By Sue Murphy
I recently received a text saying it was time to have my exterior windows washed. (It was from the cleaning company, not my neighbors.) Anyway, I thought, “Didn’t I just do that?” I checked and I had indeed done that … six months ago. It was time to do it again.
“Didn’t I just do that?” It’s the same thought I had wiping down my shower this morning. Being a daily chore, this activity naturally resurfaces pretty quickly, but it felt like I had done the exact same thing only five minutes earlier.
Perhaps the lesson is that time marches swiftly on, but the corollary is that dirt is relentless. It does not respect weekends. It does not take summer vacations. If you are sent to the hospital, dirt will show no compassion whatsoever but will seize the opportunity to take over your home.
To simply maintain a presentable household, even, cleaning and maintenance activities must keep pace with the energy of their dirt counterparts. Of course, “presentable” is in the eye of the beholder, and since most weeks I am the only beholder in the house, acceptable dirt levels are up to me. Actually, there are two of us in the house, but my dog, Dave, has exceptionally lax cleanliness standards. As long as the treats keep coming, he doesn’t care whether they are in a bowl or splayed across the kitchen floor.
For some reason, however, I do. Dirt makes me twitch. Most of my nightmares involve dirty bathrooms. I’m sure there’s a psychological explanation for that, but when I wake up in an “Eeeww” sweat, my only recentering weapon is to clean the bathroom that I have.
Floors are a must, too. Dave might not care about doggie footprints, but I know what those footprints are made of, or worse, I don’t, and I could not sleep knowing (and not knowing) they were still there.
At least Dave doesn’t have clothes. I learned early on to ration my daily costume changes so as to limit the amount of time I have to spend sorting and washing and drying and folding. I still end up with a sizeable pile at week’s end, but that’s OK. It’s kind of satisfying removing clothing dirt and grime because I feel like I truly send it out of the house with the rinse water.
Same thing with doing the dishes. It’s repetitive but rewarding. And before you say anything, paper plates are not the answer because that just increases the number of times I have to empty the garbage can.
Dust is the most frustrating. It never really seems to leave. It’s possible that I have the same dust I had 25 years ago when we bought the house. I just swish it around every week so it can settle back down on furniture two feet away.
Same story with the garage. I sweep it out and 24 hours later, new leaves and pieces of bark have worked their way in. Or at least I think they’re new leaves. I never look that closely at the old ones.
Bathrooms: spray, wipe, repeat. Floors: vacuum, mop, repeat. Dust: repeat, repeat, repeat. Round and round and round and round. It’s like being on a giant hamster wheel of house cleaning. The only thing worse would be to jump off and watch the house descend into filthy chaos.
Oh well. Today, my to-do list only includes bathrooms, sheets and making the call to the window cleaners. Oh yes, and emptying the dishwasher. (Didn’t I just do that?)