with black, grey and white fur, so the cat hairs would show on whatever color clothing I was wearing. Not sure which is worse: getting it off your clothes or everywhere else.

  9. Eh, it's hard to get motivated to clean when one day it is 62 and four days later, 90.

    It's just all sorts of wrong and I do not appreciate it in any way.

    What with my daughter becoming less of a danger to herself and our household, it has become easier to clean, so it is kind of cluttered, but overall pretty clean. Both my kids suck at picking up after themselves.

    Oh, and as for the question about my eye cream the other day, it definitely makes things LOOK less wrinkly, but I haven't tried it long enough to see if it truly reduces the wrinkles or not. Maybe in a week or so.

  10. Gina--Clutter drives me nuts. I can take 90 degrees just fine if it is a DRY HEAT. I agree with you regarding motivation during changeable weather. Yesterday, it never got above 38, and it was dark and rainy. I stayed in my jammies all darn day. Period. Today, it is dark, foggy, rainy, and the high is forecast to be 61. I have got to get out, however.

    Gina, with your daughter's special needs, obv. your focus is on her. As long as nothing sticks your feet to the floor, grows in the corners, or stinks, consider your house clean enough as you devote necessary attention to her.

    Ortizzle--Maybe you need a Shark! Would that help with the grout on the floors? Personally, grout on floors might be a dealbreaker for me. My buddy Sue hates it in her kitchen in the house she just moved into. She called a cleaning service to clean it, and she may or may not have had it painted/dyed a different color so that it doesn't show dirt so much. She has two enormous golden retrievers, so you can only imagine.

    RE: men and the toilet. Do they not aim it? Are they so afraid of being judged as latent homosexuals that they won't even touch themselves to get a better shot, or what? Then JUST SIT DOWN. Honestly.

  11. Sign (possibly apocryphal) left on men's room door by "cleaning staff":

    We aim to please...
    So you aim, too, please!

    In all fairness, even with a "good grip" on the situation, there is probably a certain amount of residual splatter that cannot be controlled. That said, it remains a fact that men could care less one way or the other, lol.

  12. P.S.
    Sitting down, the obvious solution you mention, is probably where most men draw the line on the issue of latent homosexuals. Which strikes me as really stupid, because we are not asking them to do this in a PUBLIC bathroom, but rather within the confines of their own homes, and who the hell sees them there, anyway?

  13. O'tizz--Love that rhyming sign. And I never thought about The Splatter. Now I really feel ten times worse about the intimacy with which I am forced to clean my bathroom's Star Fixture. Please let's not talk about this any further.

  14. One of the beauties of living overseas is that MrLs company (as mostover here do) pays for our housing costs (rent and utilities) which means we can afford a housekeeper - and at the top of the list of her duties is cleaning the bathrooms. Frankly, if she would just come and clean my bathrooms every week, I would be perfectly content. I'd probably pay her the same amount I do to the the other stuff - because that's how much I hate cleaning toilets. Mopping and vacuuming and laundry - no problem. But I hate toilets.

  15. MsCaroline--How lovely. Let me tell you, That is a situation I can definitely get behind, but you are too charitable. Just the idea of a Housekeeper automatically makes all chores anathema to me.

    I do detest laundry because it is worky. So much tedium. So much shifting and hauling. Why can't one machine do both washing and drying? Seems silly in this day and age that *I* still have to pull the wet clothing out of one machine and put it in another. How long ago were conveyor belts invented, for example?

    When we still had a tiled floor, I didn't mind mopping because I had a Shark. Now we are back to the original hardwood, so sweeping and dry-mopping.

    Is your housekeeper doing Spring Cleaning? Does she do windows? Ovens? I'm getting giddy with the whole idea.

  16. First, let me tell you that there is, indeed, a machine that does both wash and dry - but be careful what you wish for. In fact, all Korean apartments for foreigners come standard with one of these little beauties: http://asiavufullcircle.blogspot.kr/2011/06/all-that-glitters.html
    But if you read on, you will see that it's not so fabulous. In fact, most of us negotiate 'Western washer and dryer' into the apartment contract because these gadgets are ridiculous. I've never seen one that holds more than about 7 items so you can imagine with the lengthy cycles you would be doing laundry constantly. As far as our housekeeper goes - no, she isn't doing Spring cleaning - at least, not that I'm aware of. Some of my friends have magical housekeepers who rotate all the tasks and wash the windows and that sort of thing just on instinct - but naturally, we didn't get one of those. She is a dear sweet lady who cleans my toilets well, but she's not exactly bursting with initiative. I suppose I could make up a list for her (and in fact, I thought about doing that while we are on holiday in Vietnam) but it requires work....and thinking....and I'm just too tired for that these days. I'll just keep being happy with the magically clean toilets and take on the spring cleaning tasks myself during my 2-week spring break.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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